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Subject: Smaller Games with Bigger Boxes rss

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Alex Sagar
United Kingdom
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I found the posts on the attraction of smaller games an interesting read. They also caused me, along with a post on the http://www.bgdf.com/node/15141, to think about the size of games being offered.

I frequently take size into account when making game purchases, because my game shelves can only hold so much. A game in a big box (which doesnt always equal a bigger game in the box) always gives me pause for purchasing thought.

I will happily add a game in a small box to my collection with little thought to storage concerns. However a big box purchase makes me consider storage problems, culling the collection, and what can i do to make room. These concerns have frequently led to me putting multiple games in boxes or refraining from a purchase entirely.

Could it be that the size of smaller games also affects other peoples buying decisions?

I would be interested to hear what other people think of deliberately inflated box sizes for smaller games and the value consumers place on "empty air".


Copy of the post I made to the BGDF forum to illustrate my cursory self questioning of the "bigger box is better" marketing strategy. Sorry for the long winded nature of the post, self pinching may be advisable to stay awake if you choose to read it.


I’ve never really understood the “bigger box = better” strategy that seems to be universally upheld and promoted. I think it carried more weight in the past than it currently does, but even so I’ve never really fully grasped the wisdom behind it.

As far as I can determine the supporting thought behind it relates to the following

People do tend to equate bigger with more value.

If P=Price, a small bag of apples is worth P and a large bag of apples is worth Px3. So if I get a medium sized bag with a small number of apples for P then I bought a bargain. On the surface my purchase appears to be good value because the box suggests that I received more than I actually did.

And this, I believe, is the thinking behind the bigger box strategy. People are fooled into thinking something has more value than it actually does because the container generates a misleading impression.

Bigger is more noticeable.

In a store, on the shelf, a bigger box is more likely to attract the attention of a customer than a smaller box that isn’t as visually pronounced. And if a customer notices a product then the chances of them purchasing that product increase.

So those are the conventionally accepted benefits supporting the wisdom for having boxes that are bigger than the requirements of the products inside them, as far as I can see. Their may be other reasons and if there are please point them out to me.

However, taking everything that occurs to me into account, I can’t really see the justification for the continued acceptance and universal promotion of the marketing strategy.

My considerations are as follows

When a person opens their big box purchase to reveal a superfluous amount of “hot air” they feel cheated. They realize that they didn’t actually receive more for their money, they where only deceived into thinking they where going to receive more. What they actually received was far less than they where led to expect.

This creates a level of dissatisfaction with the producer of the product and the product itself. And more importantly it could cause the customer to react skeptically to future offerings by the same product producer, “I won’t be fooled twice”.

The worst examples of the practice even involve a hike to the actual price as a consequence of the larger box (which to some degree reflects the larger prduction costs of larger boxes).

In these cases a customer opens their inflated box to reveal a much smaller game than they anticpated and realize that they paid more for the game than the material costs actually warrant - a double deceit.

The physical dimensions of a box have a storage and commercial cost for everyone in the supply chain.

Brick and mortar stores only have so much shelf space and storage space. Every area of shelf space is a profit zone. If I have a 30cm square shelf space I can store 6 big boxes in it (30x30x5). Or I can store 40 smaller boxes (15x15x2.5). So if my profit on a big box offering (containing a small game) is $5 the area can earn me $30.

In contrast the smaller boxes may generate $3 of profit for an area total of $120 in total. So even though the smaller sized boxes generate less profit per item (and they need not do since the game is essentially the same as the one in the inflated box) it makes more sense to stock the smaller boxes.

One downside to this is the visibility mentioned earlier. A simple way to offset this is to concentrate the visual appeal of the product with a storage solution that increases visual impact. It’s why lots of smaller products are offered in stand displays.

The overall space taken up by the smaller collective products is the same, but the uniformity of the display box, carton or whatever gives it the same or even more visual presence than an inflated box. As an added bonuses these carton can have point of sale counter placements or they can even be free standing to create new shop selling space.

The smaller size also allows a brick and mortar retailer to stock more products or a more varied range of products. In the area space previously given they could have 6 inflated game boxes for one game or 10 smaller boxes carrying 4 different games.

Transport costs. When a manufacturer ships a finished product they usually ship them on pallets. The more games you can fit on a pallet the cheaper the transport cost and the cheaper the transport cost the cheaper the end price the customers receive. Not to mention the “save the world” ecological benefits of not transporting boxes largely filled with empty air.

A lot of retail sales are now carried out online. When a customer makes an online purchase the size of the box a product comes in is largely irrelevant. Their attention is captured by product pictures which can be any size. The good retailers also show pictures of what is actually in the box, so any attempt to deceive customers by implying they will get more for their money because of the box size is redundant.

