Happy birthday Pac-Man: Best-selling arcade game turns 40 [videos]

Pac-Man is probably the most popular game in the world, other than already being the best-selling arcade. By 1990, the popular game made $3.5 billion in lifetime sales, nearly $8 billion when adjusted for inflation.


Developed by Japanese company Namco in 1980, PacMan sold 400 000 gaming cabinets to arcades around the world and became gaming's "first true mascot".

Pac-Man: What you need to know

Best-selling arcade game


It is still considered to be the biggest cultural phenomena of the 1980s. The franchise released the popular Ms Pac-Man two years later, which racked up a lifetime revenue of $1.2 billion by 1987.


Ms Pac-Man is one of the best-selling arcade games, landing the fifth spot according to data compiled U.S. Gamer. In fourth place is Donkey Kong, followed by Street Fighter 2 and Space Invaders.

Watch: Pac-Man original



Pac-Man was targeted at woman


Ten years ago, Iwatani said in an interview with Wired that game was created specifically for woman gamers. His motivation for targeting woman players probably didn't age well:


"When you think about things women like, you think about fashion, or fortune-telling, or food or dating boyfriends. So I decided to theme the game around 'eating'."


That's also why he "cutified" the game by giving bright-coloured ghosts large doe-eyes.

Meaning of the name


It was created game designer Toru Iwatani, when he was 24, and was inspired by the phrase paku paku meaning "chomp chomp". In addition, the kanji symbol for the word taberu meaning "to eat" also influenced Iwatani's creative process.

Popularity across generations


According to Statista, Pac-Man would fall somewhere between the Gen X and Millennial generation, if it was a real-life human. That explains why the game is so popular with both generations, possibly.


"The game is also credited with pioneering non-violent arcade gameplay, thereby opening up the market to new types of consumers – namely women."

Watch: How Pac-Man changed gaming



Don't forget about the Ghosts


Did you know that have distinct personalities? Yep, the ghosts are called Clyde, Blinky, Pinky, and Inky and have their own personalities based on AI routines. According to The Guardian:


The ghosts also strategise their attacks. Inky is randomised depending on Pac's position, while Blinky will the chase Pac-Man and Pinky will ambush him.


Clyde, on the other hand, will move close to Pac-Man before attempting to flee to the bottom left corner. By doing it that, Clyde also potentially cuts off all escape routes. Sneaky ghost!

The highest Pac-Man score recorded


Lastly, David Race completed a perfect game of Pac-Man in 2012, it took him three hours, 33 minutes and 1.40 seconds. Race achieved the maximum possible score of 3 333 360 points using an original Pac-Man machine.


The game has a bug that turns the screen to gibberish on the 256th screen, so it's impossible to achieve a score higher than 3 333 360, at which point Race ate every dot, power pill, ghost and bonus on every level without losing a single life.

Watch: Dave Race setting the record


Pac-Man Google Doodle


Do you have the sudden urge now to play Pac-Man? You're in luck! It's playable through Google Doodle Games, and was created in 2019 to mark Pac Man's 39th birthday.


Simply follow this link and use the arrow keys to navigate.