Every time I go to Gen Con, it restores my resolve to buy a gaming table, although that always remains in the “after the next time we move” category. And I haven’t moved in a while. And Geek Chic shut down this summer after their deal on Shark Tank fell through. It’s a shame; I cannot speak to the market for high quality, high margin, low volume, niche market luxury products. Last year’s Gen Con post will direct you to competitors like BoardGamesTables.com and Caroline Game Tables.
Let’s talk about a few new entrants into that space. In honor of last year’s theme of “everything seems to be on Kickstarter,” all three are Kickstarting right now. Crowded market all at once, but “just after Gen Con” is either the best or the worst time to catch tabletop gamers.
- Transforming Designs had a Game Anywhere Table campaign, now running a sequel campaign for more versions. Their gimmick is the portable nature of the table, which folds up, along with a variety of magnetic add-ons like card holders and “player pockets.” Portability is nice, although I am not sure how often I have needed a portable gaming table. It also has a bit of that folding table feel and is built around an assumption of four players. Much less expensive than the more permanent tables, $400 versus more than $1000. At which point you may have an uncomfortable comparison versus the cost of a non-gaming folding table, which is closer to $20.
- The Gaddis Gaming TableTopper 2.0 is also a follow-up Kickstarter, this time to a project from two years ago. Their version is also portable and, as the name implies, is a topper to covert existing tables to a gaming space, intended for miniature wargaming. Their new project is for adding customizability and options, like finishes and modular components for larger and smaller gaming spaces. It is made of foam, which helps with the carrying and floating. In case you have ever wanted to do some gaming while swimming. The Kickstarter is already successful, but it seems far less popular than the actual tables, which has a lot of reasons behind it: foam, built for the even more niche wargaming market, not actually a table, rails on only two sides, fewer options, cost comparable to the lower-end Game Anywhere Table.
- The Table of Ultimate Gaming is a more traditional table and then some. They have fewer options than BoardGameTables.com but are much more competitive on price, capping at $1000 as a Kickstarter price where others start above $1000. They have two sizes, three heights, and a few colors, which must help with keeping down some complexity and cost. They add complexity back in with the sort of modular add-ons that Geek Chic and the Game Anywhere Table have. They have decoration packs in case you want to advertise it as a gaming table rather than disguise it as a standard dining room table. What I found most interesting was modular tables sizes. The sides are removable, so if you want a bigger table (now or later), just get a second table put them together (I am unclear on whether anything would hold them together except gravity and friction). Downside: assembly is required, and the lower surfaces of the table make that apparent. Compare these corners to these ones from BoardGameTables.com. The latter advertises hand-crafting, whereas this advertises laser-cutting. You get a bit more of an Ikea experience here, at a much lower price. Having power outlets in the table is nice for some options. I am unclear on what the “play mat” is made from.
Thoughts? Comments? More information or other recent entrants into the market?