The Board Games Revival is Being Driven by Millennials

As families, kids, and even child-less millennials looking for a new way to socialize with friends, board games are returning as a mainstream entertainment among these groups.

The board game boom has led to cafes and bars focused on gaming apart from leading to the creation of new games.

According to Euromonitor International, with expected year-on-year growth of more than 1 percent this year, global sales of games and puzzles have grown from $9.3 billion in 2013 to $9.6 billion in 2016.

Peter Wooding, owner of independent board game retailer Orcs Nest in central London says that the interest in board games is at a significantly higher level now than it was five years ago.

“The renaissance of board games interest started around five or more years ago with the big increase in interest in Euro Style games. In the past two or so years it seems to have hit a plateau and the market has become more or less saturated, with some products being very good and innovative, but a lot of not so good items that are just really bandwagon jumpers,” Wooding said.

Often revolving around economic themes, Euro Style games are a genre of board game which generally emphasize strategy and co-operation over conflict and luck.

The genre of Euro Style games was made popular around Europe and the U.S. is “Settlers of Catan”, a German board game first published in 1995. Emphasizing co-operation, negotiation and social skills and emphasizing co-operation, negotiation and social skills, the game involves a group of players colonizing an island.

“I like Catan because it’s so easy to pick up but you can add so much depth to the game just by how you play and who you play with, so no game is ever the same,” Alice Bell, a video game journalist and fan of the board game, said.

“I think I’ve only ever won a game of it once, but I still love it.”

According to Euromonitor International, in 2013, it was the fourth largest board game brand in the U.S. with retail sales of more than $80 million, and more than 18 million copies of the game have been sold worldwide, according to The New Yorker.

Board games are continuing to grow in popularity, said Guido Teuber, managing director of Catan.

“It is based on our observations, which include a robust growth in the retail space, families’ desire to bond over an analog experience, as well as a resurgence of an interest in analog experiences in general.”

According to Matthew Hudak, toys and games analyst for Euromonitor International,  the independent board game sector, including games like Catan, has been the highest growth area of games and puzzles.

“New games are being introduced every year that are largely aimed at millennial consumers, such as ‘Codename’, ‘Star Wars: Armada’, and ‘Pandemic: Legacy’ in 2015. These games can be either competitive or cooperative and are typically aimed at adults looking for an activity to do while drinking and socializing with friends,” he wrote in a guest post for Global Toy News.

Examples of cafes like Draughts in North London abound as several board-game themed cafés and bars have sprung up in the past few years to capitalize on this trend. According to a report from market researchers Mintel on the leisure habits of millennials, published in August, around 30 percent of millennials say they are interested in visiting a board-game themed café or bar.

“There’s also the nostalgia element,” Catherine Cottney, manager of trends Europe at Mintel, told to a TV channel. “I think millennials are probably the last demographic which have been fully raised on board games. So I mean if you look at the generation after them, they were raised more on screen games.”

(Adapted from CNBC)

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