Seun Areoye
Sep 27, 2023

How gaming brands are reimagining themselves to capture today's audiences

Pac-Man, Tetris and Monopoly are appealing to younger gamers through their clever use technology, collaboration and consistency.


As a 25-year-old lover of games, I sit in an interesting middle ground between two audiences. I grew up playing on my cousin's Nintendo 64 and having a PlayStation Portable (still one of the best consoles to ever exist) but I also felt that childlike joy when the delivery man turned up at my door with my brand new PlayStation 5 on the day of its release.

In that sense, I'm privileged enough to have traversed through so many different gaming eras and have a soft spot in my heart for legacy games – from Pac-Man through to Mario.

The gaming landscape has moved on a long way since I first picked up a controller. Where adventure titles venture beyond capturing Princess Peach, and Battle Royale is the dominant theme across many multiplayer games, some franchises have had to play catch up to stay as relevant as they were decades ago.

A wave of older titles are impressively revamping themselves to appeal to a younger audience, with technology, collaboration, cultural zeitgeist and consistency the main pillars of their approach.\

Immersive Space Invaders game (technology)

Partnering Google to move the iconic aesthetic of Space Invaders from the arcade machine to the real world, the new adaptation of the game uses augmented reality to deliver a fresh experience to a game known and loved for decades.

Tasking users with the challenge of saving our planet from the Space Invaders, the game sees the "monsters" appear to spawn from above and behind buildings and drift through the sky. Players can venture around their local areas and defeat these invaders, scoring points, unlocking power-ups and competing with friends in their proximity.

Following Pokémon Go's success in giving its franchise a fresh lease of life, this Space Invaders revamp trails the same path, bringing the game to the everyday life of users by turning Planet Earth into a big playground.

Lego Pac-Man (collaboration)

When two of the largest and most recognisable brands in the gaming and toys department come together, it's bound to make some noise. Teaming up to create what can only be described as an artefact, it's an intricately designed remake of an arcade machine with the iconic Pac-Man and ghost gang.

A celebration of two brands that have delivered joy over the decades, the piece is also interactive – enabling you to recreate the timeless visual of Pac-Man chasing the ghosts around.

Reading the fanfare of YouTube comments from people who have used and love this collaborative product, it is clear this collision of two popular worlds is a winner.

Monopoly (cultural zeitgeist)

When thinking about Monopoly, what's the first location that comes to mind? Whether it's Mayfair, Old Kent Road or somewhere in between, chances are you're thinking of only one version of the 300+ monopoly boards that have been released since the game's debut in 1935.

While the original Monopoly board might be as essential to some households as cutlery, what's also helped the game continue the growth of its world has been its ability to tap into zeitgeists, creating a perfect platform to crystallise memories through its products.

Whether it's the Godfather-themed board that swaps iconic London locations for unforgettable characters such as Michael Corleone, or the Naruto take on the famous board, where there's a moment, there's a Monopoly board for it.

Tetris (never change)

While some franchises adapt and evolve, it seems Tetris is seemingly unchanged from when it launched the best part of four decades ago. It is still one of the world's most popular games. The story of how the game found its way to players around the globe has now even been made into a feature film.

Sticking to its guns, and building upon its original brand – one that just happens to be a very simple yet addictive brain game – has worked well and, like the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Future gamers

When you consider a crowd that's invested in the likes of E3 – a festival that serves to update gamers worldwide fuelled by console launches and upgrades – technological understanding is part of a gamer's DNA.

Using technology in innovative ways can not only pique interest but will speak to a gamer, making them more likely to invest in your brand/product. When brands like Lego and Pac-Man come together, the collision of two (or more) familiar worlds makes gamers feel like they are being spoken to.

Being able to update your world to the zeitgeist, as Monopoly does, enables fringe consumers to familiarise themselves with your world while more active fans are able to absorb themselves more deeply.

All of these franchises, although they exist in the world of play, have cultivated connections that sit beyond that core world. They're all cultural icons in their own right, recreational activities each with their own distinguishable aesthetic.

It's almost impossible not to think of Pac-Man when you see a yellow circle. That strong visual identity can easily translate, merge and be complemented by a plethora of other facets in the world of entertainment.

And we all love nostalgia, so leaning in to the legacy of your brand, as Tetris does, will help you withstand trends. Having an aesthetically distinguishable look will mean gamers know exactly what they're getting from you, which can go a long way in generating an everlasting love for a brand.

A massive part of gaming, and what attracts people to it, are the memories formed with our communities, but the feeling of being together in a physical space playing games seems to have been lost. Here lies a huge opportunity for a brand to recreate that nostalgia-inducing feeling of community in a new way.

Seun Areoye is trends editor at Amplify

Campaign UK

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