As of 2015, video games have reached consumer sales of $23.5 billion dollars,. This would make video games the the most purchased form of entertainment, the closest second being television-related items ( TV’s, channels, speakers, headphones, etc.), according to polygon.com.
A recent survey by venturebeat.com found that almost 80% of American households have some form of video game entertainment (besides cell phones), and that 29% of people in America classify as “gamers.”
Board game sales of 2009 were around $112 million dollars, which is nothing compared to video games of today. What is surprising is that by 2015, board game sales climbed to almost 1.2 billion in sales, 10 times what they were six years ago, according to icv2.com. Why such a big leap in 6 years?
The history starts on July 15, 1983, when a small Japanese company by the name of Nintendo released the very first household gaming system, named the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). In 1989, estimated sales of all things Nintendo in the market were an estimated $629.9 million dollars, according to Compute!.com. The value of it today would be around $1.4 billion.
Board game sales around the time of the NES and SNES (the successors to the great NES) were a measly $56 million, which would be $115.7 million today.
In 1994, electronic company Sony released their first video game console. After debate of the product name, Sony decided upon the PlayStation. It would be revolutionary for the video game era, and bring in $109 million before the turn of the century, according to eurogamer.net.
In 1995, there was a ray of light. A middle-aged German designer named Klaus Teuber would release the 4-player game “Settlers of Catan” (also known as “Catan”). In 10 years, one game alone would make $56 million. The board game market rose to almost $75 million reporterd Geektime.com.
” Settlers of Catan” is arguably the most important and most popular game to shape the board game industry today. It broke the rules of other games at the time. Simply put, it was innovative. “Catan” encourages competition, cooperation, and sometimes betrayal to lead one strategic player to 10 victory points, according to geektime.com.
” Catan’s” success would inspire other board game fanatics to invent. The most notable result came in 2004, when Alan Moon released the well-known “Ticket to Ride.” Since it’s debut, “Ticket to Ride” has made $42.5 million. In the game, up to five “engineers” that are the players must connect two cities by train routes to earn the most points by the end of the game, with many more fun factors.”Ticket to Ride” also has five other game versions, in differing lands and each with their own unique sales, according to wikipedia.org.
Something started to happen in 2004. When “Ticket to Ride” was released, its popularity was being fueled by the internet. This is widely considered the first time the media would support board game sales. This support continues to happen today with many board games. The App Store on all Apple devices sells numerous copies of classic, fun board games on easy-to-play mobile devices, according to geektime.com.
Board games weren’t the only thing the internet would promote, however. They began to receive some more stiff competition between video games. In the year 2005, Bill Gates’s Microsoft would release the Xbox One, according to wikipedia.org.
In the year 2006, both Nintendo and Sony released new products to the gaming world, Nintendo with the Wii, and Sony with the PlayStation 3. As expected, each would make even more than their last previous entry, according to eurogamer.net. It was also at this time that handheld devices were becoming popular, but consoles remained supreme.
Not only did board games have to compete with video games for popularity, but video game consoles had to compete with each other in a “civil war.” The sale of board games continued to drop ever so slowly, and it 2009 it reached its all-time low since 1970, at $112 million. This is proportional with the value of money.
By 2010, the standings of the console rivalries by quantity were as follows according to vgsales.com:
Wii System, at 101.3 million copies
Xbox 360, at 84 million copies
PlayStation 3, at 83.8 million copies
During the world wide economic recession of 2008, almost all prices everywhere were affected in a negative way. The economy was terrible. There was one market, however, that was not shaken by monetary downturn : with no shortage of creativity by various designers, the board game industry flourished.
In 2010, French designer Jean-Louis Roubira released the 3-6 player board/card game “Dixit.” In the game, one player is a storyteller. They lie down one of the many beautifully illustrated cards (the cards have also been praised) on the table, and gives a short hint about what is on the card. Players try to match this hint as best as possible. Then, a guess is taken to guess the storyteller’s card, with some more factors.
” Dixit”, along with earlier games “Ticket to Ride” and “Catan”, all won the German board game “Award Spiel des Jahres.” This award goes to the game with the most creativity and innovation. This award started in 1979, awarding the role-playing game “Hare and Tortoise”. “Catan” won in 1995, “Ticket to Ride” won in 2004, “Dixit” won in 2010, and the new release “Splendor “would won in 2014, according to boardgamegeeks.com.
“Splendor” has been considered the best recent board game since it came out in 2014, bringing in almost $50 million in sales. To win, a player must accumulate 15 points before anyone else by trading in gems to collect cards with various amounts of points, and maybe even catch the attention of a noble. The more players, the more fun there is.
It was after the release of” Splendor” that the board game industry was zeroing in on a 1 billion dollar profit, much higher than ever seen before, according to eurogamer.net.
Not to be outdone , Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft had recently all released a “newer and better” console systems. What happened was quite surprising. All three products saw a major decline in sales compared to other products in the past. In other words, all three failed.
Nintendo’s Wii U, Sony’s PlayStation 4, and Microsoft’s Xbox One all saw very small sales, smaller than what was predicted.
Sony was most successful, selling 53 million copies (though still small) of their PlayStation 4. Nintendo’s Wii U was terrible, selling only 14 million copies, and Microsoft was even worse, selling only 12 million copies of their Xbox One, according to vgsales.com.
In 2015, it seemed as though the board game renaissance from 1995 was showing its true colors. Sales finally hit 1.24 billion dollars, and they are expected to expand to 1.35 by the end of 2017. Video games had started to even out sales. They still have much more, at 23.5 billion dollars. By the end of 2017, that numbers might be as high 26 billion, according to forbes.com.
Why are games so popular? The answer is much more obvious on the surface, but underneath, there is a lot of science. We have control over games. We decide whether we want to build a settlement or shoot a target. “Everyone has a sense of control in their brain, and humans naturally want is filled any way possible.” according to Psychcentral.com.
“Just by virtue of playing them, board games can teach important social skills, such as communicating verbally, sharing, waiting, taking turns, and enjoying interaction with others,”adds scholastic.com.
The BYMS Board Game Club sponsored by math department teachers was started in an effort to recognize the power of board games. Some of the student favorites are as follows: Settlers of Catan, Splendor, and Dixit. They are all “new classics” in their own way.
Now might be the time to dust off some board games, or buy some new ones, and go have some fun with friends and family. The following websites review board games so that you can be sure to take the “bored” out of any “game” night: