Subscription board games

I’d be rich. If the idea I want to discuss today were reality, I would buy a castle – just like Sting. I would have a massive library in it and would not work for the next 20 years. Are you ready for a ride to an alternate reality? Let’s go.

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We are living in the subscription era. The new format became popular a few years ago and spread like a virus in all different directions. Movies? You can subscribe to Netflix to have a vast majority of movies and tv shows. Video games? You can subscribe to Origin or Xbox Game Pass and have countless titles at hand. Music? We all use Spotify these days, right? The same goes for audiobooks, comic books, and any other content we consume.

Except for board games.

Board games are physical objects, and the subscription model I discuss here is impossible to execute, but for the sake of exercise, for playing for a few minutes with this interesting thought, let’s try to imagine the world with board games being offered in a Spotify format.

You get Robinson Crusoe for free. Each time you play Robinson, you pay 10 cents, though. That’s a reasonable price. You wouldn’t hesitate, would you? Two hours of pure fun with your friends for just a few cents.

From these 10 cents you pay, a provider would get their margin, and in the end, I’d probably get like 3 cents. You know how it is. We constantly get ripped.

BoardGameGeek website has this fantastic future – you can log in your plays. I have no clue what percentage of you, gamers, log in plays, is it 1%, 5%, 10%? Since the whole post is one extensive theoretical exercise, let’s play with these numbers.

78k plays of Robinson Crusoe logged in into BGG. That would give me 2340 USD. Well, that is not enough to buy a castle. For 2340 USD, I can buy a flight ticket to Scotland and see a castle.

What about Antoine Bauza and his 7 Wonders? 400k plays logged, 12k usd. He would be able to buy a massive tent in the shape of a castle. That’s a good start.

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The insane replayability, and the power to draw gamers back to the title, would be a game-changer in such a format. Designers would do everything they can to keep players playing – as we see being done in all mobile apps that monetize your time in front of the screen.

So now – the whole purpose of this post – is replayability the main and the only factor to describe the quality of the game?

I myself designed Robinson Crusoe (insane replayability) and Detective (zero replayability), and I find both games great, and I am proud of both of them. In a Spotify format, though, Detective would never exist.

What do you think?

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Welcome to PORTAL GAMES

We are bookworms. Movie maniacs. Story addicts. We grew up reading Tolkien, Howard, Herbert, Dick, Lem… We were watching Willow, Blade Runner, Never Ending Story, Robin Hood…

And yet, we don’t write books… we don’t make movies. We don’t make those things, because we make games. We make games that tell stories.