Introduction board game has been found in the


With some of the earliest examples dating back to those found
in “Predynastic and First Dynasty” (Piccione, 1980) Egyptian burials such as Senet,
the concept and playing of board games has been passed through many cultures of
the world. Whilst the examples of board games were not nearly as complexed as
what audiences are akin to now such as Dungeons & Dragons, many of
these predated games laid down the framework for mechanics that board games are
rarely 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 variety
of genres originally comes from the “Ba?ur Höyük burial mound” (Attia, 2018)
located within the southeast of Turkey. As a set containing forty-nine
individually 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 such
pieces by five thousand years. 

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The Market

However, despite the abundant amount of evidence that proves
that board gaming has existed for thousands of years, the industry’s market is
far younger. Within the United States, Traveller’s Tour Through the United States
and its associated title Traveller’s Tour Through Europe
created by F. & R Lockwood in 1822 are commonly associated with being the
very first of their kind. This is something that creator of Association of Game
& Puzzle Collectors, Bruce Whitehill affirms this idea in an interview with
NBC stating, “no commercially produced board game has been found in the
United States prior” (Viegas, 2011) when regarding where the beginnings the
industry lie within the country.  It was
then from this point onwards within the 19th century and into the 20th
that the market for board games began to gain traction with the United States
as more games were being published such as 1860’s The Checkered Game of Life.

Comparatively the market for board games or Eurogames within
in 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 example
of one such game that sparked the industry initially. Since the aftermath of
the second world war as a result the country became “extremely critical” of games
that had war like themes. As a result, Acquire, specifically the version
found within the 3M Bookshelf Series, became the frame work for the industry as
it focused on self-development and relative success. This is where one of the
biggest differences between the Eurogame and board game industries varied at
the time as American board games depended on luck and conflict to drive them
forward as seen in Monopoly.

 In turn these kinds
of games gained traction in other European counties such as Sweden whilst in
the US market they bore a more cult status. This remained to be the trend until
the introduction of The Settlers of Catan. Published back in 1995 Spiel des
Jahres Die Siedler von Catan knowns as The Settlers of Catan in English, marked
the start of the eurogame industry broadening it’s audience as it reached
global stage. Initially selling 5,000 copies and winning Spiel des Jahres Game
of the year after being published it quickly became a cultural phenomenon
gaining award outside of Germany such as the Best Fantasy or Science Fiction
Board Game of 1996 in the Origins Award in 1996.

Within the United States the time span between 19th
and 20th century, particularly from the 1880s-1920s, was one that
was regarded by Hofer in The Games We Played: The Golden Age of Board
and Table Games as “The Golden Age” (Hofer, 2003) for the
board game industry. This is due part because the industry after that period
began to dwindle with sporadic moments of popularity as it went into the 21th
century. This drop in the industry is touched on by Jason R. Edward’s article Saving
Families, One Game at a Time.

 Edwards explains that
board games within the United States their popularity historically has been
greater in time when the nation was going through difficult times with a rise I
sales being seen in time such as at the beginning of the Civil war and in the
aftermath of the September 11 attacks.  In
addition, another variable that resulted in the industry’s fluctuation in
popularity can be traced back to the mainstreaming of smartphones and tablets. According
to Euromonitor International, this could be seen by the 3% decrease in global
board game between the years of 2011-2013.

However, since 2014 the market for board games is now is
much stronger than previous. Statistics in accordance to Euromonitor
International showed that within the US sales for board games increased by 28% whilst
globally the sales grew to $9.6 billion from it’s previous $9.3 billion sales
from 2013. This increase board games can be attributed to a variety of factors
such as the increase of interest in the Eurogame style of games. With it
becoming easier for independent games such as Fantasy Flight  to be introduced into new “new geographic
territories” (Hudak, 2016) after being attained by Asmodee it also has allowed
for the US industry to access the European board game audience in turn.  Furthermore, another variable for the
increase in the industry is due in part to a new audience, millennials, taking
an interest in board games.



Since the re-sparked interest in board gaming, Hasbro as to make
some of their older titles more up-to-date and appeal to audiences the company shifted
some focus into acquiring licencing from Disney to incorporate it with pre-existing
board games.  In 2016 some examples of
this can be seen with the some of the product line released such as Jenga:
Disney Frozen.

Co-operative game

Another trend stems from the increase of interest with the Eurogame
styles of board gaming. Where in American style board games were reliant on
conflict between players and luck, Eurogames like Settlers of Catan required for
players to actively work together for a common goal. The result of co-operative
based games gaining popularity caused for games such as Flash Point and Pandemic:
Legacy to be well received in their release in 2015.

Board game cafes

One of the trends that arrived
with the millennial population is the introduction of board game themed cafes. This
can be seen especially in China where the number of board gaming venues
according to reach a number exceeding 1,000.  While it is to a lesser degree, this trend has
also been seen in the West with the opening of cafes such as the Draughts in
North London.

Influences to the industry


With the appeal of board games returning the industry has
experienced an additional surge of new and independently produced board games.  This is due in no small part to crowdfunding
platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo which allow creators to
present their ideas and gain funding through pledges.  According to statistics provided by the
Kickstarter website, since the resurgence of the board game industry stemming
from 2014, the average number of board game kickstarters that were able to gain
the funding they need successfully to launch was “100” (Roeder, 2015) per
month. Since traditionally like many other industries board games would need to
be pitched to publishers before being made, this opportunity is another reason
that crowdfunding websites have become such game changers within the industry
as it allows the designers to maintain control of their property.

