Pac-Man, the ultimate '80s icon, is nearing middle age.
The arcade game turns 35 on Friday, and in the years since his debut, he has appeared on virtually every video game platform to hit shelves. But the the little yellow pellet muncher's reach has extended far beyond the gaming world.
He has fronted cereal boxes. He was on the cover of Time magazine. He has been the star of at least two cartoon shows (one in the '80s and one currently airing on Disney XD) . Buckner & Garcia's ode to the game- "Pac-Man Fever" hit #9 on the Billboard charts in 1981. And there are tens of thousands of tie-in products bearing his image.
Pac-Man, not surprisingly, is hands down the biggest product in the catalog of publisher Bandai Namco. It's so big, in fact, that the sole reason the company formed and launched its mobile division was to get the game onto cell phones and other handheld devices.
Pinning down financials for the franchise isn't as easy as you might expect, though. The tens of millions of dollars that the game raised during its arcade heyday are impossible to definitively calculate (not surprising, given it was an all-cash business with lots of third-parties involved). And the character has appeared in so many different games and been merchandised in so many different ways that it's an accounting nightmare.
To lend some perspective, though, consider this: In the late 1990s, Twin Galaxies, a company that tracks video game world record scores, visited several used game auctions and counted how many times the average Pac-Man machine had been played. Multiplying those figures by the total number of machines that were manufactured, the organization believes the arcade game was played more than 10 billion times in the 20th century. That's $2.5 billion in quarters alone.
While Pac-Man might be the most recognizable character in the videogame world, he still has a few secrets that many people don't know. Here are some of the most interesting: