German board game sales have bounced back dramatically after a tricky 2022

Board game sales in Germany, one of the world’s biggest tabletop markets, returned to growth last year to shake off a difficult 2022 rocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the global energy crisis.

Sales jumped 9% in 2023 according to new data from German trade association DVSI, reversing the 5% decline recorded the previous year thanks to strong across the board performance – with TCGs such as Pokemon, Magic and Lorcana doing especially well.

Spieleverlage, a group within DVSI of 19 game publishers from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, said that even without TCGs the market grew by 3% – decoupling itself from the wider toy market, which it said saw a decline of 5% last year according to initial projections.

The board game segment was already on track to undo the damage caused by 2022 in August of last year – but DVSI said at the time that game publishers were expecting a further positive development for the Christmas period, which accounts for around 40% of annual sales in the toy trade. 

The 2023 result is even more impressive given that German GDP fell by 0.3% last year, and private consumption by 0.8%.

Ulrich Brobeil, managing director of DVSI and Spieleverlage, took aim at the German government for causing uncertainty among consumers and a deterioration in the consumer climate, blaming its “inconsistent, poorly crafted policies and unnecessary bureaucracy”.

The strong figures are a boost to the German tabletop gaming sector ahead of the world’s biggest toy fair, the Spielwarenmesse, in Nuremberg on January 30.

Tabletop game and puzzle companies will be the biggest subsector at the show, with 288 exhibitors from 39 countries. About 58,000 visitors attended the trade show last year.

Spieleverlage chairman Hermann Hutter said, “2023 was a real year of success for the games industry. A year ago, when the toy fair was successfully restarted, we were hoping that the games industry would achieve a slight increase in 2023, but the fact that this actually happened, given the difficult overall economic situation in Germany, came as a bit of a surprise to our industry.”

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