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Subject: This hobby is still sooo niche and fragmentated .... sigh. What can we do ? rss

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Ben Bosmans
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Here is why I posted this and what do you think about this "industry"

First.

I think the boardgames industry grew over the years and present day offer is ridiculously fun, addictive and you have a wide spread of different games, from Euro gaming to Themed games, card games, RPG's, wargames etc...

BUT I suddenly realised how small it all is compared to the video games industry.

Here is what happened: in our local club they organise a small tournament around Star Realms. When I heard you only needed ONE basic set of 10 Euro per 2 players I jumped in.

It appears now that Star Realms was the NUMBER ONE voted game in cards on BGG of 2014 and won several other prices. Apparently you can buy it with extremely low pricing on every hobby shop of boardgames and it sells "massively" or so I thought.

So while I simply love Legendary: Villains – A Marvel Deck Building Game and Co, I think Star Realms is an excellent 2 player buiding card game...


I couldn't wait to play it 24/7 and jumped into the iPad version too.

... I went through all scenarios: fantastic ... and then ... then ... I logged into the on line part ...

hours ago ... I am still waiting...

So ... then I have the exact same problem with all these other iPad boardgames: in most cases there is hardly a decent activity or no connectivity of players on line...at all ...


Now comes the bad part: the video games industry. Whenever I want to play Blizzard's Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft ... the system finds me an opponent within 10 seconds. I can play 24/7 at 02:AM whether my ranking is 25 or legendary...
Hearthstone's revenue is estimated to be around 200/250 million dollars yearly and that's around the same scale as the biggest boardgame publishers known (asmodee group as a whole)...

I know that total revenue is irrelevant for a player but simply the example above shows the boardgame industry still is way behind in the entertainment business, even with the present day surge.


I like to play my boardgames, but I simply don't find the opponents - even in these times of interplay play - to play them whenever I want.

I guess more streamlining, more network play more growth is still very much needed to come near the video games industry.

Btw I like some board games more than Hearthstone, it just is I can play HS more whenever I want.

Suggestions ? More investment in things like VASSAL , more investment in internet play of boardgames ?

The quality of design is there, but not the accessibilty ... I still believe there is a far bigger market behind this, but the professionalism simply lacks to explore on line boardgame play.

Your thoughts ...
 
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Silver Robert
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All the board gamers I've met have been fun, kind people. If you hope to turn board game community into video game community, I say: over my dead body. I'll take a small group of enthusiasts over an army of underaged trolls any day.
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Ben Bosmans
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silverrobert wrote:
All the board gamers I've met have been fun, kind people. If you hope to turn board game community into video game community, I say: over my dead body. I'll take a small group of enthusiasts over an army of underaged trolls any day.


The problem is that we invest money and we don't get the same amount of fun time back.

Paying 60 Euro for a game you can play once on a blue moon is not great either.

And also this remark perhaps shows a looner or niche elitist mentality ? Perhaps it is our own fault this industry still stays niche ...

 
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Josh Chen
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I share your frustration on BGA since no one wants to play with beginners. How can I move past the beginner status if I can't get a gaming going?

I just want to play some Race for the Galaxy.

Please, someone think of the newbs!
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bort
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The boardgaming industry is not the video game industry
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John
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I see nothing wrong with on line play, but it's always going to be a subset of the boardgame market. There are people who play boardgames partly because they prefer a way of relaxing that doesn't involve a computer, and I think there always will be.
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John
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porkchop_tw wrote:
I share your frustration on BGA since no one wants to play with beginners. How can I move past the beginner status if I can't get a gaming going?

I just want to play some Race for the Galaxy.


Start a thread in the RftG forums. I'm sure someone will play you.
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Kerstin
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Well, I think what you're talking about is not even the boardgame niche but the "playing boardgames online" niche within the boardgame niche.

I think to many people a big appeal of boardgaming is playing in person and not alone in front of a tablet or computerscreen.
E.g. to me personally playing a boardgame online or playing a videogame online is actually not much of a difference when it comes to the overall experience, so I almost consider playing boardgames online more videogame-like than boardgame-like.
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Markus
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Ben_Bos wrote:
on line boardgame play.


