The No. 1 Marketing Factor In Selling More Board Games

The Number One Marketing Factor In Selling More Board Games

There are plenty of complicated marketing plans out there for you to try to persuade people to buy your games. There are certainly plenty of companies willing to take your money for advertising across many media.

There is however one fundamental marketing activity which nearly always works for games which are compelling to play. That primary activity is getting people to play your games! This won’t work of course if your product is all glitz and promise but lacking in compelling gameplay – you need to have a good game for this to work.

The reason why more board game companies don’t spend as much time, energy and money as they should do in getting people playing their games is because it takes a lot of hard grind and a willingness to think laterally and not just to follow the crowd. Parts of the board games business are driven by massive toy companies who have the typical model of launching by selling as many boxes into retail as they possibly can and then spending 15-20% of their forecast revenue on mass market media campaigns.

Hasbro as the long time biggest board games company in the world tends to follow this classic toy business approach, but then they have some massive advantages that you won’t have – they have so many of the all time classic games brands that tend to sell themselves and keep performing year after year.

Hasbro’s Wizards of The Coast (WOTC) business is a better model on how a games specialist business should run marketing though. Massively under rated and under reported, WOTC was bought by Hasbro primarily for Pokemon trading cards back in the day, but came with the unexpected long term hit trading card game franchise Magic: The Gathering. There is no doubt that Magic is a great game, but when that underlying awesome gameplay is combined with structured grass roots marketing (which is all about getting people playing the game and looking to buy more cards to upgrade their deck) you get a powerful formula as follows: great gameplay x game play stimulation x building a fan community.

One of the reasons why Asmodee has built such a brilliant business over the last decade or so, when they moved from being primarily a distributor with some own brands/products in the French market and a few other toeholds around Europe to being the biggest games company which isn’t also a toy company! One of the fundamental drivers of Asmodee’s success has been the practise of gameplay demonstrations – at festivals, in stores and in other locations. We attended an outdoor music festival in the north of the UK last year, and needless to say Asmodee had a tent there getting people playing games. When Asmodee brought Dobble over from France (where it had become a top selling game), there were some who laughed at the idea that such a quirky unusual looking and unusually named game could establish a presence in the cynical, label/license and mass retail driven UK market. A few years later and Dobble is a MASSIVE success in the UK board games market. The path from start to success was not driven by media spend, online metrics or any of those other factors – although they may have played a part – the success was driven by getting people playing a game which is simple enough that nearly anyone can play, but so compelling that nearly everyone becomes heavily immersed in the game.

That is the type of game which people will go out and encourage their friends to buy and play, and this is exactly the formula for organic growth in the board games business.

The challenge is that it takes time and effort to find ways to get people actually playing games instead of just buying them and leaving them in the shrink-wrap in a cupboard. But for long term success, building brands and organically growing games with great gameplay away from the pressure of needing instant HIT level sales via mass market retailers becomes the only logical step.

How many games has your company launched with the strategy of nurturing and taking years to grow sales based on the most fundamental factor of letting great gameplay speak for itself?


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:

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