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A Disjointed Rant About Retro...

I had written something else here originally, then I realized that basically everything I was linking
First Draught
A Disjointed Rant About Retro...
By M.G. Siegler • Issue #139 • View online
I had written something else here originally, then I realized that basically everything I was linking to below was tied together by the theme of nostalgia. And then I realized that I come back to this theme time and time again. In fact, I have several notes saved on the topic to write about later. Rather than do that (new ideas always seem to shove aside… old ones), I thought I’d do some quick blurbs below.
First, the idea of re-runs. On old-school television (broadcast), this made sense. On new-school television (streaming), this makes no sense. Netflix has destroyed this model, as Michelle Castillo notes:
On a traditional TV network, deals are typically renegotiated after the first few seasons to cover more show production costs, recoup losses on earlier seasons and incorporate additional bonuses. In the rare cases when a show reaches 80 to 100 episodes, it may go into syndication, with past episodes licensed by multiple networks. In the case of “Modern Family,” reruns appear on USA Network, some Fox Television Stations and other local stations. The majority of revenue still goes to Fox.
Only 2 to 5 percent of shows will make it this far, according to two industry executives. However, another executive said the syndication success of one or two shows could bankroll 35 other productions.
So if there are no re-runs in this new model, what might be something different that could take the place of such a concept? Perhaps it’s re-watching previous seasons of shows coming back on. I know before Game of Thrones comes back for its final season next year, we plan to watch all of last season again. Some people will undoubtedly watch the entire series again before it comes back. Sure, part of this is because of the long layoff between seasons, but I generally like to do this to catch up (yes, with content already seen – a re-run) and to get into the right mindset in the binge era.
Second, I’ve long been intrigued by the idea of retro gaming (specifically, videogaming). And I’ve long been on Nintendo to embrace this. And now that they are, it’s going extremely well. But it feels like there’s even more potential still. From a report by Naomi Schanen last year:
Online sales are also booming, because not everyone can make the pilgrimage to Akihabara. Drew Steimel, who runs DKOldies, a Pennsylvania-based retro game trader, says that he sold almost $3 million worth of vintage games online last year, compared with just a few hundred dollars on EBay when he first started out. “We have been selling retro games for over 13 years and have seen the market grow every year,” he said.
The online market remains heavily reliant on retro video games from Japan and neighboring countries, with more than half of titles on EBay coming from Asia, based on a search online. Often, games sold via online marketplaces fetch higher prices: a copy of Mario Party 2 offered at 490 yen at Super Potato was listed at 3,000 to 10,000 yen on Yahoo! Auctions and EBay.
Imagine not just the NES or SNES Classics, or the inevitable N64 Classic, or even Nintendo’s forthcoming networked nostalgia, it still feels like there’s an opportunity to create fully new experiences in the style of retro. And that’s not to say just the way the games look, but how they play and are created. In an era where most new titles are insanely complicated, there’s something nice in the simplicity of retro. I think you see this in the smartphone gaming market mainly because the controls have to be simplified there. But I think it can extend far beyond that. And should.
Nostalgia gave us a taste for the potential here, but it’s new, younger generations discovering these games (and making their own) where the real power lies.
“When we first started, our biggest customer was the 30-year-old looking to buy back their past,” Steimel said. “There are now new competitors like Nintendo itself releasing the NES Classic and SNES classic systems, but this is only making the market bigger than before. We have seen growth in all of our target age groups, especially the 20-year-olds.”
Third, and just to make this topic wrap in around itself, I often find myself thinking about how strange it is that it’s strange to share older content online (this thread from a few months back on Twitter is a pretty good one on the topic). As if the timeliness of a post matters at all for evergreen content. It’s still weird that we feel the need to qualify a share as “old content” – as I often do, including below!
Part of it undoubtedly stems from the fear that because it’s not brand new, someone may have already shared the post before (but that’s almost certainly true with new content as well). Another part probably has to do with not wanting your own readers to feel “tricked” (again, as if sharing something older is a bad thing in some way). Maybe it’s just the innate desire all of us have for “new” – the calamine lotion for that which itches.
Anyway, I find myself thinking about this most often in the context of when famous people pass away. It’s in such times that people are not only comfortable sharing older content (about or by said people), but they’re actually drawn to it. And it’s pretty great because the content is usually pretty great. I just wish this didn’t need to come about due to such an extreme circumstance, and instead was the norm.
Drinking: a North Coast Scrimshaw 🍻

5ish Links
'The Fugitive' Still Won’t Quit, 25 Years Later
How One Man Made the Indie Video Game Sensation 'Stardew Valley'
More Strikeouts Than Hits? Baseball’s Latest Crisis
"That lit a match, and the explosion was Trump."
"I cram 10 pounds of caviar into an 8-pound pack."
Can Spielberg Remember How to Have Fun?
500ish Words
To Auto-Archive, Or Not To Auto-Archive
A Giphy To Go
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M.G. Siegler

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