You mean video games, right?

To me, the only real distinction between board and video games is the medium they are played on. If it is on the table and can be played with no electricity, it is a board game. If it is played on an electric device, it is a video game. and yes, some games are indeed hybrids (X-Com, Golem Arcana).

One of the main reasons I'm so into board games is that they are an excellent way to spend time with important people without looking at any screens. Sure, you can port Star Realms to an iPad. Sure, you can play it 24/7 with people from around the world. But I don't want that. I want to light a few candles and play a single, slow paced game with my wife and talk about whatever comes into my mind.

I know I'm not really answering your question, but take this as another way to look at things I guess.
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That's funny, whenever I log in on OCTGN for a Netrunner match, I usually can find an opponent within 1-5 minutes, 24/7.

It's just one game and a card game at that, but I imagine what you're experiencing with your iOs queuing is like with anything else - the buzz. People power the online community and you can only achieve that for a variable time before it gets replaced by something more shiny and then the bandwagon of the lot jumps on that, abandoning the former.

Ever tried playing a video game that is considered "dead" online? Yup, you barely get any players if none at all.




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Moray Grant
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All hobbies are fragmented. Niches are created in part so people can identify themselves in smaller sub group.

Couple of examples. I dated some one who bred rabbits as hobby. There are loads of subsections on this based on breed alone. Many of whom look down on other breeds. It is further broken down by geography where judging criteria differs of particular breeds are favoured. There were divisions in where their future lied, what shows, judges, trading breeders could be trusted. The national show I attended cemented that all hobbies do this.

Your example of video games is broken down by genres and people who engage in video gaming as a hobby can identify with certain of those. Narrowing it down further I will use World of Warcraft as an example of one game that has multiple niche and fragmented groups with in. You have players who only PVP, only PVE, hardcore raiders vs casual raiders, the role players. It's been so long but the fragmenting doesn't stop with these groups by a long shot. One game and many of the people identify themselves in smaller groups as opposed to WoW player. And some members of each of these groups will deride the others.

What can we do? Well accept we are a healthy hobby that supports multiple interests under the same umbrella and privately celebrate the diversity is my line of thought. I identify myself as a gamer having flitted between board gaming, CCGs, miniatures, RPGs and video games (console and PC). Today I identify myself as a board gamer as it's the primary focus of my gaming hobby.

Also, it's not we. It's what you want to do. I've put effort in to growing the community locally in Aberdeen. Also encourage and help other gaming groups such as find friendly venues or put them in touch with other potential members or support. There are other people in my group who do the same and other groups who have been doing similar for all types of table top gaming. Where before many gamers in Aberdeen played within their own social circle we now have several successful clubs the club organisers are talking with each other. If you want to do similar for online board games I say go for it. Post in the forums for the games you have interest and try and grow that section of the hobby you have an interest in.
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Ben Bosmans
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ovis wrote:
Well, I think what you're talking about is not even the boardgame niche but the "playing boardgames online" niche within the boardgame niche.

I think to many people a big appeal of boardgaming is playing in person and not alone in front of a tablet or computerscreen.
E.g. to me personally playing a boardgame online or playing a videogame online is actually not much of a difference when it comes to the overall experience, so I almost consider playing boardgames online more videogame-like than boardgame-like.


Yes and no frankly. I think with present day technology there is a HUGE opportunity to take the next step in broadening our boardgame hobby.

And we talk boardgame technology here, not video gaming.


I don't consider playing a game of Star Realms on line as a video game as it really is the same as the boardgame, only the channel is different.

The opportunity is taking the boardgame into the 21 th Century and make it online but with decent tools as they become available. This is lacking at the moment simply by lack of funding.


VASSAL is a great tool to play pure boardgames on line, but - sorry for the expression - it is amateurishly made ATM. Big tablet play with touch sensitive screens is still not supported.


I think there is a HUGE market to have our boardgames played in our living rooms on our tables but with people on line included, instead of driving 70 kms to a local club...


