Board game 'renaissance' rolls dice for industry giant

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A post-COVID industry-wide “renaissance” has forced board game makers to adapt to new trends and innovate beyond classic games.

“During the pandemic, I would call that kind of almost, like a renaissance for the board game industry where families and players around the world kind of rediscovered their love for games,” Hasbro SVP of Board Games Brian Baker told Fox News Digital. 

“The pandemic was a powerful moment for our industry.”

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The market rebirth was met with a “surge” in sales and the popularity of traditional gaming. 

Baker reported Hasbro saw “double-digit growth at the height of the pandemic.”

“People went out and bought all kinds of games and kind of filled their game cabinets. And so from a business perspective, we definitely benefited from that.”

According to a Fortune Business Insights report, the global board game industry was valued at $13.06 billion in 2023. The market is projected to grow by over $1 billion in 2024 and more than double to $32 billion by 2032.

“What we found is that players are now looking for new types of games and new genres of games because they’ve played the ones that are familiar, they’ve played the ones they’ve grown up with. And so we’re really working to make sure that we can deliver the diverse experiences those players are looking for,” Baker said. 

Baker highlighted a number of trends shaping the board game industry, including the appetite for “fun” games among Gen Z players. One is the growing popularity of smaller, portable card games such as Arschmallows, available June 1 on Amazon. Another driver of growth is adult party games like Cards Against Humanity. 

“When you talk about that generation, we know that they’re coming together to play games. They’re just looking for content that could be a little bit edgier and a little bit more fun,” Baker said. 

The industry’s rebirth was also encouraged by social media and a number of influencers creating their brand around board games. 

Alex Hart, a self-proclaimed board game sommelier, has been offering his followers game recommendations since he started his channel in 2021. He now boasts thousands of followers with millions of likes. 

He believes the increasing favorability of board games among younger players is due to a “longing for connection.”

“A lot of the reason why you’re getting people in my generation, millennials, and also a lot of the audience for my channel, Gen Z, kind of getting into board games is really because there is this sort of need for connection,” Hart told Fox News Digital. “[It] has really driven board games into the spotlight and made it so that we have something to talk about with our friends, something to talk about with our families.”

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Another board game influencer duo, Chris and Aly, affirmed Hart’s perspective, emphasizing how younger players are looking for ways to “unplug.”

“One of the main reasons that we see a lot of people wanting to play board games is because it’s nice, I think, to unplug every once in a while from today’s world and just get back to the basics of like, tabletop fun,” Aly of Games4Two told Fox News Digital. “I know us as millennials, we didn’t have phones until we were like 12 or 13… And so board games were kind of what we grew up on in that first large chunk of our lives. And so it’s nice to utilize that in a world that’s full of digital creation and media. It’s nice to kind of just unplug every once in a while and go back to what we know.”

“I feel like everybody’s day-to-day lives are completely overwhelmed with screens and technology. Whether you work from home or you work in an office, or your spare time is spent watching the TV or on your phone. It’s definitely nice to…unplug and just connect with one or two other people and have some time away from electronics,” Chris added. 

For companies like Hasbro, social media and influencers provide “inspiration” and “insights” into consumer behavior and interests. Baker pointed to analysis showing there is an increasing number of players interested in finding new games and looking for options beyond the classics. 

“Typically, when you think of Hasbro, you’re going to think of games like Monopoly and Clue and Connect4 and Operation.,” Baker said, emphasizing the company is “continuing to innovate” and revamp those timeless brands.

“It’s not only about inventing new games and delivering new products and kind of capturing some of those growth areas, like adult games, or card games for Hasbro, but just making sure we’re taking the same level of innovation, thought and care to some of those classic games that people grew up in and love. So for me, it’s striking that balance, you know, in ensuring that we honor the legacy of Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley and a lot of the companies that we’ve kind of acquired and incorporated as part of our portfolio throughout history.”



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