Return of the Arcade

They're making a comeback, so what makes Retro Gaming so cool?

It is highly unlikely that arcades will completely overtake modern day gaming, but they do offer something that PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo can’t, staying power.

By Jonathan Reed

Video supplied by WatchMojo.com©


It was once the “go to” social hub for teenagers and kids. It was where, for hours you could lose yourself amongst games and part with your pocket money. The arcade, as years passed by, vanished into obscurity, but could the once dead gaming station be making a comeback? The answer is maybe, and there are many outlets that could be the reason as to why.

Whether it be on TV, Movies or mobile devices, arcades and their games are heading back into the mainstream. Movies such as ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, which is literally named after an iconic arcade game and TV shows like ‘Stranger Things’ have made the once dated world of retro gaming, cool.

There is a saying that history repeats itself and some styles never really die, and this element could also play a part in the revival of the arcade. The retro themes from the 70s and 80s are fashionable at the moment. With movies like ‘Thor Ragnarok,’ actively using references to those electronic 80s themes, and the updated Tron sequel, it is quickly becoming a dominating force within the entertainment industry.

So why were arcades attractive all those years ago? Mainly, it was due to the lack of gaming outlets. Consoles weren’t commonly found and even those which were, they lacked the choice of games that arcades offered. But this quickly changed.

With the release of consoles such as SEGA and PlayStation, suddenly arcades became redundant. Why bother travelling to a gaming hub when you could play the same game for less money in your own bedroom. It was the attitude that swept the next generation. With better graphics, more levels and a greater choice of games, arcades couldn’t compete.

However, in recent years arcade gaming has made a surprising thrust for the spotlight, and whilst movies and TV shows have played their parts, new mobile technology has had the biggest impact.

Due to the new interactive nature of cell phones and tablets, and the introduction of Apps, arcades have been given a lifeline. Suddenly, games such as ‘Pacman,’ ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Donkey Kong’ were downloaded onto all manner of portable devices as a way to pass the time. Whether you were on a train ride or a flight, people began to enjoy the addictive nature of these games.

It is of no surprise that these games consistently reach the top 10 gaming charts of the majority of App stores across the Globe, but the trend of arcade gaming is gathering speed.

Some are vying to go a step further beyond the realms of cell phones and tablets, instead they are purchasing the original arcade games once featured in gaming centres. It seems that the retro feel of having an actual ‘Pacman’ console is a fashionable piece of high-end furniture. It is of no surprise then, that many antique traders are beginning to buy and sell these games for a huge profit.

It seems, where once the arcade business was deemed a ‘dud’, it is now an extremely profitable endeavour. And many are jumping on board. With celebrities, hotel chains and even work offices installing the addictive games as a way to wind-down.

It is highly unlikely that arcades will completely overtake modern day gaming, but they do offer something that PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo can’t, staying power.