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Digital Burnout Fuels Tabletop Gaming Trend

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In a hectic, uncertain world dominated by technology, many people crave a digital detox, seeking more tangible, in-person connections to find solace and a new community. But it isn’t just about preference.

Affordable entertainment is becoming a priority too, which online geek goods retailer Merchoid explores in a new report

  • No more streaming spend. A survey of 1,479 entertainment fans found that 22% have cancelled their streaming subscription this year, and 43% are considering cancelling soon. 
  • Meanwhile, Games Workshop, owners of the Warhammer IP, and Wizards of The Coast, owners of the Dungeons & Dragons IP, have each seen record-breaking revenue increases post-pandemic.
  • 37% spend more time on tabletop games than pre-lockdown, with 76% noting in-person interaction as essential to their enjoyment. 

In an uncertain economic climate with soaring subscription service fees and growing cinema ticket prices, interactive classics are having a retro resurgence. In a cost of living crisis, people cut their losses where possible. 

The coronavirus lockdowns meant long periods of isolation, with most of us relying on technology for communication and entertainment. As life returned to normal, people worldwide remained hungry for social contact; figures suggest digital pastimes are being ditched to compensate for lost time in the real world.

Owner of Slice & Dice (tabletop gaming café), Samantha Whitehouse, has felt the business change: “We’ve had to move to a bigger venue just over a year after opening as we couldn’t keep up with demand on weekends and we kept getting enquiries for bigger groups/events. We’ve seen a massive increase in people using our venue for celebrations, occasions and friendly catch-ups because they love having the game element to keep them all off their phones.”

Last year, the colossal UK video games market declined by 5.6%, partly by increased interest in tabletop gaming. Of Merchoid’s survey respondents, 37% stated they spent more time on tabletop games than before the lockdown. 

James Dance, the founder of Loading Bar, thinks tabletop: “Allows people to play in person in a way that they don’t with online games,” which “offers something social that scales up to bigger groups without large expenses like, say, Crazy Golf, Axe throwing etc.”

Tabletop gaming is proving so popular that the owner of Ludoquist in Croydon, Nick Smith, regularly gets more people on his waiting list than can fit inside the venue. As a result, Games Workshop (Warhammer IP) has seen a +53.8% revenue increase since 2020, followed closely by Dungeon & Dragons IP owners Wizards of the Coast’s 46.1% revenue growth.  

Simon Ward, director at Merchoid, notes: “Tabletop gaming is redefining value in entertainment. As streaming service prices climb, people are pivoting towards board games, a one-time purchase for endless fun. It’s not just about the game; it’s about the community, shared experiences and lasting memories. Tabletop games are proving their worth repeatedly, delivering replayability that goes the distance.”

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