How To Manage A Portfolio Of Established Board Games
One of the best features of the board games business is that once established, board games can sometimes just keep selling and selling year after year. Clearly you have to launch a fair number of games before you stumble across a ‘perennial’ seller, but once you have one or even several in your portfolio business will become easier and your business will also be secure, because your game is known and trusted by both game players and retailers.
If you sell mainstream mass market games though, you may need to protect yourself from the toy effect – mass market retailers are often conditioned by the toy business and its endless cycle of new product launches. Therefore, mass market retailers are conditioned by the toy business into constantly seeking ‘new news’. If you have a top seller this probably won’t affect you, but if you have a stable of solid dependable board games but no big hits you can over time lose listings as ‘shiny object syndrome’ strikes and buyers chase new over dependable.
Our team has managed some of the biggest evergreen board games out there including Monopoly, Clue/do, Risk, Game of Life, Payday and others. This experience combined with more than 20 years of working in and observing the board games business leads us to offer the following suggestions for successfully managing a portfolio of established board games:
- Accept the ever-present need for ‘new news’
It’s an old cliché, but the saying ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ applies in this case. Rather than thinking you can just leave everything as is forever more, you will be more successful if you embrace the mass market requirement for novelty. This doesn’t need to represent fundamental change, but maybe just an added gameplay feature, a packaging tweak or something along those lines. This then allows you to show that you aren’t just selling old fashioned products but that your company and your products are moving with the times.
- Understand, manage and exploit product lifecycles
Not everything lasts forever. Once perennial classics do sometimes fade away if not managed well. The trick to managing this situation is to not try to do everything all the time – understand the product lifecycle. Even for your most classic games think about a 3 to 5 year lifecycle. If you have done nothing to the game, the packaging or the marketing in 3-5 years then you should probably consider it!
- Utilise brand extensions effectively and with realistic ambitions
One way you keep freshness in your portfolio is to launch new brand extension products. The biggest and best examples of this strategy would be the new ‘headline’ version of Monopoly which tends to launch each year. Whether it is a rule refinement, and added feature or theme, Monopoly is one of the best managed board games in the business. Even if the traditional version of Monopoly is not changed that much over time, each and every year new innovation and extensions are launched to keep the brand fresh and interesting. Clearly this iconic board game brand will do things on a scale few can match, but there is a lot to be learnt from the way the Monopoly brand is kept relevant after all these years.
- Sometimes a game needs to go away to come back stronger
Sometimes a game has a tough year, or just starts to fade away a little, and if the above tactics don’t work, then maybe the game needs a break from retail. Everybody loves a comeback story, and one quirk of human nature we have seen repeatedly is that at the time of a board game receding from the high position it may have held, people only see the negative movement. A few years later though, the memory has faded and maybe the buyers have moved on, and then you can go back and resell the product back into retail based on where peak sales were. We have seen this happen so many times, so it would seem that there is something in this strategy.
There are of course many other facets of managing a portfolio of established board games, but we only have so much scope in these articles, and of course we need to retain some key success factors for our clients. For now though, the above suggestions may help those struggling to progress an established collection of board games.
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.boardgamebiz.com/index.php/board-game-business-consultancy-services/
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