Monday, January 21, 2013

The Compounded Effect of Themes on Marketing

Link to Game on BGG
I stumbled across a new game worth mentioning on Ludi Berkeley for several reasons, but at the moment I'm intrigued about marketability. Take for moment to review the description of the game provided (from BGG) below:

"Compounded is a game about building chemical compounds through careful management of elements, a fair bit of social play and trading, and just a bit of luck. In Compounded, players take on the roles of lab managers, hastily competing to complete the most compounds before they are completed by others – or destroyed in an explosion. Some compounds are flammable and will grow more and more volatile over time; take too long to gather the necessary elements for those compounds and a lot of hard work will soon be scattered across the lab."

It sounds exciting, but does this theme severely limit the potential audience in an already niche market of designer board games?

The answer is yes, it most certainly does. This does not mean however, that the success is limited more than say the most universally accessible theme of a train game based in ancient Egypt.

All themes constrain marketability due to player taste, accessibility or cultural relevance. I would argue in cases such as Compounded, it actually strengthen the potential of success.

While we cannot yet evaluate the the quality of the game, we can make several observations: 
  • Chemistry is a relatively uncommon as a theme in gaming; the novelty of the idea was enough to intrigue me to write a blog post about it. The board game market has long been known to support well executed ideas regardless of theme. We've seen commercially successful board games about German politicsirrigation, and bureaucratic paper pushing.
  • The game has made it this far through play testing without a theme change, indicating either the mechanics mesh well with the Chemistry theme or the designer is at least content with the design and finds this theme most fitting.
With the game in preparation for publishing, Compounded seems to already have its audience. At the moment I became aware of it on Kickstarter it had gained 398 backers in 24 hours and as I publish this blog post it has gained 577 backers in four days of support. I'm thoroughly looking forward to Compounded and many more exciting themes in 2013.

The theme of Compounded is already showing its own growing interest.