The risk of facing counterfeit copies of products is quite surreal in the business market, with real challenges and risks.
Conventionally, knockoff products generally imply items that imitate the associated image or appearance of a brand or product without lifting the name or its trademark logo.
However, the idea is now extensively used to represent counterfeit goods that are of imitative but inferior quality to what is sold under a brand or product.
The legal infringement on these products border on things like patent, trademark, or copyright laws. This reality is also not unconnected with board games and the fight not to institutionalize counterfeit board games out of popularity and cheap access.
Counterfeit copies of very popular games flood online stores and 60% of these sales are estimated to be fakes.
The online sites for board games purchases change the dynamics for who hosts or sells a product, what kind of games are being displayed, and the risk involved for buyers.
How To Spot And Avoid Fake Board Games
It is established that the counterfeits business, especially for toy items, is a huge challenge, and the percentage value makes potential sales of board games pale in market comparative value to their clones or fakes.
Your ability to spot fake board games helps you avoid knockoffs. Here are ways that could prove quite helpful:
It might sound rather basic, but it could be a defining one. Most — if not all — of the default instructions you get about original games online are, as expected, written in the right diction.
That’s because a lot of reviews and attempts at excellence go into legitimizing a product with the authenticity that helps its sales and users’ reach.
Counterfeit products, however, give themselves away as easily as from the errors on their online instructions. Any online store where a product’s description or instructions have typos should easily raise your alarm bells.
It might not be sacrosanct, but it is a plausible point. In fact, game instructors or studio representatives will confirm that no serious manufacturer or retail outlet with legitimacy will couch their instructions in typos.
But it has to be said, though, that not every game guilty of this is a product of mediocre copy editing. But it is still something to look out for.
The issue of typo might sound like a stand-alone point, but it speaks into a wider consideration in your ability to tell if a product is for you or not.
You need to examine the product’s packaging. Beyond typos, manufacturers of games have logos on their products and any form of anonymous wrapping should get you legitimately concerned.
If there are clear, indicated logos on your board, you can make quick findings from the company to see if it is as it is represented. Look out for design compatibility from what you intend to buy to what you can access on the company’s website.
There are also warranties and other certifications that generally come with using products, though this is not a ‘thing’ with board games. But for those who could possibly share them, it is important to stay on them.
Packaging can be so deceiving and hard to figure out for many. You could find a copy of 7 Wonders board game or Bananagrams with the packaging that could be as convincing as the original, only to discover you share atrocious similarities with others who have been victims of fake products.
Most times, you can make a quick rundown of potential differences that you would expect, in terms of the game’s board size, the rulebook, the box printing and designs, colors or appearances of your boards, and so on.
It must be said, though, that not all pointers in this case indicate for fakes. There have been people whose experiences have been with one card game or another, with cards having thinner, no linen-finishing and have erroneously thought this means low quality.
However, it wasn’t so as the design was updated to make bigger stacks of such cards easier to manage so that it can have higher durability. There are points where over-essentialization can be costly, so, adequate knowledge of products per time is very essential.
3. Cheap Cost
This generally works for all items, not just your games. Sometimes the prices that look appealing and too good are really not true but false.
The truth about the market cost of products is that they are way beyond the value of purchased items. The board game goes beyond that, too.
You are paying for quality materials, no doubt, but also the design, research costs, and the market campaigns to drive a product’s sell-ability.
Knockoffs won’t pay attention to that, that’s why a counterfeit Clank or 7 wonders game can be riddled with error, because even if they imitate the originals, they are not exactly so.
This invariably reflects on the price tag. There are also retail prices that are always so loud about discounts and free shipping costs.
When a seller of a board game offers you way discounted prices than what is a common, established price for a game, retract with heightened caution.
What counterfeit product pushers do is to feed on people’s reluctance to spend by offering almost cheap, beaten down prices. This is mostly to con or trick their potential buyers.
Prices are often a click away from clarity and research. That is very important. You have to research prices across stores to aid your ability to make informed price decision for your items. This leads to the next point.
4. Research Sellers
Research is the soul of excellence. Researching the price of a product to influence your ultimate decision also means there is room for other researches. One of which is your seller.
You could assume that your visit to any online shopping site is a direct visit to your game’s company or brand. But that’s not always the case.
