The mainstream press is starting to notice something that's been going on in hobby stores since last year -- the New York Times did a story last week called 'The PC Generation, Back to the Board,' which described the rapid growth in the popularity of board games among demographic groups that previously would have been expected to find their entertainment in front of a computer screen.
Mayfair's Settlers of Catan line was mentioned most frequently, with the article saying that it '...may be the most successful of the new breed of board games.' Mayfair's Bob Carty was quoted as telling the paper that U.S. sales had grown 20% in each of the last several years, and that worldwide sales exceed 10 million units for the game and its expansions. Puerto Rico and Carcassone are the only other game titles mentioned as part of the new wave of board games.
GAMA turns up in a couple of places in the article, with president Rick Loomis doing a nice job of describing the great value given by a game that can be played over and over for its one-time cost. GAMA's estimates of the game market size are also given, overstating the total size of the market significantly. In addition to value, the style of play, the social aspects, and the need for a vacation from screen time for knowledge workers were given as reasons for the growth in board games.
This phenomenon is, of course, not news to pop culture retailers that have been carrying the category, or that read about it in the recently released ICv2 Retailers Guide to Games (see 'ICv2 Publishes First Games Guide'), in which we said of board games, 'Driven by a number of factors, this category is growing rapidly in hobby stores and more growth is expected this year.' We were told by distributors and retailers that in addition to Mayfair's Settler line, Eagle and Rio Grande were the top makers of the new breed of board games. For more information on which lines and titles are doing best in this category, request a free copy of our Guide through the link above.