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Value for Money - Are Board Games Worth It?

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21 Jul 2020 10:30 #312286 by oliverkinne
Of course, everyone will use different criteria and even when...

The cost of tabletop games is a topic that keeps popping up. There is the question of whether games have now become "overproduced", in the sense that the game components have become more expensive, due to an increase in quantity, an increase in quality or both. There is also the question of whether games have always been sold too cheaply, leaving everyone with tiny margins. There are many reasons that decide the cost of games, but I want to look at the other end of the chain. I want to see how consumers decide when a game is good value for money.

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21 Jul 2020 11:20 #312287 by Shellhead
Depends on the gamer. If you only end up playing a game once with some friends before moving on to the next hotness, you almost certainly didn't get your money's worth.

You can compare board games to other forms of entertainment: take the cost of the board game, divide by likely number of plays, then divide by average number of players, and divide again by hours per play. So let's say you have $100 boardgame that you will likely play 3 times with an average of 4 players, at about 90 minutes per game. 100/3/4/1.5 = $5.55 per player per hour.

That's an okay value compared to seeing a movie in the theater (yeah I know), which had an average price of $9.00 per person. A typical modern movie might run 2 hours, so that's about $4.50 per person per hour. But maybe you will play your boardgame four times, so 100/4/4/1.5 = $4.16.

A really bad entertainment value right now is individual issues of comics, at $4.00 for about 10 minutes of reading time, which is why I no longer buy comics and just check them out from the library. If you re-read the comic a few times over the years, then it comes closer to an equivalent value to our hypothetical board game or movie.

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21 Jul 2020 12:05 #312292 by Sagrilarus
This reminds me of when the contractor talks to you about the marble countertops and says, well, you use them everyday for three meals a day and they'll last 20 years so when you look at it that way it's only 2 cents per use, and surely your wife is worth 2 cents, isn't she?

Well yes, but the formica countertops will work every bit as well, what remains is your counter tops looking shinier than your neighbors'. You need to decide if THAT is worth $90 every time you have a party when they're over.

Good value for the money can be split cleanly into two categories in the case of boardgaming. The cost of bringing you the "game" instead of the "component quality" and the additional cost of bringing you the "component quality".

As it stands right now the market is buying the bigger shinier build, because . . . well, I don't why. As best I can tell the same people buying the marble countertops are buying the "component quality". If that's your thing knock yourselves out. I'll buy your copy used with two plays on it (and the cards sleeved for God's sake) for half price a year from now.
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21 Jul 2020 12:40 #312297 by Shellhead

Sagrilarus wrote: Good value for the money can be split cleanly into two categories in the case of boardgaming. The cost of bringing you the "game" instead of the "component quality" and the additional cost of bringing you the "component quality".

As it stands right now the market is buying the bigger shinier build, because . . . well, I don't why. As best I can tell the same people buying the marble countertops are buying the "component quality". If that's your thing knock yourselves out. I'll buy your copy used with two plays on it (and the cards sleeved for God's sake) for half price a year from now.


This is a great point. It's easy to see why the game makers are taking this approach: creating a quality game is an elusive goal, while including quality components is a relatively straightforward objective that can be covered by adjusting the retail price.
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21 Jul 2020 16:16 - 22 Jul 2020 14:27 #312307 by southernman
Or maybe it's as simple as some people like shiny stuff and some people don't, some people value thing x at $z and some people value x at $z + 10 ... and I'll not wander down the street of people that rate people on what they like or don't, as they have a pretty boring life so that is a boring topic (after all, that is why this site was originally founded).

I like shiny stuff with my games, it improves my entertainment value from the game, but I have a monetary limit to what I will pay to have shiny in the game - and I'm positive my limits are different to many at this site (greater and lesser).

And games before (this current point in time) did have had a lot of content (the MB Gamesmaster series in the 80s) although can't comment on the pricing back then, and we can't forget the GW tabletop products (how can we with all the prophets on the site) that have always gouged demanded bountiful cash from their fanatical buyers. So maybe we don't have anything new in overcharging, maybe we have some business people who identified that there is a worldwide (oh, damn that kickstarter facility matching buyers to sellers) market for boardgames with higher quality shiny stuff.
Last edit: 22 Jul 2020 14:27 by southernman.
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21 Jul 2020 16:46 - 21 Jul 2020 17:03 #312310 by Sagrilarus

southernman wrote: Or maybe it's as simple as some people like shiny stuff and some people don't, some people value thing x at $z and some people value x at $z + 10 ... and I'll not wander down the street of people that rate people on what they, as they have a pretty boring life so that is a boring topic (after all, that is why this site was originally founded).

I like shiny stuff with my games, it improves my entertainment value from the game, but I have a monetary limit to what I will pay to have shiny in the game - and I'm positive my limits are different to many at this site (greater and lesser).

And games before (this current point in time) did have had a lot of content (the MB Gamesmaster series in the 80s) although can't comment on the pricing back then, and we can't forget the GW tabletop products (how can we with all the prophets on the site) that have always gouged demanded bountiful cash from their fanatical buyers. So maybe we don't have anything new in overcharging, maybe we have some business people who identified that there is a worldwide (oh, damn that kickstarter facility matching buyers to sellers) market for boardgames with higher quality shiny stuff.


We’ve already established I’m the cheapest guy on the planet. None of this should come as a surprise to anyone.
Last edit: 21 Jul 2020 17:03 by Sagrilarus.
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21 Jul 2020 18:47 - 21 Jul 2020 18:52 #312315 by DukeofChutney
I was thinking about this when playing Oath yesterday online.

Oath, i believe, costs north of 100 wongas and from the KS and it is a card game. The high cost appears to be justified by the neoprene mat and the number of cards. *edit, checked the KS page its 90$ but + uk postage i guess

Im not totally sure how i feel about this. On one hand i do think games are art, and are objects of entertainment or even desire so their creators can put whatever price they want on their creativity. I also would not necessarily say that Oath is not worth that price but it did feel like a bit of a curve ball playing it. It is a decent game, but it is the sort of game that i would normally expect to lay down about 30-50 for.

For me personally i struggle to justify spending a lot on one game. If i wanted to I could, I have a disposable income. Part of it is that games are a gamble. If you and your friends like a game a lot and play it fairly often then even a very expensive game is worth it. If on the other hand it sucks or for whatever reason becomes a shelf toad then you can easily have lost your entire investment for little or no entertainment value. With deluxe versions of existing games that risk is lower. I can buy a deluxe version of twilight struggle or war of the ring and I know what game I am getting, low risk. Perhaps it is a logical out working of the KS, pay long before you play or the game is even designed, philosophy that has lead us to people wanting deluxe components in games that they have no experience with.

I could be wrong but I imagine smaller print run, higher profit per item games are a more attractive option for publishers. If there is a market willing to pay higher dollar it is lower risk when it comes to delivery or ending up with unsold stock.
Last edit: 21 Jul 2020 18:52 by DukeofChutney. Reason: accuracy
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22 Jul 2020 04:26 #312318 by Erik Twice

Sagrilarus wrote: As it stands right now the market is buying the bigger shinier build, because . . . well, I don't why. As best I can tell the same people buying the marble countertops are buying the "component quality". If that's your thing knock yourselves out. I'll buy your copy used with two plays on it (and the cards sleeved for God's sake) for half price a year from now.

Because "more stuff" is easier and more immediate to appreciate than strategic depth or an interesting message. After all, you don't even need to play to appreciate a big box full of components. After all you are not even going to get to play it in a year.

I don't say this to wag fingers, I think we all ocasionally fall into the same trap which is to like the idea of a game more than the actual reality of playing it. Because it's hard for me to believe most of us like a game we never actually play and that just gathers dust on our shelves.

In other words, I don't think people really have more fun because a game has deluxe components. They think they will, but they actually don't. By their own values, not mine. It's just plain as day that the idea they had did not come into practice. In fact, I've noticed that people who are playing less often get into more Kickstarters. So something's wrong.

Amen on the buying second-hand part. Cosmic Encounter, Tragedy Looper, March of the Ants, all unpunched and at a 40% discount. Two of them with unopened expansiones to boot.

DukeofChutney wrote: Perhaps it is a logical out working of the KS, pay long before you play or the game is even designed, philosophy that has lead us to people wanting deluxe components in games that they have no experience with.

If you want to play a game, why would you buy one nobody has ever played and that you won't be able to see for at least a year?

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22 Jul 2020 08:51 #312320 by oliverkinne
Thank you to everyone for the comments. There are a lot of great points and it's nice to hear how everyone decides what is good value for a board game. I think the comparison with the marble kitchen worktop is a good one and plays into the threshold we all have of how much is too much, even when the game itself will be played dozens of times and provides dozens of hours of entertainment. Buying the same game second hand can bring that game below the threshold, but you still get the same great game, with the same great component quality, minus a bit of wear and tear.

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22 Jul 2020 09:56 #312324 by Shellhead

DukeofChutney wrote: I was thinking about this when playing Oath yesterday online.

Oath, i believe, costs north of 100 wongas and from the KS and it is a card game. The high cost appears to be justified by the neoprene mat and the number of cards. *edit, checked the KS page its 90$ but + uk postage i guess.


