December 2020 | Vol. XIX - No. 12
Hasbro was founded in the US in 1923 and has been a giant in the game/toy business ever since. Their game catalog includes classics such as Monopoly, Clue, Life, Scrabble, Candy Land and Trivial Pursuit. In 1999 Hasbro acquired Wizards of the Coast (another entry on this list) for $325M, making them the owner of some of the most popular trading card games in the world as well. Hasbro isn’t just one of the top game companies though, they’re one of the top toy manufacturers in the world. Their other brands include My Little Pony, Nerf, Play-Doh, Star Wars, Power Rangers, Transformers, Marvel and Sesame Street. In Q3 of 2019 they reported earnings of $1.5B and while their toy business likely played a large part in that number, their solid lineup of games certainly helped.
Founded in the US in 1945 Mattel is another massive player in the game/toy space. Their portfolio includes big hitters like UNO, Apples to Apples, Scene it?, and Pictionary. While Mattel might not have the classic games that Hasbro is sporting they may be out pacing them in terms of other brands and licenses they have. To date Mattel has toy lines for; Barbie, Hot Wheels, WWE, DC Comics, American Girl, Thomas and Friends and one of the most popular children’s toy brands, Fisher-Price. In Q1 of 2019 they reported earnings of $690M, well on their way to another billion dollar year.
Founded in Germany all the way back in 1883, Ravensburger is another huge player in the board game space, especially in Europe. They make most of their waves in the market off the back of their two cult classic games, Labyrinth and Scotland Yard, however they do have the license for the Disney Villainous games which are very popular among kids and families at the moment. While Ravensburger is well known in the games space, they are perhaps more well known for their puzzles. They have a wide collection of puzzles including landscapes, cities from across the world, under the sea and even have some Disney licensed puzzles for kids and adults.
Asmodee is a French company founded in 1995. In 2018 Asmodee purchased Mayfair games, giving them a collection of board games that include, Catan and Cosmic Encounter. They also published their own games that are quite well known; Ticket to Ride, Mysterium and Pandemic to name a few. As well as board games, Asmodee has some nice Marvel statues and Star Wars trading cards available as well. While Asmodee may not have the classic games of Hasbro and Mattel, they have some newer games that have risen in popularity since they were introduced in the last 25 years.
IELLO was founded in France in 2004, making it one of the newest companies on this list. They offer a broad variety of games for both adults and children and have yet to venture into other products. Their game catalog is strong enough however to succeed without other brands and licenses. These games include popular table tops such as; King of Tokyo Dark, Ishtar, Bunny Kindom and Decrypto.
Goliath is an American company founded in 1980. Their most popular game being Sequence. They mostly stick to children’s games, with other popular titles being Doggy Doo and Gooey Louie. However Goliath makes some trivia games as well like their Pop Trivia game. Goliath does offer other products, most notably; Trampolines, Super Things (a mini action figure line) and Boomtrix (a build-it-yourself trampoline trick course).
Grand Prix International is the oldest US based company on this list, being founded in 1906. They manufacture the ever popular Hunt a Killer games as well as the Unicorn and Llama games that have grown in popularity alongside similar card based games. Grand Prix International also publishes an exciting game called The Umbrella Academy on top of the board game version of the TV show Family Feud.
As mentioned in a previous entry Wizards of the Coast was purchased by Hasbro in 1999 (only 9 years after Wizards of the Coast was founded in Washington) but they continue to operate under their own name as a subsidiary of Hasbro. Wizards of the Coast gained most of their success off the backs of Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering, still selling cards, books and content packs for those games today. However they have expanded their portfolio to include the Transformers TCG as well as a Japan only card game called Duel Masters. They have even released the first Pokemon TCG sets from 1999-2003 until the Nintendo Company took over. On top of their card and roll-playing games Wizards of the Coast continues to have an impact on the industry by hosting tournaments and events as part of their Wizards Play Network.
Another US based company, Rio Grande was founded in the US in 1998. They focus mainly on bespoke games and are most well known for their Roll for the Galaxy and Race for the Galaxy games. Rio Grande has recently published a new release, Blue Skies, a fun game about the airline industry. While Rio Grande doesn’t offer other product lines, they’re still a big player in the space on the back of solid, exciting and new board games.
Founded in Germany all the way back in 1822, Kosmos takes the spot as the oldest game publisher on this list. Kosmos has had some huge licenses in their past, including Beowolf and Lord of the Rings games but they are most well known for being the first publisher of Settlers of Catan in 1995. And while Hasbro has the license to publish the game in the more widely available English language, Kosmos is the original creator of the game and still publishes Catan in German. More Recently, Kosmos has gotten into the “escape room” style games with their Exit series which includes titles such as; Theft on the Mississippi, The Stormy Flight and Catacombs of Horror.
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