Just a short ramble today, but something that I have been hinting at over my last few posts. As much as I love the hobby, and how much it has grown, I do worry about it reaching an over-saturation point. The number of games released each year has exploded exponentially over the last decade or so, thanks in part to Kickstarter, which makes it so companies can spring out of the woodwork and release a game, and also just from the growth of how many people game in general as the hobby becomes more mainstream. But are there enough gamers out there for all of these new releases to find an audience?
The tricky thing here is that games are pretty permanent. They are not transient, consumable entertainment, meant to be played once (except for in the case of Legacy games, which I’ve talked about before). Instead, once you have a game that you and your group loves, that is likely the only game you will want to play for a while. Anything new would have to be better than the games you already love. For my particular group, Terraforming Mars became THE game of the group. For a year or more, it was pretty much always on the table. In a way, this was a great thing. The group explored all aspects of the game, and tried many different strategies. Much like going on vacation to the same favorite destination, the game became familiar to everyone in the group.
But when you are playing one game all the time, in this case a pretty long one, averaging roughly two hours each play, how much time is there for new games? This is not to say that everyone should have a one game collection or anything. Certainly there are different games for all occasions, moods and groups of people. But at some point, most people reach a point where they have a reasonably wide array of games that they like, and something has to be pretty special to get on their shelves. This point is different for different people, and most folks will reach this point around 10-20 games. People who are a bit more crazy like me reach it somewhere around 120… and I could likely cut half of that and still be more than satisfied with my collection. I have written in the past about making room on my shelves, and this is a regular effort of mine. Combine that with the fact that there more and more long term campaign games that are a commitment as well and often become the exclusive game of a group for a while, and you can see how there’s hardly any room for newer games to take root.
The wealth of choices can be overwhelming, but is ultimately a good thing for consumers. No matter what your preference is, in terms of theme, mechanics, art, anything, there is probably a game out there for you, with hundreds releasing each year. I do wonder if the production side of the hobby is heading for a crash however, all this choice means even some great games are just not going to be successful for publishers, and one too many misses seems like it would make the business side of things precarious to say the last. However, in the meantime, my belated new year’s resolution is to play more of the games I already love, and ideally add less than five games to my collection this year. In addition, I will be making room for each new game, with a strict one in one out policy. Here’s to playing the cream of the crop, it’s a wonderful time to be a gamer!