The Importance Of Board Game Inventors To The Board Games Business
The unsung heroes of the board games business are board game inventors! In so many cases, classic games which are now cultural icons came from the minds of independent or start up inventors before being taken onto a bigger commercial stage by more established board games publishers.
The challenge for board games publishers with highly experienced staff is that there is often a feeling of seen it all before and of doing things a certain way. Creatively speaking, outside inspiration often stretches what a board games company will do and makes the company look at things in a different way.
In some ways board games publishers have the easiest R&D model of nearly any business out there – there is a vast array of tested and honed board game play concepts out there. The average small to medium sized games company will review many hundreds of new concepts each year, bigger companies may review more than a thousand. And from this mighty array of options they can whittle the options down to as few as they can viably launch. That is not to say that there is no work required from that point on – far from it, things need to be tweaked, artwork needs to be developed and any plastic components designed, engineered and manufactured, but nevertheless the pool of creativity available to board game companies is close to unparalleled.
Many games companies hit a rough patch and have a bad year or two, but there can be no excuse that they didn’t have enough ideas to develop! The trick for board game companies is to develop strong filtration systems and processes which can sort the wheat from the chaff. This can take some effort, and every established games company has somewhere along the line turned down a game that became a top seller elsewhere, this is because games publishers can bring in way more concepts than they have time to properly review and it is difficult to predict which games will take off and which will fail spectacularly.
This of course is the main challenge for even professional board game inventors – the high level of competing games concepts and the high quality of many of those concepts makes it hard to place even strong games from originators who really know what they are doing. Therefore, the business model for games inventors is massively stacked with upfront opportunity cost and emotional investment based on faith and love of the game. All this effort and energy needs to be expended well ahead of actually selling anything and making a living. Nobody knows exactly how many board games get published globally each year, but it is in the thousands at least, maybe even ten thousand or more. So, despite heavy competition there is ongoing demand for the output of board game inventors.
For those still unconvinced of the need for or importance of board game inventors in the games business, consider this – all of the following popular and iconic games were created by independent inventors: Monopoly, Clue/do, Trivial Pursuit, Settlers of Catan, Operation, Cranium, Scrabble, Dobble…and many more. So, here’s to those plucky game creators and their glorious output!
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