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Find A Big Enough Niche – 5/55 Features Of Best-Selling Board Games

Find A Big Enough Niche – 5/55 Features Of Best-Selling Board Games

 

Not every game has to appeal to everyone. By picking out (large) niches, you can deliver successful Games. If you look at Monopoly, the Brand is often extended into new niches with good results. If that can work for a Brand Extension, it can work for an entirely new game.

 

It has never been easier to target a specific group of people who are fans of a particular brand, TV show, celebrity, trend etc. Social media allows us to target pretty much any group of people out there. Whereas once our consumer targeting was dumb, and therefore we had to use very mainstream themes for our board games in order to get distribution, things have changed significantly. We no longer need to develop catchall games which appeal to everyone. We can use PPC, social media and of course the power of Amazon to deliver niche products to market with success.

 

This trend towards products targeted at niche audiences is only going to grow as technology gets smarter and further embedded into our lives. There is of course significant opportunity in selling mass market games to retailers like Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco, but in the end, that is a tough, tough game – because you are one of many companies trying to muscle your products in to limited shelf space with thousands of competing products also vying for the same space. Why be one of many when you can be one of one? There are so many opportunities out there today – and with content proliferation ongoing, opportunities to develop board games based around fandom and niche identity/groupings abound.

 

What exciting times these are!

 

 

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

 

 

Obvious Concept & Gameplay – 4/55 Features Of Best Selling Board Games

Obvious Concept & Gameplay – 4/55 Features Of Best Selling Board Games

Having an overtly obvious concept & gameplay can be one of the key success factors for new board games. Classic games with heritage in the market, whereby people already know what the game is and how it plays, they can have quite complicated gameplays and obscure concepts. This can often confuse those new to the board games market into thinking that they can mirror these classic games. The reality though is that the modern mass market gamer tends not to have the attention span to make the effort to work out something complicated. Therefore having a blindingly obvious gameplay and game concept is important for new games.

Eventually it is the substance of the gameplay which will define success – if the experience of playing the game is not compelling then post launch reviews and bad word of mouth may kill the game, but before game play quality and experience can result in further sales due to the social proof of others liking and recommending them, enough games need to be sold initially. Think of this in terms of a virus pandemic like the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus spreads, and people who contract the virus then pass it onto more people, who pass it onto more people and so on. The same principle applies to marketing board games, and just like with a virus the higher the levels of exposure achieved in the first instance the bigger the impact.

One further point on this feature of best selling board games – the primary form of marketing for board games is the packaging. If the person hasn’t seen or heard of the game before, and if the marketing for the game has not reached them then the purchase decision will be driven primarily by the on pack communication. The implication of this is that we can forget trying to create clever abstract artworks with our board games packaging – we need to really clearly communicate what the game is, who it is for and why the person should buy it. This applies both in physical retail and online. The dynamic may be a little different but if the person looks at the pack or the image of the pack and can’t quickly see what it is and why they should want to buy it then they will look elsewhere.

 

We help board games companies grow profitably. To date we have delivered $tens of millions of new sales revenues for board games companies 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

Simplicity Works – 3/55 Features of best selling board games

Simplicity works.

This is the 3rd out of 55 features we identified of best selling board games

Some really great games are just simple. There are some really classic long term successful games which have really simple gameplay i.e. Checkers/Draughts or Uno. As long as a game is great fun it doesn’t need to be complex. In fact one of the primary attractions of this type of game is the ease of understanding.

General apathy from the occasional mass market gamer towards investing the time and effort required to learn how to play a game is the biggest barrier for games companies to overcome. Unless you are a company offering super complex games for a hardcore gamer with an instruction manual that is as thick as a house brick, simplicity and quick start instructions are critical to achieving mass adoption of your game.

As long as your game mechanic and the social dynamic it creates is compelling, simplicity can be a really good thing.

 

We help board games companies grow profitably. To date we have delivered $tens of millions of new sales revenues for board games companies 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

Variety Is The Spice Of Life – 2/55 Best Selling Board Games Features

Variety Is The Spice Of Life – 2/55 Best Selling Board Games Features

 This is the 2nd of the 55 features we have identified that can underpin best-selling board games.

Creating Games which have a varied play pattern should ensure that players don’t get bored. Games with dull & predictable play patterns don’t tend to sell well over the long term. Games which keep the players ‘on their toes’ often do!

This variety can come in many forms – from different question categories in a Trivia game, to a scenario changing card or event, or a ‘random’ card or mechanism in a game. By twisting up the gameplay, the experience can be made more compelling but also less predictable. There are plenty of games where the result is evident long in advance of the end of the game, which can become boring and can limit repeat play value in a game. And repeat play value tends to be one of the primary long term success factors for board games.

The variety that is required needn’t be difficult, deep or complicated though. As an example, take Asmodee’s outrageously successful card game Dobble. Dobble has the power to transform a room full of people, and that is a really special thing. The game itself doesn’t become boring because every time a new card is turned over the game changes, and the visual observations have to start again. Introducing compelling variety into game play can be this simple.

