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Subject: Game Componet Quality.... Better now? Or Worse? rss

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Rodney Sheldon
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I have been reading a couple of threads on particular games and the quality of their components. One comment got me to thinking...

Do games today have better or worse quality components than in years past? Are the game companies dropping the ball on quality control or component standards in general? Are they making an effort to put out great games with high quality components?

Just curious to see what others think. Better quality components today or worse? Why?

 
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Mike Jones
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They seem to be better. To the point that when I pull out one of my 'older' games, some people will actually refuse to play it because of the components.

I game should be judged on it's game play and not it's components. There are many 'older' games that are still quite fun.
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Lucas Smith
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I don´t really know actually. But certainly the design of some old games is outdated, for example, this weekend I bought Löwenherz (1997) and I have so say, the way the plan is designed wouldn´t be acceptable today, however this is more of a question of design/appearance/... and less of real quality. Today, certainly noone can argue a lack of possibilities to achieve great quality. e.g. Agricola (with veggimeeples even more) is of an awesome quality!

Furthermore I thought abouth the fact that today several (many? all??) games are factured in China (or similar) which probably didn´t improve the quality (at least in the beginning).

On quality in general: I hate plastic components, use wood! (or other theme related materials such as brick, metal,...) Make tableaus/boards thick! (btw: Has there ever been a game with the appropriate sleeves right in the original box? that would be awesome as well!)

Have a look at Hamburgum (2007): it has real, yes I mean real, brick stones, and real bells (out of metal) and "wooden wood" included.
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Paul DeStefano
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I grew up with games where the counters were a slice of cardboard you had to use scissors on and maps were one color on paper.

Stuff today is astounding in quality.
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M M
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I'll just drop in this image of the components of Dune and the best of what 1979 had to offer.



Better. The components are definitely getting better.
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M M
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Over the past 5-10 years: also getting better. When the first wave of Euros game out, the wooden cubes/pieces were so nice. So clean! Real wood! Very bright! This is great! Now they're considered boring and prosaic. Especially with Kickstarter, there's a pressure to glam up your game. And designers set milestones to upgrade. "If we reach $X, we'll have thicker cards! Real metal pieces! Double-thick board!" So on and so forth.

When what was exceptional in 2005 is now the boring baseline, you're moving up.
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Chris
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It definitely depends on the game, but on average I think component quality has gotten worse for euro/family games. It's done for economic reasons, I'm sure. Costs have gone up, but people's price point for a game hasn't gone up by the same magnitude, so publishers are cutting costs where they can.
- The stock used for cardboard bits is thinner today than it was 10-15 years ago. They're still functional, but they don't feel as nice as the 2mm thick Tikal tiles from 1999.
- Similarly, some publishers are using thinner boards. I have experienced a greater incidence of warped boards today than in the past. I don't know if that is because the boards are thinner or if the Chinese companies are still learning how to print / ship them without warping them.
- Cards don't feel / shuffle as nice. I don't know if it is a cardstock thing or a plastic finish thing or both. The Chinese printers are getting better (there was a period a few years ago where the cards from China were terrible) but they're still not as nice as many older games.
- Instruction books are printed on thinner paper. Not a big deal, but noticeable. It also seems like instruction books are shorter. Not a problem when the rules are well written, but it can be a problem if examples and illustrations are cut in order to fit the rules on fewer pages.
- Rarely does a game have a plastic insert anymore. They're either cardboard partitions or just a riser to keep the component sheets flat during shipping. Some people hate inserts, so this is a positive change for them, but I happen to like inserts when they are done well (like Tikal).
- Some game boxes are thinner. Understandable (thinner = lighter = less costly to make and ship) but feels cheap in comparison to older games.

On the positive side, seems like publishers now are using more uniquely shaped bits when it makes sense to do so instead of generic wooden cubes for everything.
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Rich
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Mat628 wrote:
I'll just drop in this image of the components of Dune and the best of what 1979 had to offer.



Better. The components are definitely getting better.