Of course that would be the big worldwide boom in boardgame play: you set up a flat screen on your table (exists already) and play your beloved boardgame moving pieces by hand. That's not video gaming, that's still very much board gaming.

It would close the huge gap with video games for sure but I see too little investment in this. Perhaps because - like the first reaction stated clearly - we still think we are a special breed - hence still very niche.

Nothing moves because of lack of funding too.

Actually we WILL develop further towards playing our board and miniature games on line with a flat foldable map (screen) on our tables and pieces on it. But it is just a wait for the first investor that will jump on it.

That would be the real boom of board gaming.

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Ian Taylor
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I find it amusing that the OP uses the example of Hearthstone as a video game where it is easy to find opponents, when Hearthstone shares far more in common with board games than video games.
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I sincerely think something went wrong with your Star Realms Ipad adventures. Well, I could imagine that because you are a beginner and many people have advanced from that point onwards given that you are a little late to the party there are few players that are able to be paired up with you. I never have trouble finding opponents within seconds if I want to play Star Realms online.

I also play boardgames not just for the game but for the social activity. I don't care for Vassal and playing boardgames online, that cost me more time and energy than Star Realms does. I'd much rather play videogames in that case.

If your local gamegroup is 70 kms, I suggest you start one closer to your own location.I do live in Amsterdam, which has at least 3-4 game-groups. I can game anytime if I want to.
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Ben Bosmans
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piemasteruk wrote:
I find it amusing that the OP uses the example of Hearthstone as a video game where it is easy to find opponents, when Hearthstone shares far more in common with board games than video games.


Yes, that's exactly the point.

And it shows how amateurish this board game industry really still is and how much POTENTIAL this market should have.

It took one big software publisher one year to have the same amount of revenue as this complete boardgame industry combined, just by making one board game mechanic with the right on line tools.

Result : over 25 million players in 12 months time. The market is there.

Asthonishing isn't it ?


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Scott Fishwick
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porkchop_tw wrote:
I share your frustration on BGA since no one wants to play with beginners. How can I move past the beginner status if I can't get a gaming going?

I just want to play some Race for the Galaxy.

Please, someone think of the newbs!

Try some of the groups. I joined 'Game Tutors' and have learned a few new games. I'm sure there are others that cater to new players.

Actually I'm presuming your not new to the game but there must be a suitable group.
 
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Moray Grant
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Ben_Bos wrote:
piemasteruk wrote:
I find it amusing that the OP uses the example of Hearthstone as a video game where it is easy to find opponents, when Hearthstone shares far more in common with board games than video games.


Yes, that's exactly the point.

And it shows how amateurish this board game industry really still is and how much POTENTIAL this market should have.

It took one big software publisher one year to have the same amount of revenue as this complete boardgame industry combined, just by making one board game mechanic with the right on line tools.

Result : over 25 million players in 12 months time. The market is there.

Asthonishing isn't it ?




Scale sir,scale.

Blizzard could tap in directly to a fan base of millions. Also they have a marketing budget of millions. They have also been crafting that launch for years.

Look up how many employees Blizzard has in comparison to White Goblin(? Who ever publishes Star Realms). It's a huge difference. Also having access to all these resources large companies fail to deliver successful products every time.

Conversely try finding pick up games for Monaco a indy publisher co-op game.

This isn't astonishing.

Board game publishers may have neither the will, know how or care to go digital. May of the games available through digital means are published by other companies who obtained the rights. Why hold them to the standards of one of the behemoths of computer gaming?

I don't tend to play online versus players as when I would want to it I'm usually working offshore and have no wifi. So I can't tell you who currently has an active online player base but I'm certain there are games that do.
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Kerstin
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I still think you're chosing the wrong "arena" for boardgames to be compared in. While apps and online implementations of games are a part of the industry, I don't see it as the main focus of it, while playing on a computer and online clearly is the focus of videogames, because that's what they mainly do.

