Why Is Retro Gaming Becoming More Popular?

2015-11-23

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Fans of classic games are building up vast collections that are now worth significantly more than they cost to create.

Retro gaming is becoming more mainstream, but the cost of old games is rising due to hardcore collectors.

Retro Gaming

With such an emphasis placed on graphics in today’s games, it may seem odd that retro titles are becoming increasingly sought after.

Many fans of classic games have been building up vast collections that are now worth significantly more than they cost to create.

Rich Barker is an avid collector based in Cornwall.

He has spent two decades building up his hoard, which now boasts over 4,000 games and over 100 boxed consoles.

He believes the total value of his collection exceeds £20,000 – and he says he spent just a fraction of that on the purchase.

But he doesn’t have any plans to sell. For him, it’s all about the nostalgia.

“One of the main reasons I collect retro video games over new games is because they are much harder,” he said.

“With next-generation games these days, you run down a corridor and there’s a checkpoint, you walk around a corridor and there’s another checkpoint.

“In the old days you had three lives – three mistakes in five seconds and it could be game over, start again.”

Retro titles are becoming more popular in the wider gaming community as well.

The UK’s pre-owned games market is valued at around £126m, rising 25% since last year.

And there is a growing number of events across the country where people can buy and sell old games.

One of these is run by Kieren Hawken, a retro games enthusiast and journalist.

He says collecting is now becoming a costly hobby.

“Retro games are definitely getting more expensive. It was a very cheap thing when I first started getting into it,” he says.

“You could pick up games for a couple of pounds quite easily. I’ve got a game that I bought nine years ago for £25 and it’s now selling on auction sites for £1,000.

“There are people who are driving up the price by hoarding games.

“It makes it harder now for someone getting into retro gaming to start a collection for many systems because they are getting out of reach.

“You really need a big wallet.”

The big game publishers are well aware of this love of nostalgia.

Among this year’s most popular games was Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker – a 2D title that pays tribute to the 16-bit era.

It sold over a million copies within the first two weeks of its release.

And many classic games are being made available as digital downloads on next-gen consoles or on smartphones and tablets.

Independent developers are also tuned in to this passion for old games.

James Woodrow co-founded the games studio Utopian World Of Sandwiches with his wife, Sarah.

They created Chompy Chomp Chomp, a maze-based multiplayer title which was inspired by the likes of Pacman and Bomberman.

“I think retro games and retro-inspired indie games are a lot easier to get into [than big budget titles],” he said.

“They don’t necessarily have the same great storylines but they also don’t have huge complicated control mechanisms.

“And they don’t require 40 hours of play to really enjoy.”

While the majority of gamers will still choose the big multimillion-pound franchises over a return to the classics, there is certainly a growing retro resurgence in the gaming community.

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