Why Do Classic Board Games Like Monopoly Just Keep Selling And Selling?


There are hundreds if not thousands of new board games coming to market each and every year. Nearly ever year of this millennium board games sales have been up year on year, and each year we seem to get at least one new  massive hit board game which really captures the moment.

At the time of writing in the midst of the coronavirus crisis we are seeing a very significant boom in board game purchasing and presumably board game playing as parents seek to gainfully occupy their locked down children. When you study the social media trends it becomes apparent that parents are often buying and playing those classic longstanding board games like Monopoly, Clue/Cluedo (yep the name is different in Europe vs the USA!), Game of Life, Jenga, Connect 4 and so many more.

When you speak to friends and family not in the board games business they quite often ask if anyone even plays these classic games any more when we have so much technology, video on demand and more recently launched board games? The answer to this question of course is a massively emphatic yes! As Hasbro’s ongoing success with their Games business suggests millions of people worldwide are buying and playing these classic games.

There are a number of reasons why they are still buying and playing these classic games:

  1. Nostalgia for their own childhood – our childhoods are welded very firmly into our ongoing consciousness, and experiences which didn’t seem that important at the time become treasured and golden memories. For many, these classic games remind them of strong and positive memory of a fun and entertaining part of their childhood – playing classic board games. Each generation so far since these classic games launched has tended to play and then pass on the impulse to play to their offspring, which when you think about it is an awesome and timeless purchase dynamic.
  2. The need for quality social interaction and social facilitation – modern day parents are constantly trying to pry their children away from screens – whether that’s phones, tablets, computers or TV. Parents, especially mothers, tend to use board games to facilitate social interaction and genuine quality time among family members. So often in this modern tech obsessed world people are in the same place physically but not necessarily mentally present, and board games offer an antidote to this. When many people who aren’t avid board game players go shopping for board games they will often tend to default to the classic games they know and have fond memories of, and this is again another strong driver of sales for these classic games.
  3. Predictability and longevity of sales facilitates stronger more effective merchandising and marketing – at this stage, even an unsophisticated retailer with poor data gathering and analysis capabilities will know roughly how many copies of the classic version of Monopoly they will sell each year and each peak season. Of course this may be up or down to some degree, but the retailer and the publisher both know the product will sell and will therefore tend to commit to stock and marketing investment more easily and with less risk aversion versus an unknown quantity i.e. a new game! Therefore people are more likely to find stock of classic games in stores (physical and online), moreover there are more local manufacturing options for board games versus plastic toys and therefore replenishment can be done more quickly locally thus further ensuring product availability and therefore sales of classic board games.
  4. People already know the gameplay and rules – learning new rules and new gameplay is one of the biggest barriers to playing board games. In general, people do not find it fun to read long instructions and to understand complex game play (there are of course objections, but this is a general global exception!). Classic board games like Connect 4, Guess Who or Risk have very familiar gameplay and adults tend to know how to play them. This makes it far easier for people to pick up and buy this type of game versus something with a rules learning curve which can be offputting.
  5. (Last but not least) Classic perennial games are fun to play – there are so many factors involved in selling board games but the fact that these classic board games are actually really fun and often very compelling play experiences is under reported. The media will gleefully report how many game play faults Parker Brothers originally identified with Monopoly for instance, but they rarely focus on the fact that people play Monopoly because it is fun! Yes, there are parts of the experience which are not perfect, but the reality is the basic gameplay is entertaining. The same applies to so many of the long standing perennial classics in the market.

Of course there are other factors driving the long term success of classic games, not least of which is good management by Hasbro and the other brand owners or publishers of these classic board games. In the end though, the above reasons go a long way to explaining the ongoing commercial success and consumer appeal of classic board games!


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