Today we have an important announcement to make about the future of BGA, and we would like to take the time to explain it well - sorry for the (very) long text :p
To go straight to the point: BGA and Asmodée will join their forces, in order to secure the future of BGA and to bring online the games that you request for a long time. Apart from new games, for you, nothing will change (yes, this is a very long text to explain that there is no change ).
All of this requires some explanation. Here it is:
11 years ago, Emmanuel and I created a website to make it possible to play board games online, from a simple web browser, with the whole world. "Why did you do it?" was a trivial question (and it is still today). We did it for only one reason: "because we could". The technology was there, we were board games fans, we had the skills, we did not need anything but time, so we did it.
All along these years, it appears that we have been very bad at predicting the success of Board Game Arena. We never thought this service would succeed so quickly, and we never thought it would reach its current size. It is still difficult for us to grasp today how important BGA has become for so many of you. To say things differently: you, as players, developers, translators, surprised us many times for your loyalty and support all along the years.
We thanked you many times for this, and I would like to thank you another time today.
Building a successful service with such a vibrant and enthusiastic community may look easy. In reality, this is not. Our initial goal was only to play with the technology, to build a "toy" for the pleasure of making it possible. Managing a 24/7 service for a bigger and bigger community with more and more demands was not really in the initial plan.
The thing is, the community loved our service, and we were having fun building this service. That is why we chose to reorganize our lives to do what needed to be done, one step after another.
For Emmanuel and I, the consequences have obviously been major. During the 7 first years of Board Game Arena, we were managing BGA in addition to our "regular" jobs, which was the logical choice since the service did not bring enough money to pay any of us. To make all of this possible, we chose to involve you as a community in building BGA.
Thanks to all the players who helped us, it was possible to keep the service running and growing during all these years. However, despite the help of the community, our involvement for BGA led to some major professional and personal consequences for both of us. We had to make a choice between BGA and our jobs. Approximately at the same time, it appeared that we could have on BGA some major best-selling games, with the condition to propose them as "Premium" games. The solution was then pretty obvious: introducing some major games on BGA as Premium, to get money for publishers and for us, so that we could quit our jobs and still get a salary, while keeping most of BGA games free.
4 years later, this model has proven its success. The Premium/commercial part of the website is profitable for the publishers and for BGA, and as a player you can play the most popular board games using this paying model for a small fee. At the same time, the free/community-based part of the website has never been so plentiful, with dozens of new games getting to players each month thanks to the developers community and to publishers granting their authorization. We are very proud to be at the frontier of these 2 worlds: BGA would not be the same if we had to choose between having a restrictive catalog of best-seller Premium "profitable" games and having a large catalog of way less popular games that would be "non-profitable" in a purely commercial website context.
However, we still have a major weakness today: us. The whole service strongly relies on Emmanuel and I. Despite its vibrant community, its economic model and the support of everyone, if something happened to us, the consequences on BGA would be dramatic. And we know that.
This is why, as soon as we could afford it - in 2020 -, we hired Ian and Jurica to help us manage this service and we will hire another great person in a few months. With this, our wish is to make BGA more resilient. However, our overall goal is to go further, and to make sure that BGA will still be there for you in 10 or 20 years. To say things differently, we need to find a long-term solution where we - the founders and owners - may not be there for BGA.
As you may imagine, a lot of investors have been interested in BGA all along the years. We regularly looked at these offers as a possible solution for the previous situation. However, we have always been uncomfortable with people coming from the finance world, from the video games world, or from any other world that is not strongly focused on board games. We built BGA because we are board games fans wanting to provide a service to other board games fans. A non-negotiable condition for us was to make sure that in the future, BGA would be run by absolute board games fans.
A few months ago, the stars aligned, and we finally found a solution for the future of BGA with a strong partner. And this is the announcement we'd like to make here: Board Game Arena is joining now the Asmodee group.
This choice may seem obvious to those of you who know the board game industry really well. However, we would like to explain a little bit here why this agreement is the best choice for BGA.
At first, it matches our first requirement: make sure BGA is run by people focused on board games. Whatever happens in the future, BGA won't become another video games portal or something that does not have any interest for you.
Then, this agreement ensures that BGA will remain as it is. In particular, BGA will absolutely keep the coexistence of commercial (Premium) games that bring revenues, and non-commercial (Free) games that give a chance to any game to be played online on BGA, thanks to the help of the community.
It also means that the current BGA team will continue to run the service for the foreseeable future. Of course, at some point in the future, Emmanuel and I will probably leave BGA to live some other adventures, but that is certainly not for now.
The joining agreement ensures that BGA remains an independent entity (legally and organizationally), which can make its own decisions. Specifically, no difference will be made between publishers that are part of the Asmodee group and others. For 11 years, we have been selecting games depending on their quality, and no one wants to change this. What makes us comfortable with Asmodee on this subject is that this company has shown in the past that they manage to work with almost everyone in the board games world, as a distributor, a publisher, or a retailer.
This agreement also ensures that BGA will receive the investment, in time and money, that is needed for it to continue to live in the future. Whatever may happen, this agreement is making sure that BGA will be there in 10 or 20 years.
And finally, what each one of you is thinking about at this point is coming to be true: the really popular board games that have been missing on BGA, published by publishers from the Asmodee group, will become available on BGA in the following months. You probably already know what games we are speaking about, and no, we won't spoil the names here :p
To conclude, if we would like to summarize everything in a few words, they would be the following: BGA remains BGA, with a future secured and very good games coming.
... so the dream we started together 11 years ago can continue, forever.
Take care and see you soon to play very good games together.