Submitted by jpressman on Thu, 02/08/2024 - 10:36

Tabletop Gaming Is More Than Family Game Night


When most people think of tabletop gaming, they think of board games like Monopoly or a group of friends tossing dice around a table playing a game like Dungeons and Dragons. But what most people don’t realize is that the tabletop gaming industry has grown from family game nights into a worldwide renaissance of analog entertainment.

Tabletop Games Market Share

Tabletop games include board games (e.g., Monopoly, Catan, Zombicide), card and dice games (e.g., Uno, Yahtzee), collectible games (e.g., Magic: The Gathering, Disney Lorcana), miniature games (e.g., Warhammer, Freeblades), and role-playing games (e.g., Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, Pathfinder). The number of these games released every year now is astounding. In 1990, about 800 new tabletop games were released. In 2022, there were more than 5,000.

These numbers mean that the market is booming. In 2022, the global market for just board games was $15.1B, and tabletop role-playing games alone grossed over $3.2B in 2023. The global market for all tabletop games is expected to reach $37.82B by 2030.

Growth of Tabletop Games

This growth has been fueled by several factors. The first is that indie game developers have had access to amazing new crowdfunding platforms to bring their games to the public, including Kickstarter, BackerKit, and Indiegogo. The most-backed indie game, Exploding Kittens, raised over $8.7M from more than 219K backers in 2015. More recently, Frosthaven, the sequel project to Gloomhaven, received almost $13M and is the highest-funded game ever backed on Kickstarter. Hundreds of other games have also raised millions of dollars to help bring them to life as well.

Also contributing to the growth is the expansion of existing franchises and the launching of IPs from other forms of entertainment into the board-game marketplace. We all have seen the variations of Monopoly that suddenly appear every year, featuring everything from NASCAR to The Simpsons. But what you may have missed is your favorite video game and television franchises moving to tabletop. Resident Evil, The Witcher, Fallout, and Game of Thrones have all launched a variety of board games and RPGs based on their IPs, and they are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. This kind of brand recognition is helping the casual consumer to dip their toes into the water of more complex games than they may have been willing to experience otherwise.

A third growth factor is the demand for options within the tabletop gaming marketplace. Tabletop gaming now spans a broad spectrum of themes and mechanics, catering to different player preferences. From strategy and deck-building games to narrative-driven RPGs, the industry's landscape is more diverse than ever. That diversity extends to the inclusiveness of the industry as well, with games taking a much more socially aware stance as they are released into a modern marketplace.

Tabletop Game Development

As we look ahead, it's crucial to explore emerging trends that are shaping the future of the tabletop gaming industry. These trends highlight the industry's adaptability and innovations, creating new opportunities for growth and development with partnerships to help fill some of those gaps.

There have always been needs within tabletop gaming for art, but players are seeking more personalized and customizable gaming experiences. This trend is driving the demand for unique components, miniatures, and even personalized variants. This is an opportunity for game companies to engage with specialized artisans who can help create components that stand out from their peers. Recently, TransPerfect had the opportunity to work on miniatures for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles RPG and faced just this challenge. We were able to create and deliver new miniatures that were unique from anything that had been produced in the past and exceeded the expectations of both the developer and the TMNT IP holder.

Tabletop games are also increasingly integrating technology to enhance gameplay experiences. Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and companion apps are becoming more prevalent, providing players with immersive and interactive elements that complement traditional board game mechanics. Many of these needs fall outside of the traditional tabletop studio’s expertise, and the co-development of these applications has already been a large part of many of the most innovative games on the market over the last several years.

As previously discussed, the democratization of game development through crowdfunding has empowered indie developers. This trend is expected to continue, with more innovative and niche games entering the market. These studios often will have a variety of needs for the implementation and development of their crowdfunding campaigns that an outside agency can provide to help ensure their success.

Localizing rules and components can also help get amazing games into the hands of those who want to play them around the world. Many games will see a release in Europe at an event like Essen Spiel but take an additional year or more to reach English-speaking markets due to the need to translate. Another barrier in these instances is that the developer often needs to find a foreign publisher to handle that distribution. By integrating those services during the development phase, we can help our customers to be ready for a worldwide release of their game at launch and allow them to keep a larger share of the proceeds by removing the need for a distribution middleman.

What Is Next for Tabletop Games

As we look to the future, the synergy between industry growth, strategic outsourcing practices, and emerging trends is poised to shape the next chapter of tabletop gaming. Technology integration, a focus on innovation, and the continued rise of indie developers are expected to influence the industry's trajectory, presenting both challenges and opportunities. Through strategic collaborations, innovative design, and leveraging the benefits of outsourcing, the tabletop gaming industry is well-positioned for continued success and expansion in the years to come. Let’s grab a 20-sided die and roll for initiative to be a part of this game.

To learn how you can globalize your games with TransPerfect Gaming, visit:

Ryan McDaniel, TransPerfect Gaming Team