• 01st May 2020

Packaging for the premium playing cards & board games market

Premium tabletop games and tabletop gaming industry.

In the space of a few short months, the lives of millions of people across the globe have changed drastically. The ongoing pandemic has necessitated widespread lockdowns, causing restaurants, bars, shops and social venues to close their doors. In response, we’ve seen a rise in online socialising, home cooking, and arts & crafts, and well as a surge in the sale of board games such as Monopoly, Scrabble and Cluedo.

But even before the world was shaken by Covid-19, the board games market was experiencing a boom. Four years ago, The Guardian reported on the rise of tabletop gaming, noting that in one year there was a 20% increase in the sale of card and dice games, and role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons (amongst others).

This growth has led to an array of board game shops, cafés and bars popping up in major cities across the world. In these establishments, the clientele tends to be varied – some are dedicated players competing in tournaments, others are casual enthusiasts – but, regardless, business is booming. It’s a clear indication that the home is no longer the sole domain of the board game. 

Why have tabletop games become so popular?

Industry experts have speculated that gaming has been normalised by the mainstream popularity of video games, and nostalgia-fuelled TV series such as Stranger Things, in which the lead characters are seen playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Additionally, crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter have helped independent game designers get a foothold in an industry normally dominated by the big names. The result? More games than ever are being funded, manufactured and sold.

On a more human level, the embrace of board games seems to indicate a movement away from screen-based entertainment.

As noted in the article from Los Angeles Magazine, “tabletop games offer Angelenos a chance to put down their devices for an hour…and interact with friends, both old and new, while giving their brains an enjoyable workout.” In an Atlantic article from 2014, neuroscientist Jon Freeman suggests something similar: “Adults who spend all day sitting in front of a computer want to spend time with people. …We’d lost access to that, and places like board-game cafes have opened up access.”

It’s not just about the games, in other words. It’s about connecting with people.

The rise of premium tabletop games.

At the luxury end of the spectrum, limited edition board games and premium card sets are thriving in their own unique fashion. Anyone who works within the luxury sector will know that consumers who shop in this sector value the form (i.e. the aesthetic value) of a product, and are looking to buy something that is crafted with care from high-quality materials.

As tabletop games continue to surge in popularity, we will see increasing demand for gaming products that combine form and function to supply a luxury twist on the standard offering. These premium products will tap into that human connection consumers are seeking, as they will make for meaningful gifts and timeless conversation pieces for the home.

In short it’s an exciting time to be working in the premium games industry. Here at GPA Luxury we’ve witnessed first-hand the resurgence of the board game, and already begun to work with some of the most talented designers and brands in the sector.

The big names in premium games

Dan and Dave Buck are sleight-of-hand practitioners who set up an online emporium, Art of Play, in 2014 to sell playing cards, games and puzzles.

The duo also caters for consumers seeking a limited edition, luxury product. In 2018, our team crafted a solid oak, leather-lined box to hold two packs of their Makers playing cards. A year later we collaborated with them once again, this time to create a lacquered black box for their Standards premium playing card range.

The GPA team has also had the good fortune to work with Roxley, the indie game laboratory known for titles such as Steampunk Rally and Santorini. Last year we worked with them to create two limited edition wooden chests for an exciting crowdfunding project. The company developed a range of premium playing cards, Iron Spades, and poker chips, Iron Clays, and subsequently set up a Kickstarter to fund the manufacturing, offering the two GPA chests as high-level rewards.

These projects gave GPA Luxury the opportunity to work with two fantastic design houses that are making big waves in the premium games industry – and particularly in the realm of premium playing card design.

Kevin Cantrell Studio, which is based in Salt Lake City, designed the playing cards and distinctive black and gold box for the Standards set. The Texas-based Chad Michael Studio, meanwhile, dreamt up the brief for the Makers set and designed Roxley’s premium cards and chips.

Other big names in the sector include Clove St. Press, a San Diego-based company that specialises in direct impression printing, and prestigious design house Stranger & Stranger.

What all these companies have in common is an eye for detail, and a passion for creating high-quality products that will stand the test of time. Ultimately, these aren’t just games; they are cherished keepsakes will be passed from one generation to the next.

The future of premium tabletop games & games market

In the aftermath of the current pandemic, we can expect the tabletop gaming industry to continue growing, hand-in-hand with the premium games & playing cards sector. It’s expected that by 2025, the industry will have grown to over $21 billion – so if you’re looking to invest, there’s never been a better time.

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