The Installed Base of Board Games vs. BGG Ownership

I’ve always been curious about what subset of board game owners log their ownership on BGG (BoardGameGeek). Jamey Stegmaier just shared the installed base of five core products. I cross-referenced that against BGG ownership stats.

Game Installed Base BGG Ownership Ratio
Between Two Cities 36,900 8,264 4.5
Charterstone 56,500 8,606 6.6
Euphoria 31,000 8,787 3.5
Scythe 147,678 34,777 4.2
Viticulture 54,780 7,007 7.8
Average 65,372 13,488 5.3

So sales outnumber logged ownership anywhere from a factor of 3.5 to 7.8, depending on title. This range will widen even further when you factor in games with four-digit sales and mainstream games (beyond the hobbyist games most frequently documented on BGG).

You can add data that you’ve seen to this Google Sheet. (Note: The number of Kickstarter backers, while public information, isn’t the same as installed base, and will vary even more dramatically, as different publishers might have very different print runs for the same number of backers.)

Update: James Mathe, in comments in Tabletop Game Publisher’s Guild, adds the following:

A slight problem with your analysis is that Jamey’s numbers are how many he made and/or sold into distribution. At any given time thousands can be sitting in distribution and warehouses and store shelves. So they are not #’s to customers sold by any means.

When I take an estimate of # of copies in the channel for my games and compare to the people marking them as “owned” on BGG – I get a 30-55% range on the 4 most popular games of ours.

Your number above would result in much lower %’s but as I said we don’t know how much is just sitting in channel versus bought. That variance for me is anywhere from 10-35% depending on my current inventory levels.

I guess the point here is that one can assume that even for indie companies who do most of their marketing online and BGG – they still can only expect about 20-40% of their sales to be marked there. Which implies pretty good saturation there as BGG probably reflects less than 10% of overall buyers (not to mention many BGG people don’t actually track stuff with the database).

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