The world's largest trade fair for board games is taking place for the 36th time this year. The continued growth of the games industry is also evident at SPIEL'18. The organizers of the game fair in Essen are recording the first record numbers and are expecting more than 25 game-loving visitors between October 28 and 2018, 180.000.

Entire games industry with positive growth figures

Already last year on the GAME'17, the Friedhelm Merz Verlag reported record numbers in its role as organizer of the world's largest trade fair for board games. In 2018 the gross exhibition area will grow to 80.000 square meters. That corresponds to an area of ​​around eleven soccer fields.

The increase in space at SPIEL'18 is 11 percent. More than 1.400 exhibitors will present their innovations from the game industry from October 25th to 28th, 2018. National and international growth figures show how popular parlor games are: while the German games industry is growing by around 4 percent, analysts are forecasting an annual increase in sales of 9 percent for the foreign market by 2022. Board and card games are particularly in demand; general toys are currently not keeping up with the growth trend.  

Board games and puzzles make up by far the most popular segment in the toy market with around 60 percent of purchases. According to a survey by POSpulse with a total of 500 participants, more than 40 percent of those surveyed buy toys from the toy sector between four and twelve times a year. Particularly interesting: while purely online purchases determine shopping behavior with around 41 percent, around 32 percent of all respondents use the offers in local toy stores. Last but not least, this is probably due to personal advice, because birthdays and holidays are the most common reasons for buying games. In addition, almost a third of those surveyed buy toys spontaneously. 

The extent to which individual online retailers dominate the industry is shown by the fact that around 70 percent of those surveyed use Amazon to make their online purchases. In addition to pure convenience, the decisive factor is the price of the goods: a quarter of the 500 women and men surveyed stated low prices as the main reason for buying online.

For two thirds of those surveyed, the budget for toy purchases is less than 100 euros per year, which indicates that high-priced game titles are more likely to sell to enthusiastic frequent gamers than to average parlor gamers. Only seven percent spend an average of more than 500 euros per year. The wallet of frequent gamers will probably also be noticeably lighter at the upcoming SPIEL'18 in Essen.

What stands out: It is extremely worthwhile for publishers to orientate themselves towards the wishes of their potential customers - especially when it comes to sustainability. Over 60 percent of those surveyed consider sustainable production processes and useful life to be important. Reliance on transparency in the production of parlor games is likely to become indispensable for publishers.

Rush of visitors expected

The organizers of the 36th SPIEL'18 International Game Days are expecting around 182.000 visitors interested in games. In order to cope with the influx of visitors, the organizers implemented some improvements last year, including the parking situation. 

This year, the structure of the halls is changing, partly due to the recently completed Hall 6 at Messe Essen. SPIEL'18 takes place in Halls 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 as well as the Galeria. Visitors can find a hall plan on the Friedhelm Merz Verlag website.

SPIEL'18 in Essen shows growth
More than 180.000 visitors are expected to flock to the halls of Messe Essen from October 25 to 28, 2018. The exhibitors at SPIEL'18 attract visitors with over 1.400 new products and world premieres.

In the newly built Hall 6, visitors will primarily find comics as well as role and miniature games. Exhibition hall 6 also has its own entrance in order to equalize the crowd. 

Comic Action has been an integral part of SPIEL since 1999. Visitors have the opportunity to purchase new releases and used goods, some of them rarities, from the comics industry. In addition, fans can watch some popular comic artists at work on the "Drawer's Avenue" and buy sketches. Cosplay plays a rather subordinate role at SPIEL'18 with Comic Action, but many role players slip into the costumes of their favorite characters.

SPIEL'18 visitors need to know that

The advance sale of tickets for SPIEL'18 has already started. Visitors can purchase their admission tickets online from Messe Essen or Eventim as well as in stationary advance booking offices.

The day ticket for adults costs 13 euros (plus advance booking fees, if applicable). Children between 4 and 12 years pay 7 euros. For students, schoolchildren and people with disabilities, reduced tickets of 10 euros each are available. Family day tickets are also available for 30 euros. Due to the scope of the exhibition and the numerous play options, a multi-day visitor to SPIEL'18 makes sense: for permanent visitors, the cost of a season ticket is between 18, 50 and 31 euros.

SPIEL'18 in Essen shows growth

The traffic situation at the time of the trade fair is often chaotic in Essen. Visitors to SPIEL'18 should travel by public transport whenever possible. The U11 underground line runs from Essen main station directly to the exhibition halls. Single tickets in advance sale are available as combination tickets, with which you can travel within the VRR for 6,50 euros in addition to the regular ticket price. As always, the following applies on the platforms: push through to the end and be prepared for waiting times. 

The awards of the INNOspiel and the German Games Prize are an integral part of the supporting program of the International Game Days. The winners of both awards will be announced on Wednesday, August 24, 2018. 

The German Games Prize 2018, meanwhile, threw dark shadows ahead. On July 23, 2018, the operator of a YouTube channel called on its users to vote for a certain game title.

The initiators of the award saw this as an attempt at manipulation: As a result, Friedhelm Merz Verlag decided not to count any votes that were given after the video contribution was published. A timely interim evaluation made it possible to determine voting peaks for the game title in question that could not be assigned to normal voting behavior. 

This attempt at tampering shows two things. On the one hand, the consistent elimination of votes on the part of the organizer is exemplary, especially because the number of votes at an audience award such as the German Games Prize is manageable. On the other hand, users should make sure that influencers deal responsibly with their position as information disseminators in their daily internet consumption. Not everyone who talks or writes about games does so in an appropriate manner.

There is a lot of fuss about the SPIEL'18 in Essen. In any case, the prospects for a superlative games fair are good.

Further information is available to visitors to the official website for SPIEL is available for storage, management and analysis. 

Read our posts about last year's here GAME'17