Head in the game

Much has been made of the resurgence in the board games market – up 18 per cent in 2016, according to NPD. It’s certainly a welcome development but what has caused this?

Firstly, the tradition, whether it’s the Christmas puzzle or the new board game, it’s a bit of light relief for the whole family after the rigours of Christmas dinner. Innovation has always been a big influence and while the old favourites are a safe choice, families are looking for something new and a bit different.

Over the years we have seen new game concepts creating whole new sectors, and with further range development these have become enduring franchises.

Some launches have been equally dramatic, but perhaps shorter lived, once the craze has worn off.

Secondly it’s the technology. Parents are undoubtedly concerned about the ‘solitude of the smart phone’. games bring families together.

Social media has also played a major role in promoting new games – it was a YouTube video that created the Pie Face phenomenon. In the past only the well-established games could afford TV support. Now, social media can achieve equal if not better results through more accurate targeting.

Technology has also played a big part in stimulating innovation. Formerly, game inventors would ‘peddle their wares’ amongst the large companies, nowadays they can ‘go it alone’ using crowdfunding to get the idea off the ground.

Recent developments have also blurred the lines of market description. What was a children’s action game is now a firm family favourite or what was a cerebral challenge is now mainstream.

Another factor is the purchase motivation. When so many interactive or video games are now downloaded, the boxed game becomes all the more attractive.

Finally, this resurgence is driven by both consumer ‘pull’ and retailer ‘push’ factor; retailers are giving more space to new games from smaller suppliers and start- ups, offering incremental sales and good margins.

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