Graphics keep getting better, games keep getting bigger, and innovations like capacitive touchscreens and gyroscopic sensors have triggered wave upon wave of game design creativity, making the video game medium ever richer and more diverse.
The photorealistic 3D imagery and sprawling open worlds of today’s video games would have been totally beyond imagining only a couple of decades ago. For those of us who first picked up a controller in the Pac-Man era, this rapid transformation is a straight-up miracle.
So it’s kind of weird that so many of us play retro games.
According to a study by ExpressVPN, retro games have been gaining traction lately, spurring studios and publishers to revive titles and consoles from previous generations.
The findings of ExpressVPN’s study couldn’t be much more definitive. A massive 79% of gamers report playing retro games, meaning four in five of us like to fire up a vintage game from time to time.
This might not be surprising among Millenials and Gen Xers, who grew up with the games we now call “retro”, but the data suggests that gamers in Gen Z are also enjoying games made in the ‘80s and ‘90s – that is, before most of them were born.
This suggests that retro games have an appeal beyond simple nostalgia. In fact, just 38% of respondents cited nostalgia as their primary reason for playing retro games.
We can only speculate as to the motivations of the other 62%, but one explanation might be the relative simplicity and accessibility of older titles. Another explanation, paradoxically, is novelty, with many gamers describing retro games as more innovative than current games.
For what it’s worth, Nintendo seems to have cracked the code when it comes to making evergreen games.
Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Kart, and The Legend of Zelda all feature in the top five retro titles played by those who responded to ExpressVPN’s survey.