Thursday, January 3, 2008


Kids games are some of the most difficult games to stock and sell. Parents know their kids and if they can't personally connect with a game to understand how their child will connect, it won't sell. The majority of our kids games are honestly, not very good. We have them because parents are familiar with them; you know, the old supply and demand. They demand that I supply them.

We've got Gamewright, which are just ok, but they're sold in mall stores so parents are familiar with them, and they're generally inexpensive card games. We've got Blue-Orange games, well designed wooden games, usually involving memory. There's Blokus, the first game that every parent is shown when they visit the store. Then there's the Hasbro schlock, which must seem horribly overpriced ompared to Target and Wal-Mart. The problem for us is that the price point of good games can be high.

Blokus may have won six awards, but it's a $30 game. Some parents gasp at that price, while it's actually quite reasonable for a specialty game. Then there are the great Rio Grande kids games, like Gulo Gulo, but they're even more expensive, around $40. Are you really going to spend $40 on a game for your five your old because the game store guy said it was good? These games tend to be games for Euro board gamers kids, rather than something I can sell to the average parent. Cough, muggle, cough.

Parents are used to kids games from the mass market, and the mass market has rock bottom prices, often below my costs. There was a mass market games price war a couple years ago and Wal-Mart won. Wal-Mart isn't content to get a Parker Brothers game for cheap, they'll pressure Hasbro to produce a lower quality, just good enough version, so they can get it for even less. Now their copy of Monopoly, made with substandard cardboard is even less money than my higher quality version, maybe even a third of the price! These games sit on my shelf as a merchandise expense, a kind of decoration that lets the muggles know that games you know, are, in fact, sold here. That my decorations are also for sale is an added bonus.

The price and focus issue are why I got excited to learn Rio Grande is bringing out a line of kids games. They're translating and bringing over games from the established German company Selecta-Spielzeug. There is a Kinderspiel des Jahres, a kids version of the Spiel des Jahres, or game of the year. Before now, I'm guessing American companies believed the US market wasn't ready for specialty kids games. I'm not sure what changed their mind, but I'm glad to have them here. Now I just need to convince our board gamers to test them out in the store. Finding good kids games in the 3-6 age range will also be on my list when I visit trade shows this year.


  1. See if they will send you a few demos and let Kate try them out on game nights.

  2. I think you guessed right, and hit on the reason why with your comments on Gulo Gulo.

    Rio Grande (and the market in general) probably figure that the main customer base for specialty kids games, at least at first, is going to be the kids of parents who are specialty gamers.

  3. Since they are used to having most kids games be utter crap, they can't see paying more than a couple of bucks for one.
    If they knew the games weren't crap - were actually games that the whole family could enjoy - they might see the price as being more reasonable.\
    Marketing of "kid's games" is probably a bad move in that respect. Marketing "kid friendly family games" is probably a better path to success.
    That said -
    Mille Bournes
    are all "classic"/"mainstream" family/kids' games that parents and older siblings can also enjoy.

  4. One of the reasons I like games like Guillotine and Felix: the Cat in the Sack is that they are family/kid friendly.

  5. Yes, family friendly is probably a better model than most kids only games, since parents are usually the ones playing them.

    I also get parents looking for strictly educational games. Educational games suck for the most part and nobody will buy them *even* if they're looking for them. What they need to find are fun games that happen to teach something useful. Many kids games are actually really fun math games.