Last week, we ran a few polls asking people what their favorite or preferred deluxe components were, and I was honestly shocked. I thought for sure metal coins, acrylic pieces, and custom wooden meeples would be at the top of the list. I was wrong. Coins and tokens are popular, just not as much as the custom inserts and trays. Now, this is not an incredibly accurate cross-section of the board game industry but a convenience sample among users on Facebook. However, even with that being said, I think it is enlightening.
By Most Votes:
Custom Inserts and Trays – 95 votes
Upgraded Tokens (wood, acrylic, etc.) – 76 votes
Metal Coins – 61 votes
Playmats – 28 votes
Expansions – 11 votes
Cloth Bags – 10 votes
What does this mean?
I think in general it is more useful to see it as a trend of those people who buy games and are fairly active on certain Facebook groups focusing on board games. We already see this in many Kickstarter and crowdfunding campaigns. The making of deluxe games at a minimum involves upgraded resources and tokens. It is rare indeed to find any campaign that I can remember that doesn’t have some certain of upgraded coins or tokens.
Now, the winner of the most votes was for custom inserts and trays.
I think there are 2 main reasons for this:
- Good inserts and trays keep the play area organized and easy to use. Not having to hunt for tokens and resources makes for a better play experience. It also helps players to more easily understand the board and the game state.
- Inserts and trays help provide direction and speed when setting up and tearing down a game. This becomes more important the larger the game. If it takes 45 minutes to set-up and clean up a game, it better be a long and amazing experience. If that game lasts 1.5 hours, I am not sure if I would play that game again because about 33% of my time was spent not playing.
I suspect there is a 3rd reason, but I am not confident to list it as a main point. People in the board game hobby like to solve puzzles and I have many friends and acquaintances where that love extends to organizing items, cabinets, drawers, and rooms. Not saying we all live these super organized lives but there are things that we can be particular about, especially if it something we are passionate about. Just look at people who collect cars. The amount of love, care, and cleaning of those vehicles is similar to what we do with our own board game collections.
Now, this is just a lot of speculation, but I think the 2 main points hold true.
What is the most surprising?
I was surprised how low expansions were on this list. Now, there are many reasons why it doesn’t have more votes so don’t take it as gospel truth. However, it does make me question an assumption that I had about crowdfunding a game. Does there really need to be more content and expansions as stretch goals? A lot of publishers do it. I wonder if that is just an assumed idea we all have. Some people did it and now everyone does it. Would it be better to just be upfront with all of the content you want to put in the game? It’s a good question.
Cloth bags are very low but I honestly see bags as more of a custom insert or tray. It helps to ready or pick-up the game quickly and organizes the play area in order to better understand the game state. So it may be a sub group of the custom inserts and trays. I could be wrong interpreting that.
I think the focus on inserts and trays over the years is not an accident in crowdfunding. I think it is honestly important for many board gamers and thus the focus on it has increased over time. Whether you are designing a board game, publishing one, or just looking to back one, inserts are going to be around for a while.