Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Kickstarting Board Games

Julie (I'm Julie's husband - for those not in the know.) and I got five new board games in the mail yesterday. This surprise delivery was the result of a Kickstarter that we backed featuring four new small box board games from a company called, Allplay Games (formerly Board Game Tables).

We already own a few games from this publisher, "Bites" about ants at a picnic trying to get the most food, and "On Tour" about musicians touring the country with their band trying to hit the most cities. These games have been a hit at our gaming table, and I think Julie in particular loves them both.

So, we backed a Kickstarter featuring four new games by this publisher based on the quality and enjoyment that we have gotten from the previous games. Plus, the games all looked pretty good and being "small box" games, they weren't very expensive. We even added a fifth small box game to the mix because we were able to include it at a discounted price.

Kickstarter is an interesting phenomenon in the board game hobby. As a source for crowd funding, it allows consumers like us to support creators in the manufacture of products that we want. This is a good thing, because a creator can produce something that might otherwise be completely ignored by the population at large.

Mass market publishers like Hasbro publish board games. They focus on creating family games that will appeal to the largest portion of the population at large. The thing is, the population at large doesn't play board games. (At least, not yet. Julie and I keep doing our part to spread the love.)

Crowd funding allows small publishers to reach a small market by removing some of the risk placed on the publisher. In the world of crowd funded projects, the investor is also the consumer. This means that the publisher is receiving both operating capital and a customer base at the same time.

There is a problem with this. The risk while reduced for the publisher is not completely eliminated, and what remains is being placed firmly on the shoulders of the investor. The investor is you ... me, the consumer. We invest because we want the product. We purchase a product sight unseen, based on a promise. But, there are no guarantees. This is an investment, a gamble. It's not a preorder.

Julie and I have been burned by this in the past. One of our investments didn't pay off. The company producing a game that we Kickstarted went bankrupt and our investment was lost. A few games that we have backed, just weren't very good. One in particular that I can think of was an absolute stinker. This has proven to be the exception, not the rule for us, and there are ways to minimize the risk. Like going with companies that have a proven track record, as we did with Allplay.

The board gaming hobby has exploded over the last few years growing exponentially. Despite this, it's still very much a niche market. Crowd funding is still the best way to make sure that interesting quality games reach our table. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, but investing in that risk helps this hobby evolve in new and exciting ways.

Allplay is a fairly new company. They started out making board game tables and only started making actual board games over the past few years. Julie and I like the idea of small box games that are affordable and easy to get to the table, like those offered in the Kickstarter. Yes! Let's support more of that. So, we backed, and we will back again and again to help our hobby grow.


  1. You forgot to mention that we also have to have PATIENCE when we back a Kickstarter game and then have to wait F O R E V E R to get the game. Some of us are less patient than others.

    1. I see this as both a blessing and a curse. Sure, the wait is long, but when it finally does arrive it feels a bit like Christmas.