Board Game Arena has been acquired by Asmodee after its massive 600% growth in 2020.
What's Board Game Arena?
Board Game Arena takes your favorite tabletop gaming experiences and brings them online for you to compete with friends worldwide. Unlike its competitors such as Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia, BGA hones in on accessible gameplay by offering easy to follow tutorials, convenience of choosing between real-time vs. turn-based play, and ultimately the familiarity of playing a 2D game. (Whereas Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia simulates a virtual board gaming experience.)
This all started in 2010 as a passion project of two IT professionals, Grégory Isabelli and Emmanuel Colin. After more than 7 years of managing the website for free, it finally grew to a point where they could maintain a full-time salaried position. This was not only well deserved, but necessary as the community was growing at a rapid pace and needing community participation/volunteering to keep up with the pace.
Now with more than 5.8 million registered users and over 260 games to choose from, BGA has become a lifeline for the hobby ever since COVID restrictions began. Enter Asmodee, dubbed the "Disney of board games."
Asmodee is a French publisher of board and card games and RPGs with undoubtedly the strongest porfolio in the industry. (Think Catan, Carcassonne, Pandemic, and other global hits.)
It's the second largest publisher in the world next to Hasbro, and owns a number of publishers such as Fantasy Flight Games, Days of Wonder, and many more, to a point that if there's an emerging company thriving in the industry, hobbyists immediately start speculating the potential of an Asmodee acquisition. Hence, "Disney of board games."
Why the Worry?
Despite this post from the team reassuring that BGA will always remain BGA in its core identity, fans are rightfully worried about its future direction. It's like the latest Star Wars trilogy by Disney:
- The trilogy started off on the right foot for the most part. Great production coming from a big budget film that only a giant in the industry can afford, and opened up the Star Wars universe to a much wider audience. Largely optimistic and excitement was in the air.
- Still an enjoyable cinematic experience but signs of worries as the studios' idea of "subverting expectations" began to alienate its own fans.
- Final nail on the coffin. Subverted expectations to a point where the core identify of Star Wars (and plot) went missing.
For the next 12 months, it'll be exciting times for BGA. Asmodee is eager to start adapting their own digital games for the platform and to quickly expand the library of games through their connections. But the question remains whether Asmodee will continue to make decisions that respect the nature of BGA that Gregory, Emmanuel, and their community has formed.
What are your feelings toward this news? Let me know in the comments!