Why Board Games Are So Expensive

It’s a no-brainer that board games hold excellent entertainment value. I love spending hours with my family playing board game without getting bored. From gaming geeks to hobbyists, a good board game provides hours of entertainment to everyone on game nights.

But when you decide to purchase a board game for yourself or as a gift for someone, you might be taken aback by how expensive board games are. The average price for board games starts from $30 and goes up from there. Now, first-time buyers often wonder why these things are so costly? Or, more importantly, is it wise to spend so much on a board game?

The main reason why board games are so expensive are the limited publishing runs, custom material costs, shipping and warehousing costs and marketing costs. I will explain everything adding to a board game’s cost and why those price tags might be justified.

1. Extensive Development

The game we see is the final product of sheer hard work and extensive development. Exclusive party games and mystery board games originate from creative ideas that take years to become something tactile.

The process of board game development starts with a few copies the developer sends to hobby gamers and gaming groups to see their response (this is the beta version of board games). Once a game passes this test and people are willing to play it more, the developer gets the copies back and polishes them.

All those game components and complex levels are tested time and again so that you get an immersive experience. According to industry reports, one good board game takes a year of trying and testing before it’s finalized. So, we can safely say that the price you pay is more of the ideas and less of the tactile product.

2. Material Costs

This might contradict our last line, but game development is getting pricier because of increased material costs. If a game developer is based in the USA and is sourcing the products from another country, getting those expensive components shipped will cost extra. An exclusive game’s price increases because its components are conceived and produced after thorough brainstorming. Transporting a tactile product will increase its manufacturing cost, especially when its parts are sourced from different locations.

If a game has multiple custom metallic pieces, it’s bound to be pricier than a normal board-and-deck game. Similarly, conceiving and creating custom game components is also a detailed process that takes months of work. If the game you’re looking at has an array of pieces and add-ons, don’t be appalled when you find its price. As a famous saying goes, you get what you pay for. When you seek exclusivity and immersive fun, you must pay the price.

Boardgames why expensive

3. Limited Publishing Runs

The board game industry has a stable audience; we don’t see it blooming or doubling overnight. Therefore, the board game publishers have to target a particular buyer stratum and develop games to fulfill their demand. Since the standing inventory will only increase a game’s average cost and the manufacturer’s bills, they have to be smart with the numbers.

A new and less popular game won’t be printed in bulk because there’s no such demand. On the flip side, a game with an existing mass appeal will be more affordable and easily accessible. Therefore, we see limited edition and unique games to be more expensive than the popular ones. When a publisher prints a few copies of a board game, its price is sure to increase because of the manufacturing costs and hours going into it.

4. Shipping and Warehousing Costs

There’s no set bar for the price of board games – the manufacturing and shipping layers determine the final tag. Once a board game is ready to enter the market, it reaches a warehouse, where the inventory can be put on hold for months. This factor increases a game’s retail price because everyone in the distribution chain needs profit from this product.

Another factor impacting a board game’s price is the shipping costs the seller has to bear. Since board gamers are scattered worldwide, and there are countable tabletop gaming clubs, the sellers have to fulfill multiple requirements before reaching the target buyers. You’ll pay a one-off cost for hours of fun, but the game distributor will fulfill multiple steps to get the game delivered to you.

Changes in the currency rate, manufacturing rules, and freight rates also impact board games’ prices. Although these changes are not massive, they’re still there.

5. Marketing Costs

Unlike video games, modern board games don’t become a hit overnight. The developers and distributors have to deploy extensive marketing techniques to sell their game collections. Therefore, it’s understandable that you won’t get a classic board game at its manufacturing price. Retailing, warehousing, shipping, and marketing all cost money, impacting a product’s selling price.

From sending their games to board gaming clubs to holding promotional competitions, marketing needs funds at every step of the way. But once a game generates mass appeal, you’ll see a drop in its price. So, if you want to save a few bucks on the latest board game, don’t purchase its limited or first edition. Its price can decrease with time, and that’s the best time for adding another gem to your game collection.

6. Board Games are One-Off Purchases

Once you get your hands on a fun board game, you won’t have to replace it or get its new copy for years. Board games are one-off purchases where you get a complete entertainment package for a specified price and enjoy endless game nights with it. Since board games are affordable and more interactive than video games, families prefer them for holiday get-togethers and dinners. But no matter how much you love a game, you won’t need its replacement anytime soon. Therefore, the developers, publishers, and distributors tied in this circle profit from your single purchase.

Summing Up

Fun and mystery board games make the best entertainment mediums for your family nights. If a tricky but exciting game is on the table, everyone can end up scratching their head when they can’t break it. But as much as board games feel fun and immersive, their prices can be off-putting to some. New or occasional gamers often wonder why would a board game cost so much.

That’s why I addressed the major factors contributing to board games’ prices and value. If you’re a board gaming geek, you already know how hard it is to find a worth-playing game. Multiple manufacturing and distribution steps add to board games’ prices, making them feel like a luxury. But once you understand the hard work that goes into these games and the value they offer, you won’t mind paying a good sum for them.


Do expensive board games provide value for money?

Yes, these games are often good value for the money. When you purchase a board game after testing it and think that you’ll play it for years, it never goes to waste. A classic board game will stay with you for a long time, provide endless hours of family entertainment, and be a good addition to your collection. If you compare a board game’s entertainment with other family activities, you’ll notice a stark cost difference. Although a game’s value depends upon your interest, it’s safe to say these games are always fun.

What should I do with my old board games?

If you have a collection of board games and books, you’re already sorted. You only need to arrange these games according to their sizes, and that’s all. But if you like to rotate things to make room for new games, you can sell a board game to a gaming club or donate it. Retirement homes, orphanages, and youth clubs can make good use of your old games. You can also recycle wooden boards into a fun home décor piece if you don’t want to let it go.

Are board games still popular?

They sure are. When video games are frowned upon because of their addictive interfaces and negative health impacts, playing board games is one of the healthiest family activities. People love to get together, spread out an inquisitive board game, and spend hours figuring out its nuances. With the availability of endless options, board games are gaining more popularity with time.

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