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  • Writer's pictureTony

Your Favorite Games And Consoles Are Getting Older (And That's Okay)

Join Tony from Podcasters United as he shares his thoughts on all things Retro!

There has always been a lot of discourse over the term “retro” among the gaming community and many people, myself included, have found themselves getting caught up in the never ending argument over when something should be given the controversial title. What defines something as retro can greatly vary depending on personal preference, my own rule of thumb for when I consider something retro is after 2 passing console generations and/or whenever the console hits its 20th anniversary. This is to account for major advancements in both technology and game development, as well as for the discontinuation of a console and its software no longer being available in retail stores. I also took into consideration that recent generations have been greatly extended thanks to their online capabilities still being active, as well as digital stores making games readily available to buy with the click of a button. Recently however the tides of time have started to turn with the closure of the Wii U/3DS servers, as well as the closure of the XBOX 360 store this coming July and the inevitable closure of the PSN store for the PS3 and Vita likely happening sooner than later.

The Wii U servers were shut down this past April.

Console generations seem to be lasting longer and longer after each iteration, resulting in some living on way past their intended “end of life” date set by the companies that make them. There have also been a ton of modern ports and remasters released over the years, with a lot of them having QOL improvements added that can help the games feel fresher than they really are. Then we have the 8th gen consoles like the Playstation 4, a 10+ year old console that despite Sony discontinuing the production of most models just a few years ago, still seems to have a lot of life left in it thanks to its overwhelming popularity resulting in developers to still release games for it almost 4 years into the current generation. While the 8th gen is a very long way off until it can even be considered retro, I can definitely see an argument for pushing the dial back a bit or maybe even avoiding using the word altogether going forward. 

This leads me to my first question, why do people care so much if someone calls a console retro? I kind of get why some might be a bit reluctant about it, a few years ago I heard Chop Suey by System of a Down playing on the local Classic Rock station for the first time and it was a very sobering experience. This was a song that was basically the anthem of my Freshman year of College and hearing it playing alongside a bunch of ”dad rock” literally made my bones feel like they were turning to dust. Many of us spent our adolescents and young adult years playing these consoles and hearing them now being referred to as old is kind of shell shocking. So perhaps the real issue is that when someone hears these consoles being referred to as “retro”, they themselves might feel like they are also being labeled as old and obsolete. 

Which leads me to my next question, touching back on something I alluded to previously in the article. Should we find a new term for “retro” going forward in regards to the 7th generation and beyond? While I am just fine with using the term retro for the sake of its simplicity, I can understand the arguments against using it in this case and I think finding a new term to use might be something to consider. Technology hasn’t advanced all that much since the start of the 7th generation and all of the consoles with HD capabilities are still able to hook up to modern displays with minimal effort, unlike many of the consoles from previous generations that can have issues displaying correctly, or even connecting to them without the use of extra equipment or modding. So maybe going forward we should simply refer to these more recent consoles by their generations, instead of using a term that is better suited for something with a shorter life span in regards to their capabilities, since these consoles will be used in modern ways for the foreseeable future.

Halo 2 matchmaking once again active thanks to Insignia

On one final note, just because something is considered old or retro, does not mean it has outlived its usefulness. Just about every console has had some kind of second life after reaching their expiration date, there have been countless console mods, fan translations, game ports and even completely original games made from the ground up thanks to the efforts of dedicated fans keeping the dream alive. There are even efforts to bring online services back online, XBOX Live for the original XBOX has been partially revived thanks to the hard work by the team behind Insignia Live, with many games having their leaderboards and multiplayer functions restored over a decade after being shut down. There is also the Pretendo Network for the recently shuttered WiiU and 3Ds servers that has made great progress preserving as much as they could in order to get as many game servers back up running as possible. That’s not even getting into the variety of FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) consoles, handhelds and emulators that are also available for many of the older consoles, proving that end of life does not necessarily mean death.

In the grand scheme of things,nothing can stop time from marching forward and arguing about something as fruitless as what is or isn’t “Retro” is an endless battle that will get anyone involved absolutely nowhere. Everyone has their own personal take on the topic, with some having stronger feelings than others, so I doubt any amount of arguing is going to change anyone's opinion or result in a definitive answer. The only thing that really matters are your own cherished memories that these games and consoles have brought to your life and no single label can ever take those away from you.

This article went on way longer than I expected, I tried to come at this topic as unbiased and open minded as possible, so forgive me if it may have been a bit all over the place. I think it is important to look at things from different angles, instead of hammering down on my own personal opinion and sometimes that can lead to things going a bit off course. At the very least I hope this was informative in some way, or even enlightening to anyone that is reading this. As always, be sure to leave a comment below or contact me via my socials if you want to share your opinion on the subject, or simply just want to tell me how wrong I am.


About the Author:

Bio: Tony is a lifelong game collector, Batman fan and enjoyer of B-movies.Twitter: @TonyGearSolid 

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