Business of Games (BoG) is our regular series looking at the business of games from the perspective of the gamer.

We’re going to try something a bit different this month – we’ve scoured the interwebs for the available retail sales information on hobby gaming (and there isn’t a lot out there to be clear – mad props to Diamond Distribution and Alliance Distribution‘s Game Trade Magazine for actually publishing some data) to try to give you a snap shot of how gaming looks at the moment. A couple of caveats – you won’t see many miniature games on this list – ever. Why? For the most part, miniature games have a large number of SKUs, meaning that individual items sell less (even though one line of products may sell exceptionally well). Also, a lot of miniature companies have special distribution deals or even handle it themselves (we’re looking at you GW…). Enough with the kvetching – on to the results!

TopGamesOfMarch.pngMarch was interesting in that the top four games held onto their spot from the previous month – and all four titles are considered evergreen to boot (technically, individual sets of Magic aren’t evergreen, but the brand itself is). There weren’t a whole lot of winners this month – with Yu-Gi-Oh! proving that silly lawsuits aren’t enough to stop the kiddie juggernaut (I was shocked to see one local games store packed with nothing but Yu-Gi-Oh! players during a time that had been previously the domain of Magic). Wizards is proving that they knew they were doing something right with 4th edition, seeing an increase in demand for the original 4E Player’s Handbook in the same month that they released Player’s Handbook 2!

That said, the majority of movement this month was southward. The biggest drop being the 4th edition of Bang!, the venerable card game plummeted to last place, probably because of the rapid (unexpected?) sell out of the run. The World of Warcraft Miniature Game and Monsterpocalypse continue to hold on to their spots in the top 25, defying the naysayers (I personally think both of them are decent games for the record…). The luster is also coming off of the recent reprinting of Arkham Horror as it starts its descent off the list – if you wanted this game, you probably already own it, ‘k?

The biggest disruptions on the list were the release of the Player’s Handbook 2 for D&D (the only surprise here is that it didn’t debut higher) and the newest World of Warcraft TCG expansion. For a CCG that no one ever seems to play, it seems to be doing just fine… Also interesting was the relatively low debut for the second Monsterpocalypse expansion (which seems a bit light for fans of the game to be honest) and Age of Conan – which may be too expensive or too complex for all but the most hard core (maybe a bit of both?).

Its hard to get a read out on what this means for the health of the hobby overall as we don’t have any raw numbers. At a minimum, its fair to say that the market is being largely dominated by the major players, with even well promoted, popular franchises having difficulty making major progress. For my money, Monsterpocalypse is the interesting one to watch – if Privateer Press can succeed with the new expansion, they may have a winner. Check back next month for the results! (and if you’re a distributor or have access to distributor sales data, we’d love to add your data to the aggregate!)