Why Board Games Are More Relevant Than Ever…
As we move further into the texhnology obsessed 21st Century I still get asked “But are board games still relevant in this day and age? My kids spend all their time on tablets.” When I first started working with board games back in the late ’90’s I was asked the same question, except with TV and game consoles in place of tablets.
Despite people asking that question for at least a decade and a half, and despite many bumps in the road the board games industry is still worth $billions globally. The reality is that board games don’t play a central role in most people’s day to day activities. However, most people will enjoy (good) board games when they actually do play them.
Perhaps more importantly, board games remain a fantastic social interaction driver for families and adults, and a very strong developmental aid for kids. Moreover, quality parent-child time can be a lot of fun with a good game.
So the need and the benefits for board games are still there. It’s a bit like eating fruit and vegetables, we know we should do it because it is good for us, but we’re often waylaid by less healthy foods and less healthy habits! In an ever more gadget focused world, sitting round a table to play a game is not just a very occasional pastime we can occasionally engage in with a somewhat rose tinted nostalgic “I used to play this when I was a kid”, in fact it’s a platform for reconnecting with those around us, same as it always has been, but now our need for actual face to face connection has never been stronger!
What I’m really loving of late is the hugely positive impact of crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter which have massively freshened up product development pipelines in the board games industry. No longer do we just get what doesn’t get filtered out as too whacky or too risky! At last we can launch/play with nearly any game we the consumers may want, not just what retailers are willing to put on their shelves. And if a game is very niche, or utterly crazy, so what, there’s bound to be another 500-1000 people who might want that, and that’s enough for a manufacturing run.
If we look at Cards Against Humanity & Exploding Kittens for instance which have been hugely successful new product launches in recent times, neither of these would have stood a chance if pitched in the traditional way to retailers…there is just no way a mass market retailer would want to take the risk on risqué! By allowing game creators to go directly to consumers we at long last have a consumer driven model developing (yes, we’re still in the infancy of this trend, so it is still developing). Instead of only having the innovation killing retail listing driven approach of the past, we now get consumers voting with their hard earned cash as to what they want to play.
And the best thing of all is that because Games are hugely driven by word of mouth/played at a friends house, good games (even if not necessarily what you would see on shelf at your nearest mass market retailer) grow in a viral fashion.
Are board games still relevant? Hell yes!
by Steve Reece, CEO of Kids Brand Insight www.KidsBrandInsight.com, a leading Consultancy to toy, game and kids entertainment companies around the world, which helps companies find the right toy & game factories, consumer research test their products with kids and parents and secure export distribution/market entry around the world