PAX Unplugged's "State of the Game Industry" panel is always a place for interesting insights into the board and tabletop gaming industry. This year's panel included Renegade Game Studios' Scott Gaeta, CEO of Wizkids Justin Ziran, Alliance Game Distributors' Vice President Mike Web, Millennium Games' Owner Travis Severence, and Mandi Hutchinson of The Dice Tower.
According to the PAX site, this year's talk focused on the following themes:
Was 2018 the best year ever for tabletop games? What types of games stood out and what are the trends? What will 2019 look like? Join industry leaders from publishing, distribution, retail, and the media as they look back at the tabletop industry in 2018 and discuss what worked, what didn't, and where they see us heading in the future. Panelists will offer their own views and field questions from the audience during this moderated event.
While we aren't at PAX Unplugged this weekend, we are on Twitter. And thanks to software developer John Cleaver, who was in the audience, we do have some info for you. The panel seemed to kick off by talking about the effects of curation on the tabletop and board game markets, which makes quite a bit of logical sense.
Curation of games is super important across the board, but with the explosion of tabletop and board games in recent years, its more important than ever. Especially as many of these games have a smaller online presence, since they're solely physical games.
Which then brings us to audience outreach, which might have some problems. As both Cleaver and MJ Andersen note in their twitter feeds, Millenium Games focuses on facebook advertising, despite most of the audience not using facebook to get game news. In fact, most of the Unplugged audience gets their game info from podcasts.
And then there's the issue of pricing. Long time gamers have likely noticed a spike in game prices in recent years. Based on panelist commentary, that seems to be more of a case of quality raising prices, but it does cause its own problems.
The big takeaway from the panel is that, while the boardgame and tabletop industries are doing better than ever, they've still got room to grow if a few key changes are made. Specifically, what media outlets they target and how various game shops and media outlets curate their content.
But, things are definitely still hopeful if the PAX Unplugged turnout is anything to go by.