Let’s talk about bits
Some time ago Rob gave me this topic for a blog post: „Bits, it’s all about the bits in the box. Do you get component-envious and how do you decide how much to spend on in-game components? When do cardboard tokens become wooden pieces?”
It’s a good one. Most gamers really love good pieces and value quality components. Just today I had a discussion with a friend of mine who brought The Gallerist to show me the quality of production. 'Look how thick these are!’ he said showing me the game’s tokens. Oh, yeah, thick they were!
Thick tokens, custom wooden pieces, miniatures, metal coins. It’s an amazing time for gamers.
I would risk a thesis that the biggest influence Kickstarter had on board game industry was not a flow of new revolutionary ideas, not indie designers and publishers, not promoting our hobby outside our circles, but the huge change in production value standards.
Because of stretch goals, because of competition, because of user demand, games published on Kickstarter raised a bar for production value to an incredible level. Soon after it turned out that gamers are looking for the same quality and production value in a regular games, games published without upfront funding, without stretch goals, without KS support.
Take any game published in 2010 from your shelf and compare its components with those of games published these days. You’ll clearly see the difference.
Try to find custom wooden pieces in games published in 2010. What about those released in 2015?
Try to find miniatures in games from 2010. Compare with these released in 2015.
Look for custom dice in games from 2010. Compare with 2015.
And my favorite – money. Do you remember how we dissed paper money in 2010 and we praised games that had cardboard tokens instead?
In 2015, money in the form of metal coins is not a standard yet, but we are so damn close to this point, huh?
With higher production value comes higher production cost and higher MSRP. Even though our market grows, and trust me, it grows fast and it grows worldwide, game prices stay the same or – as we could see lately – go up. You would expect publishers to offer better MSRPs for their games because they print more and more games and the market is growing but it’s not happening. Quite the opposite. Prices go up.
I watch it happening and I analyze this every single day. I see what other publishers put on the market and I watch out for your – gamers’ – feedback. I look carefully at every piece in The Gallerist, I look at the MSRP and I hear what you say. I see announcements coming from FFG about another 100 USD game and I eagerly listen to what you say. I publish Rattle, Battle having pushed the production value to my dream level and I wait for feedback…
If Rob asks me about components I can say only one thing – our market has changed a lot in the past few years. It’s fascinating to watch this, to be a part of this and to wonder what’s next.
What do you think? Can publishers add even more good stuff to their boxes?
I think that nowadays it is not justified to have a publisher using cheap components (e.g. cheap cardboard for cards or the game board, or players boards, etc..). The latest edition of Roborally has worse quality than the original. Unforgivable.