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Hypothetical Question -- Could a Massive Boardgame Value Collapse Happen?

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05 Feb 2019 09:35 #291514 by Sagrilarus
About 40 years ago the entire videogame industry completely collapsed. Games that had sold for $40 (in 1980 dollars no less) were suddenly on sale for $0.99. I bought an Intellivision console and about 20 games for $60 total, something my friend had paid $1000 for over the prior couple of years. That's a 90%+ discount because people changed their minds on the value of what they were purchasing, en masse.

Could that happen in the boardgaming industry?

I'm not asking if it will happen, in fact I'm not really even asking if it could happen. Obviously the answer is yes it could, but are the odds one in a million, one in a thousand, or one in three?
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05 Feb 2019 09:46 - 05 Feb 2019 09:47 #291516 by Vysetron
We're already kind of seeing it. Costs plummet the moment a game hits online distributors, and you could build a solid shelf for pennies off of Amazon deals alone. The wait period between a game's release and it going on a deep cut is getting shorter every month. It's gotten to the point where there's basically no reason to pay full price for anything.

As far as it completely bottoming out, it'd require some very specific variables to line up. Something on the level of Asmodee spontaneously combusting. Critical factors with the video game bust were a lack of sales due to the pricing, wide range of platforms, and questionable quality all around. Board games don't have the second problem.
Last edit: 05 Feb 2019 09:47 by Vysetron.
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05 Feb 2019 09:50 #291517 by BaronDonut
I saw a copy of the Godfather: Corleone's Empire at TJMaxx earlier this week on sale for EIGHT DOLLARS. Don't know if this is an outlier or a harbinger of things to come.
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05 Feb 2019 10:06 #291519 by Michael Barnes
The industry still isn’t big enough, really, and there isn’t anyone staking huge amounts of money on a single product or anything like that.

But the market has already crashed, is crashing, and will continue to crash. It crashed when the retail value of a game became meaningless as online game stores cut profit in favor of volume, devaluing the product in the eyes of the consumer. A $60 game isn’t actually worth $60, it’s worth like $45 new in shrink. It could be argued that it is less with the long lists of clearance and close out product that gamers eagerly wait for during seasonal sales or whatever.

With so much on the market, that has further driven down value and reduced demand across the board for anything but the newest and most perennial titles. A second hand game used to carry about 50 percent of retail value. Now, for many titles you are lucky to get 25 percent of its value. Some titles- even some recent ones- are practically unsellable.

So I think the crash has more to do with the value of a game than the industry as a whole tanking. Kickstarter has further fucked up the entire paradigm by creating this insane speculator’s market based almost entirely on FOMO and the sale of magic beans, moving dollars away from traditional publishers. Traditional publishers have responded by shifting production focus away from big-box, $60+ titles. If you’ll notice, most of the games coming from Iello, FFG, Z-Man and so forth are NOT the massive $80-$100 games you might expect. They are doing more $35-$50 titles. Again, the value of a game is simply less now than it was ten years ago. So there is your crash.
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05 Feb 2019 10:08 #291520 by Michael Barnes
It's gotten to the point where there's basically no reason to pay full price for anything.


This right here. The consumer has been trained that a $50 game is not worth $50.

I mean, I just bought Runebound 3rd Edition and Civilization: New Dawn for less than $50 combined...both are brand name titles, both fairly new, both fairly well received...selling for less than half retail.

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05 Feb 2019 10:10 #291521 by SuperflyPete
SEAL Team Flix is still fetching 50$ used.

So, there are outliers whose value is apparent.
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05 Feb 2019 10:20 #291524 by Vysetron

SuperflyTNT wrote: SEAL Team Flix is still fetching 50$ used.

So, there are outliers whose value is apparent.


Print run size and accolades. STF was limited (relative to demand) and well regarded. Plus the box is the size of a NY apartment so it's an easier sell for the price. Yes that's ridiculous. Yes it works, because on some level we still consult the lizard part of our brains to ascertain value.

Michael Barnes wrote: It's gotten to the point where there's basically no reason to pay full price for anything.


This right here. The consumer has been trained that a $50 game is not worth $50.

I mean, I just bought Runebound 3rd Edition and Civilization: New Dawn for less than $50 combined...both are brand name titles, both fairly new, both fairly well received...selling for less than half retail.


I was discussing this with my wife last night. Perceived value of games is a really interesting thing and it's hard to nail down why certain games are considered "correctly priced" and others aren't. I generally group the price into 3 tiers: Box of Cards, Box of Boards, and Box of Plastic. These typically belong to certain genres. When a game in one genre crosses a Box tier it tends to be noticed. A full euro in card form, for example, is continued a value. A similar game brought up to plastic tier pricing ends up like Gil Hova's new game just did: www.kickstarter.com/projects/gilhova/high-rise/posts/2406910
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05 Feb 2019 10:24 #291526 by Gary Sax
I think the only way this happens more seriously is when the board game trend in gen pop starts to ebb. We're still in the "good times" where we're adding normies from the general population (obviously not TWBG here here) at a high rate. When that starts to stop, but companies continue to project massive growth in the print runs, that's when this could happen. When the musical chairs ends and a bunch of companies are sitting on huge unsold volume created to appease a explosively growing board game public.
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05 Feb 2019 10:47 #291530 by fightcitymayor

Michael Barnes wrote: The industry still isn’t big enough, really, and there isn’t anyone staking huge amounts of money on a single product or anything like that.

