Popular Board Games of All Time 2014-2020

There's tough competition in the board game industry. And while the vast majority of games released each year flies under your radar, there are the top performers that come into the limelight and grab everyone's attention. Still, I personally find it impossible to keep up with even just these games. So I put together a video that will give you a (relatively) quick reminder of the industry trends starting from 2014. I've also summarized below some info that you may be interested in before watching the video. If you're not interested, you can find the video on the bottom of the article.

Where did I get the data?

The video is based on traffic data I've gathered from Board Game Atlas and Board Game Prices using Google Analytics (for those who aren't aware, we acquired BGP in October 2019). While BGA is more of a well-rounded website that provides community discussion, game data, price comparison, and other features, we've only been around starting 2019. BGP, on the other hand, launched in 2007 and started gaining major traction in 2014 as one of the go-to places for finding the best board game prices.

What's missing?

Unlike BGA, BGP doesn't have pages for games that haven't gone to retail. This means that many of the Kickstarter games you might expect to see will only show up in the timeline after/during fulfillment and retail release (e.g. Root and Nemesis).

As mentioned earlier, both BGA and BGP's history don't go far enough for me to present the trends prior to 2014. BGP was around before 2014 but the traffic patterns on its game pages was too erratic its early years and not suitable for capturing trends.

How did I make the video?

I used Flourish to create my racing bar chart. It's a neat tool, for sure, but I found it odd that it doesn't allow a convenient way to export to video format or YouTube. I ended up recording my screen and editing afterwards. This made the final version slightly pixelated, but my biggest complaint was with its wonky caption system that lags the video, and its limited formatting/positioning options. Hope you don't mind too much!

Quick thoughts and future video plans

  • I hope you don't find the changes too abrupt. I tried to achieve the right balance of having a shorter video for you to watch vs. making it easily "readable". Let me know you feel about the pacing/video length and I'll try to adjust for future videos.
  • The traffic data seems to adequately capture the right trends (see next section).
  • I want to take this data and create more videos with a slight twist. For example, should I sort the data and make a video that highlights specific genres? Or mehanics? Or designers/publishers? There are plenty of ways to go with this and I'll be more than happy to listen to your suggestions!

Lastly, here are some of the trends that I noticed right away. Can you spot anything else?

Enjoy the video!



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4 months ago

That was amazing.  In was like reliving the last few years of my board gaming life all over again.  Couple things popped out...Code names was huge for a while, and then along comes Gloomhaven and its lights out.  Not sure there was ever more of a disparity from one game to all others than Gloomhaven.  Even Wingspan at it's height didn't seem to get as big.  Also it's good to be Stonemaier Games...They dominated the top spot several times through the years.  I think the other thing that surprised me a bit was how some very popular and highly ranked games never dominate the rankings, for instance Brass Birmingham, which is ranked 3rd on BGG's all time list pops in and out in 2018 when it's released and then comes back in in 2019 but never seems to get to the top spot.  It sort of hangs around mid tier to maybe 3rd, while root and wingspan and Everdell and others seem to be far more popular.  Wingspan being the only one of those in the top 20.  I found this really fascinating.  I would love to see this same type of video but with board game sales as the data, I know that's not possible but it would be amazing.

Supporter4 months ago

Thanks, I'm glad it was an enjoyable experience for you :)

Gloomhaven amazes me because I can't think of another game of the same genre that has been so overwhelmingly popular. Actually, thinking about it, maybe it's that it's very different from all other games in the same genre? Or is it that it's the most fitting of the image of a #1 game (big, pricy, large scope, etc)? Or that it's just the best game designed period? Or is it that the brand has grown so big to a point that everyone looks up to it? I'm sure it's a combination of many different aspects and I agree with you that it's a fascinating trend.

Among the other games mentioned, the interesting thing about #Root is that it's typically been in the top 10 spot consistently, but started dropping steadily as the pandemic kicked in. You can see the trend here:

 

And yes, Stonemaier Games has been killing it for a while now. And I doubt that trend will stop any time soon haha. We're really looking forward to #Pendulum @jameystegmaier :)

4 months ago

I think Gloomhaven managed to hit the sweet spot of offering a massive world to explore while being mechanically interesting and a challenge but also not being so over the top in terms of complexity that it would just be better as a video game.

Have has game traffic in general gone up or down during the Pandemic and if Root is bucking the trend do you have a theory as to why?