Just stopped by to say this very thing. I would have shown an image of the card sheet, though.
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Aaron Edwards
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I would agree that it depends on the game and publisher in question. You can probably find several examples to support either position, but on the whole I think components have gotten better as the years have gone by, particularly with regard to graphic design and art assets used. Older games (see 1st edition of Talisman, for example) tended to have a lot of black-and-white cards or blank negative space. Cardboard chits used to also be pretty bland and boring, whereas now companies like Fantasy Flight put a huge amount of energy and pride into making their tokens reflect the feel of the game. Another area where I think games have drastically improved is in plastic minis. They're cheaper, more common, and of (arguably) better quality than in days of yore. Again, this is on the whole.
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Enrico Viglino
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Sfwg46 wrote:


Just stopped by to say this very thing. I would have shown an image of the card sheet, though.



Yeah, this is one of the best advances. Cardboard chits are fine,
but tear it yourself sheets of cards really sucked. Even MB games
(the American Heritage Games)came with these.
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Josh Chen
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I agree with Chris here. It depends on the publisher and game.

I do agree that games do get better components now in general compare to years in the past.

I did notice quality difference between the games that I own because I played other people's copies and their was better.

Lords of Waterdeep. I don't know which printing I've got, but at my local meetup one of the player's copy was the first edition. The cubes are bigger in size and thicker in paint. But that was the only thing I've noticed different in this version than mine.

Takenoko. I bought this from the amazon deal on ITD and I've got to play that game at my local meetup as well. I was disappointed with my copy. The tile cardboard is a lot thinner that with touching I can feel the big difference. Objective cards are harder to shuffle and also thinner as well. My panda came with 2 pink spots on the side because I guess when he got into the insert he was still hot. It brought the color of the insert onto his belly.
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Mat628 wrote:
Better. The components are definitely getting better.


It depends.

If you compare the old counter chits of AH games with the ones printed by GMT today, the new ones are certainly better.

If you take into account that most games are now printed in China and you compare them with most of the games still printed in Germany they are certainly worse.
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Rodney Sheldon
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Some great points... I agree that the quality is overall getting better. Yet for some reason we have people still not happy with what is arguably superior quality in components. Are some of the companies cutting down on quality to save money, even by todays standards? Are the games those companies are putting out still better than say the old AH games of the 70's to mid 90's? Have we as board gamer enthusiast just come to expect such a high standard, that when games come out that are beneath that standard, we are disapointed?

Again some excellent thoughts....
 
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Thom0909
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I suppose it depends on the type of games you're playing.

Something like Strat-o-Matic used to have larger, non-perforated player cards and larger boards. No doubt their components have gotten worse, but sports sims aren't exactly a growing part of gaming.
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Ryan Keane
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Overall I think quality continues to get better. Game cost is getting higher - I don't think there is a greater need to cost costs now than there was in the past.

I think there may be more occurrences of poor quality control, or more we hear about, thanks to the increased volume of games produced overall, greater number of new inexperienced companies, the urgency to get Kickstarter games out as quick as possible, and the larger community on BGG to document complaints.

A trend, albeit rare, I don't like is how companies sometimes actually reduce the component quality from the 1st vs subsequent print runs - such as switching from wood to cardboard tokens a la 7 Wonders. I don't know if this was less common in the past, but it doesn't make sense now. Let's try to cut costs on the 2nd run for this popular game?!
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Runs with scissors
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Mostly a lot better, especially with cardboard counters.

The thickness has improved, the artwork has improved, the counters have gotten larger and easier to handle, and the finish on the counters has improved.
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M M
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Ryan Keane wrote:
A trend, albeit rare, I don't like is how companies sometimes actually reduce the component quality from the 1st vs subsequent print runs - such as switching from wood to cardboard tokens a la 7 Wonders. I don't know if this was less common in the past, but it doesn't make sense now. Let's try to cut costs on the 2nd run for this popular game?!

I've seen this a few times. My guess is the logic is that when you're trying to introduce a new game that nobody knows, you have to really wow people. The game, the components, everything has to be top-notch to convince people to try it. Then once you've established your brand, you can rely on the gameplay engine to attract customers and so cut back on the components quality.
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Aaron Edwards
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Mat628 wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:
A trend, albeit rare, I don't like is how companies sometimes actually reduce the component quality from the 1st vs subsequent print runs - such as switching from wood to cardboard tokens a la 7 Wonders. I don't know if this was less common in the past, but it doesn't make sense now. Let's try to cut costs on the 2nd run for this popular game?!

