5 Ways German Board Games Companies Can Export More Games

5 Ways German Board Games Companies Can Export More Games

Germany (in conjunction with neighbouring Austria & German speaking Switzerland) is one of the biggest board games markets in the world. Board gaming is a major social pastime in Germany, to a level that is way beyond most other markets. Whether that’s devoted parents spending time playing games with their children, or adults playing the latest deeply immersive board game, the reality is that the Germanic peoples truly embrace board game playing. There is no better exemplification of the strong marketplace than the Essen Spiel show, which in normal (non-pandemic) times sees more than 200,000 gamers descend to play games, get crushed by the crowds (!) and to enjoy gaming after hours. To put this in context, Gencon gets only around a third of these visitor numbers, despite the USA having a much larger population than Germany.*

The challenge for German speaking board games companies & distributors is that the type of games which work in the market there don’t always travel all that well, certainly not compared with the apparent ease with which a successful game in the USA, UK or France can sometimes sell across different countries and cultures. We have worked with more than dozen board games companies in German speaking countries, and our team has many close friends working within the board games trade there, but the reality is that many Germanic games don’t travel so well. There are two primary reasons for this:

  1. Deeper, more complex game play as standard.
  2. Artwork style which does not translate as well to other markets vs the prevailing art style from other countries.

This is quite a risky article for us to write, because we don’t want to offend our many friends, colleagues and clients in Germany, so we certainly don’t make these points to offend people. But in order to help German board games distributors export more games and grow profitably, we need to state the truth as we see it. The standard level of complexity and depth of instructions tends to be beyond the attention levels of mainstream potential game players in other markets.

Additionally, although artwork is highly subjective, there are definitely prevalent art styles from country to country, and these can be quite different. Many of the games which sell very well in the German market have pack designs which don’t automatically translate to other cultures quite as well as from some countries.

Having started with explaining why we think German games companies don’t export as many games as they could, we will now take a look at 5 ways in which they can sell more games overseas:

  1. Develop some simpler but equally compelling gameplays – those German speaking games companies who have enjoyed some degree of export success tend to have success with the simpler games in their portfolios. This does not mean that you can’t still develop games to the level required for success at home, but it just means allowing some thought and development resource to be directed to the export markets. If the necessary expertise is not available in house for this, there is a myriad of freelance resource out there of exceedingly high pedigree and capability.

 

  1. Consider creating ‘export’ artwork variations on priority products – where a company is keen to sell particular games overseas we have seen more success achieved when the company is willing to adapt the original version of the game as required to meet the prevailing needs of the export market.

 

  1. Develop games to brief for other markets – then see how they can be adapted for the market in Germany. One feature of the board games business in Germany is the proliferation of board games products. So many new games come to market every year, and nearly every company has multiple new titles coming to market every year. Surely there is capacity to develop a minority of titles focused on export markets first, German markets second?

 

  1. Be flexible if you can’t be bespoke – on games which can’t easily be changed for overseas markets, ensure maximum flexibility on trading terms, MOQs etc to give the games their best chance of finding good distribution.

 

  1. Run analysis on which types of games work well in BOTH German speaking countries and outside the region – there are some types of games which work across both German speaking and non-German speaking markets. If your team hasn’t analysed all games which exported well from the German market to see what they could learn, we do recommend running that exercise to create clarity on what gives the best chance of achieving success both in and outside the home market.

 

In conclusion, the reality is that German speaking markets represent less than 10% of the global board games market, therefore to maximise their chances of growth, focusing on what is needed for success overseas should prove more successful in the long term versus only selling the games which have already met the needs of the German speaking markets.

 

*https://www.dicebreaker.com/topics/essen-spiel/news/essen-spiel-2020-covid-19-unchanged#:~:text=Essen%20Spiel%20takes%20place%20in,Gen%20Con’s%20approximate%2070%2C000%20visitors.

 

We help board games companies grow profitably. To date we have delivered c. $90m in new sales revenues for board games across the world. We have also saved our clients around $10m in manufacturing cost savings. Our work has helped more than 100 companies. To find out more about what we do & the services we offer to help board games companies profitably grow, just click here: www.kidsbrandinsight.com/services

Why 2021 Should Be A Good Year For The Board Games Industry

Why 2021 Should Be A Good Year For The Board Games Industry

As a new chapter begins with the start of 2021, the outlook for the global board games business is good (again!). As the COVID-19 19 vaccine rolls out around the world we should see a gradual return to some degree of normality across the first half of 2021. This is both good news and bad news for he board games business – it’s obviously good in so many ways for humanity in general, but it may prove difficult to beat year on year sales numbers for the first half of 2021, since the first wave of lockdowns across the developed board games markets delivered a major boost to board game sales out of season.

