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Adults buying board games as “stress relief” during lockdown has boosted tabletop sales - report

Games and Puzzles market to exceed $13bn value in 2022 after double-digit growth last year, says Euromonitor International.

A group of adult friends playing the board game Rummikub
Image credit: AS Photo Project/

Adult board gamers picking up tabletop titles as a form of “stress relief” during the uncertain last year has reportedly helped the industry to jump in value, with the growth fuelled by lockdown expected to continue into 2022.

That prediction comes from market research provider Euromonitor International, which previously estimated that the global Games and Puzzles market - comprising board games, as well as tabletop RPGs, trading card games and more traditional puzzles such as jigsaws - was worth more than $11.7 billion in 2020, an almost $1bn increase on 2019.

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The double-digit growth seen last year was partially due to the increased number of adults purchasing board games to play at home during lockdown, Euromonitor said. The firm previously described “digital fatigue” as driving many older gamers to turn from screens to the tabletop, alongside growing interest in other non-digital hobbies such as Lego and action figures.

“Limited options for social activities and travel throughout 2020 resulted in households being confined to their homes and needing to find ways to entertain themselves,” a Euromonitor representative said. “Growth was further supported by a willingness to spend on in-home entertainment, as these purchases were triggered by adults rather than children. As disposable spending shifted from holidays and away-from-home activities to in-home entertainment, adults treated themselves with products as a way of stress-relief during times of uncertainty.

“Products such as board games, jigsaw puzzles and construction sets became popular purchases throughout the year and many retailers struggled to keep up with the level of demand, particularly during the first UK lockdown and before Christmas.”

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While growth is expected to slow in 2021, Euromonitor predicted that the Games and Puzzles category will still grow to exceed $12.4bn worldwide this year, before reaching $13.2bn in 2021. In the US alone, the market is expected to exceed $4bn in 2021, having been worth $3.6bn last year. Comparatively, the UK market is estimated to be worth $449m in 2021.

The biggest Games and Puzzles companies in the world remain unchanged from previous reports, with Hasbro - maker of Monopoly, Cluedo and Jenga, as well as Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering - the largest publisher in the industry. It’s followed by German games and puzzles label Ravensburger, which has produced board games including Disney Villainous, Labyrinth and The Castles of Burgundy. Scrabble, Pictionary and Uno maker Mattel retained its sport as the third-biggest toy and games giant.

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