Gugong, Paris publisher Game Brewer shuts down, citing challenge to remain profitable in increasingly competitive market

Game Brewer, the Belgian publisher of board games including Gugong and Paris, is shutting down after struggling to remain profitable amid rising competition.

General manager Rudy Seuntjens announced on the company’s website that “the time has come to close this chapter” after seven years of publishing games, and confirmed that its crowdfunding projects Bone Wars, Algae Inc and the Stroganov big box will be its last releases.

Seuntjens reassured backers of those games, which together raised more than €300,000, that they would all receive their pledges, adding that all the games are currently in production and will also be available in retail “in very limited quantities”.

Game Brewer’s breakout success came in 2018 when it raised more than €266,000 from nearly 5,000 Kickstarter backers for eurogame Gugong, which sees players take on the role of powerful 16th century Chinese families trying to gain influence and power by exchanging gifts with officials.

Gugong — Photo Credit: Game Brewer

Other well-regarded games put out by the publisher include Gentes, Chimera Station, Paris and Stroganov.

But as the board game industry has soared over the last decade, so too has the difficulty faced by smaller publishers in making sure their designs get noticed amid the slew of new releases each year.

Well over 3,000 board games were released last year, even without counting expansions, according to data from BoardGameGeek.

Pegasus Spiel co-founder Karsten Esser told BoardGameWire in an interview last year that it was “clear that there are too many games being published”.

That huge amount of new releases came amid 0.4% year-on-year growth in the tabletop games market last year, according to data from Asmodee owner Embracer’s most recent interim report – a small rise, but impressive coming off the back of a record high set in 2022.

The ongoing high-interest rate environment, imposed to tackle runaway inflation, is beginning to weaken consumer spending, however – especially when it comes to discretionary spending on entertainment items such as tabletop games.

Rising numbers of US consumers plan to pare back their spending on home entertainment according to data from consultancy firm McKinsey released at the end of last month, amid a decline in optimism over the strength of the US economy.

Seuntjens said in the blog post, “We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to all our fans who have supported us throughout the years.

“Unfortunately, the increasing competitiveness of the market has made it challenging for us to remain profitable.

“In the coming weeks, I will share stories of our adventure in a blog on our website, highlighting the highs and lows of our journey in the board game industry.

“You are welcome to comment on our experiences. Hopefully it can help people get a better understanding of the day-to-day practices and hurdles at a small indie publisher.”

Game Brewer is currently running a clearance sale on its website to get rid of its 9,000-strong stock of board games, which it said would be necessary to settle its obligations including author license fees and “conclude our adventure debt-free”.

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