The good news though is that board game playing tends to be habitual – i.e. once you have the habit, it tends to be repeated, so there is a good chance that a new wave of committed gamers will result from the board games boom of 2020. New gamers who stick with gameplaying over time will offer an ongoing sales driver to the dynamic of the industry, so once we get past those tough year on year comparisons, we should see an elevated industry going forward for the next few years.

Moreover, one of the massive cultural, social and business trends and impacts from the pandemic looks likely to be a long-term shift towards revised working patterns i.e. less commuting and more working from home. Bearing in mind commutes in big cities tend to be c. 1 hour each way, that’s potentially 2 hours saved each day, some of which will be put into leisure activities, and spending quality time with the family!

So, let’s look forward to a good year supported by a rapid vaccine rollout, but above all let’s enjoy the vibrancy of the board games business!

 

Have you listened to our PLAYING AT BUSINESS podcast? We analyse key areas of the toy and game business, we interview leading people in the business and we discuss major trends and changes across toys & games. You can listen to numerous episodes here: https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/

Building An International Board Games Business with Emile Kalis of Identity Games

BUILDING AN INTERNATIONAL BOARD GAMES BUSINESS WITH EMILE KALIS OF IDENTITY GAMES

We just released Episode 13 of our Playing At Business podcast all about the toy & games business. In this episode we interview Emile Kalis, Co-Founder of Identity Games about the journey he has been on to establish an international board games business in a tough market.

You can listen to the podcast on this link:

https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/growing-an-international-board-games-business-with-emile-kalis

To check out other episodes of the Podcast, please click here: https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/

 

Why New Board Games Companies Are An Existential Threat To Established Games Businesses

Why New Board Games Companies Are An Existential Threat To Established Games Businesses

Barriers to entry have never been lower for the board games business. This has led to a proliferation of games products on the market and also of games companies. Whereas a new company would once have had to bang down the ever-resistant doors of retailers with unapproachable buyers and telephone switchboard operators who would resist at all costs aiding a new supplier, things today are in many ways easier for new entrants to the board games category.

It is completely possible to validate consumer appeal and propensity to purchase in reality ahead of seeking to sell to traditional retail businesses or to traditional board games distributors. Crowd funding sites and direct to consumer sales channels have revolutionised the gateway to the board games business to the degree that there have never been more games on the market before.

The challenge then comes down to elevating your company and products above the noise of everything else that is out there. For new companies this is an easier task which they can structure the business around as they grow, versus incumbent players in the market, who tend to have still a retail focused mindset versus a consumer-focused mindset. Board games companies which are relatively new today have many advantages versus established companies who are more beholden to their retail buyers and to their accompanying sales teams and company structure which inherently has to put traditional retail first avoid the traditional business model, and therefore is at least partly in conflict with competing routes to market.

There are numerous ways that established board games companies can manage this situation. They can form spin off divisions more focused on selling direct to consumers, they can form partnerships with other companies, and they can make acquisitions to bring the new starter mentality and consumer centric approach under their own roof.

What we see going forward though is that it will be risky to rely on the same old ways of doing business going forward. We nearly got through this article without mentioning Amazon, but it’s hard not to mention that Amazon still has huge growth ahead with more rollouts and ramp ups in more countries around the world. This is guaranteed to provide ongoing momentum for direct-to-consumer businesses (we classify Amazon as direct to consumer even though they are a retailer, because they are more of a self-managed selling platform versus traditional retail).

It would be an exaggeration to state that going forward the only constant is change, because board games are here to stay, and so are many of the traditional elements of the board games business, but nevertheless there can be no doubt that the future looks quite different. While the market position of games category leaders will remain strong, there will be an ongoing bubble of new entrants coming into the market increasing the competitive pressures on those companies who lack flexibility, as well as a perennial product line to rely on. We therefore predict a round of acquisitions ahead of established companies buying challenger brands and companies who can help them future proof their businesses.

These are interesting times!

 

We represent leading board game factories in China & India. We have saved our clients more than $10m over the last decade by connecting them with reliable factories with the right certifications who can offer more cost-effective board games manufacturing. For more information, just get in touch.

