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37% of us play more board games since covid, data suggests

Customer data from UK firm Merchoid suggests over a third of us spend more free time on tabletop games now, compared with before the pandemic.

Board games post covid survey - author photo showing the Dorfromantik board game set up on a Geeknson Megan board game table with a red felt cover

It’s no secret that our favorite tabletop treats – board games, Warhammer 40k, DnD, Magic: The Gathering, and so on – all enjoyed a huge sales boost during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now a customer survey by UK-based nerdy collectibles maker Merchoid suggests that trend has stuck, with 37% of respondents saying they spent either “a little more” or “a lot more” of their free time tabletop gaming since the end of lockdowns.

The recently published survey, which gathered data from 1,479 Merchoid customers in June 2023, found that 25.5% of them spent “a little more” free time on tabletop games post-covid, while 11% were spending “a lot more”.

Only 8.7% said they played “a lot less” of the time, and 6.9% said they were spending “a little less” free time tabletop gaming.

Board games post covid survey - Merchoid image showing a chart of the survey data for how many respondents played more or less tabletop games since the covid-19 pandemic

This tallies with leading tabletop games companies’ own reports of ongoing healthy sales, which Merchoid includes to back up its point – including 54% revenue growth at Games Workshop, and 46% at Wizards of the Coast between 2020 and 2022.

Many firms that benefited from sudden sales booms during the lockdown year of 2020 – including tabletop game makers – were wary of things crashing back down when society re-opened.

But data like these suggest that many folks who started spending way more time tabletop gaming during lockdown, far from snapping back afterwards, are still spending significant time (and presumably money) on it in 2023.

Merchoid’s survey also found that three quarters of customers hold the “in person element” of playing tabletop games to be important.

Board games post covid survey - Merchoid image showing a chart of the survey data for how many fans found the in person element of tabletop games important

To put that another way, of course, nearly a quarter of Merchoid customers did not find the in-person experience important for tabletop gaming – likely folks for whom Tabletop Simulator games are at least as much fun as playing the best board games in person; and playing tabletop RPGs over Roll20 is just as good as rolling dice at a physical table.

That’s the sort of statistic that Wizards of the Coast egg-heads working on the new Digital D&D virtual tabletop for One D&D will be looking out for, for an indication of just how hard they need to pivot towards digital, remote play.

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We should clarify that Merchoid is not an impartial observer on this topic. As a manufacturer of officially licensed nerdy accessories, merchandise, and collectible doodads including – among other things – Warhammer 40k scented candles and Space Marine bathrobes, it certainly has an interest in bigging up the tabletop gaming revolution.

A survey of fewer than 1,500 customers from one store isn’t enough to draw any huge conclusions in any case – but it’s an interesting, small scale indication of how tabletop gaming trends are progressing in the post-Covid era.

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If you’re after a recommendation for a tabletop game you can spend “a lot more” of your time on, look no further than our guide to the best board games for adults, or our top 5 miniature wargames. For the card collectors, we’ve a guide to the best trading card games in existence, too.