With Oath, you are paying half for the game and half for the membership dues to stay in the cult.

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22 Jul 2020 14:45 #312333 by southernman

Erik Twice wrote: ...
In other words, I don't think people really have more fun because a game has deluxe components. They think they will, but they actually don't. ?


Wrong. I know I would not enjoy Nemesis just with little square chits representing the Intruders. I have read reviews from people on this site about games with lots of, usually large, miniatures and they are unambiguous that those minis provide a fun element to their enjoyment of the game.
But then not needing bling in a game is pretty normal for a sizeable piece of the gaming population as well.
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22 Jul 2020 22:51 - 22 Jul 2020 22:52 #312365 by ubarose
I have marble floors in my bathroom. They make me happy.

I recently backed a Kickstarter game because the playing pieces were a real china tea set.

The Wonder Woman game has really shitty cards. I would have paid more to have them on nicer card stock.

I’ve been kicking myself for nearly a year now for not paying the extra $10 to get the upgraded cattle chips when Kickstarted the Western Legends expansions.

Bourbon tastes better when drunk from a the good crystal.
Last edit: 22 Jul 2020 22:52 by ubarose.
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23 Jul 2020 08:07 #312370 by Erik Twice

southernman wrote:

Erik Twice wrote: ...
In other words, I don't think people really have more fun because a game has deluxe components. They think they will, but they actually don't. ?


Wrong. I know I would not enjoy Nemesis just with little square chits representing the Intruders. I have read reviews from people on this site about games with lots of, usually large, miniatures and they are unambiguous that those minis provide a fun element to their enjoyment of the game.
But then not needing bling in a game is pretty normal for a sizeable piece of the gaming population as well.

Sorry, I was speaking in general. I do think there are some who like you do enjoy deluxe components. And they should go and find them if it makes them happy. But I just don't think the average Kickstaerter backer actually enjoys the deluxe components he pays for, if simply because they don't seem to actually play those games. And I play with those people, and I don't see them really enjoying the megacomponents so much.

We often like the idea of playing more than the actual play. And I see something similar with components.
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23 Jul 2020 11:55 #312382 by southernman

Erik Twice wrote:

southernman wrote:

Erik Twice wrote: ...
In other words, I don't think people really have more fun because a game has deluxe components. They think they will, but they actually don't. ?


Wrong. I know I would not enjoy Nemesis just with little square chits representing the Intruders. I have read reviews from people on this site about games with lots of, usually large, miniatures and they are unambiguous that those minis provide a fun element to their enjoyment of the game.
But then not needing bling in a game is pretty normal for a sizeable piece of the gaming population as well.

Sorry, I was speaking in general. I do think there are some who like you do enjoy deluxe components. And they should go and find them if it makes them happy. But I just don't think the average Kickstaerter backer actually enjoys the deluxe components he pays for, if simply because they don't seem to actually play those games. And I play with those people, and I don't see them really enjoying the megacomponents so much.

We often like the idea of playing more than the actual play. And I see something similar with components.


I really don't know how you can make that kind of sweeping generalization from such a small (tiny) and niche (your gaming group who, from your gaming reports, seem to like strong strategy and thinking games) :huh: - that would be like me saying that I think the average kickstarter backer will buy anything that has at least 30 detailed and large miniatures because my group loves them.

The simple fact that these games are selling year after year, in increasing numbers (please check the numbers pledging towards games from Awaken Realms in the last couple of years, they ain't dropping), makes your observation a guess rather than a researched observation.

And, again, I totally recognise there will be a massive segment of the gaming population who will not care about blinged-up games but saying that those who do don't actually enjoy them is a massive reach ... and miss. What it probably says is that people in your gaming group were tempted by them when it wasn't actually the factor in a game that they appreciated the most, or even at all.

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23 Jul 2020 13:46 #312389 by fightcitymayor

Erik Twice wrote: But I just don't think the average Kickstaerter backer actually enjoys the deluxe components he pays for, if simply because they don't seem to actually play those games. And I play with those people, and I don't see them really enjoying the megacomponents so much.
We often like the idea of playing more than the actual play. And I see something similar with components.

southernman wrote: The simple fact that these games are selling year after year, in increasing numbers (please check the numbers pledging towards games from Awaken Realms in the last couple of years, they ain't dropping), makes your observation a guess rather than a researched observation.

Both could be true facts.
KS buyers keep buying because they are indeed entranced by the plastic toys.
And
KS buyers who buy said toys either buy them specifically for re-sale, or as collectors, or to avoid FOMO, or because they fall in love with the idea of playing the game although they never actually get around to playing the game, or some other reason that results in the plastic toys not being integral to the gaming experience.
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