Chaz Marler from Pair of Dice Paradise, with the next installment in this miniseries asking if the board game industry is experiencing a bubble, and what it could mean when it bursts.
Keep in mind, that the purpose of this series is just to spark discussion. I’m not claiming to be an expert on the subject, I’m just speaking from my own previous experiences on a topic that I find interesting.
Last time, I started with the first sign of a possible board game bubble: too many titles being released. This, combined with other factors, may eventually result in a crash of the marketplace. I drew a loose comparison to the flood of comics that washed onto the scene in the 90’s, then dried up almost just as quickly, taking a good chunk of the comics industry along with it.
At the height of the comics bubble in the mid 90’s, the city of 150,000 people that I Iive in was supporting no less than seven comic book shops. One even opened up right across the street from another one, which I’m sure made everyone involved very happy. Then, crash! And today, the city has reverted back down to its original two comic book shops.
Is this comparison relevant? I don’t know, but what I do know is that, within the last two years, this same town has become home to at least five stores that focus on card & board games; including one that sells only zombie and horror-themed games and accessories. Allow me to repeat that, because it seems vaguely important. This store isn’t just selling board games, it’s selling board games on one topic. There are currently enough zombie/horror themed board games in the market right now to support a business that focuses on a single genre within this already niche market. More importantly, there are apparently enough customers in the market right now to sustain it.
Now, if we lived in a alternate, backwards, bizarro dimension, I’d be content to say: this is just indicative of the growth of the marketplace as the board game hobby becomes more mainstream. After all, aren’t increased sales and retail outlets healthy for the industry? Well, here in this dimension, my answer to that is, “not necessarily”. And in the next installment, I’ll explain why.