I've seen this a few times. My guess is the logic is that when you're trying to introduce a new game that nobody knows, you have to really wow people. The game, the components, everything has to be top-notch to convince people to try it. Then once you've established your brand, you can rely on the gameplay engine to attract customers and so cut back on the components quality.

Yea, I imagine a lot of companies take a look at the books when gearing up for subsequent print runs and realize they could make a much better margin if they cut some corners. The closer they were operating to break-even (or loss), the more tempting that's going to be.
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Ryan Keane wrote:
A trend, albeit rare, I don't like is how companies sometimes actually reduce the component quality from the 1st vs subsequent print runs - such as switching from wood to cardboard tokens a la 7 Wonders. I don't know if this was less common in the past, but it doesn't make sense now. Let's try to cut costs on the 2nd run for this popular game?!


Don't forget that 1st editions usually appear at Essen first. So companies want good reviews of them. Of course when they get them, they sometimes lower the quality of the 2nd printing (see Lewis & Clark with the smaller 2nd edition gameboard)

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Dave K
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If you're looking at things from 30 years ago the quality is definitely better now. (Thank you for the picture above, that showcases things nicely.)

If you're looking at things from perhaps years ago then it's not quite as clear-cut. Many things are better, and perhaps the average is better, but there are some games where corners were clearly cut and the component quality isn't very good.
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chris thatcher
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oh better for sure, but it seems alot of publishers go over the top and thus the games cost too much imo.

I played Amun-Re the other day, i loved the simplicity of the components, and the game was considerably cheaper than games nowadays. I also prefer smaller boxes, but many of todays games come in bigger boxes to accommodate all the unnecessary extra bling.

Its like in video games...good grafix do not a good game make.
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Johan Haglert
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Better.
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Matt Lee
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Oph1d1an wrote:
Mat628 wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:
A trend, albeit rare, I don't like is how companies sometimes actually reduce the component quality from the 1st vs subsequent print runs - such as switching from wood to cardboard tokens a la 7 Wonders. I don't know if this was less common in the past, but it doesn't make sense now. Let's try to cut costs on the 2nd run for this popular game?!

I've seen this a few times. My guess is the logic is that when you're trying to introduce a new game that nobody knows, you have to really wow people. The game, the components, everything has to be top-notch to convince people to try it. Then once you've established your brand, you can rely on the gameplay engine to attract customers and so cut back on the components quality.

Yea, I imagine a lot of companies take a look at the books when gearing up for subsequent print runs and realize they could make a much better margin if they cut some corners. The closer they were operating to break-even (or loss), the more tempting that's going to be.


I suspect also that the lower print run for the subsequent copies has something to do with it. A 3k print run will cost less per copy than a 1000 print run (even with the same files), so to keep the same price point, they may have to cut back quality to hit that same cost per unit.
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Ryan Keane
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klz_fc wrote:
Oph1d1an wrote:
Mat628 wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:
A trend, albeit rare, I don't like is how companies sometimes actually reduce the component quality from the 1st vs subsequent print runs - such as switching from wood to cardboard tokens a la 7 Wonders. I don't know if this was less common in the past, but it doesn't make sense now. Let's try to cut costs on the 2nd run for this popular game?!

I've seen this a few times. My guess is the logic is that when you're trying to introduce a new game that nobody knows, you have to really wow people. The game, the components, everything has to be top-notch to convince people to try it. Then once you've established your brand, you can rely on the gameplay engine to attract customers and so cut back on the components quality.

Yea, I imagine a lot of companies take a look at the books when gearing up for subsequent print runs and realize they could make a much better margin if they cut some corners. The closer they were operating to break-even (or loss), the more tempting that's going to be.


I suspect also that the lower print run for the subsequent copies has something to do with it. A 3k print run will cost less per copy than a 1000 print run (even with the same files), so to keep the same price point, they may have to cut back quality to hit that same cost per unit.


Good responses. But how common is it for 2nd print runs to be smaller than the 1st run? I assumed that was only common for niche games, like GMT's p500's. It just seems bad business to me for a company to try to cut corners on subsequent runs of successful games. If it's successful, can't you just increase the price a little bit. Especially if you cut corners enough that you encourage hobbyists to prefer to pay a premium to buy 2nd-hand copies of the 1st run.
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