When Pac-Man was released, the most popular arcade video games were space shooters—in particular, Space Invaders and Asteroids. The most visible minority were sports games that were mostly derivatives of Pong. Pac-Man succeeded by creating a new genre. Pac-Man is often credited with being a landmark in video game history and is among the most famous arcade games of all time. It is also one of the highest-grossing video games of all time, having generated more than $2.5 billion in quarters by the 1990s.
The game was programmed by Tod Frye, who was given a very limited time frame by Atari to complete the project. The technical differences between the Atari 2600 console and the original's arcade hardware—particularly the amount of available memory—presented several challenges to Frye. Given the popularity of the property, Atari produced approximately 12 million units (which was more than the estimated number of Atari 2600 consoles sold at the time), anticipating a high number of sales.
The four ghosts were originally meant to be red by order of the president of Namco; Iwatani conducted a survey amongst staff if everyone wanted single color ghosts or multi-colored ghosts. No one selected the single colored ghost option.
The Power Pellets were inspired by the cartoon character Popeye after eating a can of spinach.
For the game's 30th anniversary in 2010, Google created a Google Doodle that is a fully-playable Pac-Man game. The doodle became so popular that worldwide companies lost an estimate of over $120,000,000 due to loss of work times. Google created a version of the game within Google Maps in 2015.
The combined amount of Pac-Man bootleg arcade machines almost sold 300,000, which was the same amount as the official machine.
A Pac-Man themed restaurant named Level 257 was opened in April 2015 and was named after the infamous 256th level of the game.