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The Value And Effectiveness Of Cross Sell Leaflets In Board Games

The Value And Effectiveness Of Cross Sell Leaflets In Board Games

One of the most tried and trusted marketing methods for board games is the cross-sell leaflet. Typically, a cross sell leaflet would take the form of an A5 or A4 folded over insert into each game shipped, on which the other games offered by the company would be shown with pack shots and key selling messages. Our experience has shown that cross-sell leaflets are one of the most effective marketing methods offering great value for money and ROI, but with comparatively little investment. We have recommended a cross-sell leaflet to dozens of games companies in our Consulting work, and we have seen it be tangibly successful for them.

The argument against cross-sell leaflets normally states that: a). we’re already fighting to get manufacturing costs down and now you want to add to the FOB price we get from the factory (to which the answer is that’s just a matter of accounting, it isn’t a real barrier) b). because in general purchasers of mass market board games tend to play them around the festive season, it can be the best part of a year before they are in games buying a mode again. The answer to this though is that because most Games companies have a lot of products which sell year after year, the advertising message will be mostly relevant next time they open the box as well.

In reality, you will not find a better way of showing your products to qualified purchasers! Think of it this way – let’s say your game sells 50,000 copies each year, and the cost of inserting the cross-sell leaflet is $0.10, then the spend is equivalent to $5k USD. But if just 1% of those 50,000 copies leads to further sales you have generated enough sales to fund the leaflet. More importantly though, you have the chance to recruit interested gamers further into your product catalogue via encouraging and incentivising social media sign ups.

Bearing in mind how quickly marketing managers can burn through cash with little tangible return, cross-sell leaflets seem to offer great value and effectiveness. This marketing method won’t turn a non-seller into a hero, but it can be part of a structured marketing program to build a bankable following and to drive additional sales.

We run a Consultancy business helping board games companies to grow. We have experience of most major board games markets around the world and our team has developed more than 200 board games including versions of classic games like Monopoly, Clue/do, Risk, Game of Life etc. For more information on our services (including our Export sales Consultancy) please just click here: https://www.kidsbrandinsight.com/services/

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How To Create A Best Selling Board Game

How To Create A Best-Selling Board Game

There is no easy way to create a top selling board game. Statistics are against you as much as anything else. Due to the low barriers to entry in the board games business there is an ever-increasing proliferation of games in the market. To put this in context, the average board games company looks at somewhere between 400-600 new game ideas each year to launch anywhere between 1 to 10 new games each year, some review as many as 2000 new games each year. Consumers of board games products have an exceptionally large choice – a quick search on Amazon reveals more than 10,000 board games (this is without looking at cards games, dice games and other formats of games).

Therefore, you are very unlikely to create the next best-selling board game. However, there are some ways to increase your chances:

  1. Be Prolific – very few people ever got far on one game. There are of course some very notable exceptions, but our team knows dozens of professional board game creators, and nearly all of them are prolific. Over the course of time originators could be expected to create more than 100 board game concepts and gameplays. Clearly most games created don’t get any traction, even if they get to market they are unlikely to stay in the market for long, so the most effective way to give yourself a chance of creating a best-selling game is to be prolific.

 

  1. Be Great At Selling – this is an obvious factor, but nevertheless critical. If creators spent as long refining their selling skills as they do tweaking the finer points of gameplay then more of them would have best selling games in their portfolios.

 

  1. Jump On Trends At The Right Time – the most obvious example of this would be What Do You Meme, which has been remarkably successful. Memes had been around for some time when this game was launched, but that’s actually the key success factor – trend based games need to be carefully timed to be fresh and new while also being in the minds of enough people as a relevant trend. Go too early on a trend and it does not click with enough people, go to late and the market is already full. Cultural trends grow at different rates, so it is rarely possible to predict when is the right time. So again, repetition will deliver the best chance of launching the right game at the right time at some point in an originator’s career.

 

  1. Gameplay Is King – while trends and themes can drive strong upfront sales, what propels a game ahead and establishes it as a top selling perennial classic is gameplay experience. You need players to want to really push the game on their friends and to want to play with new people all the time. This organic growth is by far the strongest underlying factor in building top selling games. Perhaps the most powerful example of this in recent times is Dobble from Asmodee. It seems so simple, but if you watch the energy levels of a group of people when they play this game you can see why so many people are so actively passing the game on to friends and families, which in turn explains why Dobble is now one of the best-selling games.

