1. Cards Against Humanity
2. Star Realms
4. Cardline Animals
5. Boss Monster
9. Sushi Go!
10. Forbidden Island
1. Isle of Skye
2. Adventure of Marco Polo
3. Oh my Goods!
9. The Game
10. Grand Austria Hotel
1. T.I.M.E. Stories
2. Merchants and Marauders Seas of Glory
3. Prodigal’s Club
4. The Gallerist
5. Voyages of Marco Polo
7. The Game
9. Epic Card Game
10. Flick ’em Up
So how’s that for very different lists? For many reasons, it’s sort of a bummer that Cards Against Humanity still tops the bestseller list. My biggest concern is the lack of crossover, that is, customers who come in looking for CAH have zero interest in other products.
I’m going with Codenames as the single most influential game of the year. It is an excellent party game that will sell for years to come, and has the opportunity to expose many people to the modern world of games. If we can get Vlaada a little tipsy, maybe he’ll make the dirty version of Codenames, and wham-o, we have the next Cards Against Humanity. Seriously though, the hobby needs more games like Codenames and Spyfall because not everyone wants to brain burn all the time, especially your non-gamer friends and family.
My list and Ben’s list would have more crossover, but I limited my list to games that were available on American retail shelves in 2015. We played some fantastic games that debuted at the Spiel convention in Essen, Germany, but some of those games did not ship to retailers in 2015.
As far as my #1, TIME Stories was the single most unique gaming experience I had this year. Yes, it’s $50 for one playthrough (three sessions though). Yes, the final puzzle bothered us a bit. Yes, the third session was a bit lackluster compared to our first two sessions. But despite all the quibbles, I enjoyed the heck out of it, and want to play more. There is no other game on the market quite like it.
Final thoughts for 2015, it was a pretty incredible year for the hobby. We had amazing releases across all genres. GenCon was fairly meh this year compared to previous years, but the Spiel was amazing, and we will see the fruits of that show during the next few months.
Hobby board game sales grew nationwide, for both online and offline channels. The hobby is becoming more and more mainstream, due in part to great games, but great game media is contributing in a big way. The increasing shift in purchasing away from brick and mortar towards the many online forms (Kickstarter, direct to publisher, Amazon) still threatens the longevity of the hobby, but there is plenty of time to shift the tide.
Asmodee made a bold statement at the end of the year about the importance of brick and mortar stores and the third place they provide. If more publishers embrace this mentality, and Kickstarter publishers find ways to include retailers, all sales channels benefit long-term. Think about your own regular game groups, how important was a third place (store, pub, cafe) in creating those groups? Hopefully 2016 will bring more interest in long-term growth over short-term gain, it starts with the publishers!
Happy 2016 everyone, enjoy your game gifts!