Now, that seems like the ideal thing to save you from possible rip off. This ideal scenario has impact for safety, but online sales, many times, have the traditional sale channel.
The traditional channel was for brands to sell to big retail outlets who now serve as middlemen or distributors to small shops or independent consumers.
This model was disrupted by the initial wave of digital sales. Companies were also finding it a useful model for their own brand’s recognition while also generating more coherent, decentralized demands among a wide spectrum of consumers.
It also helps many brands establish a direct link with customers. But curiously, the third-party vendors type selling is returning to online sales and there are legitimate or authorized retailers on these platforms.
However, you can avoid fending off being a victim of online fake sales. Many online companies allow you to vet your seller even if they are third-party vendors.
Amazon, Walmart, and a few other stores allow you to click on potential vendor or seller, read feedback from buyers, and also give clear instruction on their return policies or contact information in case of disappointment.
Such researches put you in a more comfortable space to avoid rip offs from fake board games.
Staying clear of sellers with crappy reviews and reputations might be one of the best ways to survive the online world of board game knockoffs.
5. Customer Reviews
Reading through customer reviews in your research about sellers, and keeping it at heart, is a life saver, and helps you comb through your trajectory to taking a decision about the best, safest board games to buy.
You can decide to buy your board game based on reviews from past experiences of customers and how that can inform your own potential experiences, too.
There are numerous reviews from customers that would easily out scams from sellers certified as “fulfilled” on a platform like Amazon, for example. But these certified frauds sell below par game boards or sets.
Reviews can also be on shared game platforms with gamers or lovers of your preferred games. A gamer who raised a concern on Board Game Geek about the quality of their Ticket to Ride board game is instructive here.
The gamer had bought a copy and didn’t find any online access number that is usually at the back of rules and the user was interested in knowing if it was original or fake.
You will find the responses heartwarming and instructive, too. This is not just about Ticket to Ride, but how (potential) gamers or buyers can remain safe in the view of legitimate concerns of counterfeit products and piracy.
Here is an original copy of the Ticket to Ride game. You can check it out and check out the reviews by Amazon customers.
6. Know The Real
A counterfeit copy is meant to be an imitation of the original, the authentic. That’s a given.
The best way to avoid what is fake, therefore, is to know what sets the real from the imitation. This is expressed in a more populist slogan: You don’t need to know the fake to tell the fake, you just need to know the original well enough to be all you know.
That’s why you must know what sets the board game you want to buy aside and how that should reflect in your choice. Look at the designs. The artwork, the label art, component quality, among other things, are what you would naturally look out for.
7. In-store Purchase
This might not sound as your typical factor considering the depth of advantage inherent in shopping online in a digital age.
People who go online to host shopping labels do that because it opens them to a whole world of new possibilities and limitless business and/or sales options.
New customers, unrestricted by geography, is a big thing and that also provides the link to other business possibilities like shipping services, amongst others.
Beyond entrepreneurial advantage — in terms of low costs hosting of products and no time restriction in that real sense — customers also fret over offline or in-store purchases.
It makes many spend more, especially for items they don’t need, and also takes focus from the initial item for purchase that took them to the store in the first place.
As varied and copious reasons to shop online exist, buying certain items, like board games, in-store can be more of a blessing and a far cheaper option in terms of reward on value and absented stress occasioned by getting knockoffs.
The previous point talks about knowing your product. If you are going to get familiar with the key trademarks or hallmarks of your preferred games, you might as well choose to buy them from the local store close to you.
When you can tell a product’s shape, shades and design, the markings and the signature details that set them peculiarly apart, checking into a local store to buy your board game is just as much a handy remedy to doing it elsewhere outside it.
Now, board game lovers and buyers hardly hide their feelings about the cost of buying board games in game stores. Predictably, they are more expensive, and the convenience of online spending is an attraction not to give up or away quickly.
Typically, board games purchased from online game stores cost just about 25% lower than game purchases in local stores.
So, the labels for game stores is hardly or ever about quality or originality. It is mostly about expenses. That shows that the remedied face of falling for knockoffs is at the cost of cash.
But this might be a cost not worth sweating excessively over as the preference is avoiding knockoffs.
Factors Behind Increased Rate in Knockoff Board Games
The rate at which counterfeit games have spiked in recent years is owing to a wider reality in the post-industrial experience of the modern time.
New technology has significantly shaped and changed the way people access, share, and manage information, products, and goods.