Going back to my previous point about shipping, when a customer makes an online purchase they have to pay for postage. Generally the postage costs take into account both size and weight so a box of empty air will increase the final cost a customer has to pay to get the game into their hands.

Finally, and this is more to do with my own preferences, I only have so much space on my game shelves. Buying a game is often a choice of what can I fit onto those shelves. If I add a game I sometimes have to make space by selling off an existing game. So the last thing I want as a game buying consumer is lots of artificially large boxes that take up far more space on my shelves than they need to do. And this certainly affects the games I choose to buy.

All told, I seriously question the validity of “bigger box is better” argument. I think it might be time to actually question the argument a little further than simply trotting out the age old justifications of conventional wisdom “this is what everyone does”, “this is how it has always been” and other arguments that refrain from actually questioning a standard of practice that might be outmoded.

Then again I might be completely wrong and customers might actually prefer big boxes of empty air and superfluous packaging surrounding their products.
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Yoki Erdtman
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I absolutely love games in small boxes, and buy many small games simply because they come in a small package and it's worth a gamble, while larger box games need to knock another game out of my collection and therefore must impress me royally before being purchased.
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Yokiboy wrote:
I absolutely love games in small boxes, and buy many small games simply because they come in a small package and it's worth a gamble, while larger box games need to knock another game out of my collection and therefore must impress me royally before being purchased.
Likewise; I have a more or less rule of "one comes in, one comes out" when it comes to bigger boxes; smaller boxes sometimes can pack a greta punch.

Some of my favourite small box games are:
-Saboteur (with expansion which technically is 2 small boxes)
-Take 6! (A deck of 104 cards in a tiny box)
-Hanabi (A Spiel Des Jahre winner)

All those boxes hardly take space in my shelf.
 
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Brian Lelas
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When I ordered a copy of Hey, That's My Fish! it arrived in a box that was (no exaggeration) about 80% thin air. Looks pretty on the shelf, but could have come in a way smaller box.
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Timothy Riel
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Laerfan wrote:
When I ordered a copy of Hey, That's My Fish! it arrived in a box that was (no exaggeration) about 80% thin air. Looks pretty on the shelf, but could have come in a way smaller box.
And luckily for us late adopters, now comes in a VERY small box. Same size as Mr. Jack Pocket.
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Jeff Lane
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I have to say that my latest purchase of Shadowrun: Crossfire deckbuilding game came in a much larger box than was needed. More than 50% was air and the box had in it a lot of unnecessary advertisements for Shadowrun related merchandise and/or games.
For me when I pay for a game I am paying for a game not just for the IP and I want something in the box. I realize that this game will undoubtedly will have expansion cards for it in the future. Also this practice puts a more pressure on the game to be really good out of the box, much better because I immediately feel disappointed in it when I see all that space in the box.
That is Shadowrun: Crossfire...a game I really wanted to like more but that huge box of mostly air made me immediately feel irritated with the game before even playing it.
 
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july mjj
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BubbleChucks wrote:
A lot of retail sales are now carried out online. When a customer makes an online purchase the size of the box a product comes in is largely irrelevant. Their attention is captured by product pictures which can be any size. The good retailers also show pictures of what is actually in the box, so any attempt to deceive customers by implying they will get more for their money because of the box size is redundant.

Going back to my previous point about shipping, when a customer makes an online purchase they have to pay for postage. Generally the postage costs take into account both size and weight so a box of empty air will increase the final cost a customer has to pay to get the game into their hands.
this. us international buyers have to mindful of the box sizes due to shipping costs. there is the actual weight and the volume/cubic weight, which is calculated base on the box's dimension. with the freight forwarder i'm using, whichever is higher of the 2 weights will be used, and they charge by the pound. so a box full of air ends me costing more. and it's really annoying to know that it won't have cost more if the publisher just used the right sized box.

i somewhat ranted about this in the Machi Koro forums (Holy crap that is a HUGE box!), seeing that one is a box of air. i won't buy it overseas. i'll just wait for it to be available locally, that is, if i'm still interested at that point since it usually takes monthsss for newly released games to be available this side of the globe.

 
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Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space
LOVE this game, but some cards and a pad of paper which can easily be printed and customized doesn't need a bigger box than ultimate werewolf.
Although my OCD doesn't understand why every game can't come in a Ticket to Ride box. All shelves could be uniform and the shape is so nice! (not sure why, but it really is)
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ian o
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There is something to be said for being able to fit future expansions though.
 
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R Hogue
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Flat rate shipping angle
I recently read somewhere that a great box size would be one that barely fits inside a USPS flat rate shipping box. From a publisher's point of view, this fits perfectly into the storage/shipping cost argument. This way, you always have a handle on how much your shipping costs will be plus, since you get the packing supplies for free, even better!
 
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Eric Selander
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Wow--the irony in this post! Big box, lots of air. whistle
 
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