Back to the Future: Why Millennials are Embracing Retro Games

As a Millennial, I’m always on the lookout for something nostalgic. I love visiting all the places and things I remember, that bring me back to my childhood.

When I heard about the recent study on gaming habits, I was so intrigued to learn that people my age were embracing something as retro as gaming – even if it’s something as simple as a retro city game or a retro horror game.

So I thought I’d take a closer look and find out why my contemporaries are so taken by these PS4 retro games.

Acknowledging the past

The more things change, the more they stay the same – at least when it comes to video games. Although I experienced most of my childhood gaming in the ’90s, in recent months I’ve found myself playing a handful of classic games that have remained timeless over the years. Of course, I’m not alone: As it turns out, Millennials and Gen Zers are embracing retro gaming like never before.

According to a study conducted by GfK (a leading international market research company), Millennials and Gen Zers now make up 45% of those who purchase physical video games. The study and yet another one conducted by Retronauts (a podcast about classic games) reveal that gamers of all ages are increasingly embracing graphics from decades ago – whether it’s Mario Kart on Nintendo 64 or Streets of Rage from Sega Genesis. Those among us who grew up playing early console classics are dusting off their controllers to relive the heyday.

Then there’s virtual reality technology that blends classic game elements with modern effects – creating an addictive new tech-meets-retro combination sure to captivate Millennial and Gen Z gamers for years to come. There’s something for everyone – from retro city builders such as SimCity 2000 to nostalgically terrifying horror gems like Fatal Frame on Playstation 2 or Resident Evil 4 on Gamecube, plus many more fun arcade distractions popping up on PS4 each day!

It’s no surprise that Millennials and Gen Zers maintain an emotional connection with these old school titles; they’re all reminders of our past – a tangible link between our generation and those that came before us. Where else can we discover so many hours’ worth of entertainment while also honoring our personal nostalgia? The answer? Buy a time machine… or just some retro games!

The power of nostalgia

retro gaming set up

The psychology behind why we experience nostalgia is simple — as humans, we long for the comfort that comes from returning to the place where it all began. This phenomenon is experienced in several aspects of life, whether it’s driving the same route your parents used to take you to school or watching old episodes of your favorite childhood show on YouTube. We can’t help but be taken back and feel connected with our past selves.

So how does this affect playing video games? The answer lies in the power of nostalgia. Through playing retro games, millennials are getting a chance to re-experience a culture that is familiar from their childhood; this means that nostalgia has become an important factor in today’s gaming community.

For example, many millennials are turning away from modern video games and instead taking a trip down memory lane by diving into titles such as Super Mario Bros., Final Fantasy 7 or even The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time – all staples among older gamers. Furthermore, there has been an increase in sales and demand for retro-themed games such as Retro City Rampage, Catrap, Little Inferno and Teslagrad for modern gaming platforms like PS4.

More and more studies suggest that millennials are increasingly turning towards retro games because these titles provide feelings of familiarity and evoke emotions stronger than those felt when playing newer titles with higher graphic capabilities – proving that sometimes simpler graphics can often create stronger emotional bonds when introducing characters within entirely new premises or worlds.

Retro Games: A Brief History

I’ve got to say, I’m no stranger to retro games! As a millennial, I’m all too familiar with their allure; ever since I was a young kid I’ve been playing retro games with my friends on our old consoles. From retro city games to retro horror games, there was always something for us to play. Nowadays, there are even some ps4 retro games released now too. But I’ve got to say, I’m still partial to the OG games.

In this brief article, I’ll touch on what of the history of retro games and why millennials like me are embracing the trend. Let’s get nostalgic!

Early console gaming

The adventure began in the 1970s with iconic early console systems like the Magnavox Odyssey and the Atari 2600. More than a hundred classic games were released for those systems, including Pong, Space Invaders, Combat and Asteroids. They featured simple 8-bit graphics—the sort that people love to reproduce on t-shirts and mugs today—and could usually be played with a basic joystick or even a rotary dial controller.

For children of the ’80s, these pioneer consoles were some of their greatest childhood pleasures. It was all about pushing buttons as fast as you could to outsmart your computer opponents; playing together with friends; finding secret warp zones and unlocking cheat codes — all of this served to create something far greater than just “playing a game”.

Today’s console owners enjoy incredible lifelike visuals thanks to technologies like virtual reality (VR) headsets and HD screens. While it’s impossible to compare today’s graphics with those from 40 years ago, it’s possible to appreciate what made these early games so captivating: fun ideas backed up by catchy soundtracks or invigorating challenges. Despite their age, many classic games remain popular on modern consoles because they’re simply too good to replace!

