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Are boardgames durable goods?

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22 Jan 2019 13:46 - 22 Jan 2019 13:49 #290437 by Sagrilarus
So the Marie Kondo thread keeps dropping that question above into my consciousness.

Everyone talks about establishing a "library" or a "collection" and the reason I don't is that for the most part I move games on to new owners after I've played them some number of times. I have maybe 20 games that are permanent, having some sort of meaningful reason to keep them beyond a decision based on regular usage.

It's not so much about looking to keep my "collection" trimmed, it's that they become more valuable exiting my house (via trade for another game, or sale for money) than they are staying with me. I use them as currency for new purchases.

But as a general rule, as the market stands now, are boardgames designed and created with the intent to serve you for more than five years? I ask that as a question specific to you, and as a question regarding the general state of things in the industry.
Last edit: 22 Jan 2019 13:49 by Sagrilarus.
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22 Jan 2019 14:01 - 22 Jan 2019 14:01 #290438 by SuperflyPete
superflycircus.com/2012/01/board-games-c...-hobby-vs-addiction/

I think they’re designed to be durable goods knowing that the end user will not view it as such.
Last edit: 22 Jan 2019 14:01 by SuperflyPete.
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22 Jan 2019 14:08 #290439 by Legomancer
Except in cases such as legacy games, I don't buy things assuming that I'm going to be getting rid of them in the medium-term. I try to buy things that I think will last me a good long time, but we all know how that goes.

When I do get rid of games, I almost always do so at a loss. Not just on whatever I paid, but on what I could have gotten if I put much thought into it. I'm fortunate in that if I want something gone, I don't have to worry about recouping my payment or funding a future payment; when I'm ready for something to be gone, I get it gone in the easiest way possible, even if that means I take a hit.

So I see them as having little value unless they are on my shelves and being played.
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22 Jan 2019 14:17 #290441 by Shellhead
Sag, I don't see it. There are different parties involved, and they have different agendas that overlap.

Game designers like to think that they are publishing durable goods. Otherwise, it would be excessive amount of time and effort to create a disposable good.

Traditional publishers may sometimes publish a game as just a cash grab, but they are often hoping that a game will make enough of an impact that they can follow-up with a series of expansions that let them cash in multiple times on the individual buyers, plus boost the popularity of the base game and maybe even the company.

Kickstarter publishers are probably more indifferent to the durability of their product, because they are hoping to achieve economies of scale by enticing potential backers to various stretch goals, effectively pre-selling the expansions. But the really big money is in an initial game that sells so well that they can Kickstart reprintings and expansions.

Some players become fond of specific games, and play them over and over again. Their games are durable goods. Some players specifically gravitate towards lifestyle games, where they focus on exploring one specific game through repeated play and extensive expansions, and of course their favorites are durable goods.

Some players are strictly interested in novel experiences, and keep chasing after new games. Some are collectors, so the games are durable goods even if they only get played a few times. Some are not collectors, and they now have convenient venues for selling their lightly used games, like eBay and BGG. The mere existence of this group and the convenience of re-selling does not strip games of their status as durable goods for the designers, the publishers, or the other players.

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22 Jan 2019 14:21 #290442 by Jackwraith
Same. I buy them because I want to play them now. If I'm no longer interested in playing them, I sell or (usually) trade them, even if it means I'm coming out on the "short end" of the trade. I don't have any use for them if I'm not going to play them, so I might as well get something that I am going to use. But, no, I don't purchase them with the idea that they're going to last for X number of years or any particular time period. I still own games from the early 80s, but I still like playing them, so they stay. In contrast, I've owned games for less than six months before I traded them away. It was never a concern to me as to how long they were "supposed" to last.

(And, of course, the accountant in me would say: "Of course they're not. They don't have a depreciable value that can be taxed as personal property. In fact, the longer they last, they're more likely to appreciate in value, since they'll be scarce and still desirable, unlike most outdated appliances. Of course, some durable goods (cars) can also appreciate in value if maintained. But then we're talking about a collectors' market and an item that needs to be assessed post 'usable' lifetime and all kinds of other stuff no one here cares about. (Neither do I.)")

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22 Jan 2019 14:32 #290445 by the_jake_1973
If it is a good game, it has the potential to be around as long as a book that is cared for. I have some games that continue to be wonderfully playable after well over 5 years. Ultimately, the 5 year limit is arbitrary. I remove games from my collection when the removal value is higher than the keeping value, however that value is measured (money, shelf space, joy).

That being said, since we do not have kids, I have a lot more space to let my acquisitions accumulate and not be in the way. I could stand to trim the fat, but there is no pressing need to do so.

