I've never understood the love of "retro gaming".
I understand the idea of nostalgia, but should that nostaligia come at such a high price?
I have an old Super Nintendo, and the other day I went to a local video game store to grab some games to mess around with. I have the old Zelda games downloaded on my Wii, but there's something about the old controller that I miss. Maybe it's muscle memory, maybe it's nostalgia.
As I'm looking at games, I realized what a great business model the gaming industry has.
New games are now made with a 4k resolution. Games give gamers every imaginable choice, creating an experience. Open worlds are something that no one could have imagined in the 80's; now games without them are seen as "retro".
Retro games, on the other hand, were pretty basic. Pixelated graphics, limited choices, and stories that might or might not have made sense. The cartridge games might or might not work, depending on whether or not you blew into them correctly.
While the games are fun for a day, they are not of the same quality that newer games are. They also cost far less to make. For some of them, however, you'll end up spending the same amount as a new game. For a select few, you'll pay your monthly rent.
Therein lies my problem with retro gaming. It's the newest way for the industry to make tons of cash for sub-par products. First, there were micro-transactions, in which you paid for a game and then dished out $60 to make the game whole. Now, you have to fill out a credit card application and max your credit limit in order to get the same games you had as a kid. If I weren't so impressed, I'd be angry.
Why pay a premium for games that are 20 years old? Is Mario 3 on the original Nintendo really worth $50? Of course not, unless you want to pay for the priviledge of saying "I'm such a hardcore gamer I spent 50 bucks on a game worth 15!"
Perhaps it's unfair to assign motive to people paying extra for games that they enjoy. Isn't that the narrative that the industry sells us, though? The image of the hardcore gamer, able to play the metroid theme on an ocarina...that's what they want us to be. It's become an identity for some, which is troubling. Should someone be a "hardcore gamer?" Doesn't that kind of take the idea of fun out of the equation?
There are even message boards where people ask how to be a hardcore gamer. I don't blame these people, though. I blame the industry for convincing them that having fun is secondary to being "hardcore". In order to do that, you have to pay. Buy those microtransactions. Get all the retro games you can. Give us your money, or we'll label you a "casual". Nobody wants that, do they?
I say have fun. Play what you want, and spend what you can afford. Video games are not an identity, they are a way to entertain yourself for a few hours.
Edit: As one of the commenters pointed out below, the community pushes the narrative of the hardcore gamer, maybe even harder than the industry. I'll have to think about this, but I am inclined to agree with him or her. I believe that the community does have some unique challenges that I plan on addressing in a future article, a preview of which is found in my reply.
Thanks for the comments! I try to reply to them, keep them coming :).