From the outside looking in – the 2019 @TheGAMAOnline Trade Show from a #wargame #boardgame perspective

The forthcoming 2019 GAMA Trade Show uploaded their site book online. GAMA, if you don’t know, is the Game Manufactures Association. It is the professional portion of the hobby gaming industry. According to their web site, their purpose is:

The Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) is the non-profit trade organization dedicated to serving the hobby games industry. GAMA strengthens and supports all industry professionals by advancing their interests, providing educational programs and opportunities, and promoting our unique form of quality social entertainment.

I am not a designer, publisher, distributor, retailer, or otherwise a hobby games industry professional. What I am is a hobby (and occasionally professional) wargamer and a family hobby boardgame consumer and player. Looking at the event book from this narrow perspective I see a few (maybe) interesting tidbits.

Page 2 GAMA President Letter – No mention of the tremendous upheaval in the GAMA Board in the past year. Not that I expect to see it, but no “healing words” either. (For some background, look at the Brant Guillory – Dragoon Commander answer in this Armchair Dragoons posting)

Page 10-18 Daily Schedule

Page 23-29 Sponsors – Good paragraph-length summaries of the major companies. These could be used to update some of the pitiful company profiles on BoardGameGeek.

Page 32-33 Asmodee AdCatan, Ticket to Ride, Spot it!, and Pandemic. Nothing “new” here. Frankly, I’m surprised that Asmodee doesn’t use this spread to even hint at some newness. Worried about the competition? I don’t think Asmodee really needs to but….

Page 66-67 Gale Force Nine AdAliens franchise? Missed that. I had heard buzz about GF9 landing the Dune IP though. I hope they get more TANKS Modern into distribution. I ordered a starter set in late October as a Christmas present for Youngest RockyMountainNavy Boy but cancelled it mid-January because it NEVER came into stock!

Page 91 GAMA Trade Show 2019 Exhibitors – I looked for my favorite publishers. The big ones in the hobby are here like Wizards of the Coast or Games Workshop. As a wargamer, it was encouraging to at least see Gale Force Nine and Steve Jackson Games but I don’t see other wargame publishers here. I guess I was expecting to see somebody like Academy Games but even they are absent.

I find this list more interesting by looking at who is not listed. Not really surprised that my favorite wargame publishers are not there but I don’t see publishers I enjoy like Stronghold Games either. Given the strength of a game like Villainous I expected to see Ravensburger here but, alas, even they are missing. Does that mean Ravesnburger is a Mass Market Game Company and not part of the hobby game industry?

For grins, I compared the GAMA Exhibitors list to the recently held Toy Fair New York. Immediately, I noticed that USAopoly is at GAMA and was a featured exhibitor at Toy Fair New York. There is other overlap, but I guess that should be expected given Toy Fair lists 1052 exhibitors whereas GAMA lists a mere 156. Even so, a cursory comparison shows that while there is overlap, it may not be as much as one expects.

Page 94-95 Show Specials – Interesting to see what “deals” are being offered to retailers.

Page 96-103 Game Nights – Designers, Minis, RPGs, new games. Wonder what sort of NDA’s are required.

Page 106 Fireside Games AdMy First Castle Panic is tempting; that is, if Mrs. RockyMountainNavy keeps tutoring young kids.

Page 109-111 2019 Power Retail Nominees – This looks to be a must-visit game store destination listing. Alas, none look to be local to me (jealous).

So what is my biggest take-away? There is alot of talk about how big the hobby gaming market is, possibly in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion according to ICv2. That said, the GAMA Trade Show demonstrates to me that wargaming is a very small niche of that market. In many ways wargame publishing is a cottage industry.

But that’s OK. Wargames and hobby boardgames will always be welcome in the RockyMountainNavy house.

Feature image GAMA Trade Show 


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