Craft and digital making has largely informed the course of the games industry. While functionality is the most important factor in games, the second would be the visual aspect that in combination with functionality creates user experience. Originally games sought to be as realistic as possible with the constraints of computer processing power and the result was the retro aesthetic which eventually developed into CGI renders which we see in many AAA games today. However this trend has ceased much like the shift from traditional art to contemporary.
Graphics quality are no longer based on a level of realism but instead the pillars of design. In the case of pixel-based games this is usually in attempt to reference a retro gaming aesthetic to enhance the user experience in this context. A pixel-based game can be considered graphically better than a game that uses CGI.
The evolution of games has now entered a more post-modern context from the age of pixels to polygons to renders to pixels (and polygons) again.