Back in the early days of video games, games were not even made for adults in the slightest bit. For this reason, games had no age ratings many years ago, and it’s why all early video games are child-friendly. Back then, there was no pixelated blood and/or gore, just enemies that would flash a couple of times and disappear. The simplicity of this is what some fans like about gaming. Not only that, but many people out there also like it when newer games reference older games or bring back similar gameplay of older games or even simply re-release old games on a virtual console. But, why is this? Quite simply, it’s because playing these games are nostalgic to now-older gamers who want to play games that remind them of their childhood.
The first gaming company that pops up in everyone’s head when thinking about nostalgic gaming is Nintendo. All throughout Nintendo’s career, they have constantly re-released old games that are still fan favorites. For example, everyone knows that gaming companies wouldn’t just re-release old systems like the Nintendo 64 just for the sake of being able to play old games for nostalgic purposes. However, what Nintendo is doing well is they are designing their systems so that they can handle old games virtually, like Ocarina of Time. This way, they can be re-marketed for players who want to get that nostalgic feel of their childhood. Ocarina of Time held top charts at the Nintendo E-Shop for 3 weeks straight because it’s such a good game that brings back childhood memories. This type of marketing is why Nintendo continues to thrive to this day, and for some gamers, this type of nostalgic gameplay is all they would ever need. It has brought on a lot of profit for Nintendo, and things like reward points for Club Nintendo have helped immensely as well to help market both new and old games.
However, even with all of that said, it has its issues. Many people prefer playing old games on old systems, so they won’t want to buy the exact same game on a different console. Additionally, unless you lost these games somehow as a child or they no longer work, people might not go out of their way to buy a game they already have in their possession. This is the most likely reason that Club Nintendo saw its inevitable demise just a few months ago – it simply was not profiting Nintendo enough.
From a different standpoint, remakes are also a great marketing strategy for gamers looking for a nostalgic feel; it just has to be done correctly. Better graphics is simply not enough for franchises to re-market some games. Gaming companies need to look back at the games and look at what went right and what could be improved upon. For example, when Nintendo re-made The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask for 3DS, they installed a hint system, improved the graphics, made the gameplay a lot smoother, and made altering time a lot easier. For this reason, the game was highly successful and was on top charts for quite some time. The new features motivated gamers looking for a sense of nostalgia to buy the game on the new platform, and it yielded a lot of profit.
Psychologically, why does nostalgia make us feel good? Well, it’s because when we feel a sense of nostalgia, we are living in the past. Typically, when gamers get nostalgia, it usually gives them a sense of their childhood, because that’s when early video games were released for most of these gamers. The feeling of being a child again is a warm, comforting feeling for most people – this is proven when adults constantly talk about how they wished they were a child again. Nostalgia makes people feel good in the moment, and this brief moment is enough to bring people happiness – which is, of course, one of the major goals that video games bring on.
Therefore, the use of nostalgia is a good marketing technique and is appropriate for gaming because it provides a sense of happiness. However, this technique is very overused in modern gaming. Gaming is sure to be around for a long time, and few generations of gaming have already passed since the beginning. So, what does this mean? Are we going to be getting remakes of the same game every 10 or so years just because it feels nostalgic? Will these classic NES games ever be appreciated again after this generation dies out? This is why nostalgia is a good marketing technique, but can be a bit excessive with modern gaming. However, if nostalgia is what gets adult ex-gamers back into gaming because of the re-release of childhood games, then so be it. If nostalgia didn’t work as a marketing technique, then it wouldn’t still be around, and only classic gamers would have a hold of those first generation Super Mario Bros games, and they probably wouldn’t even be playing them. Nostalgia might not be the only thing a gaming company can bring out to the table in order for the company to receive any profit, but it sure does help earn some yield and it satisfies gamers even to this day.