Game Publishing

Industry Focus: The Full Weight of the Spiel des Jahres - Part 2



The Spiel des Jahres (SDJ) award is intended to recognize games for “family and friends.” Does it hit that mark? The Kennerspiel des Jahres (KSDJ) was created to recognize more advanced games. Anecdotally, this is obvious from the difference in games that have won the awards, but is there a way to quantify this difference? Not dissimilar from other media, the complexity level of a game is represented by what gamers generally call “weight,” which is available as a community contributed measurement on

Let’s take a look at the weight of SDJ and KSDJ winners and nominees over the years for insight into their level of complexity:

  1. What are their average and relative weights?
  2. Have their weights changed over the years? (Are the games getting more or less complex?)
  3. Have there been major changes over the years? What were the likely events that caused these changes?

Note: If you are starting your reading with this article, you might want to jump to the introduction here: Industry Focus: Spiel des Jahres & the BGG Community Part 1

Industry Focus: Spiel des Jahres & the BGG Community Part 1



Though some table top gaming enthusiasts believe that the Spiel des Jahres annual awards are not relevant for them, there is no doubt that these awards are important drivers in table top games in general. There is enough urban legend and pontificating about the awards that don’t report the facts that a deep dive into the statistics related to the awards is perfect for an article in the Analysis Paralysis series. Through this analysis, we will have a better idea of what makes a Spiel des Jahres game, the common aspects of the games that have been named in the awards – as winners, nominees, or recommendations – and how the awards have changed over the years. In particular, we will viewing this information through the lens of the BGG community (as expressed in the game and user data available on the BGG website). Eventually, we will also be able to compare data for the 2017 nominees before and after the awards to gauge the impact.

The Best Year for Games 2010-2014



Having just completed the analysis on game quality data to compare Kickstarter published games to the general population of games, some interesting data regarding the general quality of games over time also became available. While the data is available, let’s take a quick look at the quality of Hobby Games over time.

The data presented here was collected from on Board Game Geek using the Advanced Search feature. Please refer to the original article (Kickstarter: A Source for Quality Games?) for the qualifications to this data.

Kickstarter: A Source for Quality Games?



Previously I reported on some statistics for excellent games that have been published through Kickstarter and how Kickstarter has provided the opportunity for some new designers and publishers to launch successful game development companies. (Game Designers: Impressive First Impressions). One of the comments/criticisms that the article received was the common refrain, “Sure there are some Kickstarter successes, but just not many of them.”

Not one to stand by while anecdotes and opinion are used to substantiate claims, I dug into the Board Game Geek ratings for Kickstarted games compared to all games published in the years 2010-2014.

BoardGameHour Digest: Introduction


As mentioned previously, I try to participate in the weekly BoardGameHour discussion. Since the “hour” of choice hits at noon in my time zone, I am usually able to attend. However, my office sees a fair amount of traffic and from noon to one I am first an employee and being a human interacting with the outside world comes second, so I often miss at least part of the hour.

Update 04-30-15: I can create these digests quickly for any BoardGameHour (within a day or two), but expressed to the Minister of Board Games that I would not openly post these digests without his blessing. So I am posting the ones I have created behind a login so they can be available upon request. If you would like to have access to these, simply request a login and mention the BoardGameHour as one of your interests. I will then let the  Minister of Board Games know that you have requested access. This way, if there is an interest we will know about it. Note: You can always go to Nurph and replay the event, but I find this to be tedious. Even if you participate in an event it is hard to follow all the conversations. The beauty of the digest is that it collects all posts into their respective conversations.

Hobby Game Trends 2000-2014 Final Round: Conclusions


I am very pleased that this research confirmed some general speculations about the hobby game industry while it tempered others. Here are a few final conclusions, as always with the caveat that this research is based on the data available in the BGG database. There is much that can be discovered in the analysis and I extended to many areas in which I was not specifically interested now, but I wanted to leverage the process while I was practiced at it.. So the following conclusions are not all that can be drawn from the data, but just a few that interested me. Read the specific articles to better understand each category and the data challenges associated with it. You can review all of the figures that were included in the articles in the Hobby Game Trends 2000-2014: Figures gallery. It is worth repeating here that some of the data sets are so small that they are prone to large swings when calculating changes.

Hobby Game Trends 2000-2014 Round 10: Themes

Categories Focus: Themes

We have already looked at a few genres; those related to economic games and social deduction games. Let’s take a look at a few others that are thematic based and may be interesting. One that I know many gamers would love to see is “Zombie games,” but there are many other themes that gamers feel have been either over-used or under appreciated. We’ll take a look at a broad list of themes in this round.

Hobby Game Trends 2000-2014 Round 9: Self-Publishing

Self-Publishing: The Kickstarter Effect

This article looks briefly at self-publishing and the effect that Kickstarter has had on it. This is not a focus on Kickstarter itself, but there is more about it in Round 9: Dynasties.

At a Glance

Kickstarter has provided a platform for lone game designers to publish their work. Let’s take a look at the history of self-publishing and Print & Play games and see if we can detect any impact from Kickstarter.

Hobby Game Trends 2000-2014 Round 8: Dynasties


When looking at the recent history of board games (say, the last 50 years), it is convenient to put the releases in terms of dynasties. Certainly, one of the oldest and well-established of these is Monopoly. As has been demonstrated in previous articles, Monopoly has dominated game releases for many years. To that list of dynasties, we can add others like Axis and Allies and Risk. Let’s consider how game dynasties are formed and then take a look at some of them in terms of new releases.


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