If you found this article interesting, please share with your friends and colleagues in the board games business.

 

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

Inventing Top Selling Board Games With Richard Heayes

Inventing Top Selling Board Games With Richard Heayes

Richard Heayes has been there and done it when it comes to board games development. He came up with the concept behind Monopoly Here & Now, a landmark brand extension of the long running Monopoly board game brand which was a huge top seller according to sales data in the public domain.

In this latest episode of the Playing At Business podcast hosted by Steve Reece, Richard tells all – from his time designing creative play products at Hasbro through to his time working with iconic board games like Monopoly and others, through to his work today as a leading independent mind working to create immersive social play experiences.

To listen to this podcast episode, just click here:

https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/creating-best-selling-board-games-with-richard-heayes

 

 

55 Features Of Best Selling Board Games – No. 1 Reinvention

55 Features Of Best Selling Board Games – No. 1 Reinvention

This is the first in a series of articles looking at various key themes and features of best-selling board games. This is a serialisation of our book ’55 Features Of Best-Selling Board Games’.

 

Reinvention can sell more units than mere Invention! Some Types of Games just work really well, and so why completely reinvent, if there is part of a proven formula you can ethically use, and can genuinely add value to and improve, then use it (but take legal advice to avoid infringing other people’s rights – the tangible and karmic implications of legal disputes are not to be entered into lightly).

There are a number of classic examples of this, for instance, when Monopoly board game added a calculator to replace the physical money they found they had a massive hit product on their hands despite the fact that the original version of Monopoly had already been in the market for generations. This is reinvention, and there is no bigger example of successful reinvention than ‘Monopoly Here And Now’. If you want the inside track on how this game came to be, you can listen to our podcast interview with Richard Heayes the ex-Hasbro Games designer credited with the original idea:

https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/creating-best-selling-board-games-with-richard-heayes

Reinvention though doesn’t just need to apply to best selling games like Monopoly. Maybe there is an old fairground or arcade game you can rediscover and bring to market in a board games format, or maybe a game you played once as a child but haven’t seen for decades since. If it worked once, maybe it will work again!

We’ll be back next time with Feature No. 2 of best selling board games.

 

We help board games companies save money on manufacturing. We work with an industry leading board games factory in China. But we can also offer considerable cost savings via our board games factory partners in India. For more information or to ask us to quote for manufacturing for your games, please get in touch via the ‘Contact’ page on this website.

Board Games Manufacturing – The Value Of Shopping Around

Board Games Manufacturing – The Value Of Shopping Around

One of the areas of the board games business which tends to get the least attention, especially from management is manufacturing. There are so many critical things to focus on with a board games company, selling – getting your games listed by retailers, creating or sourcing the next new hit games concepts, managing staff, and so much more. The reality is that most companies tend to stick with the same old board games factory unless that factory screws up and starts to fail to deliver.

While this inertia is perfectly understandable, and while there are a lot of benefits from building a deep and long partnership with a games factory, the reality is that there also considerable benefits to be derived from not allowing that factory or factories get too comfortable. The primary drawback of getting too cosy and too engrained with one board games manufacturer is cost effectiveness. It is just the nature of how business works and how human minds see things, but a new customer will always tend to get better pricing versus an existing one, unless the existing customer takes active steps to keep the supplier on their toes.

The primary way to keep your factory on their toes is to shop around a little. While it may not be practical to shop every single product around, it should be considered best practise to at least benchmark quotations from your current supplier against pricing from their competitors. Where a board games company has not had quotes from another supplier for some time, it is not uncommon to find that they are paying between 5-10% more than they could be.

Having said all this though, it is a mistake just to make everything about pricing, because above all what board games companies need from their factories is capacity and reliable supply. Board games have a highly seasonal selling dynamic with board games, and the challenging cashflow cycle which in turn leads to stock being ordered close to when it is needed as opposed to well in advance. Therefore, any supply chain disruption can have very costly consequences. And for this reason, we would normally recommend that aside from really small or very new companies, any established board games business should have at least two factory partners. This offers the ongoing opportunity to ensure pricing is reasonably sharp, but also offers supply chain diversification and risk reduction.

For those toy companies who sell board games also, the mindset tends to be heavily influenced by the toy business model, whereby tooling is necessary for plastic injection moulded products. Moving tooling is in itself quite a process, whereas duplicate tooling is costly and so these factors tend to lead to more inertia in terms of manufacturing location for toys. With board games where there is typically a small print set up fee, there is less reason not to consider multiple sources where it makes sense.

The bottom line here is that board games manufacturing is a critical part of the recurring board games business process. Sticking with the same single supplier all the time can lead to strong relationships, good understanding and easy working but it also comes with risks – risk of paying too much for manufacturing and also in terms of lack of supply chain diversification.

 

We help board games companies save money on manufacturing. To date our clients have saved more than $10m. If you would like to discuss your board games manufacturing requirements with us, please get in touch via the ‘CONTACT’ page on this site.

 

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

 

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/