So, like, you’re paying $20 billion for a company that has never turned a profit, and doesn’t plan to? And you’re telling me that you’ll make money that way? Please do tell how it works, Mr. Ponzi.. Read More
You can become rich making tabletop games. Just ask Reiner Knizia or Maureen Hiron. But most likely you won’t make much money. And if you’re making games you aren’t likely to make much money either. In fact, you’re at great risk to lose money, or work for free.
That’s where Nick Bentley has some advice: don’t bet on numbers. The market’s saturated and the chances of a game becoming a blockbuster on its own merits are slim to none.
[…] games that don’t reach mass-market success are weak business. Board games have thin margins and you need economies of scale to make them profitable. In addition, a game without sufficient mass-market penetration is far less likely to be sustained by word of mouth, which means you have to market it, which cuts further into what little margin you have. From a profit point of view, most board games aren’t worth continued publication.
But there is hope, especially if you manage to crack the code of breaking into the mass market. You just have to know how to bet on the best horses and kill all the games that don’t make the top cut.
French economist Thomas Piketty has written a book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century Amazon , that discusses a very simple fact of snowball effect economics: as long as r > g, that is wealth generated by capital is greater than economic growth, capital will tend to accrue with a select few.
Piketty holds an interesting TED talk about the snowball effect in economics.
So what does this mean for game designers? Simple: as long as passive income earns you more points than active income (i.e. actions) your best bet is to invest in money, nothing more.
For example, take a look at Fresco Amazon . There you’ve got multiple types of actions, from buying paints, to mixing paints, to keeping your workers happy. But if you play without any expansions then all those actions are worth too little points in comparison to the simple action of taking money all the time (the so called “Big Money” strategy). Unmodified Fresco has a r > g strategy: don’t grow, just take money.
Add in a couple of expansions and suddenly the other options become much more viable as you get higher returns on your other actions.
So keep an eye out for your r > g situations and you’ll be able to avoid snowball effects.