Retro Marketing and Nostalgia Part 1: Video Games
Coffee tables shaped like the original NES; mp3 players designed to look like cassette players; Space Invader couches; rotary cell phones. The list goes on. Guess what, the ‘80s are BACK—with a vengeance! In fact, so are the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.
In all seriousness, people are starting to love vintage stuff. I’m certainly no exception, myself. Our culture’s “retro”-obsession has been spreading like wildfire and is in full swing. It’s been encouraging my appetite for all things nostalgic and is now forcing me to take a deeper looker at the trend itself. (In case you were wondering, Retro Marketing is also known as Retro Branding or Flashback Branding).
The concept of retro-appeal actually makes perfect sense. We live in an uneasy society and we struggle to make sense of our complex world. Our collective unconscious yearns for the simplicity of a bygone era, and so we carry with us a deep-seated desire to relive the novelty and innocence of our youth. Naturally, there’s no better way to relive our past than by filling our modern lives with the concepts, styles, and themes that remind us of better days. So, let’s take a good look at some industry-specific examples that retro-conscious consumers (like myself) tend to love nowadays.
Remember the 2D side-scrollers we knew and loved on systems like the Atari?
Most notably, we can look at the current state of the video game industry for an education in successful retro-branding. In contrast to the overwhelming number of visually stunning and technically advanced titles now available, there’s actually a growing market for very basic, one-and-two-button games—the kind that proudly flaunt their intentionally pixilated visual style and minimalist approach. Independent developers are now opting to build their games from the ground up (so to speak) by putting their focus on simple-yet-addictive gameplay rather than cinematic presentation. In doing so, these developers are able bring the player straight back to the glory days of gaming—when two-dimensional side-scrolling was commonplace and when gameplay focused on moving a character from point A to point B is the most challenging way possible. Once upon a time, originality was key and that’s what we’re finally starting to see again! It’s a back-to-basics approach that’s currently taking the gaming world by storm and surprisingly turning a small profit.
I mean, who needs fancy graphics when the game itself seems just as new and innovative as the ones you grew up with, right? What’s interesting is that the developers who now use this methodology are actually making games that end up being more fun to play than many of the high-profile titles (Halo, Call of Duty, etc.) currently saturating the market. They’re ultimately using fewer resources, spending less money, and making fantastic games. Growing up, I was admittedly a videogame junkie, so I love seeing old-school gaming become so popular again.
What’s the best retro-branding you’ve seen in a recent video game? Does the nostalgia factor urge you to buy games or to avoid them?
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the conclusion of this post – I’ll make you feel nostalgic when I talk about retro-appeal in this generation’s movies, music, and advertising (many modern products and brands are now incorporating retro aesthetics)!