Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fourth Option - Softcore Games

Softcore is icky sounding. Really, I'm talking about commodity games.

While I technically specified hobby games in my last post, I did forget about commodity games. That is, games produced by the big toy & game publishers for the mass market. These games aren't hits, don't really have a following, but are reasonably profitable in any case. Games that serve one purpose, appeal to people who want 'a game' but that's where their interest and knowledge ends.

In my cupboard, right now, there are two jars of peanut butter. A nearly empty jar of Jif and an unopened jar of Skippy. I have no idea what the difference between these two jars is, other than how much scrumptious peanut butter remains. Go to Toys R Us and check out the game section. You'll certainly fine some fine games and bona fide hits (viral successes). You'll also see a collection of games that sell primarily because they happen to be sold in big stores like Toys R Us. They're like my peanut butter. Nothing special, and designed for people who don't care about differences between them any more than I care about the difference between Jif and Skippy.

I'm talking about Operation, Payday, Trouble, Sorry!, and all the games that surely sell, but don't really have a following and aren't going to be replacing Monopoly anytime soon on the "All Time Best Seller" list. Even if somebody wanted to, I don't think it's possible for an individual to create a new game in this category. The market is already full and firmly controlled by the big players (Hasbro, mostly). Even they have trouble adding to the stable, and typically rely on old games dressed up with a shiny new licenses to keep the catalog fresh. (It's a good strategy! I don't blame them a bit!)

When I worked for Hasbro (ala Wizards of the Coast) we believed that most of these games were bought as gifts and seldom played. I tend to think that was largely accurate.

This all reminds me, I need to bid on The Magnificent Race on e-bay. I loved that game as a kid!


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