Surprising everyone, Pong, the original video game, has made a comeback on CompUSA's top 10 video game list and has secured the number one position for an unbelievable eight weeks in a row. On Gamerankings.com, it has been number one for seven weeks and on MSN's Game-O-Rama Poll, it has been in the top spot since before Christmas.
Invented by Ralph H. Baer between 1966 and 1969, Pong turned the world upside down when it became commercially available in 1972. It effectively made the once-passive television into an interactive device. Popular throughout the late '70s and into the '80s, Pong inspired an entire industry that today makes billions of dollars more than the movie entertainment industry.
"I don't understand it," says Poindexter Baxterhoff, a game designer for X-Box systems. "It's as if the entire gaming culture has gone back to its roots."
Video game companies worldwide have been laying off designers and artists because of the sharp decline in demand for high-end video games.
"The future of the industry is at stake here," says Game Junkie Magazine's editor Marcus Jackson. "If the industry can't shake off this resurgence of the retro games, I don't know what we're going to do."
For a small select group of video game programers, however, the future looks bright. They are spending many overtime hours rewriting code for the old games whose popularity died out in the early '80s for new platforms like X-Box, Playstation 2, Nintendo's GameCube and others.
"Since January, all the old classics have been re-released" says Bill Willy, vice president of marketing for Classic Games, Incorporated. "Prior to the modern age of video games, which started in 1981 with Donkey Kong, there were the greats such as Pong, Breakout, Super Hockey, Tennis, Super Breakout, Warlords, Super Pong, Ultra Pong, Ultra Breakout and Super Tennis. But what most people don't know is that Europe developed their own line of Pong-like games parallel with the United States and the industry didn't merge until the early '80s. They had games like Le Pong, La Breakout, Ubër Hockey, Les Tennis, Le Breakout Super, Super-düper Pong, Ubër Pong, Ubër Breakout and Le Royale Tennis."
A new Gold Edition of Ubër Pong is set to be released in stores nationwide on April 1.