Understanding The Longevity Of The Board Games Business
Technology was supposed to kill the board games business! The video games business came out of the periphery of the toy industry originally, and toy and game companies like Hasbro & Mattel made very committed (& costly) forays into this space looking back in time. The video game business is now worth many $billions in its own right. But video games did not kill off board games.
Then came smart phones and tablets which were supposed to kill off all home based non-digital leisure pursuits, and yet again the board game business continued far less spectacularly in the background.
For those of us who have been around a while in the board games industry there are two often heard comments from people not in the business:
- Is anyone still buying or playing board games today with all this technology, video on demand and digital gaming? Answer = a thoroughly emphatic yes!
- I read that board games are making a comeback this year, is that true? Answer = they never went away!
These two comments are nearly as recurring as Christmas time itself!
The more important question for those of us in the business is why is it that the board games business has not just survived but has thrived as technological revolutions abound? There are several strong factors driving and ensuring the longevity of the board games industry:
- Technology has enabled more effective marketing – the classic big company way to launch board games was with shipments to all retailers across the trade and with heavy marketing investment via TV advertising primarily. This launch model has been especially prevalent among toy companies who also sold board games, because that is the toy marketing business model. The most effective marketing tool over time to launch board games which last in the market though, especially for games with compelling gameplay, is to get people playing the game and recommending the game to friends and family. Technology, especially social media has been a huge positive driver for the board games business because this facilitates word of mouth, which has always been one of the top drivers of board games purchases.
- Human beings are social to their core, and there is no better social facilitator than a compelling board game – if anyone was in any doubt about the need for human beings to connect socially in a face to face, non-digital way, then the strong impact of covid-19 induced lockdowns around the world on mental health and happiness should be clear evidence that humans need to hang out with other humans! Sometimes though, even when we are with our nearest and dearest family and friends conversation can be a bit stilted or perhaps the ice just needs to be melted sometimes when drawing different people together! Aside perhaps from alcohol, there is no better way to bring down social inhibition and get people enjoying each other’s company than playing a good board game. So far, despite all the massive technological advancements, some illustrated cardboard and a few other physical components thrown together in a box have still not been bettered by technology. In time, technology may enhance the experience, but we have seen many attempts to utilise technology to enhance board game experiences and not many have stuck. So often companies chase whizzy technology over just delivering a compelling fun experience!
- Human beings need an antidote to technology addiction – aside from the need for social interaction, humankind is increasingly aware of screen time and tech addiction that is more impulsive and harder to resist than some narcotics! Therefore, one of the key modern drivers of board games purchases and board games playing is backlash to too much screen time.
In conclusion, this is an exciting time in the development of humankind. Technological advancements are accelerating, and in the not too distant future technology will deliver impact on our lives that most adults could not have imagined would occur during their lifetimes. And yet the humble board game continues to represent a growing global market with a richness and diversity of content offerings that is way beyond that of even a decade ago.
So, our prediction is twofold: a) Massive ongoing technological revolution and b) Continuing growth and health for the board games category.
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/
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.