Nintendo to Re-Release Game & Watch – Is Nostalgia the Best Marketing Strategy?

Nintendo has announced that it will re-release one of its handheld devices from the 1980s. The Game & Watch is designed exactly as it would have been in the 1980s – but with an LCD screen, USB port, and rechargeable battery. The Game & Watch helped the company launch in 1980 and allowed it to build the success that it experiences today. The original had 59 games in total, but the remake will only have three, all Mario games. The success of the Game & Watch (after some less successful projects) led to the NES and Game Boy, which helped put Nintendo on the map. But how successful a strategy is using nostalgia for new releases in modern gaming?

How Do Nintendo Use Nostalgia?

Nintendo use nostalgia a lot in their game releases – with brand mascots Mario and Pokémon being key examples. The highest-grossing media franchise of all time, Pokémon, for example, has managed to keep the game fresh for 25 years, despite essentially offering the same gameplay each generation.

The reliance on the original 151 Pokémon – with special new mega-evolutions of fan favorites such as Charizard – shows how important nostalgia is to Nintendo. Pokémon Go’s 2016 release saw people flock in their thousands around streets to catch the Pokémon initially unveiled in 1995, proving that nostalgia in gaming works.

Remastering the Classics

Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon have received re-masters which transformed the exact gameplay from the 1990s games with modern graphics. The games were so successful that Crash will receive a brand-new title, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, in 2020. Final Fantasy VII also received a 2020 remake – the first in a series – as the popular 1997 game has been given a makeover befitting the gaming conventions and computing ability of the 21st century.

How Else is Nostalgia Used in Entertainment?

The strategy doesn’t just apply to bringing back gaming mascots and re-releasing franchises. It also involves incorporating elements of nostalgia across the board in all forms of entertainment from TV and movies to online casino and mobile gaming.

TV and Movies

There has been a slew of TV shows to receive sequels or even full remakes by utilizing the nostalgia effect. Twin Peaks, for instance, received a TV sequel 25 years after the original series ended. 2018’s Cobra Kai was released 34 years after The Karate Kid came out, while even shows such as Breaking Bad and Prison Break were given sequels shortly after their conclusions. Even Charmed received a 2018 reboot, despite the original cast suggesting they could have starred in a sequel that followed their characters.

In movies, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic World are all set to see another feature film – despite the initial offerings appearing in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, respectively. By harnessing the nostalgia of the three goliath franchises, each released for a new audience, major studios can funnel millions into the productions with more of a guarantee that they’ll make it back.

Mobile Entertainment

Mobile gaming has come a long way since the Nokia game Snake, but that doesn’t mean developers haven’t used the nostalgia around our first taste of mobile gaming to create a gaming experience today. takes the essence of the Snake game but modernizes it, providing a fresh digital adventure based on the classic.

Other, more traditional forms of gaming, such as slots, have been modernized too. For example, there is a Guns ‘N’ Roses slot game available for mobile online casinos, who offer no-deposit bonuses that can be used as to introduce themselves to the game. Its developer, NetEnt, is recognised as a quality provider of online slots, showing that the company has engineered nostalgia for brand recognition across platforms.

How Does Nostalgia Work?

Nostalgia works because there is an existing fanbase and an eager audience ready to dive into something they have fond memories of. The games will appeal to younger generations as any new game would, which means the game would target two sets of key consumers. The importance of the original nostalgia-hit players is that they are most likely to be vocal and create buzz and excitement around the games that they remember from long ago.

Modern gaming may be all about innovation, but some of the biggest successes have at least a hint of nostalgia embedded in them. This nostalgia works to give developers confidence that the games have an audience, while helping new generations engage with the same franchise each decade. As some of the most successful releases across all entertainment have been included in these franchises, it’s clear that nostalgia as a strategy works.