It is like the photocopying machine that is a useful invention, but also becomes a tool in the hands of people who might want to popularize, market, and sell counterfeit books and papers.
Board game counterfeit perpetrators have also tapped into innovation and technological tools that have aided the world as we know it to create their own counterfeit products.
Technology does not only aid the quick replication of products, making it easier to create clones, but it also makes online buying — where droves of counterfeit purchases and sales take place — a possibility or reality.
About two decades ago, a lot of countries in Eastern Europe, perceived as emerging markets, became a centerpiece and focal places for free market policies and economies.
The explosion led to transformations that were difficult to control and regulate and counterfeit products became a central figure of affection for consumers and producers.
That has snowballed into lots of other shared, similar market structures that impact counterfeit products in the world.
China has been at the forefront of that, too, and East Asia has been an export of such flows. One of the motivations is to provide people’s indulgences at cheaper, low prices without resorting to their basic safety rights.
That same motivation is widespread in the U.S and low-grade, invisible companies that produce some of these games for popular use.
Damages Caused By Counterfeit Board Games
Many times, when people talk about the danger of counterfeit games, the focus is on the economic impact. That’s a plausible conversation, and many more; all the same, an important place to start. But the costs of counterfeits have implications on social, health, legal, as well as the economic cost it triggers.
Counterfeit products only benefit the counterfeiters, not the original designers or manufacturers of the board games. They do not receive any accrued profit or royalties for their intellectual property.
Even in the value chain, real distributors are impacted, as sales turn low and they have nothing in concrete financial value to fall back to.
When we think of the damage of knockoffs only in terms of what consumers lose, it blurs the criminality of the action and the consequent effect on those who are the center of making it work.
There are real faces behind every creation, people whose products and brands are offshoots of their creativity, innovation, diligence, and value for excellence. Not being cautious of this would be patronizing or standing in solidarity with criminals.
There are studies that show that losses in sales is linked with job losses. That’s not just an economic impact, it is also a social and national impact. Not only do people’s way of life change when there is a loss because of sales difference, the country feels the impact of the losses, too.
Not only are these companies losing cash, they are also losing the PR battle. 7 Wonders board game was once a subject of customer interventions and how the knockoffs had greatly caused a palpable hysteria as to the invisibility of the game’s original versions.
The board game market had been dominated by counterfeits of the game and the poor packaging became a gross, wide expression of exhaustion and dissatisfaction with the game’s product in the market.
For new gamers, such experience leaves an indelible negative feeling and creates an experience that does not inspire confidence to repeat or make the game their life-long habit.
This is what is called the principle of the loss of goodwill. A company that will perhaps want to associate itself with quality and revered exclusivity will find it difficult to do this because of a general exhaustion that is triggered by the fear of throwing money down the drain.
Even at a personal level, for consumer’s safety and health, it has been established that games that bypass expected and known universal safety checks can pose significant health risks to those who play them.
Manufacturers of board games are keenly regulated, and most materials used in the calibration, design, and production of these games go through checks to ensure productions are health and safety compliant.
There are contents in the plastics, wood, lead paint, and other materials used in producing some of the games that can be poisonous. There have been cases where card stock made for cheaper and way inferior trays break easily.
These things can hurt consumers and users and the damage can be so significant or incalculable to the degree that might be more hurtful than from the pains of swooning.
Board game counterfeits might come at ridiculous or cheap prices, but they end up costing more in terms of invested cost when you get a cheap alternative.
You might be substituting quality for a cheap cardboard piece that might end up fading away more quickly that you expected. Ultimately, you would have spent money only a pile of paper that lacks soul.
People define board games in two languages: themes and mechanics. If a board game comes in all rules and mechanics component but lacks the setting from where the game should thrive, it eviscerates the spirit. This is similarly true if flipped vice versa.
Keep your eyes fixed on rulebooks, see through cheap prices, and know when a board game’s logo, or manufacturer’s name or brand is sacrificed for other reasons.
More so, research your game’s undeniable features and ensure that they are represented in your new game set.
You need to keep your contact with local game stores or game conventions open. You will be in a good company and place when you stick to places where you are sure of quality and originality.
It helps to keep in mind that your decision not to be critical and meticulous about your board game purchases impacts not just you but a wide chain of lives, families, businesses, and ultimately, your country.