It’s a digital world, but consumers increasingly are seeking out entertainment from a source that’s decidedly analog: board games. In the last year, board game sales in the U.S. grew by 28 percent, per NPD Group, and global sales increased to $9.6 billion in 2016 from $9.3 billion in 2013, according to Euromonitor International.
“It plays into the nesting trend,” said Juli Lennett, toy industry analyst at NPD Group. “More people are binge watching and cooking at home, and they’re also playing board games at home, rather than going for an expensive night out. Instead of Snapchat or texting, it gives people an opportunity to come together face to face and have fun.”
Two weeks ago, Elan Lee got a call that made him feel like he was living in the movie Jaws. It was about two weeks into the highly successful Kickstarter campaign for his new card game Exploding Kittens, and one of his potential suppliers called “to see if you were still interested in that order for 500 decks of cards.” By that point he already knew he was going to need about 500 thousand.
“I had flashes,” Lee says, “to that scene where Roy Scheider (Brody) sees the immense great white for the first time and says in a stupor “you’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
When Exploding Kittens—a tabletop card game that’s essentially Russian Roulette with cats—ended its Kickstarter run tonight, it had raised more than $8.7 million. (They’d initially asked for $10,000.) For context, that’s about $3 million more than Rob Thomas scared up to make a friggin’ Veronica Mars movie. It got more than 200,000 backers—more than any other Kickstarter project, by a longshot—and is the most funded game in the site’s history. “Until Exploding Kittens came along, we hadn’t seen the Internet at large descend on a project and embrace it at this crazy scale,” says Luke Crane, Kickstarter’s lead for games projects.