Big Box Stores Offer Big Box Comfort
The first sign of life in the hobby thriving amidst the pandemic was Hasbro’s staggering first-quarter numbers. The company’s CEO, Brian Goldner, explained that Hasbro experienced more than 20 percent growth before the 2020 holiday season alone. Ravensburger reported a spike well over 300% in sales across its line of games and puzzles. There was no denying that the giants of the board gaming industry were doing well. An article from Sarah Butler for The Guardian tracked early lockdown sales of games and toys in the United Kingdom, with stalwarts Hasbro, Mattel, and Asmodee having strong sales numbers for classic family titles such as Monopoly, Clue, and Uno. Reports in North America tracked similar sales of these well-known games.
It turns out many publishers not at the size and scale of Hasbro and Ravensburger were working toward sustainability even before the pandemic, and big box stores were not a major factor in their plans to move forward. John Zinser, owner of Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG), explains that “[big box stores] have not shaped our business model. We are always hoping our games will be placed in these stores, but we do not build our business model around it.”
Ted Alspach, owner of Bezier Games, expresses a similar stance of big box retailers. “They haven’t had much of an impact. Some have done better than before, others not so much. That category was pretty much flat.”
Yet, the behemoths of the board gaming industry turned to big box stores to keep capital flowing. When speaking to Ross Thompson from The Op earlier this year, he stressed how big box stores such as Target were integral to The Op’s sustainability during the pandemic. With a line that incorporates popular intellectual property (IP) such as Marvel, SpongeBob SquarePants, Harry Potter, and more (and often combines these IPs with timeless games and modern classics such as Monopoly, Clue, and Codenames), having an established big box presence allows The Op to thrive along with the industry’s best known publishers.
Cafes and Local Game Stores Struggle
The continued effect of COVID-19 forced many to stay home and in close proximity to families of varying ages and skill levels, meaning board games had the opportunity to demonstrate their ability of bringing and keeping families together and entertained despite the harrowing (and let’s be honest, grim) circumstances facing a weary world.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Gaming By Degrees: The Philosophical Journey of Dr. Finn's Games
Early in his career as a self-publishing game designer, Dr. Stephen Finn earned a reputation as a designer of filler games. In fact, Richard Ham, host of the well-known board gaming video series and podcast “Rahdo Runs Through,” has called Finn the “undisputed King of the Filler.” It was a title that Finn embraced. “There was a time,” notes Finn, “when ‘filler’ wasn’t a pejorative term, but I think it’s now becoming one. I was always proud to call myself the King of the Fillers, because I was thinking of ‘filler’ as just a quick thing.” “However, over time, I began to realize that it may be to my detriment and now, I try to avoid it.” Not completely. Finn continues to promote the phrase on his company’s website because “being King of anything is still a good thing.” “I was thinking maybe it would become something bigger.”
PUBLISHING AMID A PANDEMIC: How Board Games Survived and Thrived in 2020
COVID’s lasting impacts on our health and economy are still far from being understood. It will take many of us years, perhaps even a decade, to unravel what has changed in the last year. But some patterns are emerging, at least in the board gaming hobby, that indicate many publishers were well ahead of the curve even before the threat of a pandemic affected their supply chains worldwide. As the world began locking itself down to quell the threat of COVID-19, people continued to find solace in hobbies. Soon, the business journals and magazines of the world began tracking the increase of sales across a wide swath of interests as people did anything and everything to take their minds away from the weight of a pandemic circling the globe. Turns out, everything from toys, guitars, crafts, and board games were selling well despite a deflated economy. Report Linker’s “Board Games Market - Global Outlook and Forecast 2021-2026” estimates that sales in the hobby will grow by 13 percent in the next five years, even with continued lockdowns. But what about the hobby as a whole? This article examines how 2020 affected the board gaming industry through three facets — big box stores, local board gaming cafes and stores, and the digital space — and how the pandemic has shaped them in the interim as well as moving forward. Is this projected forecast of its growth still as rosy?
Attending a mysterious funfair, you start to have psychic visions. Can you catch a killer before the evening is through?
1-4 PLAYERS | 15-45 MINUTES | AGES 7+
Live the sugary dream in Candy Lab, as you fulfill orders of candy bars and compete for the title of master confectioner!
MIND GAMES: The Psychology of Board Games
What is the mind? For the ancient Greeks, the idea of the mind was synonymous with the concept of “soul.” Plato believed the psyche was immortal and became wiser and more perceptive after death. More recently, Freud and Jung refined the idea of seele (soul) as a subset of the overall psyche, that which governs thought and behavior — in short, personality. As a game designer and armchair psychologist, I am fascinated by what makes games tick. But even more, I love to discover what makes players tick. Games are products of the human mind, and the mind is the arena on which the contest is played. All the aspects of cognition — perception, thinking, judgment, language, memory, and more — play into the game experience.
Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar
2-4 PLAYERS | 45-60 MINUTES | AGES 7+
GAME REVIEWS: CALICO
Winner of CGI’s Best Casual Game of 2020 award, Calico is filled with adorable cats and versatility in its tile laying, giving it a combination of challenging gameplay and soothing delightful theme.
2-10 PLAYERS | 60 MINUTES | AGES 8+
BOARD GAMES IN THE CLASSROOM
Gamers gather around a table to unbox a new board game or bring out an old favorite. Together, they enter into a unique experience of mental challenge, social interaction, and creative play — an experience that draws them together. But can this special experience have anything to do with learning? John Coveyou, founder of Genius Games, insists that it does. Whenever you take a seat around a table to play a board game, “your mind can’t not begin to pick up information about the world that the game is themed around.” Without a doubt, learning is part of the experience, but is it a big enough part to justify using board games in the classroom? If so, how can board games be best used for learning?
TAKING FUN SERIOUSLY
We expect manufacturing activity to pick up in future thanks to the new initiatives from the government in promoting India as a hub for toys, says R. Jeswant, CEO, Funskool India
Playing it right
The industry is just evolving in India and the recent focus on promoting domestic manufacture of toys will go a long way in faster development of the market in India, says R. Jeswant, CEO, Funskool India
Turn the end of 2020 into a cavalcade of fun!
Leave It In Their Hands
Roll, squish, mix, flatten, shape… Play-Doh is a fun educational toy that not only fosters creativity but also develops critical learning skills
Not A Toy Story
Brian Goldner’s Hasbro now manufactures stories, not just Monopoly boards and Gi Joes. That’s why it’s trouncing the competition—and just spent $4 billion on a pig named Peppa