4 months ago

Hahaha, love it. There's a bump for spirit island to jump back on the chart out of nowhere when i named it top game of all time in late Oct 19 :)

Supporter4 months ago

Nice! It's like finding Waldo, there are tons of different people that had a hand in these trends but it takes a bit of effort to see it :D

Supporter4 months ago

How do I start the video? Am I missing something here?
Happy to see Robinson Crusoe on top though :)

Supporter4 months ago

The video disappeared right after I published the article! I let Trent know about it and he'll be adding it back in once he's done with his dinner lol

In the meantime though, you can check it out here: https://youtu.be/Q6EXhwiNVEA

4 months ago

@philryuh I don't know if this is easy to extract from the data, but did you get a feel for if there were many game which were consistently in the top 20/50 but never cracked the top 10? Like they have a high traffic over all 5 years but just never got the hype to jump to the top?

Supporter4 months ago

Oh for sure, I look at our traffic data at least on a weekly basis and there are dozens of games that are in that zone of "super consistent, but not enough to crack the top 10". I'll try to think of a way to present that info. Great idea!

4 months ago

Sweet, looking forward to it.

4 months ago

I'm newer to the hobby and this video makes me want to take another look at #Caverna: The Cave Farmers . 

I feel like that game isn't talked about a lot amongst the content creators? am i missing the info, or has this game just fallen out of favour?
 

4 months ago

In my head Caverna took classic euro-worker placement to its heavy pinnacle. However, I think there are a number of games that have done some really satisfying twists on the genre (#Architects of the West Kingdom being a prime example) and have as such eclipsed it. Also, Caverna is very much a 2 hour plus game every time I have played it (which is admittedly only 3-4) which is not appealing to some. I was fascinated by #Agricola (Revised Edition) getting a surge when it is even older.

Supporter4 months ago

My guess would be that it's mostly due to it being an old game (2013). Many content creators are typically busy enough trying to keep up with the trends and cover the hottest games. A game like Caverna would only appear if it's featured on someone's top 10/100 list or something.

One good indicator of it being still relevant is that it's one of the top 100 mentioned games within communities like the boardgames subreddit.

4 months ago

i looked into it, (slow work day)

Tom Vasel had it at 16 on his top 100 of 2019

People's Choice had it at 27 on the same  Dice Tower list

BGA has it at 76

BGG also has it at 27, 

so yeah, consistently high, i guess i just overlooked it. Although to mention what Bob also said above, i do think i'd rather play Architects, but its based solely on artwork, i know next to nothing about both games other than that i really enjoy worker placement. 


great video btw, very interesting. 

Supporter4 months ago

Thanks! And as for the art, I'd say that many of the highly regarded euros that are a bit dated would be undoubtedly more popular and accessible if they had been more presentable in theme, artwork, and component quality.

Supporter4 months ago

That's super interesting. It was fun to watch the cult of the new, with some older titles that kept popping back in. I was surprised to see Stone Age keep coming back up.

Supporter4 months ago

Glad you enjoyed it. There are dozens of games that always hover around the top 100. I want to highlight those games as well in a different content, either in an article or a video.

4 months ago

I find it fascinating how some games seemed like a flash in the pan, and others had staying power in these rankings. 

I also surprised to see Nemesis top the charts!

Supporter4 months ago

Ever since it got a nice boost after SUSD's review, Nemesis has been staying in the top 2 since December 2019! I'm sure its recent Kickstarter influenced the traffic too. I do find it surprising that a lot of these games that require larger player counts are still staying at the top throughout this Pandemic.

4 months ago

I completely agree, it is odd to see those games soar!

4 months ago

Awesome graphic! On a different note, may I ask who the composer of the background music is? How does this work with adding music which I presume is copyrighted? Do you have to provide credit somewhere?  Thx

Supporter4 months ago

Like most YouTubers we pay for an Epidemic Sound account which gives us license to use the music in their library. https://www.epidemicsound.com/

Here's the link to the song used in the video: https://www.epidemicsound.com/track/IEETU6e5uf

4 months ago

Thanks for the quick reply! and thx for the links. I love the song!

4 months ago

Super cool video! Thanks. It's interesting how something "old" pops up again often. 

Supporter4 months ago

Thanks! That's what I like about having Board Game Price's traffic info. I think it tends to capture a broader audience that captures even the regular folks. Seeing Catan pop up a few times is a proof of that

4 months ago

Would also be interesting to add in 'current price' as I imagine whenever an older but well regarding game goes on sale it probably gets a lot of interest (and presumably orders)

Supporter4 months ago

I'm surprised #Blood Rage never made it to the top spot! 

Supporter4 months ago

Blood Rage is one of the games that consistently place in the top 20 or 30's but never quite breaks into the top 10!

4 months ago

I think it was also a kickstarter so that may have impacted its numbers!