04 January 2018
‘If a game doesn't hit in the first two weeks, it's done, and you move on,’ says exec at mega-publisher
The booming number of new games hitting the tabletop has led to promising titles being suffocated by the oversaturation of the market, an executive from mega-publisher Asmodee has suggested.
Speaking to ICv2, Asmodee CMO Steve Hovarth estimated that 3,500 new games were released during 2016 – or around ten releases a day on average – resulting in quality titles struggling to find an audience as they end up under the radar.
“Nobody can absorb that,” he said. “Everything gets lost in the shuffle. Games that would have been successful two years ago are being completely forgotten today.”
Hovarth added that the intense competition and shortened lifecycle of new releases had caused a ‘boom and bust mentality’, with games having only a matter of days to prove their popularity before being consigned to apparent obscurity.
“A game comes out. If it doesn't hit in the first two weeks, it's done, and you move on,” he explained. “Where in years past, games had a little bit more time to find their feet, and take root with an audience.”
However, Asmodee North America CEO Christian Petersen said that Asmodee – which includes divisions such as Fantasy Flight, Catan Studios, Z-Man, Space Cowboys and Days of Wonder under its umbrella – wasn’t itself putting out any more games than in previous years, with the exception of Dead of Winter and Mice & Mystics outlet Plaid Hat, which the group picked up in late 2016 and subsequently invested in.
“Before, Plaid Hat was either too small or may not have gotten funded to the extent that they were desiring,” he said. “We've tried to unleash them so they can really express themselves and innovate beautiful and fun games. I love what the Plaid Hat team is cooking. Results will take a little while to see the market, though; the best fruit do not grow overnight.”
One reason for the glut of new releases could be the growing number of creators bringing their projects to crowdfunding sites. Kickstarter recently revealed that 2017 had been the biggest year on record for games, with more tabletop campaigns successfully funded than ever before – a total of 2,997 games. In March 2016, the site announced that more than 6,000 tabletop projects had been funded through its platform since it launched.
Petersen also took the opportunity to discuss players’ criticism of Asmodee’s often controversial acquisition of other publishers, recently including F2Z Entertainment – owner of studios Z-Man, Plaid Hat, Pretzel and Filosofia Editions – and European firms Heidelberger Spieleverlag, Edge Entertainment and Millenium, as well as the rights to storytelling series Rory’s Story Cubes.
“It’s interesting that, in the public, when Asmodee has acquired a company or a game, and then three months later, something happens (or doesn’t happen) to that acquired studio or game, then this is all attributed to Asmodee’s influence,” he laughed. “Most games probably take about a year, year and a half, to actually plans and make (or longer). Any influence from Asmodee, good or bad, is going to take a year or two to show itself. Of course, we think the influence will be positive and good!”