Fashion revolves in mysterious ways. The same could be said about gaming. Why are some games perennially successful, others hot for a season, and others evergreen? Some trends last a lifetime – Mario, Pokémon, and Sonic have remained in vogue since they launched. Other trends last for a summer, such as Temple Run, while others like Crash Bandicoot have renaissances every so often. What leads to a renaissance in a more retro game?

Tie-Ins with Other Media

One of the main ways in which retro games return to popularity is through word of mouth, through social media conversations about them, and through people returning to play them. Often this happens when the games offer a tie-in with other media. For instance, the list of casino games at shows a wide range of online slots, which many sites focus on as a key selling point. Some of these slots are inspired by other franchises, including retro gaming, such as the Tomb Raider slot game. The more people who play the Tomb Raider slot will raise the profile of the franchise, which could see it brought back (after the uninspiring 2018 film).

Studio Rectifies Issues

When the studio addresses concerns and makes amends to fix them, games can also be revived. We saw this with the Star Wars Battlefront 2: Celebration Edition. Star Wars Battlefront’s 2017 loot box controversy put a stop to the franchise as gamers grew angry when asked to spend extra money just to play as certain characters.

To rectify this, the studio gave away two years of free updates and reissued the game with new maps, unlocked characters, and no mention of microtransactions. Similarly, the Pokémon remakes such as the upcoming Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are a chance to rectify any issues that the original games had, such as the slow HP bar drain and the lack of fire types.

New Medium

Another way that retro games may make a comeback is through a new medium to engage with them. One of the best instances of this is the original Nokia Snake game, the very first mobile game, being reissued as a new Android game. Being able to engage with the game in a new medium helps remind old fans why they loved the game while also attracting fans who started with this new medium in the first place. Crash Bandicoot benefits from this too. The original trilogy was remastered in 2017 and a new mobile Crash game launched in 2021. Following the latest platforms that gamers use helps a franchise reinvent itself and stay relevant.

There are many ways that retro games or games from the past can find new audiences. Each year a new crop of gamers emerge. While many will want to sample the latest titles, some will want to dive back into the history of gaming to find something that would suit them better. As technology has evolved, it’s unlikely that new gamers will be blown away by Space Invaders or Pong, but they may discover Pac-Man, Carmen Sandiego, or Donkey Kong.

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