IntroductionWith some of the earliest examples dating back to those foundin “Predynastic and First Dynasty” (Piccione, 1980) Egyptian burials such as Senet,the concept and playing of board games has been passed through many cultures ofthe world. Whilst the examples of board games were not nearly as complexed aswhat audiences are akin to now such as Dungeons & Dragons, many ofthese predated games laid down the framework for mechanics that board games arerarely seen without. A prime example of this can be seen with the game Dice.What many today would see as an integral part to board gaming of a wide varietyof genres originally comes from the “Ba?ur Höyük burial mound” (Attia, 2018)located within the southeast of Turkey. As a set containing forty-nineindividually carved and painted pieces of stones found within the burial site,these dice used as a part of ancient gaming predate the modern version of suchpieces by five thousand years.
The MarketHowever, despite the abundant amount of evidence that provesthat board gaming has existed for thousands of years, the industry’s market isfar younger. Within the United States, Traveller’s Tour Through the United Statesand its associated title Traveller’s Tour Through Europecreated by F. & R Lockwood in 1822 are commonly associated with being thevery first of their kind. This is something that creator of Association of Game& Puzzle Collectors, Bruce Whitehill affirms this idea in an interview withNBC stating, “no commercially produced board game has been found in theUnited States prior” (Viegas, 2011) when regarding where the beginnings theindustry lie within the country.
It wasthen from this point onwards within the 19th century and into the 20ththat the market for board games began to gain traction with the United Statesas more games were being published such as 1860’s The Checkered Game of Life.Comparatively the market for board games or Eurogames withinin Europe was one that came about much later, originally stemming from Germany.It’s beginnings can be traced back to the 1960s with Aquire being an exampleof one such game that sparked the industry initially. Since the aftermath ofthe second world war as a result the country became “extremely critical” of gamesthat had war like themes. As a result, Acquire, specifically the versionfound within the 3M Bookshelf Series, became the frame work for the industry asit focused on self-development and relative success. This is where one of thebiggest differences between the Eurogame and board game industries varied atthe time as American board games depended on luck and conflict to drive themforward as seen in Monopoly. In turn these kindsof games gained traction in other European counties such as Sweden whilst inthe US market they bore a more cult status.
This remained to be the trend untilthe introduction of The Settlers of Catan. Published back in 1995 Spiel desJahres Die Siedler von Catan knowns as The Settlers of Catan in English, markedthe start of the eurogame industry broadening it’s audience as it reachedglobal stage. Initially selling 5,000 copies and winning Spiel des Jahres Gameof the year after being published it quickly became a cultural phenomenongaining award outside of Germany such as the Best Fantasy or Science FictionBoard Game of 1996 in the Origins Award in 1996. Within the United States the time span between 19thand 20th century, particularly from the 1880s-1920s, was one thatwas regarded by Hofer in The Games We Played: The Golden Age of Boardand Table Games as “The Golden Age” (Hofer, 2003) for theboard game industry. This is due part because the industry after that periodbegan to dwindle with sporadic moments of popularity as it went into the 21thcentury.
This drop in the industry is touched on by Jason R. Edward’s article SavingFamilies, One Game at a Time. Edwards explains thatboard games within the United States their popularity historically has beengreater in time when the nation was going through difficult times with a rise Isales being seen in time such as at the beginning of the Civil war and in theaftermath of the September 11 attacks. Inaddition, another variable that resulted in the industry’s fluctuation inpopularity can be traced back to the mainstreaming of smartphones and tablets. Accordingto Euromonitor International, this could be seen by the 3% decrease in globalboard game between the years of 2011-2013. However, since 2014 the market for board games is now ismuch stronger than previous. Statistics in accordance to EuromonitorInternational showed that within the US sales for board games increased by 28% whilstglobally the sales grew to $9.6 billion from it’s previous $9.
3 billion salesfrom 2013. This increase board games can be attributed to a variety of factorssuch as the increase of interest in the Eurogame style of games. With itbecoming easier for independent games such as Fantasy Flight to be introduced into new “new geographicterritories” (Hudak, 2016) after being attained by Asmodee it also has allowedfor the US industry to access the European board game audience in turn.
Furthermore, another variable for theincrease in the industry is due in part to a new audience, millennials, takingan interest in board games. TrendsLicencingSince the re-sparked interest in board gaming, Hasbro as to makesome of their older titles more up-to-date and appeal to audiences the company shiftedsome focus into acquiring licencing from Disney to incorporate it with pre-existingboard games. In 2016 some examples ofthis can be seen with the some of the product line released such as Jenga:Disney Frozen. Co-operative gameAnother trend stems from the increase of interest with the Eurogamestyles of board gaming.
Where in American style board games were reliant onconflict between players and luck, Eurogames like Settlers of Catan required forplayers to actively work together for a common goal. The result of co-operativebased games gaining popularity caused for games such as Flash Point and Pandemic:Legacy to be well received in their release in 2015. Board game cafesOne of the trends that arrivedwith the millennial population is the introduction of board game themed cafes. Thiscan be seen especially in China where the number of board gaming venuesaccording to People.com.cn reach a number exceeding 1,000.
