Board game shipping prices have skyrocketed
Board games have had a terrible 2020, with the industry hit hard by Covid due to manufacturing issues and the fact that people literally couldn’t get together to play board games. Things have been up slightly for 2021, until freight transport prices decide to go into space.
While I’ve seen publishers and retailers talking about it a bit on Facebook over the past two weeks, designer Jamey Stegmaier (False, Span) put together a broader look on their own blog, accompanied by some data from the research firm ARC Global. Cardboard Edison also surveyed companies on things like delays and price increases.
And things look … bad!
Some of the highlights of each’s findings include:
Delivery times are currently 2-6 weeks behind what businesses would normally expect.
Most publishers pay 3-4 times as much for their shipping, despite delays, with one publisher saying Edison cardboard “their shipping costs have increased nine-fold from before the pandemic.”
Many publishers are now being forced to raise game prices and cut costs elsewhere in areas such as localization, as margins are reduced due to increased shipping costs (in addition to manufacturing costs, which have also increased).
Note that we are talking about freight forwarding here. So it’s not the cost you pay directly for a copy, but the cost that publishers and manufacturers have to pay to ship containers of product around the world. Of course, these two things are related, and the reason this quickly becomes an issue is that if shipping prices for businesses get out of hand, it’s going to have a big impact on a consumer’s shipping price, if not the price of the games themselves (and the viability of some small publishers entirely).
Interestingly, most of the delays and the biggest price hikes are being felt by companies making games in China (which is a parcel), those whose games are made in Europe are rather reporting that things are not so bad. And of course, I’m only writing about this because it’s a gaming site and it impacts board games, something that I cover; anyone who ships anything in the world is feeling the same pinch right now.
While this is a short-term crisis, it is hoped that as the worst effects of the pandemic begin to wear off, supply lines will normalize. And that to meet the increased demand for shipping, carriers will just start building more ships to carry cargo around the world.