The rise of PC gaming

The 90s and early 2000s saw a huge rise in the popularity of PC gaming. Demos, shareware, and early internet access opened up a world of possibilities to explore and enjoy. Think Commander Keen or Doom – classic games with simple stories or basic puzzles that now have a special place in our hearts.

The power of growing processing technology gave way to improved graphics and color palette, making these simplistic platformers all the more intricate and graphically impressive. This was also an incredible time for indie game development, allowing smart minds to wander off the beaten path and explore the limits of their creativity. From the Lovecraftian inspired Blubber to point-and-click adventure games such as Rinko’s Dungeon Crawl, there was something for everyone’s taste.

As broadband internet access spread throughout households, it meant online gaming could make its presence felt on a global stage. Online multiplayer options quickly gained much traction, such as fantasy roleplaying games like World of Warcraft or vehicular combat series like Total Annihilation. With a regular income stream coming in from monthly subscriptions drawn by millions of players worldwide, developers had real financial backing to bring their visions even closer to reality than before.

The modern gaming landscape

As recent technologies have advanced the gaming industry, we’ve seen a shift away from traditional forms of play. Nintendo’s Wii and Xbox platforms have opened the door to motion and voice-operated interactive titles that capture a whole generation’s attention with their innovative gameplay. We now have virtual reality systems, social media gaming applications, and cloud-based gaming which allows for more data storage than ever before.

However, all this doesn’t mean that gamers no longer appreciate the classic consoles from days gone by. The average millennial game player has an affinity for retro games just as much as they do for modern blockbusters—perhaps even more so according to one study which found that 67% of millennials prefer retro over modern games (Sachdev & Gowadake 2018).

This is why much of today’s game landscape has trended back towards 8-bit visuals and simple storylines; both harken back to a simpler time when gaming was just as much about having fun as it was about winning. Retro horror games like Five Nights at Freddy’s or indie 8-bit gems like Hollow Knight have earned their due in the gaming world resulting in large profits for developers without sacrificing quality control or nostalgia—a win-win situation if you will!

Millennials and Retro Games

Ah, the sweet sounds of nostalgia! Who doesn’t love a blast from the past? Millennials certainly do, and it’s no secret why. In this article, I’ll provide some insight into why the generation of people born between 1981 and 1996 is embracing retro games and why they will continue to be a mainstay in gaming culture.

A study on gaming habits

ExpressVPN’s study on gaming habits surveyed 2,000 people in the United States and United Kingdom. The results showed that millennials are drawn to “nostalgia-based activities”—including retro video games. It appears that, for this age group, playing small 8-bit games can evoke powerful emotions of nostalgia for the childhood experiences and simpler times. The survey found that over 80% of those surveyed believed nostalgic gaming has a calming effect that helps them slow down and relax.

Surprisingly, the study found that millennials are actively seeking out classic titles from their youth; from retro arcade games such as Pac Man to early console hits like Sonic the Hedgehog to PC hit-parades like Doom. Female gamers are particularly keen to revive classic video game characters such as Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft and Final Fantasy’s Lightning. When it comes to platforms (console or PC), consoles still dominate with 85% citing their preference for Xbox or Nintendo platforms compared to 15% citing a preference for PC gaming. One statistic stands out above all – regardless of technological advancements over the last few decades, millennials still want to get their hands on classic titles such as Street Fighter II!

So why are millennials drawn back in time? Perhaps it’s because video games offer an escape from reality — no matter what generation they came from — allowing us all view our world through the lens (or pixel) of an eight-bit character, dashing through fantastical landscapes or villains alike!

The appeal of retro games

retro arcade machine

As a millennial myself, I can attest to why so many of my generation are embracing retro games — simply put, retro games are really cool. Whether you’re a fan of classic platformers like Mario or you prefer horror games like Resident Evil, there’s something nostalgic and familiar that draws us in each time.

For one, they’re much more accessible than their modern counterparts. Not only are these types of games usually cheaper than their next-gen equivalents, but they often don’t require extraordinary technical know-how or expensive gaming systems. Someone who is new to gaming may find retro console games easier to learn since the graphics and gameplay mechanics tend to be simpler.

Plus, there’s something uniquely charming about playing your favorite classic game on an original machine or console. Holding the cartridge in one hand while playing on an 80s gameboy with the other really takes me back and allows me to fully appreciate how far video gaming has come — not just technically but also culturally and socially, as well as its influence on society today.

The results of a recent study revealed that 72% of millennials prefer spending our down time with 70s, 80s and 90s style entertainment over next-gen or even virtual reality experiences — once again confirming our love for all things retro! So if you want to join in the fun and experience gaming history for yourself without having to break into dad’s attic for your old SNES (you know who you are!), try out some new or used retro consoles online today – who knows what gems you’ll uncover!

