GenCon 2015 – So Many New Games

Kickstarter’s enormous utility has transformed the marketplace for tabletop games, causing an explosion of new games at GenCon

My number one impression from GenCon 2015 was, “Wow, look at all of these games I’ve never heard of!” In all my years of going to GenCon, generally only a handful of publishers were demonstrating wholly new products. This year I saw an unprecedented flood of new games. It seemed like every game I had ever heard of had a new card game, a new board game, and a new miniatures battle game based upon it. And there were dozens of entirely new games. Unsuprisingly, many of the banners said Kickstarter somewhere on them.

Yes, you build your deck of cards and use them to play a game where you build a metaphorical deck.

Yes, this is a game where players play to assemble a deck of cards and then use those cards to play a game where they build an in-game wooden deck. I know I may sound angry about this, but I also admire the courage it takes to spend money and make a game based on a pun. Bonus points for the clear graphic design – I got the joke right away.

To me all the new games demonstrate the transformative power of Kickstarter on the tabletop game market. Tabletop players are a lucrative demographic for crowdfunding solutions like Kickstarter – they have disposable income and are comfortable spending money on the internet. It’s also fun to see corporate juggernauts like Hasbro get cut off at the pass, economically speaking.

With all of that said, I’ll cede the stage to the slideshow. Further thoughts on the show can be read below and in upcoming posts about GenCon 2015.

First, the biggest booths in the exhibition hall this year were probably Mayfair Games, Paizo, Catalyst Games, and a few others. And exhibitors really liked using their space for massive versions of their games.

A huge version of Ticket to Ride

A huge version of Ticket to Ride

A giant version of Catalyst Games' Duke

A giant version of Catalyst Games’ Duke

The rest of these pictures are of the games being promoted that I had never heard of – around fifty new games. Get our your bingo cards and let me know how out of touch this old man is in the comment section below.







































Which leads to my second impression, which was surprise that Wizards of the Coast, publishers of the still-new 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons, did not have any presence in the huge exhibition hall where everyone was selling their stuff. When 4th edition was released they basically built a two-story castle in the middle of the exhibition hall, so their lack of a booth really surprised me. Upon closer examination, it occurred to me that they didn’t really need to spend the money on a huge booth, because lots of other people were selling 5th edition D&D books. I suppose the additional profit the would have made off of selling direct to the public didn’t seem like it would cover their expenses? It’s difficult to guess what the rationale was that informed that decision.

I remember when simply-printed supliemnts were the only thing tabletop game publishers could afford to produce. Basic booklets, a couple pages of chits, a game board, and some cards you cut out yourself. Now, instead of these cheap games we have $100 box with a board game where players fight “over 100 alien minatures!” Printing minis in China has gotten cheap, thanks to globalization and pioneering by companies such as Reaper Minis and Dwarven Forge. Deep down I don’t like the carbon cost of shipping things across the Pacific Ocean in order to save a couple bucks on your worker’s wages, but there’s not much I can do about that. And the quality of the games on display was generally very good.

As a final note, I feel all my readers should keep in mind the ancient maxim, “buyer beware.” Just as with anything on the internet, or in commerce anywhere, the buyer is at risk of being bilked. We’ve all heard the stories of croudfunded projects that never produced.

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