Blended Gaming: Tabletop Games Go Digital
App–assisted or ‘blended’ gaming combines the gameplay and mechanics of traditional tabletop and card games with cutting-edge modern gaming technology. This mixture of analog and digital play introduces exciting new opportunities for gamers and game developers alike, opening up new avenues to reach audiences from all corners of the gaming sphere!
The way we play games is constantly evolving and changing; from analog to digital and even, perhaps, an innovative blend of the two. Developers have dabbled in combining digital and traditional mediums through innovative new projects for years, with a wide array of responses from players.
If you’re a tabletop game developer considering the move into digital, or a predominantly digital developer hoping to share new experiences different kinds of audiences, blended gaming could be an empowering and forward-thinking approach to take. Taking the best parts of both mediums and marrying them together can yield amazing results.
An Innovative and Evolving Industry
Tabletop game developers are pressing ahead with challenging new concepts and game modes. In recent years, we’ve seen huge growth in the number of developers introducing downloadable app content to pair with their tabletop, board, and card games. The addition of digital features can open up whole new avenues of outreach to bring digital gamers into the fray and expand on the kinds of experiences on offer to traditionally analog players.
Many game developers who have experimented with this symbiosis of analog and digital have seen favorable responses, a mixture of curiosity and excitement, with fans expressing great interest in the possibilities of this blended style of gaming.
While fully digitized versions of traditionally tabletop games can draw unprecedentedly large audiences, even something as simple as a companion app can expand and diversify engagement, interest, and reach beyond belief – for example, the companion app for the One Night Ultimate Werewolves card game, boasts upwards of 500,000 installs while Fantasy Flight Games’ XCOM: TBG, The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth, and Mansions of Madness companion apps have upwards of 300,000 downloads combined.
The traditional tabletop gaming community boasts a large and passionate following of loyal players and a wealth of creative and innovative game developers to supply them with new adventures. Indie tabletop games have seen a meteoric rise following thousands of successful Kickstarter campaigns, generating upwards of $770 million (USD) since 2009. Beyond Kickstarter’s massive string of successful campaigns are several other developers, all catering to the large and ever-expanding pool of tabletop game players.
A New Campaign for Players
Players can benefit from a wealth of new features previously unavailable to them in a traditional tabletop environment if we dig into the infinite capabilities of apps and the value they can provide. Global leader boards and stat trackers could see groups of players battle it out in their homes against other teams from around the world, creating new multiplayer modes to face off against new challengers. Likewise, players separated by seas and oceans could perhaps play collaboratively together, despite their distance, through a co-op mode.
App updates could open the possibility for gaming “seasons”, where new stories or game modes are released. This would give players brand new experiences all while utilizing the same cards and game pieces they have at home with an updated digital interface to play with.
There’s no shortage of ways to implement a digital add-on for your analog game, whether it comes in the form of a virtual game assistant counting down the seconds till it’s the next players turn, virtual decks, dies and scenarios, or a whole new set of rules and game modes to introduce new styles of play and characters. Your app assistant can be as bespoke and unique as the tabletop or card game you’ve worked so hard to create.
New Opportunities for Developers
While players stand to benefit greatly from the variety of new content and helpful tools an app can offer, developers stand to benefit even more from the wealth of information they receive from players sessions and activity on the app.
Aside from introducing additional utility and new features to players, a digital interface can provide games developers with a treasure-trove of information to pump into their future gaming projects. When players use apps to access additional features in their games, they provide developers with a constant stream of real-time feedback on their games. Which game modes or features are most popular with players? What play style is most popular? How many players typically participate in each game? When are they most likely to play? Where are they playing?
With this kind of feedback, game developers can create games designed to fit their unique gaming audience. Large volumes of qualitative feedback are much harder to procure from a strictly analog game but an app can yield vital information on just what the players want from their gaming experience, such as offering larger or smaller group modes depending on how many people typically join in each game. Campaign modes can be tailored to be longer or shorter if developers see many players closing the app before reaching end game or playing several sessions back-to-back to spend more time in-game. The power, as always, is in the data, and never before have traditional tabletop games creators had so much potential access to such valuable data.
Can My Project Go Digital?
Transitioning from a tabletop game to something close to a blended format is tough. There are a lot of questions. How do I do it? Should I do it? Will my game lose its soul if I introduce tech? Is the potential return worth the investment?
With our dedicated support teams, localization teams and testers, you’re in safe hands. We’re here to help guide you through the winding path, discussing with you what’s important about your game and its gameplay and coming up with concepts for how a digital solution could benefit your analog game, your players, and your bottom line.
So if you think you’re ready to take your first tentative steps from analog to digital, there couldn’t be a better time to start! Why should the digital games creators have all the fun?