I think this is a wise statement. For the entire industry value collapse to occur you would need even more consolidation than has already happened. If people wake up one day and stop spending $200 for buckets of plastic toys on Kickstarter, that might tank the KS minis game market, but wouldn't necessarily affect LCGs, or Games Workshop, or GMT wargames, or trendy Euros, or party games they sell at Target. You would need one corporate behemoth to drive all of those separate boardgaming sub-markets for a massive collapse to truly happen.

The boardgaming market is so diverse that entire subsections could tank, but the overall market as a whole could theoretically soldier on with minimal damage.
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05 Feb 2019 10:54 #291532 by jpat
The lack of secondary market value is, rivaled by laziness, the reason I've continued to just sit on significant chunks of my hoard. The war games, particularly the ones out of print or between print cycles, and particularly GMT ones, still retain value well, but the slashing I'd have to do and *then* still ship these things is a disincentive. So I've been hauling more games upstairs and trying to get them played, and then I'll donate some that are good games in good condition but have no resale/trade value.

In terms of general economic value of games, I have nothing to add to the discussion, really, except to note the parallels to video game preorders and opening-weekend mass-market movie ticket sales (i.e., everything's frontloaded, and, in the case of video games, larded in the form of preorder bonuses/deluxe editions with the rough equivalent of stretch goals).

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05 Feb 2019 11:01 - 05 Feb 2019 11:03 #291534 by jpat
The Godfather game is an interesting case in point. It's at least an average quality game in terms of game play--a reasonable 7+ on the BGG scale. It has a good designer pedigree. It has a clean, clear, well-illustrated rulebook. It's pretty close to Baby's First Area Control Game friendly, but it's not something I wouldn't play with gamers (and I've done both). The theme isn't thickly applied in some respects, but it's certainly evocative of at least a general gangster/mob theme if not the Godfather specifically. The box has a great insert that, with a little unorthodox storage, even accommodates sleeved cards pretty well. The metal briefcases are over-the-top. The minis are OK enough, and the colored bases in two shapes mean you don't have to distinguish closely between different gray blobs. So it should've worked.

Yet early on at BGG people decided it wasn't "worth" the asking price. It was $80, admittedly, but people have certainly paid more on KS for less. But the perception that it wasn't worth $80 was, as much as anything, its death knell, which is why you can (sometimes) find it at 10% of its MSRP already.

You can't quite compare this to, say, First Martians, which some people have taken a great deal of joy in watching the price collapse on, because Corleone's Empire lacks any significant blemish as a game other than what some perceive as weak theming.
Last edit: 05 Feb 2019 11:03 by jpat.
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05 Feb 2019 11:03 - 05 Feb 2019 11:05 #291535 by charlest

Michael Barnes wrote: Traditional publishers have responded by shifting production focus away from big-box, $60+ titles. If you’ll notice, most of the games coming from Iello, FFG, Z-Man and so forth are NOT the massive $80-$100 games you might expect. They are doing more $35-$50 titles. Again, the value of a game is simply less now than it was ten years ago. So there is your crash.


Really? My take is the opposite.

Recent $60+ titles from these companies:

Gen7
New LotR game
Comanauts
Mansions of Madness still going strong with expansions
Legion
Heroes of Black Reach
Seal Team Flix
Marvel Strike Teams
TI4
Pandemic Legacies
Seafall

Iello neve really did big box titles so not sure that really indicates much.

I know FFG used to do more big box titles, but that was 6+ years ago now, and this industry moves fast. It seems to me they've swung back towards bigger titles the past few years.
Last edit: 05 Feb 2019 11:05 by charlest.
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05 Feb 2019 11:04 - 05 Feb 2019 11:06 #291536 by jpat
FFG is essentially a license holder now, with an occasional novelty act thrown in. If the obituary hasn't been written, it certainly could be. But you probably could track the arc of FFG releases, and it would map on to evolving trends in board/card gaming pretty well outside of KS-specific factors.
Last edit: 05 Feb 2019 11:06 by jpat.
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05 Feb 2019 11:10 #291537 by Jackwraith

jpat wrote: FFG is essentially a license holder now, with an occasional novelty act thrown in. If the obituary hasn't been written, it certainly could be.


That's been my impression, as well. Looking at their website, I see five links for Star Wars, one for AHCG with a stock image, and two stock images for their livestream and a designer journal. The vast majority of their promoted output in recent times is licensed material, which indicates that they perceive that area as being where the money is. Keyforge may turn into something (that's the designer journal link) and they'll milk the HPL crowd for as long as they can. But I think fightcitymayor's point is valid. Even under those licenses or regular IPs, they've been producing different kinds of games in response to market pressures.
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05 Feb 2019 11:43 - 05 Feb 2019 11:44 #291540 by Sagrilarus
Interesting discussion to so far. Frankly, my question was more on the line of an en-masse "what the hell are we doing?" moment, where a significant enough portion of the consumer market just balks at the concept of purchase, in consideration of the large volume of games that are already available. The resulting drop isn't 30% or 50%, it's more like 90%. It's a landslide that happens on short notice, not a steady decline.

This presupposes that the current pricing scheme is significantly enough out of whack for that to happen, and I'm not sure that's the case. There's a few games demanding absurd prices, but I don't know if that's the case for the vast majority. But the issue remains -- how many of the new hobby boardgamers out there are going to continue in the hobby for 5+ years? If this is like other trendy things it is maybe 20%, and that means the liquidation of a lot of Kallax cubbies.
Last edit: 05 Feb 2019 11:44 by Sagrilarus.
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