I have been thinking about box sizes lately. And, I have been thinking about it even more after So Very Wrong About Games had a podcast episode yesterday where they briefly discussed box size.
I think my position has changed somewhat over the past months/years.
I think I started very much prefering the "standard" "ticket to ride sized box." This is the size box that, famously, Ticket to Ride came in. It is the size that FFG calls a "medium square." It is a square that is approximately 11.5"x11.5". For a long time I wanted all boxes to be that size, and wished that the manufacturor would just make it as deep as it needed to be. #Gloomhaven??? Yep, just make it 11.5x11.5 than make it 8 or 10 or 11 inches deep. #Twilight Imperium 4th Edition? If you wanted a box with the same amount of cubic inches, you would just need a 11.5x11.5 8 inches thick. This is the position I used to have.
But, then something happened, I moved to Central America. I don't know how long I will be here. But, I quickly discovered that the "average" game box is a real monster. If I want to ship a game down here, it will usually be $40-$100 depending on game size, insurance, packaging, weight, and a number of other things. So, I have taken to shipping my games to my US address, generally for free, and and then picking them up whenever I go home for vacation or a whatever. I have also had friends and family bring my games to me. These experiences changed me. Do you know how much room a standard sized game box takes up in a suitcase?? It is astonishing. And, if there other special things you want to bring down from the states, room can quickly become tight. So, I quickly changed my tune. I wanted games that filled their boxes. I don't really care as much how big the box is, just that it is well used. I didn't want airspace, I didn't want the boxes to be a bit bigger than they needed to be. Honestly, this is one of things that got me started looking at Sierra Madre games. I mean, just look at #Pax Emancipation. It comes in a box that 5x5x2 and has a big, meaty, heavy game in it??? sign me up.
Now we come to where I am now. I want 3 or so standardized box sizes.
- I want the big, component heavy games to come in TTR sized box that is as deep as it needs to be, in my mind, the only reason to go bigger than this is if it can't physically fit into a 11.5" cube.
- I want the majority of games to come in a GMT sized game box. This is about 12"x9". #Agricola (Revised Edition) comes in a box that is just about a quarter inch or so taller than a GMT box, I don't know if that is a better reference. Again, like the first category, and, further being picky.... If this box needs to be more than 3-4 inches deep step it up to the TTR sized box.
- If you want a smaller box, go to a 7"x7" or a 7"x5". This can be good for roll and writes, smaller games, etc.....
- Artwork: You could probably fit #Scythe in a 11.5x11.5x5 inch box. But, you would need to reformat the art that was designed for a rectangular box. The same is true of #Twilight Imperium 4th Edition and many other games that were designed for rectangular boxes. I am convinced that they could be every bit as beautiful and arresting, but it wouldn't be the exact same art.
- Expansions: I don't buy many expansions. Some people, @Skurvy5, buy all the expansions. I, generally speaking, don't need room in the base box for expansions. Some people will want room in the base box for expansions. Actually, I would like an option to spend a bit more for an expansion, and have it come in a box big enough for it + the base game etc...
- Materials: Cardboard is a suitable material for game boxes, metal is not.
- Storage. I tend to store my games vertically whenever possible. That is one reason I love the GMT sized game boxes. They feel "smaller" than the "normal" box. But, they have a better presence on the shelf because they are a bit taller. The other thing is that I don't have any fancy storage solutions. My games get to live on bookcases, and for some of my bookcases a 11.5" square is sticks out a bit.
- I am ok with some, a few, outliers. I am fine with Button Shy continuing to offer wallet sized games. I am fine with comprehensive storage solutions. For instance, Chip Theory Games have their "Trove Chest" coming out right now. This is a big box, specifically designed to fit into a kallax cube, and it is designed to hold all of the current #Too Many Bones content plus future expansion content. This is bigger than my ideal, but you can choose to buy it or not buy it. I am not forced into it.
So, obviously, this subject may not be that important...LOL. But, these are things that that are sorta pet peeves of mine. I wish we could go to standardized box sizes. But, I don't think it will ever happen. Also, just to be clear, box size is a factor not THE FACTOR in buying a game. I will probably buy #Cloudspire with my latest GAW win. This is a box that is bigger than my ideal, it comes in at 13.4x11.4x5.8. That is a chunky boy, and considerably bigger than my ideal. But, I am interested enough in the game, to not worry as much about the box size.
So,what do you think? Am I to picky? Do you have preferences for box sizes? If you do, do they line up with mine or are they different? I know that in many ways box size is sorta unimportant, but, it is a factor in our hobby. And, quite frankly, the average dwelling size of dwellings in the USA is much larger than most other countries. I think that oversized boxes are, and will become, a bigger problem in some European and/or Asian countries, or in small apartments in the USA.