Board Game Classics vs. Modern Hobby Games

Board's Edge Games Guide to Board Game Sales

Ever heard of Monopoly?

Just kidding. We all know it. Monopoly is the modern-day titan of board games. While sales numbers aren’t public and Hasbro did not respond to our request, here are two data points from the depths of the internet. Old as these stats may be, one thing is for sure: these numbers only go up.

  • More than one billion people have played Monopoly (TIME, citing Hasbro, 2015)
  • More than 250 million units sold (TIME again, this time from 2006)

Clearly, there’s a big commercial difference between the classic board games we all grew up with and the hobby board games we carry at Board's Edge Game. And it’s not a fair fight, either, since Monopoly has been around for 80+ years with countless editions produced. But still, let’s try to compare Monopoly to the most mainstream of all the new board games: Catan (the game formerly known as Settlers of Catan).

Catan hasn’t racked up quite the number of re-releases and expansions as Monopoly, but it does have almost 20 years of sales under its belt and a strong following. Again, sales units are tough to pin down, but The Atlantic pegged Catan sales at nearly 25 million units in 2011. Well, it’s not Monopoly, but this puts Catan comfortably in the same "many millions" range as game classics like Candyland, the Game of Life, or Pictionary. Ticket to Ride, another modern classic and the first game we recommend to gamers ready to move beyond Monopoly, is also in that "many millions" range, with over 8 million units sold.

How about Gloomhaven? If you haven’t heard of this, it’s currently the #1 ranked board game of all time on insider site Board Game Geek. Number one board game for insiders sounds pretty good, but how does that translate to units sold? As of 2018, Gloomhaven had sold an estimated 120,000 copies, with 60,000 more being produced.

The long and short of it is, a successful hobby game sells less than one million copies. Far less, in fact. Selling 100,000 copies of a hobby board game should be cause for celebration for both the designer and the publisher. That's the case with Everdell, one of our favorite games from Starling Games (which is very hard for us to keep in stock. If you're lucky, we might just have a few copies!).

10,000 units sold, meanwhile, is a very good run. In fact, that was how many units of Wingspan were produced for its first run in 2019. Of course, Wingspan blew through those sales in no time and has had print run after print run since then. I bet they’re well on the way to joining the 100k club, if they aren't already there. (Note: my guess was laughably conservative! Jamey Stegmaier was kind enough to respond to my question at the Stonemaier blog. Wingspan has over 600,000 copies in circulation as of January 2021!).

So there you have it. If you haven't heard of some of the games we carry at Board's Edge Games, now you know why! Not every game has the commercial success of Monopoly, but our team at Board's Edge Games has scoured the market to find you the best of the best hobby board games you may never have heard of. And in keeping with our motto to Discover, Try, and Buy, we even give you a way to try some of these games before you buy them!

About the Author

Annie is one of the founders of Board's Edge Games, and she loves writing about board games. You can learn more about Annie and co-founder Lisa here, follow us on Instagram, check us out on BoardGameGeek (BGG), or see what we’re backing on Kickstarter.

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