The power of nostalgia

Nostalgia is a powerful thing, especially for millennials. For those of us who grew up in the last decade or so, the games we played decades ago were the most important part of our childhoods. From beloved Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog, to Pac Man and Tetris (remember those long afternoons spent trying to “clear” that annoying ditty?), classic video games occupy a special place in our hearts.

As adults, these same gaming experiences bring back memories of simpler days that we often yearn for – but they also provide an avenue to enjoy something familiar and non-threatening while having some lighthearted fun. Of course, nostalgia isn’t just limited to solving puzzles or competing against friends; retrofying our living rooms by playing classic horror titles can give us an eerie adrenaline rush!

In a recent study exploring gamer habits, it was revealed that nearly one out of four millennials play retro-style video games at least once a week – a 15% increase from just last year alone! It’s easy to see why: joysticks may be passé, but familiarity never goes out of style!

Popular Retro Games

I’m sure you’ve heard that Millennials have been ditching their latest consoles and have been going retro by bringing back the old classics like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Super Mario Bros. But did you know that they’re also playing some new games too? Yup, I’m talking about games like retro city games and retro horror games!

In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular retro games, and I’ll give you an idea of what it’s like to play some of these classics. Let’s get started!

Retro city games

Millennials are embracing retro city games — those classic action-adventure games from the late 90s and early 2000s that make you feel like the hero of your own story. Grand Theft Auto (GTA), Bully, and Final Fantasy VII are some good examples.

These city games paved the way for future titles in genres like horror, sci-fi, racing…you name it! The sheer amount of exploration, character development, and player choice makes city-based gaming immersive and captivating. Whether you want to do a good deed or wreak havoc on the citizens of Vice City — it’s all up to you!

The best part? You don’t have to worry about modern graphics or bombarding players with funky menus. Instead, you’ll find carefully designed 2D environments packed with raw emotion and interactive characters whose stories unfold as you progress through the game. With these classics, storytellers have a lot more leeway when it comes to plotlines and puzzles — something which is simply not possible in modern AAA titles with predetermined plot lines.

At their heart, this genre of gaming encourages us to keep nostalgia alive while telling engaging stories that stand out in today’s world of gaming. With exciting re-releases coming out for popular platforms including Playstation 4 (PS4) – millennials everywhere can take advantage of this incredible bonding opportunity between us and our pasts!

Retro horror games

For those of us who grew up in the days before HD graphics on every modern console, playing a game meant committing to a full proper dose of terror. Retro horror games have surged back in popularity, with gamers of all ages gathering around to play some of the oldest entries in the genre—everything from original versions of “Resident Evil” and “Silent Hill,” to more recently released classics like “Fatal Frame” and “Clock Tower 3.” The appeal of these older games is more than just nostalgic; they often provide an experience that is more difficult and strange than anything we’ve seen before.

These games are designed differently than their modern counterparts. Older titles had limited visual representations, which often made for creative uses of darkness, sound design and varied enemy designs. This adds a layer of unpredictability to the game, creating a feeling that the player doesn’t know what’s coming next — something that has since been lost as technology has evolved and developers can provide more precise visuals within their gaming experience.

What also adds to this particular gaming genre’s appeal is how it does away with complex RPG elements or weapon upgrade systems, branding each playthrough as unique and unpredictable which keeps players engaged long-term. Throwback horror games often simulate a deeper sense of dread through cleverly implemented jumpscares or fear-inducing soundscapes versus traditional FPS or third-person shooter mechanics found in most modern games today — giving players multiple ways to find their level of fun while playing whatever flavor of retro horror they choose!

PS4 retro games

Ah, the PlayStation 4 – a console so beloved that young millennials are going back to where it all began. That’s right – retro games have become the hottest new trend in the gaming world and PS4 is leading the pack.

One of the biggest draws of PS4 retro games is their nostalgia factor. After all, what millennial doesn’t remember spending hours upon hours playing classic gems like Super Mario Brothers 3 or The Legend of Zelda? Not only does playing these classic titles bring gamers back to their childhood, but modern graphics and superior game mechanics have injected new life into these familiar franchises.

In addition to classics like Mario and Zelda, PS4 also offers plenty of other retro genres such as role-playing games (RPGs), horror titles such as Fatal Frame or Silent Hill, and arcade-style racers including Outrun 2 SP: The Final Stage! Plus thrill-seekers can look forward to upcoming ports of horror genre favorites such as Bloody Roar 3 Signature Edition and Dead Rising 2: Off The Record (Enhanced).

Furthermore, some major releases coming down the pipeline might just take retro gaming to a whole new level. For instance, an ambitious project titled Retro City Rampage DX Redux will reinterpret Grand Theft Auto III with 8-bit graphics while retaining all the action from its original release. Trust us – this title alone is worth getting your old console out for!

