We are thought to be in the ‘Golden Age’ of gaming with a plethora of games available to mass audiences all around the world – but board games are making a strong comeback.
Whilst it’s arguable that Video Games are in their ‘Golden Age’, there is a notable decline in the sales of hard copies with people opting to buy digital copies on their console/PC.
As is always, with the decline of one product; another sky-rockets in popularity and so, we are now also reveling in the nostalgic Golden Era of Board Games.
The Board Game Renaissance isn’t exactly surprising – over the years we’ve seen a resurgence in Vinyl popularity for music. It shouldn’t come as a shock to people that Board Games would undergo a similar revival – just look at the popularity of Dungeons and Dragons, yet the game is 20+ years older than the original Xbox!
With board game developers aggressively pushing the envelope, the board game revival was only a matter of time. Given how digital the realm of video gaming has gone, from time to time a tangible product is appealing to people – and Board Games are always a great laugh… well up until the ‘joker’ comes in with an atrocious ‘Miss Scarlet was caught Red Handed’ pun.
— I Call Yellow (@icallyellow) September 7, 2017
The social factor of Board Games is something special to a lot of consumers in the historic Board Games market.
When Video Games first appeared on console, it felt enthralling to go ’round to a mates house and play the latest cutting-edge games with friends. Since those days, multiplayer has grown exponentially with the inclusion of online servers, games like Call of Duty epitomize this.
Online multiplayer however, breeds problems. Issue such as lag, bugs, and patch updates are continuously cropping up time and time again. No one particularly likes being on that final ‘Kill Cam’ because they ‘shot him first, the game was lagging!’ Yeah, sure mate.
Board Games see this issue resolved, its nostalgia is rooted in the sociability it is associated with. They are fun to get together with friends and family, and spend an evening in one another’s company.
While it’s true that there is less interaction with board games; they still remain engaging. A huge problem that arose in the old days of playing multiplayer at a friend’s house was ‘screen cheating.’ Let’s be honest here, we all knew someone that was ‘sweaty’ and just loved to screen cheat.
It’s far easier to protect your thoughts and strategies on a board game. That’s not to say that cheaters are entirely omitted from board gaming. We’re looking at you Nana. Where’d you get those pink 50s from?
— Konami UK (@KonamiUK) June 21, 2016
Youtube has become a site central for the revival of Board Games, there are countless channels dedicated to tabletop gaming that helped influence the ‘Golden Age’ of Board Games. But how linked is the resurgence of Board Games with the decline of hard copy sales in the Video Game industry?
While as some may speculate that the revivalism has led to a decline in the Video Game market – it is not entirely true.
The need for hard copies of a disk truly is obsolete at this point; current gen consoles, such as the Xbox One, need to install the games to the hard drive before the game is playable. This can be very frustrating, especially when you just want to play the new Shadow of War!
But, this leads to a lack of entitlement; Digital copies of games exist on a server, you can’t actively sell it or trade it in. Players are simply left with the ‘right’ to play that Video Game. This is another possible explanation for the revival of Board Games, you can actually own the game and play it whenever and wherever you choose.
Who doesn’t love being able to look at your ginormous collection of games and soak in their beauty.
When your d20 rolls off the table… pic.twitter.com/QTlz8r6MXg
— DnD Memes (@dndmemes) May 3, 2016
It’s a Hard Question
The answer to whether or not hard copy sales decline as a result of the revival of Board Games is a fundamentally difficult question to answer. The argument can be reassessed by flipping this question; did the resurgence of Board Games arise in the wake of the digital gaming revolution? Did the elimination of hard copies prompt people into buying Board Games?
If this is starting to feel as paradoxical as Schrödinger’s cat don’t worry, there are many moving parts.
Whilst there is a definitely an increase in the number of Board Games purchased over the last few years and there is definitely a decrease in physical Video Game copies purchased, they are not necessarily intrinsically linked.
As noted previously, Youtube is a particularly large reason for the revival of Board Games, with channels like Critical Role self proclaiming they are a group of ‘nerdy ass voice actors that play Dungeons and Dragons.’
It isn’t just YouTube, there is definitely a correlation in the sales of the two mediums and to be fair, with the recent fascination with Super Hero and Comic Book culture over the last number of years, Board Games such as Dungeons and Dragons has seen it’s popularity soar with T.V. shows like the Big Bang Theory and Stranger Things popularizing it.
In the wake of this commercialisation you could call this Renaissance: ‘The Golden Age of Nerd Culture.’
There are many reasons that could indicate why Board Games have seen a revival, but ultimately we should just revel in the Renaissance while it lasts. After all, Video Games aren’t going anywhere, if the hard copies ever do completely die out, we can take solace in the fact they will always be accessible digitally. At least that way we can all live underground like the nerds we were meant to be.