If the boardgame industry wants to catch up to the videogame industry, I think it has to rely and focus on it's own merits and advantages and not try to simply turn into something that already exists.
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Pasi Ojala
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Get the Imperial Assault Campaign module for Vassal from http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:Star_Wars:_Imperial_Assault
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porkchop_tw wrote:
I just want to play some Race for the Galaxy.

Keldon AI.
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Kerstin
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Just to illustrate what I mean with wrong "arena":

How many physical copies of Hearthstone have been sold compared to Star Realms? Or maybe even MtG? None, because it doesn't even exist as a physical card game.
So if you compare it in the "arena" of boardgames, which is actual printed copies, Hearthstone would be even less than a niche product.

But Hearthstone simply is a game made for a digital medium, while I would consider Star Realms as a game mainly made as a physical boardgame. I therefore think it is unfair to compare them based on one medium or the other.
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Thomas W
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Most of the fun of board games is in playing with actual real people, the social aspect, the physical aspect (holding up pieces, looking at the board). Tablet/computer versions don't have any of that. all that you are left with is a computer game with pretty gimpy mechanics (for a computer game) and usually pretty (very) lackluster graphics. I have quite a few boardgames on ios and only use them to practice, rarely to have fun.

On the other hand, computer games are designed to be played on computers and thus are simply better for it. Civ5 is more interesting than playing a game of through the ages with AI bots or even random strangers. Hearthstone is more well developed for computer play than summoners.

It shouldn't be surprising that you aren't finding online opponents for online board game versions. It's not that it's niche per se, but more that a lot of people (even people who love boardgames) don't really think playing fairly ugly versions of boardgames agaisnt random strangers is all that appealing compared to video/computer game options. Let's be honest, a game that works as a board game is necessarily limited - could you imagine playing a full version of Civ5 as a board game? Or any real time game (LOL, Dota, SC2, battlefield, etc) for that matter. BGs just can't compete with those options, period. The one great thing BGs have over VG/CG is the fun of playing with others in the flesh and playing online wipes out that advantage.






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Both video games and board games have their own pros and cons, but they are not comparable if you think it all the way through. They just share some elements as an overall activity, much like sports, but hardly would anybody mention all three activities/hobbies in the same sentence (even if the subject/theme for all three would indeed be the same).

One big advantage of video games is obviously the internet connectivity for multiplayer and/or depth it can offer as a solo experience. If finding regular players is a problem, search/organise a board game group - or introduce family and friends to the hobby. Solitaire board games are also an option. Equally enjoy video games along the way.
Some things just don't fall into your lap, but require an investment in order to happen - and maybe the internet in general got us all spoiled a bit here (ordering stuff, communicating, watching movies, playing games, researching information - you name it).

By the way (and this is my personal opinion, so feel free to agree or disagree): once a board game gets ported to the video game format, it becomes 100% a video game, period. The same is true vice versa (even if the board game makes use of a digital app).
If you really want to play baseball, you won't get the same satisfaction by playing a video game about it.

The comparison between video games and board games is a much recurring topic, and I can totally see why, but it does not make sense to me at all.
My personal approach to it has always been: enjoy each hobby for its own unique and special aspects, don't compare them too much or try to put a number on it to estimate which one is "better" or "more fun". Each hobby is the "best", if you personally enjoy it enough. I grew up with both and never felt that one could replace the other.

So (hopefully without sounding harsh here) if the hobby appears "niche" or "fragmented" to you: it's maybe because of you - and only you can do something about it.

In this sense: good luck finding a good and regular board game group !
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J M
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Star Realms in particular suffers from rampant cheating online, so that may also be a factor. A lot of people stopped playing random games, instead challenging opponents they know and trust.
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Ben Wilkinson
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I would not want the board game industry to mirror the video game industry in any respect because I have no doubt that the changes that happened to video games from the late 90s onwards will also occur to board gaming.

Board gaming is also a tricky one to put online because some of the main draws of board gaming are the socialable aspect and its tactile nature, both of which you lose in an online copy.
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Ben .
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If you're saying the boardgame hobby could grow by having more/better online gaming.....

Is an online, turn-based game a boardgame, or a videogame?
 
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