While it is to a lesser degree, this trend hasalso been seen in the West with the opening of cafes such as the Draughts inNorth London. Influences to the industryKickstarterWith the appeal of board games returning the industry hasexperienced an additional surge of new and independently produced board games. This is due in no small part to crowdfundingplatforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo which allow creators topresent their ideas and gain funding through pledges. According to statistics provided by theKickstarter website, since the resurgence of the board game industry stemmingfrom 2014, the average number of board game kickstarters that were able to gainthe funding they need successfully to launch was “100” (Roeder, 2015) permonth. Since traditionally like many other industries board games would need tobe pitched to publishers before being made, this opportunity is another reasonthat crowdfunding websites have become such game changers within the industryas it allows the designers to maintain control of their property. Crowdfunding projects however is not an endeavour to betaken lightly despite such statistics.
Though there is the potential that of crowdfunding projects fail to meettheir goal, this is only one of the risk that can potentially be taken andkickstarted projects can still fail to produce result despite raising the fundsnecessary. One such example can be seen with the Kickstarter The DoomThat Came to Atlantic City. Launched May 7, 2012by The Forking Path, created by Lee Moyer, Keith Baker and Paul Komoda, thisboard set out to put a new twist on games that focuses on creating “powerfulmonopolies” but rather on destroying such traditional concepts with the use ofeldritch and Lovecraftian beings. Comprising of over 300 different piecesexcluding the game board the original Kickstarter goal was set at $35,000 andquickly met within a week and a half later after its initial launch. In the advent of meeting their initial goalthe team further set two stretch goals of $55,00 and $75,000 with the promisesof additional content such as the Necronomicon tomes and custom wooden countersfor their respective stretch goals. Similarly, due to its popularity these stretchgoals were met with the same rapid succession as the initial being met withinthree and two days each and by time the crowdfunding effort had met its end TheFork Path had raised $122,874 in total via 1,246 backers.
” (Kickstarter,2018) However, asthe money generated is no longer available having been spent on expenses suchas “to form the company” (Kickstarter,2013) as Chevalier stated, the FederalTrade Commission stepped in by filing a complaint against him for “deceivingbackers of the project” (Peterson and Peterson, 2013) for not using the fundson assets for the game. This marked the first time that the FTC had had to actagainst a crowd funding project. Another project that experienced difficultiesafter a successful kickstart was The Contender. After exciding theirgoal of $15,000 by over $125K back on August 31, 2015t took the creators until November22nd of the following year to break even on the money that had been put intothe game. The issues that John Teasdale and theteam he was working stemmed from primarily from the debt they had accumulatedafter manufacturing their game. After debating the pros and cons of betweenmanufacturing in the US or China, they settled on making the board game withinthe US with a manufacturer known for well-known games such as Unoand Settlersof Catan. This is something thatTeasdale goes into in detail stating their reason for it being it would be”‘safety rails’ against bad production ideas”. This however proved falseas he learned that manufactures for larger companies tend to work at on parwith speed of those companies.
Thishighlighted the need to work with publishers that are known for smallercompanies as it took Teasdale for their game to be produced. Furthermore, they safety rails ideologyproved to be false by the problems that resulted in games being damaged upondelivery or resulted in the base game being sent incorrectly instead of theirPolitically Incorrect expansion deck. Moreover,after order 20,000 games from the manufacturer and agreeing to pay the rest ofthe owed funds believing that they could sell the copies of the game they raninto another hiccup in their estimates.
These over estimates came were a resultin the team’s belief that the moment that gained from kickstarter wouldcontinue onwards after it ended. This proved not to be the case as seen below. The reality of the situation was that if youcould maintain at 8% of the momentum from the kickstarted that your product wasdoing well where in Teasdale had 4% of it. Tabletop Simulator Like manyindependent game developer studios just starting out this is a method offunding appealing, the creators of Tabletop Simulator did as well. TabletopSimulator, as the name suggest was internet-based sandbox tabletop game thatallowed for people to play board games with friends without being in the sameroom and with capabilities of multiplayer physics built in could still experiencethe game as if playing it in real life. After creating a beta version of thegame with money from theirs’ and relatives’ pockets they turned to crowdfunding as a means of generating the money required to make the game into areality.
On February 11, 2014, Berserk Games first launched a kickstarter forthe game with a goal of $3,000 dollars.Such an idea has not been without it’s draw backs however. While thegame does come with its own pre-made modes, it furthermore offers a custom modethat allows players to for all intense purposes make their own board gamethrough the ability to import textures and custom models.
It is here where onethe main debates for the board game stems, as it allows players to recreategames such as monopoly and in turn infringing the company’s copyrights. However, despite how large of a problem thatsuch capabilities pose in hindsight due to the nature of copyright infringement,the reception within the industry has been mixed at best in regards to such ofcustom mods. Fantasy Flight Games, a critically acclaimed game company, indiscovering a fan ran site NetrunnerDB was posting artwork, logos and text fromtheir product Android: Netrunner a cease and desist was sent to the website.Citing that such assets were “being used without our permission,” the owner ofthe fansite was sent a email insisting the shut down the site as an result. On the otherside of the spectrum While thisproblem of infringed modding hasn’t gone unnoticed to Berserk, monitoring andmaintaining a regulating system was something that they could notcommenting Conclusion