Oh, nostalgia. You ain’t what you used to be.
Ok, first off, the subject line for this article is a little misleading. I apologize for that. When this came to me it was just too funny (at least in my own mind!) and I couldn’t resist. ?
The truth is nostalgia can play a HUGE factor in people’s interest in a product.
Think about the excitement you feel when a show you used to watch as a kid returns to TV or they make a movie out of it.
Here’s an example:
Transformers. If you grew up in the era of Transformers, then you probably watched the show, owned a whole bunch of the toys, and couldn’t wait to see the movie when it came out in 2007.
There have been a total of 6 movies in this series now, including Bumblebee in 2018, and it has been estimated that the series has made over $4.8 billion, making it the 13th highest grossing film series of all time. Not to mention all the merchandising that has come with this since the first movie was released.
The same thing applies to board games. Whether it is an old TV show being turned into a game or a game from your childhood that has been lovingly restored, nostalgia sells.
Let’s look at some recent examples.
When I first saw images of this game, it immediately reminded me of a game I used to play with my brother called Crossbows and Catapults, in which you launch hard plastic discs at each other’s castle using, you guessed it, crossbows and catapults!
It was such a fun game. It was also more toy-like than any other game we owned, so it definitely got it’s share of playtime (and we went through more elastics than you could keep track of!).
I actually saw a used copy of this game at a vendor booth at Origins last year, but with a price tag of almost $200, it was well outside of my budget, especially when the game was released in 1983 and the copy on the shelf could have been up to 36 years old. I know we had parts break, so it was definitely a case of buyer beware.
The Catapult Kingdoms Kickstarter brought in $523,205 from 5,750 backers earlier this summer.
When I saw it on Kickstarter it was an insta-back for me. It looks so similar to Crossbows and Catapults, and it brought back so many great memories for me. I couldn’t wait to share a similar experience with my son.
Restoration games is known for taking classic games and restoring them to modern standards.
I never owned Fireball Island (sadly), but I remember seeing the commercials and loving everything about it from the island board to the marbles tumbling down the hills and knocking players left and right. When I finally got a chance to play it at a friend’s house, I enjoyed it just as much as I thought I would.
Now, it was a roll-and-move game but I was just a kid, so that didn’t matter to me. But seeing the prices of old copies on ebay and elsewhere made me quickly take a pass. Sure, it still looked cool, but I had moved well past roll-and-move games.
Then, along comes Restoration Games to make my wallet a little lighter. They improved the gameplay to include set collection and more control over your movement. Their Fireball Island Kickstarter raised an astonishing $2,810,297 from 23,325 backers.
Yes, I backed it.
Yes, I went all-in on all the expansions.
Yes, it was (and is) a lot of fun to play.
However, it doesn’t get to my game table nearly as much as many other games. But I am still glad I picked it up and got to experience this with my son.
Restoration Games… again
To be honest, this next one is a game I had never played or even heard of before the Kickstarter launched.
This is the only one of the three examples that I didn’t back.
But 23,661 people did back Return to Dark Tower, which made $4,054,744 on Kickstarter earlier this year.
This was another case of nostalgia paying off very well.
I’m sure there are tons of other examples out there. This was just a quick summary of 3 cases where nostalgia led to very successful Kickstarter projects.
Suffice it to say, nostalgia is one of many tools that a game designer and/or publisher can use to create a game that people can’t wait to play.
Want to learn what else makes a publisher take interest and what makes a game sell?
Check out the upcoming Board Game Design Virtual Summit.
Learn what publishers really want direct from Curt Covert of Smirk & Dagger Games.
Find out how to develop a great relationship with a publisher from Elizabeth Hargrave, designer of Wingspan (300,000+ units sold).
Discover what actually sells in retail stores from AJ Brandon, Storefront Manager of Board Game Bliss.
There are also many other industry experts in game design, publishing, manufacturing, contracts, rule book design, and a whole lot more.
Best of all… it’s free!
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