So it's safe to say that the respective marketplaces for the PS3 and the Xbox 360 have taken up the role that backwards compatibility once occupied -- offering gamers the option to fire up retro titles and play the games that resonated in their youth (or at least that resonated four to five years ago). The fact that "Super Street Fighter II" Turbo HD Remix, a graphical update of a game that's been out for more than a decade, is #6 on the list of top-selling Xbox Live Arcade games, shows that the market for retro games is alive, well, and even growing. As a business decision, this makes a huge amount of sense for Microsoft and Sony -- why sink development dollars into consoles that can play older titles when you can save that money, and sell older titles back to your users, through your digital distribution system?
The demand for retro-gaming can be a boon to marketers, as well. Advergame development is hard and costly to do right -- the game mechanics have to be engaging but not too complex and the subject matter has to be promotional but not over-the-top shilling. But older-generation console and PC games provide a rich source of inspiration for casual gaming that marketers can tap for concepts. As an added bonus, the familiar themes and gameplay mechanics can appeal to fans of those past classics. A great example is the faux-"Oregon Trail" that Fall Out Boy recently released, which will scratch the nostalgia itch of any true gamer, and also incorporates modern game mechanics ("Guitar Hero"/"Rock Band," anyone?) with an old-school look and feel. The game is a vehicle to give away passes to the band's new North American tour, and incessantly plays songs from their latest albums, meaning that it's hard to escape a play session without being exposed at least a little bit to Fall Out Boy's music.