 

  1. Stand Out From The Crowd – one of the most fundamental changes in the board games business over the past few years has been the increased volume of new games on the market each year. Therefore, each new game has to fight for attention and shelf space alongside an ever-growing number of perennial classic games. Sometimes achieving standout is about the game concept or theme, it can also be around a celebrity or influencer co-operation, but there needs to be something about your game and the way it is launched that contributes to standing out, otherwise regardless of how good your game is you are likely to be trampled underfoot by the volume of competition scrabbling for attention.

 

Nobody said it would be easy! Our team knows people working for decades to try to launch a new best-selling game without ever achieving it but following these 5 points should help to increase your chances.

 

We run a Consultancy business helping board games companies to grow. We have experience of most major board games markets around the world and our team has developed more than 200 board games including versions of classic games like Monopoly, Clue/do, Risk, Game of Life etc. For more information on our services (including our Export sales Consultancy) please just click here: https://www.kidsbrandinsight.com/services/

Sign up now for our free BoardGameBiz newsletter offering insights, news and analysis of the business of Board Games. We’ll also send you a free copy of our book ’55 Features of Best Selling Board Games’ – just click here to sign up

 

Is Nearshoring The Future Of Board Games Manufacturing?

Is Nearshoring The Future Of Board Games Manufacturing?

‘Nearshoring’ is not a new thing in the board games business. A surprisingly large amount of the market is made up of games manufactured in or near that particular country or region, and has been for decades. That being said though, China has attracted its own significant share of the board games production market due to its position as the leading global toy manufacturing hub. It has often been easier for toy companies with Hong Kong and China offices to consolidate toy shipments with some games and puzzles from nearby factories.

Over the past decade, cost inflation in China has seen cost competitiveness of board games manufactured in China become less sharp overall. There is no doubt that some of the best board games factories in the worlds are in China, but the cost advantages of manufacturing games and puzzles in China and then shipping them across the world has diminished over time. This has led to some board games companies adopting a ‘nearshoring’ strategy, whether that’s in Europe or America.

There are though two major reasons why manufacturing of games and puzzles will continue to be significant in Asia:

Firstly, the rapidly growing consumer economies of Asia offer really good growth prospects for games and puzzles companies over the next decade. China’s own board games market is growing, albeit with plenty of challenges to overcome to get to market and to stay in market profitably. India is also a fast growing consumer market, although it is starting from much further back today, but has a similar population to China i.e. c. 1.4 billion people, India’s games and puzzles market is likely to see double digit growth across the next decade at least. Therefore, for those distributing their games into these markets, a ‘nearshoring’ strategy will actually be to continue to produce in China or even India.

The second factor leading to a significant segment of board games manufacturing remaining in Asia is the diversification process which is underway for the toy manufacturing sector. For the last five years, and most probably for the next five years, toy companies (big and small) have been shifting some production out of China and into Vietnam and India especially. Therefore, for all the same reasons as it made sense before to manufacture games and puzzles in China and then to consolidate them on to the same boat as a shipment of toys, it makes sense that Vietnam and India will become fairly significant games and puzzles manufacturing hubs.

So yes, nearshoring is going to grow, but perhaps not in the way we might expect.

 

We run a Consultancy business to toy and game companies around the world. Our particular specialism is in Sourcing – we help our clients save money on manufacturing via our network of highly certified and capable factories. For games and puzzles manufacturing quotations in both China and India, please feel free to get in touch via the ‘Contact Us’ page, or click here for more information: www.ToyTeamIndia.com

Licensed Board Games: Selecting Suitable Brand Licenses For Board Games

Licensed Board Games: Selecting Suitable Brand Licenses For Board Games

Licensed games based on an entertainment or content license represent a significant segment of the overall board games business. Classic games brands often launch a licensed version by way of a brand extension.

These types of licensed games are quite often ‘label slaps’ i.e. overlaying a brand license on an existing gameplay. As a result, many licensed games are either lacking in originality and/or authenticity. This type of game is very often given as an easy gift and are either never played with or rarely. There is a significant market for this type of throwaway gift purchase.

However, there is also a growing trend for new and innovative gameplays offering a deeper and more original experience on licensed games. The key consideration is to match a fitting gameplay to the license. Some gameplays and brand combinations are just not going to work very well. If the entertainment brand appeals to a target age of 8 or 9 years of age or older, then a super basic memory game version is probably not going to be as successful as something with a bit more substance. When looking at licensed games for adults, the same applies doubly. Many licensed games will sell well on the basis of being general merchandise and easily giftable to someone based on what TV shows or movie franchises they like. That doesn’t though mean that they will play well.

