Games Go Digital – What Do We Lose?

I've heard the game business took a hit last year, though some would beg to differ. Certainly, Hasbro Games and Mattel Games have been affected, and there are no doubt several factors at work here.         

Board_games One explanation I have heard is that iPhone and iPad apps now take up Mom’s time and attention, and at $.99 apiece they seem a remarkable value compared to a $9.99 or $19.99 game at the store. It may be that the state of the game business is partially at fault, through some failure in the marketing, or packaging, or advertising, as well as in the nature of the product itself. Perhaps there is an overabundance of brand extensions or an overabundance of un remarkable product on the shelves today.

We have had some interesting comments and observations on this subject. From Nate Scheidler, the Director of Community Marketing with the Chicago Toy & Game Group

“The fundamental loss on most video games is the limitations of the interface. To play the Angry Birds game, you literally use a single finger and repetitive motions. While there is a puzzle element that is somewhat satisfying, there are diminishing returns from a person playing this game repeatedly. Compare this to most simple board games . . . there is more tactile response, social interactivity, and freedom to make "house rules" to alter the play of the game. The bigger issue here is not the cost of the board game, it's the marketing. It's easy for that $1 app to get exposure through a ratings system, not so easy for a board game. Small retailers, clubs and educators are the best avenues for improving the toy and game market and need to be supported as much as possible.” 

Well said, and very good points. The value of face to face game play is not widely appreciated. The values are many, in fact, including not just the social aspect of cooperation, competition, rule following, etc, but also the physical, fine and gross motor skills, logic, and more that are developed through physical and face to face, head to head game play. Not to mention the flexibility, and opportunity for the players to be creative by trying out modifying the play of the game – another great point. And yes, we need new and better ways to market our real-world games that make them as easy to acquire as a new smartphone app.

Another commentator suggests that there is a "tectonic shift" in the value prospect of games and how the consumer perceives them. He goes on to say that the same is happening in the world of video games. And perhaps, as he suggests, if more people are actually playing games, courtesy of digital platforms, they may become consumers of more traditional cardboard and plastic games, as well?                

It's possible, I suppose. One can hope. But for certain, change is afoot, and more than one factor is surely at work, and the game makers, designers, and inventors need to wake up and smell the cardboard, or the electrons, perhaps. (Oh I love the smell of electrons in the morning!) We all need to embrace change or die. At the very least we all need to hear the wake-up-call, and take a hard look at what we are doing and how it is working, and use this as the incentive to get better at what we do. Now is the opportunity riding the dangerous wind, to create better, more engaging games, more fun products, more diverse, better promoted, better marketed, better products distributed and retailed in new and better ways.

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