Like vinyl records, appointment television, and family road trips in the RV, retro video games are back and bigger than ever.
While some might argue that classic games like Pac-Man, Galaga, and Mario Bros. never really left, the impact that retro video games are having across the pop culture spectrum right now is—pardon the pun—a total game-changer. That’s particularly true because the resurgence isn’t being driven primarily by nostalgic Gen-X gamers who grew up playing these retro titles upon their initial release, but by gamers of all ages, across all demographics.
And with the sunny, 16-bit aesthetic celebrated in everything from dance clips on TikTok and YouTube, to TV shows and movies like Stranger Things, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), and Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), retro video games are clearly having a moment. Our industry is reaping the benefits, too. Some of the most well-loved classics are leveling up into the in-flight entertainment space, to the delight of passengers across generations.
Game On: A Great Year for Games
The video game industry as a whole scored mightily in 2020, with the market posting record sales figures across the board.
Industry tracking firm NPD reported that, despite there being no major releases to speak of, video game sales topped out at $977 million in the month of May alone. And, a June report from Nielsen found that a whopping 82% of global consumers played video games or watched video game content at some point during the lockdown.
And while popular co-op games like Fortnite, Among Us, and Roblox have performed extremely well with homebound gamers, some of the biggest success stories of late have been on the retro-gaming front.
The Retro Renaissance
Much of this success has been driven by the popularity of soothing, retro-inspired games like Nintendo’s wildly popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons—which was released during the first week of quarantine in the U.S. and which netted Nintendo a 428% year-over-year increase in revenue, according to Business Insider. Reboots of evergreen fan favorites like The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, and Mario franchises have also been huge successes.
To celebrate Pac-Man’s 40th birthday in 2020, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment released a new theme song, music video, and online multiplayer game, Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle. The tribute to the globally recognized classic definitely added to the retro-fueled fun as well.
For the Love of the Game
Sarah Eales, Panasonic Avionics’ Product Manager of Games and Maps, loves retro games’ simplicity best. “They’re fun, easy to play, familiar, but also hugely comforting,” she says. “Retro games like Pac-Man and Dig Dug remind us of simpler times while also offering up a respite from the storm, so to speak. Playing them also just makes you feel good. And who couldn’t use more of that right now?”
Eales says the thing that most excites her about the retro gaming trend is how popular some of these classic titles have become with gamers playing them for the very first time.
“It’s a given that gamers of a certain age will gravitate to some of these classic titles for the nostalgia factor,” adds Eales. “But what’s really exciting for me is to see these retro titles being embraced by a whole new generation of gamers.”
With retro games gobbling up fans of all ages quicker than you can say Pac-Man power pellets, taking some of these classic titles to the next level in-flight seems like an IFE slam dunk—which is why we are proudly partnering with video game veterans BANDAI NAMCO to do just that.
“Retro games like Pac-Man and Dig Dug remind us of simpler times while also offering up a respite from the storm, so to speak. Playing them also just makes you feel good. And who couldn’t use more of that right now?”Sarah Eales
Panasonic Avionics’ Product Manager of Games and Maps
Retro Games Get A New Life In-Flight
BANDAI NAMCO has been the driving force behind some of the most popular video game franchises of all time. That makes them uniquely qualified to bring such golden age of video game classics as Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug to IFE systems worldwide.
If the recent resurgence of retro video games on the terrestrial front has shown us anything, it’s that classic video games are timeless, with a reach and appeal to gamers from all demographics.
The market appeal extends to all game-playing devices and venues, from consoles to smartphones to the back of an aircraft seat. We partnered with gaming pioneer BANDAI NAMCO to bring the excitement of retro gaming to the in-cabin experience.
In other words, game on!
For more information on our partnership with BANDAI NAMCO, please click HERE.