Pac-Man gets a 40th birthday celebration overhaul

Pac man icon and ghosts. Retro computer arcade game vector flat characters set. Play videogame with fun monster illustration

It’s hard to believe that Pac-Man is 40 years old, but the dot-munching maze game was launched in 1980 by Tokyo-based Bandai Namco. To celebrate its anniversary, a host of Pac-Man competitions have been announced, such as London-based retro gaming company Antstream Arcade’s Galaxian Challenge.

Between 23rd and 30th October, Antstream was challenging subscribers to take on Guinness World Record holder Billy Mitchell and UK Pac-Man champion Jon Stoodley to claim a spot on its global leaderboard. But with just one life, power pills that last only 1 second, Pac-Man slowed to 90% and ghosts speeded up to 110% it’s quite an ask! To sweeten the (power) pill, the company was offering a free 7-day trial to anyone who’d like to have a go, with packages normally priced at £9.99 per month or £95.88 a year to access Antstream’s ever-expanding catalogue of arcade games.

Collectible start-up Pinfinity is working with Bandai Namco in an entirely different way to mark the anniversary. The company is launching an augmented reality Pac-Man pin in December 2020 which will join an impressive catalogue of pins subscribers can already collect that feature popular video game franchises and TV series. These include My Little Pony, Transformers, GI Joe, Power Rangers, Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering, Street Fighter, Labyrinth, Farscape, Fraggle Rock, Dark Crystal, Tetris, Fallout, DOOM, Elder Scrolls and Manga.

The brainchild of pin creator Caleb Paullus, Pinfinity’s pins bring fandom to life by adding animation, sound and interactive experiences. After downloading the free app, subscribers to the company’s Pinfinity+ subscription service are able to scan their pins to unlock nostalgic music, custom animation and downloadable content, link to websites and display selfie frames.

It’s all a far cry from the game’s humble arcade beginnings in Japan, but it’s worth remembering Pac-Man remains the best selling arcade game of all time, with the franchise having made $14 billion over the last 40 years. Transitioning the experience to mobile gaming and adding new innovations from the likes of Antstream and Pinfinity, means the franchise’s revenue-generating potential looks set to continue for quite some time.  

Written by Angharad Rhiannon

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