Let’s keep the fun in Board Games packaging!
This Blog has a little publicised secret – the ethos of this Blog is to ONLY positively comment on the industry. Even when looking at an issue or situation that seems less than ideal, the informal rule is not to write about something unless a positive slant can be found. If it’s all bad, then it doesn’t tend to feature here…
Here’s the thing though, every so often something really makes me cross, and not just cross angry, but cross and worried, because something happens which in my opinion is not for the good of the industry as a whole.
So I’ve decided to let rip with a rant this time. if this wasn’t what you expected (or wanted) from me, apologies, but I feel I just can’t let this one slide!
What has happened to board games packaging in the last few years? Board games have such a positive impact on kids, families and society as a whole…but that’s not the only reason they are played with. They are also (supposed to be) FUN.
For sure the Games category has been under immense threat from other forms of Gaming and gadgetry, but that isn’t a new trend, it’s been going on for 30 years or more.
The point is this – just because other forms of activity are ‘cooler’ or more aspirational/desirable, and just because the reason for people playing board games are often ‘worthy’ doesn’t mean people will buy Games which look dull.
Yet from a subjective point of view, Board Games packaging has got more and more serious and not FUN over the last decade or so, and that applies to the best selling board games as well as the lesser titles. And I just don’t understand why that is the case, or where it’s coming from.
My golden rule with packaging is that it doesn’t matter whether I ‘like it’, or whether ‘that colour doesn’t work for me’. The pack is a sales tool. It needs to communicate the right things to effectively sell the product – to make retailers list it, and make consumers take it off the shelves and buy it with their hard earned cash. So (as any Designer who ever worked with me will testify), I am very poorly placed to comment on design trends and aesthetics in general. However, if it doesn’t look FUN why will anyone buy it / play it?
I guess there may be a small sub section of the population out there who actually want to be miserable, and who want to play Games which make them more miserable, but surely they are a miniscule minority?
Why then are so many Games packs nowadays so boring and formal? When I see a board games pack that looks more like the front cover of a brochure for an accountants or a dentists, it really frustrates me. I’m sure there are highly talented designers working on these games, but the direction so often seems wrong to me.
In fairness, Kids Games very definitely do focus on the fun, but just seems like Family and Adult Games are almost made to seem turgid in many instances nowadays.
The softening of sales in the Board Games category that we’ve seen in the last few years is I’m sure partly due to the global downturn, partly due to some key retailers going out of business and partly due to the lack of a major global gameshow hit, which has always been a major driver for the category historically. I’m also sure that App-ification has taken a piece of the action.
However, I can’t help wondering whether the results would have been any different if the packaging design style had been different, and focused on FUN.
There you go rant over, at which point I must insert the caveat that there are some Games and some companies out there getting this right, just not enough of them!
If you think I’m barking up the wrong tree, think I have it spot on, or think you can explain this better, please feel free to leave a comment below.
All the best
P.S. Quick plug for my book – 55 Features To Top Selling Board Games, available via my webshop: www.stevenreece.com/shop or if you have a Kindle, you can get it here: