A Musing on Board Game Cafes in Asia

Since I’m about to head off to Asia, my mind started wandering about businesses and I seriously started thinking about the Board Games Cafe in Asia.  I’m probably slow, but I just realised why the format is so popular in Asia and potentially not as successful in North America / Europe.

It’s a matter of capital cost and the Foreign Exchange Rates.  With a game such as Settlers of Catan easily costing the equivalent of $160 – 180 in local dollars, it’s hard to justify more than one or two game purchases.  Evan ‘cheap’ board games like Citadels are between $100 – 110. Enter the Cafes where players can pay to play at a fraction the cost of the game.  No more risky purchases, and suddenly board gaming becomes affordable for a much larger target audience.  I’d bet the vast majority of their profit comes not from the game rental but from food & drink purchases too.  The game rental really is to defray capital expenses of the new game. In fact, if I were running such a cafe, I’d probably charge higher for newer games and a much lower price for older, more used (i.e. paid for) board games.

I don’t necessarily see board games going this route in North America – not heavily anyway, and not unless prices keep creeping up.  In many ways, local game stores are stepping in to the same void as Game Cafes – offering play space either free or for a minimal charge.   For now, game stores are able to survive mostly selling games – they don’t have to diversify even further to increase their margins.

Passion driven business

I was watching So You Think You Can Dance recently and it sparked off a series of thoughts.  In the Auditions, you see so many people go in and dance, and often you can spot those who have it; and those that don’t.  Yet, they all try out.

Now, don’t get me wrong, any one of those dancers could out-dance me any day of the century.  Yet, I couldn’t help wondering why they did it – when you just don’t have that spark, that flare, why go through with it?  There’s almost no logical reason for doing this – yet people do.  It’s a passion driven business, one filled with self-delusion and luck.  Very,very few will ever make it big, even fewer will make any (serious) money at it.

And that’s gaming. It’s a passion driven business.  Few designers will ever make any money off their designs – certainly not to the level of time they’ve committed.  Yet hundred of designs keep cropping up.

In fact, the only people who make money in dance are the producers and theater owners, and even then from my understanding, not much.  So if you’re looking at making money in gaming, you’d be a publishers or store owner.

Following that line of thinking, I should be looking at the successful theater owners out there for examples of how to do it right.

June 2010 Newsletter : Holidays & Imports


Contest Winner Announcement

This month’s winner is Brian with his review of the Killer Bunnies Steel Booster . An expansion on one of our most popular card games, the “Super bunnies are a welcome addition, though they are highly powered”.

Ongoing Contests

The monthly review contest is continuing this month and the winner of each monthly review contest will receive a $20 gift certificate. In addition, we are now awarding 50 Citadel Points to each approved review. Lastly, the winner is enterred into the end of the year draw for the Grand Prize of $250 of board games!

Site Updates

We’ve added a series of new categories to the site including pages for the A Game of Thrones Limited Card Game, Call of Cthulhu Limited Card Game and the Warhammer : Invasion Limited Card Game. Also, we’ve added various new categories in the Classic and Children’s game sections.

We’ve also managed to bring in a ton of Imported Board Games at a good price due to the exchange rate. Some great Splotter games are in the batch and of course Hansa Teutonica .

Lastly, I am taking a holiday between June 14 to July 5, 2010. This should not affect the business at all as I have hired someone to manage customer service and shipping; though replies might be a tad slower. Please bear with Simon as he’ll still be learning the job, and on occasssion, might just need to contact me for answers.

Upcoming Games

Tons of great games have arrived, so only a few new games expected within the next few months including the Killer Bunnies Ultimate Odyssey Combo Packs, Pressure Matrix,the Battles of Westeros and the Thunderstone : Wrath of the Elements Expansion.