From 0 to 100 – digitalization on the rise

Lukas Wagner

Lukas Wagner

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The coronavirus pandemic is still turning the whole world upside down. People’s lives have changed abruptly from one day to the next. Staying indoors is suddenly no longer an option, but a necessity. You have to be creative to keep the ceiling from falling on your head. Many of us have rediscovered the good old board game during this time. Lucky are those who can play a round with a partner.

Board game fans living alone, however, face the problem that the weekly game night with friends has been canceled.
However, board-playing digitalization enthusiasts have been working for some time on a solution that became increasingly popular during the pandemic: online platforms where you could play board games with your friends or strangers on your PC or smartphone. This is just one of the many trends fueled by the coronavirus pandemic and which will likely to continue going forward, because the crisis is far from over. The board game industry is also aware of this and will continue to expand its digital product range.

Game publishers with significant sales growth in 2020

Game publishers are among the big beneficiaries of the crisis. Sales of children’s games increased by 13 percent in 2020 alone, and by as much as 30 percent in the area of games for adults. Jigsaw puzzles were the clear winners, with sales up 61 percent for adult puzzles and 20 percent for children’s puzzles. But board games have also been rediscovered by many Germans as a way of putting an end to the sometimes almost unbearable boredom.

The publishers are still bullish in their belief that the crisis has given them a lasting boost. After all, many people who weren’t much into board games or puzzles before discovered a new hobby during the lockdown, which will keep them loyal customers in the future. As 2021 will also be marked by restrictions, there is every reason to believe that it will be another good year for game publishers as 2020.

The digital transformation of the board game industry

The already mentioned singles and gaming groups, who were prohibited from meeting others for a board game evening, searched instead online for solutions – and quickly found what they were looking for. Portals such as the Board Game Arena or Tabletopia recorded a large increase in new registrations in 2020 and have enjoyed great popularity ever since. On these portals, in some cases more than a thousand board games are implemented in such a way that they are fun to play online while being as similar as possible to their analog versions. Game publishers have long since recognized the potential offered by porting a board game to the digital world.

The otherwise rather conservative industry is keen to make at least part of its product range accessible in the digital form. Analog board games focus on real-life experience and interaction with real pieces (such as pawns, dice, cards, or paper and pens). According to representatives of the gaming industry, however, the elimination of haptic experiences should no longer be a reason not to open up to the digital world.

Alea digitalis iacta est – the digital dice has been cast

For many players, the haptic experience is what makes a board game with friends so charming. To merge the analog world with the digital world, we at unidice came up with something very special: a real dice, equipped with six touchscreen displays. Players can load their own symbols onto the dice and display them depending on the game. As a result, the unidice can be used for any game and the possibilities are endless.

The unidice also opens up completely new possibilities for pen & paper fans and encourages them to develop their own games and campaigns. Players are not limited as to the uses of the cube and can use it for any game. By networking through an app, players get in touch with each other so everyone can see what the others have thrown.

It is our contribution to making the board game even more tangible in its digital and analogue form.
Because we all know: a cozy game night, where you sit together with your friends in a room at a table and have fun, will always be the non-plus-ultra.

Image: board games have experienced a renaissance during the pandemic – especially online. Photo credits: CompLady via pixabay.com

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