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We May Know Why Pac-Man Got A Divorce

As one of the pillars of gaming history, "Pac-Man" has been around for a very long time — and it seems as though that time has taken a toll on his marriage. It is commonly known that Ms. Pac-Man is his wife, but recent re-releases of some older "Pac-Man" titles seem to have replaced her with somebody else. 

Both Ms. Pac-Man and Baby Pac-Man appeared in the 1984 title "Pac-Land," both rocking the trademark Ms. Pac-Man red bow. As spotted by Twitter user @nickisonlinet, however, the new "Arcade Archives" release of the game sees that red bow replaced by a pink hat, along with matching gloves and boots on both character models.

According to "Pac-Man" historian Ryan Silberman, the character now in "Pac-Land" is known as "Pac-Mom," an entirely different character from Ms. Pac-Man. This swap has raised a ton of questions about Pac-Man and his personal life. The name would seem to suggest that Pac-Mom could be Pac-Man's mom, but she is replacing his (former?) wife here and the baby has matching clothes. Is Pac-Mom the new lady in Pac-Man's life? Unfortunately, "Pac-Land" has not been updated further to include an explanation for this change. 

So why is Ms. Pac-Man — an icon arguably as popular as Pac-Man — getting the cold shoulder?

Ms. Pac-Man may have been changed due to royalty issues

Polygon's Owen S. Good has theorized that Ms. Pac-Man and Baby Pac-Man from "Pac-Land" were changed because Bandai Namco has to pay royalties every time the character is used. Back in 2019, Bandai Namco sued AtGames, a company that makes mini-consoles that plug straight into a TV, for allegedly interfering with Bandai Namco's attempts to buy the character rights from the original creators. Ultimately, AtGames managed to buy the royalty rights for itself.

That means that whenever Bandai Namco uses Ms. Pac-Man and Baby Pac-Man, it has to fork over money to AtGames. It's important to note that Bandai Namco owns the property, so it can use Ms. Pac-Man any time. However, unless Bandai Namco wants to give money to AtGames for all future projects, Ms. Pac-Man is likely to be missing from anything "Pac-Man"-related. 

As noted by Polygon, the last time a new game was released that included Ms. Pac-Man was "Pac-Man Museum" way back in 2014, which was released on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. On the bright side, this situation has allowed people to speculate about Pac-Man's personal life, which is always fun.