It’s well reported that video gaming is the next big market of growth within the licensing industry. After all, it’s an industry that has recently overtaken movies as the largest mass platform for entertainment among consumers.
As such, the increase in activity surrounding video game IP licensing has been wholly tangible, from the rise in retail output from the likes of Forbidden Planet, Game and more, to the surge in demand for video gaming properties among licensees and product partners.
One sub-sector of the category to have picked up steam in recent years is retro gaming and a heightened demand for the video gaming brands of yesteryear. Sega has tapped into the demand with increased roll-out of an icon of the 16-bit era, Sonic the Hedgehog, while Bandai Namco’s portfolio of classic titles continues to be a fountain of inspiration for licensees the globe over.
One such company to have recently partnered with the retro gaming specialist is My Arcade who has signed on to develop a raft of retro table-top arcade machines and handhelds based on Bandai Namco’s heritage titles including Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig Dug.
However, while the partnership emerges at a time in which retro gaming is at the height of popularity among mainstream audiences, My Arcade is quick to emphasise that retro gaming is not a fad. Far from it.
Licensing.biz caught up with Amir Navid, senior vice president of product development at My Arcade to talk retro gaming and why the current consumer demand is no flash in the pan trend.
Can you tell about My Arcade, how long have you guys been tapping into the demand for retro gaming licenses?
We have been producing retro devices for over ten years already with various plug and play devices and handhelds. We began our miniature arcade machines in 2014, so we were already very established in this market and have great familiarity with designing and producing them.
At My Arcade, we have a real passion for classic games and it’s a labour of love. My Arcade as a brand is focused on classic gaming, including dedicated devices and accessories for classic home consoles. We want to be a source for quality products for everything related to classic gaming.
There has been a resurgence in retro gaming lately and we certainly appreciate that, but we are happy to be a part of it. My Arcade is in this for the long run and we love and respect these classics that have paved the way for the modern gaming industry.
As for licenses, we try to work with developers we love and put out games that we enjoy and we feel a new generation of gamers will appreciate. The eight and 16 bit era had some amazing games that are forever ingrained into our society and popular culture, so we try to make products that rekindle that connection.
What sort of growth have you seen through the licensed portfolio in recent years? Where do you think this demand for retro gaming licenses has come from?
Obviously, certain licenses are so loved and well-known that they can be a great help in finding placement with retailers, but the quality of the devices and execution of how the IP is used is very important.
Strong licenses can help growth, and we have seen that with our product line. We also want to give a spotlight to some lesser known titles, which we feel were instrumental to gaming’s history.
These classic games may not have the flashy graphics of more modern games, but they are immensely fun to play, and regardless of any current fad, we feel there will always be a market for these games.
What are some of the most popular licenses you guys have at the moment? What do you think the future holds for this side of the business?
Obviously Bandai Namco titles are beloved classics, which makes them a great partner for us. Games like Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig Dug will always be popular. However, we also love the work we did with Data East and their titles: Burger Time and Bad Dudes. We grew up with these games and we want gamers that love to play them again, while introducing a whole new generation to them as well.
What is the international audience for these products? What are the key markets and are you looking at international expansion?
These games and devices transcend borders and languages. We believe gamers of all ages can enjoy them as well. So, the strategy is consistent regardless of the market. We do try to have solutions for both the hardcore and casual player, as well.
What does 2018 hold for My Arcade?
We will be focused on releasing more collectable Micro Player Arcades, our new licensed Handhelds and also supporting new retro consoles such as the NES Classic Edition and the SNES Classic Edition.