Digital board games are more popular now more than ever before. There has been large growth in the past few years in various formats of digital board games. Previously I talked about the advantages of making a digital prototype but the benefits don’t just stop at prototyping. A common trend with video games is to release a demo so people can try the game before they buy it and now with so many various platforms for digital board games this can and also should also be applied to the board game industry.
Due to the COVID pandemic there has been a large growth in the various means of digital board games. Boardgamearena.com, a website created in 2010 to allow people to play various board games from any device with people around the world. It currently has a user base of 6.6m and a catalogue of over 300 games available to play. BGA saw a growth of 600% in 2020 which prompted publishing giant Asmodee to acquire them in February 2021. Tabletop Simulator also saw growth, with it’s average concurrent player count growing in 2019 from 1900 to 6300 the next year.
So there is clearly a market for digital adaptations. Many games launch on Kickstarter with a Tabletop Simulator version available to give people a taste of what the game is. However, BGA offers so much more than TTS, it has a significantly larger user base, it is free to play and it is easier to use. All the rules get programmed into the implantation of a game and any score is automatically counted for you. It will obviously, therefore take more resources to create a version of your game on BGA since everything needs to be programmed.
Some may worry that a digital version of a game may stop people from buying their games, I personally have bought five games after playing them on BGA and many others have done the same. Xavier Georges also didn’t have such a worry when he launched Carnegie this year simultaneously on Kickstarter and Boardgamearena. This not only gave people interested in the Kickstarter an opportunity to to try the game out but it also introduced the game to a market of six million who may not have heard of the game prior. Reading through the campaigns comments there is a large number of people saying they either backed by discovering it on BGA or people who increased their pledge because they got to try the game (and then they played it over and over again). Xavier also said that the statistics provided by BGA allowed for large-scale testing and fine tuning that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. In the end Carnegie raised €473,081 from 6,023 backers.
If I see a video game on Kickstarter, I won’t even consider backing it if there isn’t some kind of a demo available, it has become pretty much the industry standard. I can see this trend moving over to the board game section of Kickstarter. After all what is a better way to know if you will like a game if not to play it. Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator are both effective ways to provide this but if there is room in your budget and it can fit to your schedule I think the way forward is to launch simultaneously on Kickstarter and Boardgamearena since it has the largest audience.
Let me know if you ever stumbled across a game online and got inspired to buy it.