A study of the hobby game market should naturally start with an analysis of the companies publishing hobby games. Given the lack of public information about publishers and distribution volumes previously described I can at best provide a survey and more speculation to add to what is already available.
At a Glance
The big news of 2012-2013 was the increasing number of Kickstarter marketed card and board games by individuals and small companies. That was followed in 2013-2014 with the increasing number of large game companies (in hobby game company size terms) using Kickstarter in what is commonly recognized as a pre-order system. The big news in mid 2014 was the expansion of Asmodee through the, as reported), acquisition of Days of Wonder and the merger with Fantasy Flight Games.
A significant complication to understanding the activities of game publishers is that most games have multiple publishers at the same time for different markets internationally and several over their lifetime in any given market. There is not enough specificity in the BGG data or likely in any public source to attribute game releases over the last 15 years across the world.
A series of events in the last couple years indicates a growing global market and greater attention to the North American market by European companies. European publishers are exercising a greater presence in US trade shows and US companies are aggressively seeking international cooperative distribution agreements.
Unfortunately, this section of the analysis is quite weak, but it is placed here to demonstrate that it was not forgotten and to identify the issues in reporting on it. The intent is to provide further analysis when data is available. Until then, I’ll conclude with the following observation.
Without providing data to support this statement: It is not uncommon for an industry to see consolidation at the high end (large companies) at the same time and possibly resulting from an explosion of entrepreneurship at the low end. Music and video content producers went through this with the explosion of YouTube and other outlets for user generated content in the last decade. Consolidation and mutual operating agreements of larger game publishers and launches and growth of the smallest publishers will both likely continue through 2015.