Board game sales have been growing at least 10% a year or more for about a decade now. Cardboard is hot, nerds.
But why are nerds everywhere geeking out over cardboard? Well, let’s look at seven reasons.
A Maturing infrastructure
It’s boring to talk about infrastructure, but it’s vitally important. The uninformed consumer still thinks products get into a person’s hand via a wizard or something. Yet the reality involves factories and trucks and boars and all sorts of types of supply chain elements that bring a product to market.
Then, once a game has been made and shipped, a whole other sales and distribution infrastructure kicks in. Really, it involves more fiddly bits than Agricola. Ha! [Rim shot.] A board game joke.
Outside of a legitimate tariff scare, the reality with the hobby board game industry is the entire gaming infrastructure is maturing and getting better, which is excellent for us consumers.
What does it mean? Well, it has led to better and higher quality components, more games in shops, distribution pushing further and deeper into mainstream outlets, and marketing and publicity becoming more creative.
Again, it’s boring to talk about infrastructure but it’s the foundation the entire game trade is built upon and it’s a reason that board game sales are booming.
Support of Gaming Media
Any hobby needs a community to support it plus media to educate that community. And the board game media is growing up, meaning the board gaming community is better informed about new games releases.
I’ve written an entire article on some of the top outlets, so I’ll just point you there so you can get engaged with the board gaming media. And please do engage. There are some good outlets out there, so don’t hesitate to check them out because they are helping the hobby grow.
(Side Note: There is a small downside here. The low barrier to entry means that all sorts of yahoos are starting board gaming YouTube channels, regardless of if they are qualified or thoughtful. As with everything, pick through your apples so that a single bad one doesn’t ruin the bunch.)
Game Shops Cultivate Community
I love my game shop (FLGS) and we try to support local businesses at Nerds on Earth even though we are an online presence. The reason is that a good FLGS is inclusive and fosters community, something that is vitally important to us humans. (I’ve written about Third Space theory here. Check it out.)
Game shops provide a ton of value to consumers far beyond their selection of board games (I’ve also written about this). That helps grow the number of gamers as well as provide them access to great games. That helps business boom!
Kickstarter has also revolutionized the board gaming hobby. Board games are so popular on Kickstarter that you could almost call it a board game crowdfunding site at this point.
Board games regularly crack the million dollar mark on Kickstarter and it’s helping to bring new and innovative games to market, as well as helping to influence the quality of components.
Uh, I’ve also written extensively about this, so rather than blather on, I’ll point you there.
The Quality Has Never Been Better
Let’s not overlook the obvious, which is that board games are so darned good right now! Thousands of board games are released a year, and a high number of them are really, really, really good games that are fun and engaging to play.
The board gaming boom has created competition and creativity that has raised the quality in the industry. And it’s not just the game play that has improved–although that undoubtedly has–the quality of the components is better than ever as well, giving board games a collectibility due to their quality.
They are Analog
Listen, I love my iPhone and I don’t want to scapegoat devices as everything that is wrong with young people today. Much of the talk regarding technology is being dictated by those who have turned to knitting, listen to angry talk radio, and are slowly decaying.
But that doesn’t mean that us humans aren’t having moments where we’ve grown tired of online interaction, and that doesn’t mean that we’ve suddenly felt the urge to feed pigeons in the park. No, it means that the face-to-face analog nature of board gaming is…well, refreshing.
Heck, my 11-year-old said to me the other day: “Dad, let’s play a game. I need a break from the internet.” For many, board game sales are increasing not despite their analog nature, but because of it.
People Need Meaning and Connection
Related to the reason above, us humans are social creatures who ache for connection. And meaningful connections happen when we play board games together. We laugh and joke, we become engrossed in the strategy, and we co-operate or compete with one another.
Regardless of the type of board game, they can be meaningful connections that offer a shared face-to-face experience around a table. A common experience beyond just grabbing coffee or going to the club is a compelling reason to play more games.
Maybe the above reasons connect with you or maybe there are entirely different reasons you are buying more board games. In fact, what is your #8 reason?. Share on Twitter or in our Boarderlands Facebook group.