So whether you’re planning on immersing yourself in one particular classic gem or ready to take on all your old favorites anew with revitalized visuals and advanced gameplay systems – you won’t be disappointed by what’s available on the PlayStation 4!


To sum up, millennials are embracing retro games for a number of reasons. It harkens back to simpler times when gaming was pure and uncomplicated—and that nostalgic feeling ties in with the indie games movement where gamers are pushing for creative expression over big budget franchises. This return to nostalgic childhood memories is reflected in the surge of PS4 retro games, as well as the growth of retro city games and retro horror games.

However, we are only at the tip of the iceberg, and there’s a lot more exploration and research to be done in this rapidly growing gaming industry.

The importance of embracing the past

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I think it’s safe to say that the future of video gaming is looking bright — partly due to the resurgence of retro games. Millennials in particular are finding nostalgic joy in the classic titles they remember playing as children. This appreciation for vintage games has given developers an opportunity to provide fresh and innovative spins on our childhood favourites.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with appreciating the newest games that are available on the market today. But it’s important to recognize that acknowledging and embracing our past can be just as beneficial when it comes to video gaming. Fans can come full circle and appreciate how far gaming technology has advanced since then, while also tracing their way back down memory lane by indulging in some familiar titles from their pasts. By doing so, millennials have the ability to connect with their younger selves and reminisce about days gone by — or even go back in time virtually with a variety of retro city, horror and ps4 retro games that transport them right back into those unforgettable moments they experienced while growing up alongside these various franchises.

In addition to providing nostalgia-driven entertainment, embracing our pasts is especially important when it comes to helping us better understand our present and design a brighter future for us all. As per a recent study on gaming habits across age groups, only by looking into history can we grasp what has gotten us where we are today — whether if it’s through examining which retro experiences have endured decades after their initial release or examining which changes work towards creating positive experiences for gamers today. It includes deconstructing which type of characters resonate more strongly with players now versus yesteryear; or understanding which music brings people together; or pondering why tight controls make all the difference in giving gamers those empowering feels whenever navigating around virtual environments successfully regardless if it’s an open world exploring or a story driven journey… Looking ahead instead of dwelling too much on our yesteryear definitely pays off – but having a healthy relationship with your inner child doesn’t hurt either!

The power of nostalgia

Nostalgia plays an important role in why millennials are drawn to retro games. As we mentioned earlier, the gaming industry has evolved over the decades, with 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games like Super Mario Bros paving the way for the more realistic titles of today. But for many millennials, those classic 8-bit titles remain dear to their hearts—evoking a wave of nostalgic emotions that allow them to escape from reality for a few hours.

To put it into perspective, A study done by University of Oxford psychologist Dr.Chris Ferguson suggests that playing 16-bit games correlates with gamers feeling “attached” to their digital companions and environments; allowing gamers to inhabit their ‘dream worlds’ without feeling anxious or uncomfortable due to an unfamiliar game environment.

On top of this nostalgic comfort, gamers enjoy the challenge that comes with playing these classic titles—the sense of satisfaction once you beat a hard level or boss makes them feel invincible! Further studies on gaming habits reveal that gamers particularly enjoy playing games which are considered ‘difficult’ but not ‘impossible’—which is why we see so many millennials drawn towards retro 2D sidescrollers like Undertale and Hollow Knight; they offer enough challenge to keep players hooked while also allowing them to have plenty of fun exploring vast new terrains with everchanging objectives and enemy types.

It’s clear then that retro games offer more than just entertainment – they’re a reminder of happy childhood memories and an escape into another world where skill and perseverance triumph over all obstacles. It’s no surprise that these unique gameplay elements drive millennials back into cashing in coins at arcades or subscribing monthly on streaming services available today in order to replay their beloved retro classics; allowing them yet another chance at experiencing classic gaming greatness!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s the big deal about retro games?

A: The nostalgia factor is huge for millennials! From Pacman to Space Invaders, from Super Mario to Sonic the Hedgehog, these games bring us back to a simpler time when our biggest worries were whether or not we could beat the level. Plus, retro games are generally easier to pick up and play than modern games, so they’re a great way to relax and have some fun.

Q: Are there any studies that back up why millennials are embracing retro games?

A: Yes; there have been several studies done on the subject. One study by the University of Oxford found that millennials prefer retro games because they “provide a sense of familiarity, comfort and nostalgia.” So, if you’re looking for a way to escape the stresses of modern life, you might want to check out a few retro games!

Q: What are some of the best retro games for PS4?

A: There are tons of great retro games for PS4! Some of the most popular ones are retro city games like Grand Theft Auto, retro horror games like Resident Evil, and classic arcade games like Pac-Man. With so many options, you’re sure to find something to get your retro gaming fix!