Whereas it is usual business for toy companies to develop large product lines for new movies which will only drive merchandise for brief promotional windows, for board games we can already fill our product lines with zero royalty own developed games brands. It makes less sense to launch ‘in and then out’ licenses with lower profitability and more complicated product development and approval processes. What makes more commercial sense is to focus more on evergreen licenses which will be around for years to come, and then to develop authentic bespoke gameplay for those games. This provides both better experiences for those who buy your games but also gives you a greater sales window to recoup your investment in the product.

 

We represent leading board game factories in China & India. We have saved our clients more than $10m over the last decade by connecting them with reliable factories with the right certifications who can offer more cost-effective board games manufacturing. For more information: http://www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services

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The Important Role Of Board Games In Child Development

The Important Role Of Board Games In Child Development

Of the many areas where board games make a positive impact, none is more important than the role board games play in the developmental advancement of children.

On a very basic level, games encourage agreeable social norms such as turn taking, communication and competition. More than that though they can assist children at most stages of their development. Many games for instance support numeracy, from counting cash in classic family board games through to counting in traditional card games.

Use of language, geographical knowledge, deductive reasoning – for any kids or family game which has been in the market for a long time, a major developmental benefit can be identified.

Even classic physical games like Twister help to develop co-ordination and physical dexterity. We once research tested a selection of physical games for a small board games company, and were surprised to find just how quickly children developed key skills needed to be successful in the game, even if they had not been exposed to similar activities before. The trick though is to pitch the level of challenge at the right level for each age group, as abilities can vary wildly in just a few years.

For parents, one of the major reasons why they keep on buying games and playing them with their children is because of the understandable parental desire to have a positive impact on their child’s development, and board games are proven to offer significant benefits in this area.

For developers of new games for children and families, perhaps R&D efforts should include a review of the primary developmental areas for children. Here are the primary areas of child development:

  1. Cognitive development
  2. Speech and language
  3. Social and emotional development
  4. Fine motor skills
  5. Gross motor skills (no, this is not playing with ‘boogers’!)

If you want to know more about these key areas of child development, you can Google each of these areas, but the key point to consider going forward is that if your new game doesn’t help in at least a couple of these areas, it may not prove compelling for children and parents.

We represent leading board game factories in China & India. We have saved our clients more than $10m over the last decade by connecting them with reliable factories with the right certifications who can offer more cost-effective board games manufacturing. For more information: http://www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services

Sign up now for our free BoardGameBiz newsletter offering insights, news and analysis of the business of Board Games. We’ll also send you a free copy of our book ’55 Features of Best Selling Board Games’ – just click here to sign up

 

Board Games: Bringing Together Different Generations

Board Games: Bringing Together Different Generations

Board games have a positive impact on society in many ways. One major area of beneficial impact is bringing together different generations of people. In an era when we might still have grandparents who grew up without fixed landline telephones in their houses, many of us take for granted the fully integrated technology which has only come about in recent years and radically revolutionised our lives, our leisure time and our social interaction.

One of the things which can be difficult for families is finding ways to spend time together doing something which is compelling for all, from the more senior members of the family through to busy parents working hard and their children who are more housebound than previous generations and perpetually stuck with their faces on a screen!

Board games offer a timeless play opportunity delivering fun, social connection and a game play format which is understandable and accessible to all these age groups. Teaching your children or your grand children how to play classic board games such as Monopoly, Scrabble or Chess is a true rite of passage. These perennial classic games are in many ways as appealing as they ever were, and in a world where generations are rendered ever further apart by technological advancements, they offer a truly offline experience which brings families closer together.

Covid lockdowns allowing, there will be tens of millions of families playing board games together this Thanksgiving and this Christmas. In 2020, the very definition of a horrible year, it should give us huge pride that so much of our work output is going to be enjoyed by people who really need some help to have a good time and to smile in a tough climate. We should also feel proud that despite humanity’s screen time addiction and all the economic and health damage resulting from COVID-19, our products will be used to bring together different generations and to create golden family moments this festive season.

The timeless appeal and positive social impact of board games has long since been proven, and this year more than ever our industry will be doing our bit to make the world a happier and more socially connected place. Moreover, our games will really help a lot of families to stick together and enjoy each other’s company.

 

We represent leading board game factories in China & India. We have saved our clients more than $10m over the last decade by connecting them with reliable factories with the right certifications who can offer more cost-effective board games manufacturing. For more information, just get in touch.

Sign up now for our free BoardGameBiz newsletter offering insights, news and analysis of the business of Board Games. We’ll also send you a free copy of our book ’55 Features of Best Selling Board Games’ – just click here to sign up