The Golden Age of Arcade Games – A Brief History
If you are an arcade game fanatic like all of us at Auction Game Sales, you have most likely heard about the Golden Age of Arcade Games. Many of the most notable arcade games were created and gained their massive following during this era. From Space Invaders to Pac-Man and beyond, the Golden Age of Arcade Games was a legendary time period for the arcade game industry.
The Success of the Arcade Game Industry
The Golden Age of Arcade Games is commonly referred to as the peak of the arcade game industry, due to the advances in technology and rapid popularity. Although the exact date range of this time period is unknown, many experts agree that the era occurred from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.
In comparison to the video games we play today, the graphics and technology used in arcade games during the Golden Age were quite simplistic. Instead of flashy graphics, audio and controls, the games relied on fascinating gameplay, storylines and notable characters.
During this time period, the arcade game industry experienced a massive growth in revenue and popularity. For instance, the entire revenue of the industry tripled to approximately $2.8 billion in 1980. In addition, the number of arcades across the globe doubled between 1980 and 1983.
What Made Arcade Games Successful?
What sparked the Golden Age of Arcade Games and the shift in popularity? As video arcades spread rapidly across North America, Europe and Asia, many attribute the ‘trend’ to the advancement of technology. Although basic in comparison to today’s technology, the innovations in the industry at the time drew gamers from the popular pinball machines to the interactive arcade games.
Advancements in the arcade game industry include:
- Vibrant Graphics
- Introduction of Color Monitors
- Digital Audio Innovations
- New Controls – Trackball, Buttons, Joystick
Characters and Plots
One of the most notable reasons for the popularity of video games was the characters and storylines involved. The recognizable characters and plots appealed to a large audience of all ages and genders. Arcade games such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Q*Bert and others became quickly integrated into popular culture with television shows, merchandise, movies and more. In addition, arcade game characters gained fans worldwide, which to this day are still loyal to their favorite character and games.
In order for an arcade game to be successful during the Golden Age, the game needed to be easy to understand, entertaining, and have the right amount of complexity. For instance, if a game was too easy to operate and gamers could win every time, the gamers would lose interest due to the lack of a challenge. On the contrary, if a game were difficult to understand and operate, gamers would give up easily and move on to the next game. Many arcade games during this time period found that perfect balance, including:
- Space Invaders
- Donkey Kong
- Mario Bros.
- And more
The Golden Age of Arcade Games produced numerous culture icons, profitable companies, a thriving industry, and loyal fans and set the course for video games today as we know them.
If you are searching for your favorite vintage arcade game from the Golden Age, be sure to stop by one of our upcoming auctions.