The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a harsh spotlight on the issues businesses face when trying to establish a secure supply chain.
The gaming industry in particular has benefitted from the increase in people spending time at home, with both console and game sales rocketing during the initial lockdown. Even in 2021 sales of Nintendo Switch games saw growth of 123% during the first week of January based on the same week in 2020.
Another, perhaps more surprising, benefactor of the increase in household free time over lockdown were board games and other tabletop RPGs. Over the course of 2020, this boost helped to drive the global games and puzzles market to a value of $11 billion, with industry forecasts pointing towards continued growth past the $12 billion mark this year.
The rise in demand for digital board gamesPositioned on the intersection between these two spheres of gaming sits the digital board game adaptation, a product able to recreate the in-person socialisation of a traditional board game while remaining in line with current social restrictions.
According to data collected by Uswitch.com searches for the term ‘online board games’ saw an increase of 61,900 during just the first month of the initial lockdown.
Users also sought out digital versions of old family-gathering staples, with searches for ‘Trivial Pursuit online’ rising 1,608% between February and April 2020. Searches for online Pictionary rose 1,275% over the same period, with Cluedo rounding out the top three classics with an increase of 662%.
Meanwhile, Steam games such as Tabletop Simulator – with thousands of community-created mods for board games - saw a dramatic increase in concurrent players, hitting an all-time peak of 36,793 in April 2020. And the number of players has stayed consistently high, with a peak of 21,781 during January 2021, well above pre-pandemic peak levels of around 5000.
Coupled with the meteoric rise in physical board game sales over the last few years, all of this points towards an area ripe for exploration within digital board game adaptations. Even with the classic big names, such as Monopoly, already touting digital adaptations, the space remains for more recent hits and up-and-coming games to take to the digital stage themselves.
Another year of socially distanced gaming to comeAs the UK government’s lockdown exit plan announcement revealed that some degree of social restrictions are set to remain in place for months yet to come, the lockdown boost looks likely to continue. With separated friends and family facing a long wait before they can gather around the table once again, the digital board game space appears on course for another strong year of growth.
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