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22 Jan 2019 14:48 #290449 by Erik Twice
Games are designed for people who buy games and this group is increasingly not the same group that actually plays them.

This is most evident in videogames where you can easily access completition data and see that the vast, vast majority of games are not beaten, that the majority of players drop out after the first half and so on. About 30% of Dark Souls owners have beaten it and it's (paradoxically) one of the games with the highest completition rate on Steam.

This does not mean that games are intentionally cut or made worse, but it does mean that longevity is no longer a priority. Remember, even if just one third of people buy games and never play them they are still a larger demographic than people who do play them to completition.

Sure, designers would like to make a durable product but they would also like to eat and it's easier to do that with 4 games a year than just one.

I think we are seeing and will see an ever growing push towards game made for buyers rather than players. For example, shiny big gaming components.

PD: The vast majority of people who talk about "building a library" or "collecting" are not collectors. Collectors do not buy random games from store shelves and ignore everything else. They have an area of interest and pursue it. Most "collectors" are just people looking to justify their hobby of purcharsing.


--

Anyways, let's speak on a personal level.

Like you say, you'll have games that are meaningful to you and that give you joy regardless of what we could call "practical use". For example, owning the Super Famicom Fire Emblem games makes me happy even if I just stare at them at a shelf. I would never part with my Netrunner collection and just playing it once a year justifies a 18XX for me.

Then there are games that are good games and you like them and they are fortunate enough so as to be timeless. You don't have a reason to get rid of them because they are useful and fun.

Then there are games that you liked or had fun with but for some reason have no longevity. I liked Terraforming Mars and played it a lot but the depth is not there for more games. I've been thinking of selling it.

Then there are games you shouldn't have bought in the first place. Duds, "the same but worse". You know the drill.
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22 Jan 2019 15:12 #290451 by Sagrilarus

Shellhead wrote: Sag, I don't see it. There are different parties involved, and they have different agendas that overlap.

Yeah, that's why I broke the question into two parts, to give everyone a chance to speak from a different perspective. I'm sure there's a big difference of opinion between publishers and gamers (as groups) and a lot of shades of gray within each group. Publishers are fundamentally looking about sales. They sure are happy if everyone loves their product, but once sold they likely aren't terribly concerned about what owners do with each copy.

Jack wrote: Ultimately, the 5 year limit is arbitrary.

Yep, the five year time frame was arbitrary, just to match the definition of durable good in the U.S. tax code. Thought it would sound clever. But I think that regardless of the time period you set the question has merit. Is a boardgame something you look to buy hoping to have it 20 years from now, or is it something you buy like a fine wine where you anticipate a fixed amount of material to enjoy and are comfortable with discarding the empty bottle when you're finished? We'd all love that bottle to never empty, but we're a little more practical in our expectations.

For me this is an important part of the Marie Kondo discussion. For most games there's a reasonably fixed life expectancy, especially these days. It's not the durability of the components, it's the durability of the play concept. Once you've tapped out all the interesting parts of Pandemic it's more or less an empty bottle, at least to you.

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22 Jan 2019 17:38 #290475 by mads b.
A lot of the games I buy these days are not meant to be durable goods. Or rather, they are not meant to stay in my house. I buy them to play them a couple of times because I'm interested in the story, a specific mechanism, or something else. Of course, if they blow me a way or gets played a lot with the kids, I'll keep them, but it's not a goal in itself.

If games were books I would maybe keep them. Both because they take of less space and are usually cheaper, but also because revisiting a book is easier. It's not quite the same for a game that requires you to relearn rules or find a group to play with.

Also, I really like this way of experiencing games. Call it cult of the new all that you like, but I think a lot of games can be great even without playing them a lot of times.
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22 Jan 2019 17:44 #290476 by mtagge
Are boardgames durable? Well my boys recently tore my Talisman 2nd edition dungeon expansion board in half. I've had that thing for approximately 30 years.

For me it is an odd question as I am currently posted to a location where there isn't really an expat gaming community (mostly flaky 20 somethings who plan a game night for that evening at 2 in the afternoon over a chat group) and we are strongly discouraged from making friends with locals (both for their benefit and ours). So my collection falls into three categories; "family" games (Imperial Assault, Harry Potter, Heroes of Terrinoth, Legendary, Settlers of Catan, any game we can play as a family), kids games (Talisman, Runebound, anything they can play themselves with occasional shuffling help), and "pending" games (anything I have that I played before they were born and is awaiting them to mature a bit, Arkham Horror, Battlestar Galactica, GMT CDGs).

