Chaz Marler from Pair of Dice Paradise, and I’m not here to burst your bubble, but today I’m starting a new miniseries all about... bursting... your bubble.
At the time of this recording, the annual Essen game exhibition in Germany is taking place. Essen is one of the largest conventions for boardgames, where designers and publishers release a ton of new titles. And when I say “a ton”, that’s not an exaggeration.
In fact, this year at Essen, over 625 games are being released! Think about that, if you were to play two of these new releases every day, it would still take you nearly ten and a half months to play them all. That’s a lot of meeples.
For several years, the board game hobby has been on an upswing, an explosion of new titles, which, as of the time of this recording, still continues. And modern board games are also becoming more prevalent in popular culture; earning more shelf space at large retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Target, making brief appearances on broadcast television (Big Bang Theory) and serving as the source material for major motion pictures (Battleship).
But can too much of a good thing turn into a bad thing for the industry?
This miniseries is going to explore that question, to determine if there’s any warning signs right in front of us that board game enthusiasts and retailers should be looking out for.
Now, the best way to describe what I see going on in the board game marketplace is going to be to compare it the comic book industry, specifically the state of that industry in the mid 90’s. Both are pop culture entertainment which have suffered the stigma of being associated with “geek culture”, which makes some people shy away from it, while some wear it as a badge of pride.
But the similarities don’t stop there. In the mid 90’s there was an explosion of comic book titles over the course of several years, and this, combined with several other factors that I’ll discuss in upcoming episodes, led to a glut of unsellable overstock, followed by an implosion of the industry.
Now, could a similar fate be in store for board games? Well, let me be the first to say that such a thing is impossible, unless, of course, history was known to somehow, I dunno, repeat itself.