Skip to Content

15 Reasons Why Pac-Man Is Still Popular (Why Is Pac-Man So Iconic?)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Pac-Man arcade game
Red Herring / Shutterstock.com

It has been many decades, and Pac-Man is still popular. That’s quite an amazing track record, right? The gaming industry has grown and risen exponentially over the years with its remarkable graphics and attractive features. Nevertheless, a maze arcade game released in 1980 is holding its popularity. 

What makes this game so iconic to people even after all these years? Pac-Man’s addictive features are what make it unforgettable. People get nostalgic thinking about the days when they would invade the arcade to play Pac-Man. Arguably, it became the first mainstream phenomenon in America. 

Let’s dive into the reasons for Pac-Man’s everlasting popularity.

These are 15 reasons why Pac-Man is still popular:

1. It took the gaming industry by storm.

Pac-Man is one of the best-selling arcade games ever. In America, it earned more than $1 billion in quarters. Selling over 100 000 arcade units in less than two years. It became a nationwide success as soon as it was released.

2. Pac-Man is a comparatively nonviolent game.

Pac-Man’s comparatively nonviolent feature made it stand out among other 80s games. Every other game in the arcade was as violent as it could be at that time. Two world wars mainly inspired the violent trend of arcade games. Pac-Man did not follow the trend and won the hearts of millions in the process. 

3. The game is a simple but challenging concept.

The rules of Pac-Man are simple to play but hard to master. For this reason, many people found themselves becoming addicted to the game. They thoroughly enjoyed playing it (still do today), but it still presented a mental challenge. 

The game gets difficult with cleared levels. As the game progresses, Pac-Man’s speed escalates. This simply adds to the pressure and excitement. Not just that, the speed of the ghosts, dots, and ghost spawn escalate too. 

The most challenging part is when Pac-Man gets surrounded by ghosts from every angle. You have to know the tricks to get out of this situation or get caught by the ghost. Pac-Man is challenging in its simplicity, which is one reason why so many people still love to play the game.   

4. It is easy to learn the game.

The game-play of Pac-Man is super simple. Its user-friendliness makes it awesome to play, attracting players of most ages. All you have to do is eat the dots and avoid getting caught. Super simple, isn’t it? Except it’s not that simple, is it? Easy to learn, but not easy to master. Now that’s a game format that’s designed for infinite popularity.

5. The characters are colorful and attractive.

Every character of Pac-Man is endearing. The vibrant colors of the characters make them cute and hard to forget. How can we forget the distinctive yellow color of Pac-Man? 

Most people today can recognize Pac-Man in an instant. It’s our nature to love the hero and hate the villain, but even if you wanted, you could not hate Pac-Man’s enemies – they are rather endearing too. The creator chose bright colors for the ghosts, too, making a statement and creating added excitement. 

Pac-man video game
Cineberg / Shutterstock.com

6. Pac-Man involves repeatable but logical patterns.

Pac-Man has a repetitive but logical pattern. You would see it if you spend a good amount of time playing the game. It progresses the same way as before if the inputs are the same. As a result, you get to play the game for a long time just by memorizing those patterns. 

You could play Pac-Man indefinitely with one quarter, and back in the day when arcade games were the norm, that’s just what people did. No wonder arcades were packed those days and some kids “hogged” the machines.

7. The game-play is appealing to everyone regardless of gender.

Another big reason for its endless popularity is its gender neutrality. Pac-Man was initially designed to appeal to girls, and much to the creator’s surprise (and delight), it created a craze among girls and boys equally. 

Most games are created, keeping in mind a specific target audience. But Pac-Man not only brought girls to the arcade, but it also captured the attention of all age groups. Which added to its ever-growing popularity.

8. The game is interesting with tricky movements of the monsters.

No doubt Pac-Man has some catchy features, such as colorful graphics and music. But what compelled people to come back for more is the impressive AI of the game. The ghosts of the game act differently from each other as they can react according to the action of the player. They move in a complex manner which is quite hard to predict. 

Players feel continually challenged, making the game more interesting. The more a player plays the game, the more they want to play the game. It’s almost a perpetual situation, isn’t it?! 

9. The game was declared to be the “Most Successful Coin-Operated Game”.

It’s quite hard to forget about a game that got its name in the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2005 Pac-Man was awarded as the most successful coin-operated game of all time. This alone is one reason why Pac-Man’s popularity has lived on, even after all of these years.

10. Being the first original gaming mascot.

Pac-Man’s title character, a yellow-colored pizza with a missing slice, became the first original gaming mascot. It changed the gaming industry, attracting more people to video games. Undeniably, it is one of the most influential video games of all time. Every year gaming companies launch numerous games despite that we hold Pac-Man close to our hearts.

11. Game inspired merch.

It should not be a surprise to see Pac-Man-inspired merchandise after its massive success. The iconic characters of Pac-Man became the face of many products. Trading cards, puzzles, bedspreads, pencil and lunch boxes, broad games, clothing, and even the trash cans were inspired by it. It became a common strategy to attract customers.  

12. Pac-Man Fever ranked ninth (09) in the USA charts.

Pac-Man’s popularity even more when the song “Pac-Man Fever,” by artists Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia, hit the US top ten charts. The song was a lyrical representation of the worldwide phenomenon named Pac-Man. Pac-Man Fever ranked number nine, selling more than 1 million records within two years. Over the years, many artists made songs and parodies about the game.  

13. Pac-Man is a trendsetter.

Before Pac-Man, the gaming industry was male-focused, of course. Games were developed to attract them. Shooting, bombing, killing were the main characteristics of most games. Not to mention, the arcades were dominated by them. But Pac-Man created a revolution, setting the trend where arcades were packed with male and female players. 

arcade game with a famous game in the world called Pac Man
Marti Bug Catcher / Shutterstock.com

14. Appearing in movies and TV series made Pac-Man more popular.

Pac-Man had its animated TV series from 1982 to 1983. What’s more awesome is the fact that in 2013 Disney XD aired another animated series named Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. Over the years, Pac-Man did not lose its popularity one bit as in 2015; the Pac-Man character appeared in a film called Pixels.  

15. The game is never-ending.

Every video game has an ending but not Pac-Man. It was designed to go on forever, never giving the satisfaction to call yourself the winner. Do not be disappointed, as you still have the opportunity to hit the highest score. 

Nonetheless, you can only reach level 255 because of a bug. It turns the screen into gobbledygook; thus, the player cannot see the dots and maze on the right side. This situation is called “kill screen” because the bug kills the game.

Bottom Line

Pac-Man is a cultural legacy that broke the geographical blockade and became a global phenomenon. Even the creators did not expect this massive success. 80s era was dominated by Pac-Man, marking the beginning of Japan’s forthcoming pop-cultural invasion of the rest of the world. 

Pac-Man was nothing like its competitors, going against the tide with its colorful and cartoonish design. It gave a new dimension to the gaming industry, breaking all records. We get nostalgic thinking about those times. People till this date return to Pac-Man, reliving those memories.

+ posts

This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.