Crowdfunding projects however is not an endeavour to be
taken lightly despite such statistics. Though there is the potential that of crowdfunding projects fail to meet
their goal, this is only one of the risk that can potentially be taken and
kickstarted projects can still fail to produce result despite raising the funds
necessary. One such example can be seen with the Kickstarter The Doom
That Came to Atlantic City.

 Launched May 7, 2012
by The Forking Path, created by Lee Moyer, Keith Baker and Paul Komoda, this
board set out to put a new twist on games that focuses on creating “powerful
monopolies” but rather on destroying such traditional concepts with the use of
eldritch and Lovecraftian beings. Comprising of over 300 different pieces
excluding the game board the original Kickstarter goal was set at $35,000 and
quickly met within a week and a half later after its initial launch.  In the advent of meeting their initial goal
the team further set two stretch goals of $55,00 and $75,000 with the promises
of additional content such as the Necronomicon tomes and custom wooden counters
for their respective stretch goals. Similarly, due to its popularity these stretch
goals were met with the same rapid succession as the initial being met within
three and two days each and by time the crowdfunding effort had met its end The
Fork Path had raised $122,874 in total via 1,246 backers.

From this
point forward, the game’s development appeared to have been going well with the
Kickstarter page being updated once a month with updates that backers of the project
were given privy to. However, just over a year after the launch of the funding
campaign in the game was shut down in an update posted by Erik Chevalier, the
project lead. Stating that “Every possible mistake was made” including a
personal inexperience in realms of board game publication and legal
complications lead to the funds for the game to depleted.

This failure
though in no way that fault of the creators of the board game but rather the
publisher does work well to highlight the risk that can come with kickstarter
projects legally. In the webiste’s terms of use it’s stated that users are “required
to fulfil all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any
Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfil.” (Kickstarter,

However, as
the money generated is no longer available having been spent on expenses such
as “to form the company” (Kickstarter,
2013)  as Chevalier stated, the Federal
Trade Commission stepped in by filing a complaint against him for “deceiving
backers of the project” (Peterson and Peterson, 2013) for not using the funds
on assets for the game. This marked the first time that the FTC had had to act
against a crowd funding project.

 Another project that experienced difficulties
after a successful kickstart was The Contender. After exciding their
goal of $15,000 by over $125K back on August 31, 2015t took the creators until November
22nd of the following year to break even on the money that had been put into
the game. The issues that John Teasdale and the
team he was working stemmed from primarily from the debt they had accumulated
after manufacturing their game. After debating the pros and cons of between
manufacturing in the US or China, they settled on making the board game within
the US with a manufacturer known for well-known games such as Uno
and Settlers
of Catan.  This is something that
Teasdale goes into in detail stating their reason for it being it would be
“‘safety rails’ against bad production ideas”. This however proved false
as he learned that manufactures for larger companies tend to work at on par
with speed of those companies.

highlighted the need to work with publishers that are known for smaller
companies as it took Teasdale for their game to be produced.  Furthermore, they safety rails ideology
proved to be false by the problems that resulted in games being damaged upon
delivery or resulted in the base game being sent incorrectly instead of their
Politically Incorrect expansion deck.  Moreover,
after order 20,000 games from the manufacturer and agreeing to pay the rest of
the owed funds believing that they could sell the copies of the game they ran
into another hiccup in their estimates. These over estimates came were a result
in the team’s belief that the moment that gained from kickstarter would
continue onwards after it ended. This proved not to be the case as seen below.  The reality of the situation was that if you
could maintain at 8% of the momentum from the kickstarted that your product was
doing well where in Teasdale had 4% of it.

Tabletop Simulator

Like many
independent game developer studios just starting out this is a method of
funding appealing, the creators of Tabletop Simulator did as well. Tabletop
Simulator, as the name suggest was internet-based sandbox tabletop game that
allowed for people to play board games with friends without being in the same
room and with capabilities of multiplayer physics built in could still experience
the game as if playing it in real life. After creating a beta version of the
game with money from theirs’ and relatives’ pockets they turned to crowd
funding as a means of generating the money required to make the game into a
reality. On February 11, 2014, Berserk Games first launched a kickstarter for
the game with a goal of $3,000 dollars.

Such an idea has not been without it’s draw backs however. While the
game does come with its own pre-made modes, it furthermore offers a custom mode
that allows players to for all intense purposes make their own board game
through the ability to import textures and custom models. It is here where one
the main debates for the board game stems, as it allows players to recreate
games such as monopoly and in turn infringing the company’s copyrights.  However, despite how large of a problem that
such 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 of
custom mods. Fantasy Flight Games, a critically acclaimed game company, in
discovering a fan ran site NetrunnerDB was posting artwork, logos and text from
their product Android: Netrunner a cease and desist was sent to the website.
Citing that such assets were “being used without our permission,” the owner of
the fansite was sent a email insisting the shut down the site as an result.


On the other
side of the spectrum


While this
problem of infringed modding hasn’t gone unnoticed to Berserk, monitoring and
maintaining a regulating system was something that they could not