The Best-Selling Board Games of All Time
Some games have a long and compelling history and remain popular to this day
The explosion of technology has meant a never-ending stream of entries into the leisure and entertainment market. While these cutting-edge options are obviously gobbled up, good old-fashioned board games still remain popular; with total annual sales projected to top $12 billion by 2023. This includes these five classics, which are the best-selling of all time according to Money Inc.
5. Scrabble: This challenge of wordsmithing has been popular since it first appeared in 1938. Accommodating two to four players, using tiles to spell words (those made up by participants don’t count!) ends up being an incredibly competitive exercise. Trademarked by Mattel in most of the world, except Canada and the United States, where it is a Hasbro product, the game is sold in 121 countries and available in more than 30 languages. It has been estimated that more than 150 million game sets have been sold around the globe and that approximately a third of American and up to a half of British homes have at least one set.
4. Monopoly: First hitting the market in 1934 as a Parker Brothers product, the ability to manage money and invest in real estate without real-life consequences was a pleasant departure during the midst of the Great Depression. It was derived from The Landlord’s Game, which was introduced by Elizabeth Phillips (née Magie) in 1903.
Now published by Hasbro, Monopoly is available in over 100 countries and in more than three dozen languages. Interestingly, the concept of winning is the player who collects the most money and properties, thus creating a monopoly, which is in stark contrast of American anti-trust laws. As of 2011, around 275 million sets had been sold. It has helped maintain its popularity in recent years by producing a variety of special edition themes like The Simpson, Star Wars and others recognizing popular culture.
3. Backgammon: One of the oldest games in history, it has reportedly been around since at least 3,000 B.C. in ancient Mesopotamia. Historians have identified more than 40 versions that were played, using materials ranging from bones to sticks for game pieces. Some of these have been found intact and well-preserved in Egyptian tombs, providing a compelling eye to the past. The two-player game is highly-studied by computer scientists, much like chess, to identify winning strategies. Despite its simplicity, an estimated 88 million copies have been sold since 2005 and it remains a popular staple of any game enthusiast.
2. Checkers: Also known as “Draught,” Checkers is a contemporary of Backgammon, having had ancient versions of the game discovered dating back to 3,000 B.C. in Ur. It has also been found in ancient Egypt and was mentioned by since luminaries of the past such as Homer and Plato. The American version is played on an 8x8 board while other versions range to up to 12x12 boards.
No matter what version is played, it’s a two-player game of strategy and cornering opponents until they have been conquered. It’s a simplistic analogy to territorial wars that have been waged through history. With an estimated 500 billion billion possible checker positions, there are a lot of ways to strategically play this game. It has been said that there have been sales of more than 50 billion checker boards over the years around the world.
1. Chess: The supreme game of strategy has also long been associated with intelligence and refinement. Another two-player game, its origins go back more than a millennium, as it is believed to be derived from the Asian Indian game Chaturanga. It came to Europe around 1,000 A.D. and quickly gained in popularity, although modern rules weren’t fully adopted until the 19th century. A premium is put on strategies and the best players in the world are called masters. The 8x8 square boards can be basic, but intricate versions are created out of beautiful and luxurious materials. In total, the Unites States sees sales of three million boards annually, which generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue.