Monday, February 2, 2009


Macro-economic reports seem to indicate that consumers are in an extreme retrenching mood.

This report, for example, indicates a decline in December, making it the sixth consecutive monthly drop:

I find it hard to believe that this won't have an impact on the game industry, especially considering that most of the companies are small businesses that are not operating with a big cushion even in good times.

I plan to go to the World Boardgaming Championships this August. It will interesting to see what the vendor area looks like.

Overall I am sensing a slowdown in new offerings. It appears that a lot of product plans may be on hold. Many companies are relying on a P500 system to guide their publishing plans, but if they don't have a hard P500 with credit-card backed purchase orders they may find their P500 less of an insurance policy than they think.

Games are definitely a discretionary purchase. While I don't think game playing will suffer during the recession, purchases of new games very well may. Many of us already have more games than we will ever likely play, so it will be easy to talk ourselves into deferring purchases for a bit.


  1. This is an interesting observation. I have seen this preception discussed on the Geek as well.

    As an owner of an online game store,, I would like to share some thoughts from the other side of the table.

    Since about June last year, we have seen nothing but growth in game purchases. We did several thousand dollars in sales in October, November, and December.

    Given that the economy is in the toilet, we expected January to be a tanker of a month - especially after coming off such a great holiday season for us. Not so. We have exceeded sales and traffic expectations for the month and February does not seem to be any different (and we are only six days into the month).

    I will say that we saw a lot of game bundles move (Settlers, Arkham Horror, Carcassonne, and our Euro Bundle were the main ones). For January and February, by far, the runaway game was actually not a game, but an expansion. The humble Settlers of Catan 5-6 player expansion wins. We blew threw multiple cases of this game. Another winner was the Catan 2-player card game. So, that may indicate a trend - less money spent and an increase in people buying expansions to enhance their current investments.

    Another runaway winner was Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition. We restocked on this game at least three times and sold out all 30 of them (at almost $100 per game). So, this bucks the trend I just speculated upon.

    Because of this unexpected growth, our site has had to rethink our selling strategies and our delivery methods, as well as our product strategies. But, we march on and adjust to serve the hobby as best as we can - and still be a viable business.

    My prediction is a continued upward growth curve for the gaming industry...just based on the sales we have seen and are continuing to see. My opinion would be that if a retailer is not seeing games move, it is not because people are not buying games. People have the money and are spending - if the prices and services are an acceptable value.

    Hope that gives you a feel for what it looks like from a retailers side. I would be interested to hear from some of the publishers like Rio Grande and Fantasy Flight. A "state of the industry" report would be very interesting.

    Take Care
    Barry Nadler

  2. Opinions are one thing, but facts are much more useful and I'm gald to have a "report from the field."

    It would be interesting to see if this is because you have such a great store that you're bucking the trend or if your experience is being shared elsewhere in the industry.

    I have to say that the local brick store also isn't seeing a big drop off in sales, so it may be that people consider games a good value for what discretionary money they do have.

    I do think that board games compare very well with other entertainment products, particularly proven classics such as Settlers of Catan or Axis & Allies. I often mention to my electronic game fans that board games have a lot more staying power. I have a lot of 20- and 30-year-old games that are still hitting the table, whereas my 5- and 10-year-old PC games are close to useless.