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Are Board Games Dying?

Are Board Games Dying?


Harry Wallop had begun a conversation in 2015 about how board games were becoming a dying game breed. A reality he argued was because of “beastly computer boxes”.

That allusion can’t miss the wider metaphor of how technology is changing the face of game choice in the world.

However, changing choices doesn’t necessarily mean dwindling popularity. If at all, it is that board games have found a way to change with the times. For example, many modern board games are now hosted on several online platforms and mobile apps that allow you invite a competitor.

You see conventional board games like scrabble and chess, played virtually just by inviting friends or random opponents.

As this article will be showing, if anything, there has been a widespread surge in the purchase, popularity, and playing of board games all over the world which has made it a big market in recent years.

Are Board Games Dying?
Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

Some Stats

While it may be true in some sense that the games risk dying out because of the recent dominance of social media and computer or video games, it is not evidently so that a risk equals a factual reality. 

Harry’s piece was basically based on a survey that suggested that about 73% of parents who played one board game or another with their children remember doing so while 44% of these children claimed they do not currently remember anymore.

Beyond the survey being a skewed representation of the totality of those who owned and played these (because naturally, surveys are samples that might not be totally representative of a group or study net) board games, it is not difficult to tell why the children cannot remember playing these games in view of modern trends.

The world is now a dominated space for smart devices and video games, the internet has also opened varieties of options for new generations of children like never.

There is also a potential draw back from those who grew up on games which are now considered old; games like Candyland and Monopoly, that didn’t stimulate much fun or inspire curiosity.

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Why The Games Are Not Exactly Dying Just Yet

Just a year after Harry’s piece, Euromonitor International projected an annual roll-over growth in the global sales of puzzles and board games.

The market sales were about $9.3 billion in 2013, and that grew to about $9.6 billion in the next 3 years. So, by 2016, people were buying more board games than they did years ago.

They also recently reported how, from 2018, there has been a surge in the value growth of these games. This is supported by various factors ranging from online influencers, connected lifestyles, digitization of these games, and widespread use of social media, amongst other things.

Their motivation was to provide people with the numbers and show how there are real time opportunities in the board game market space. A dying breed won’t command such attention and market solutions. 

Another important factor mentioned earlier is the kind of rebirth it currently enjoys. There are tons of popular board games (even card games) that command high followership online.

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Take chess for instance, there are videos, books, and game times available online for lovers of this board game. These games give very stimulating and rich content and community that many players and lovers of these games want.

In an interconnected, global space that prioritizes content development, you find exciting materials on virtual spaces that instigate fresh ideas or new content that players and potential board game converts can enjoy. 

Another good case to be made here is about PAX Unplugged. Pax unplugged hosts events specifically for gamers of different generations. The motivation behind this is to have a game content that allows individuals and families enjoy a weekend gaming together.

The conventions are so popular, it attracts thousands of attendees in the US. Recent conventions have been so well attended that the organizers had to push for a separate convention that specifically attends to board game lovers and player. That’s no mean feat. 

There are still active local clubs and shops in town that run local games and have board game day where players can go and have fun and timeout with one another. This is supported by a growth interest in the game with new annual additions and updates.

In 2017 alone, a record number of new game expansions of board games, totaling about 4,500 were published, which puts the annual growth rate at about 20%. This clearly indicates that the number of new games might be somewhat unsustainable, but current growth is real and mainstream.  

The board game recent surge is due to different reasons. For one, people are beginning to realize the importance of human interaction.

The advent of smart phones mean that more people spend time on their phones than they do with other. People are using board games (and card games) to connect and interact with others, build relationships, while also improving their sense of self-esteem and value in the process.

There are cafes and bars whose players’ lounge is bringing back the interaction to promote engagement between individuals; among friends, families, and even strangers who want to drink and indulge new friends.

Some of these bars also use the board games as exclusive service provision for many interested in their services. In fact, there are restaurants who have a library of board games offer discounted food or beverage purchases for customers who are registered to the library. 

There has also been a huge advocacy for introducing certain board games into teaching critical organizational skills like team building, amongst others.

This has resulted in a common place interest among some organizations who find board games like Jenga, very useful in incorporating scenarios that can help improve team building skills. Many of these aren’t necessarily a formalized arrangement either.

There are organizations who put a board game room as a set apart office space, or even at the reception, to help build the workplace culture and interaction envisaged by the management.

There are working class parents who take this culture into homes, too, as their way of building family time in the homes. Board games then become a major plank of their family dinner time which affords families the opportunity to unwind and discuss as a family while diving into new game adventures.

Many times, you realize that board games are the only type of games that allow for that extensive family time together. Many video games are too gender-attractive, and at other times, very limiting with the number of players not more than two most times. Board games ideally become a family’s choice if the idea is to get everyone involved. 

That people often herald the health benefits of playing board games have also spawned into tangible popularity and interests among so many people.

There are many who use it as a stress reliever, offering psychological escape for many who might be having mental stress. The less stressful you feel, the more excited the potential to stay and feel alive. 

Are Board Games Dying?
Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

Renaissance And Then What Next?

The recent surge in the board games market has been attributed to the popularity of the Euro Style games.

They are a type of the board games that generally de-emphasize conflict and luck and valorize strategy and co-operation whose playing themes are more about economics.

Graham believes the best representation of these games is the “Settlers of Catan”. The Settlers of Catan is a board game of German origin and its first production was in 1995.

This game generally is about players who colonize an island and negotiate around trading resources that allow them build a settlement where they want to take. The emphasis is on soft skills as social skills, networking, and collaboration. 

Premium: Catan
(The board game Settlers of CatanSchöning | ullstein bild | Getty)

The ingenuity here is how board games are being modified, supported, and at other times, invented to meet the needs of the new generation of players whose emphasis vary and change with the realities of the time.

That game alone sold about 18 million copies worldwide, and it perhaps explains the changing face of board games in the world. Part of the leverage in the growth of board games such as this is how they tap into the robust global retail trends.

Also, like the board game conventions, many manufacturers and innovators capitalize on the growing attraction to board games to keep the market growing.

The board games market is not badly hit at all. In fact, the expected growth of the market is capped at over 10% with 2018-2024 forecasted growth.

Cision PR Newswire’s forecast on the board game market from 2018 – 2023 reaching a market value size of $12 billion by 2023, showing the market sizes, shares, trends, growth drivers, locations, amongst other things. And Bloomberg’s estimation of a  capped market size worth of $21.56 Billion by the year 2025, only capture the huge market for the board games that doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all.  

So, are the board games dying? On the contrary, the right answer is that they are perhaps on the rise. You might find that a difficult answer if all you know about board games are traditional ones like Monopoly and not the thousands of innovations in that space.

Board games are not dying, rather, they are getting bigger and evolving. They are growing in popularity so much that digital versions of the physical board games are being produced and played by lots of people around the world.

Not only that, new types and inventions are dominating the space like never before.

Anyway, check here if you want to know where to get these new and amazing board games.

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