Frankly I anticipate a raid on my collection as they both peel off after graduation. Damn right they are durable goods.
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23 Jan 2019 17:09 #290556 by mc
Replied by mc on topic Are boardgames durable goods?

mtagge wrote: So my collection falls into three categories; "family" games (Imperial Assault, Harry Potter, Heroes of Terrinoth, Legendary, Settlers of Catan, any game we can play as a family), kids games (Talisman, Runebound, anything they can play themselves with occasional shuffling help), and "pending" games (anything I have that I played before they were born and is awaiting them to mature a bit, Arkham Horror, Battlestar Galactica, GMT CDGs).

Frankly I anticipate a raid on my collection as they both peel off after graduation. Damn right they are durable goods.


Yep, this pretty much.
When I started out I purchased more adult games; then as my kids began to get older to the point they could play I started getting more family games; my eldest daughter is now trying out some of the more adult oriented games, and the others will as well eventually. Who knows what they will like? I know there's danger in that but I don't buy anything with that as the sole motivation, just to be clear. But I'm not going to chuck stuff just because it's not being played now. I purchase the games but they're not just mine.

Where I live now i don't have a group or whatever either and selling games is a pain in the arse (not to mention any games I might consider selling are far from fashionable). So I hang on to what I've got as a (very eclectic and incomplete!) library of sorts.

So, you bet they are durable. Once the kids have gone through and played what they want we will have most likely a bunch we can lose, but we will decide that once they have all had their fun with what's there (or not).

If I was on my own there'd be stuff in would lose today. But here's the thing - I'd find a good home for them (just like I've made a good home for all the second hand games I've got). There aren't many toys that last and endure the way boardgames do. That's durability in my book.

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23 Jan 2019 17:53 #290561 by jpat
Replied by jpat on topic Are boardgames durable goods?
Board games (generally) meet the basic definition of durable goods (made to last for some period), but durability in this sense doesn't equate with economic value. (My car is durable but, especially after having been hit three or four times, I've lost count, plus its age and mileage, it's lost much of its value.) For me personally, I think games have variable "shelf life" with me. I have some that I bought and have never played and may never--though I did just crack open the shrink on my 2011 copy of Strike of the Eagle--because the moment or mindset seems to have passed. Some are perennials. Most are probably in between.

In my head, I really do want to pare down, but besides the frustration of packing and shipping, I know that, apart from certain categories of games, I'll never get much, either in sale or trade, for most of them. I've had best luck selling (sometimes trading) GMT wargames, probably due to the small print runs, frequent out-of-stock status, and niche nature of the buyers. Conversely, I could probably put my copy of Small World with some expansions up for little to nothing and get no interest because there are a lot of them out there and, more relevant here, its moment has probably passed.
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23 Jan 2019 22:50 - 23 Jan 2019 22:51 #290570 by SuperflyPete
Every time I see that show Hoarders I imagine them as people with walls of games calling themselves “collectors” that are one clearance sale or super lucky estate sale win away from dodging rat turds and camping next to a heat register in a sleeping bag on the last 6 linear feet of open floor.
Last edit: 23 Jan 2019 22:51 by SuperflyPete.
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24 Jan 2019 00:22 #290572 by mc
Replied by mc on topic Are boardgames durable goods?
I hear ya. Especially when you see all that NIS stuff people have.

If I sanity check myself, aside from owning ("only") probably 70 odd games, I don't buy compulsively, I think that's pretty key. If there's a buying aspect to what I do that fires my junkie synapses it's a cheap secondhand find on something that I know thoroughly is up my and/or my family's street. And that's pretty much all I get these days.

That's not to say i dont ha v e junk cluttering up the joint. But as a case in point to what I was saying before, about games having durability, I just watched my kids and their friends play Family Feud, a gift from some well meaning relative about 5 years ago. They were having the best time, trash talking each other and the dumb responses etc. If I curated my games for durability or being well regarded or even just what I want, that thing I couldn't give away in a garage sale, and should have been chucked with the rest of the Christmas wrapping. But every now and again they crack it open and enjoy themselves to no end. Kids eh.
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24 Jan 2019 08:11 #290575 by SuperflyPete
I’m not even going to lie - I have definite OCD tendencies when it comes to any area of interest. When it was Heroscape I had to own 3 of all of the squads. Attacktix I had to be able to min-max with 8 Jedi Knights or Tusken Raiders on the off chance a tournament would have funky rules. When it was X Wing...the same. Armada was lucky for me....so expensive I couldn’t really imagine getting maxed out.

Now that I sold all that shit I have a full recording studio and far too many cheap guitars (and a few nice ones), parts, etc.

I just jump balls deep into everything I set my mind to. Probably why I’ve been married for a quarter century at 44.
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