The geeks are coming! The geeks are coming!
Move over Monopoly. Make way Candyland. Some new games are hitting the shelves at Target, and they're decidedly geeky. Target began a slow roll-out of hobby gaming titles at its stores last year, but according to an announcement on the Geek & Sundry website, the retailer is preparing to go full blast in cooperation with the TableTop web series.
The brainchild of Wil Wheaton, TableTop is a bi-weekly web show on the Geek & Sundry YouTube channel that features geek celebrities playing board games, card games, and roleplaying games in a manner that invokes comparisons to Celebrity Poker. The hook to the show is that unless you already consider gaming your hobby, you probably haven't seen or heard of any of these games.
And where a whole new generation of gamers is being educated by Wheaton and friends, Target is stepping in to make sure you have a place to buy these titles. Over the next three months, starting August 1st, Target stores will be stocking a range of board games marked with special “As Seen on Geek & Sundry” stickers, and also running a "Featured Game of the Month" promotion.
The only questions now are which games will see the Target shelves, and which ones will sell through to the mass market audience.
And so it begins. Photo courtesy of Matt Blum.
The Geek & Sundry Pinterest account has a special board dedicated to fan photos of TableTop games spotted in Target stores sporting the new sticker, but as you can see from the above, the games are already popping up in advance of the August 1st kickoff.
In a trip to my local Target store, I found the board game section already in mid-transition. Target dipped its toes into the hobby gaming market last year, stocking several board games that I found sporting deep clearance stickers rather than "As Featured on Geek & Sundry." Your mileage will vary based on store locations, but savvy game shoppers may be able to score deals such as Zooloretto for $10, Munchkin for $7, Deadwood for $8, and Struggle for Catan for $5.
Speaking of Catan, this clearancing of the card game is anything but a pull-out of support from Target. In fact, they'll be stocking a Target-exclusive Star Trek-themed version of the modern classic starting in the fall. Surely this deal was struck with the thought that a Star Trek license would help generate appeal with the casual shopper, but it will also have the side effect of bringing some established gamers into Target stores.
Star Trek Catan in action at the Nuremburg Toy Fair. Image by BoardGameGeek.com user duchamp, used under Creative Commons License.
Gero Zahn, a designer for the Catan company, has shared the full story of how his spare time project of "Space Settlers" grew into Star Trek Catan.
As for Munchkin, it may have been spotted on clearance here or there, don't expect that to be leaving stores anytime soon. Wil Wheaton playing Munchkin with the game's designer, Steve Jackson, has proved to be one of the show's best moments so far, and Target won't let that opportunity to capitalize pass it by.
I spoke with Steve Jackson Games COO Phil Reed, who has been enjoying the opportunity to work with both Geek & Sundry and Target, stating: "Getting Munchkin into Target and our appearances on Tabletop have both been ways to reach players who might not otherwise have heard of our games. By all reports, they have been extremely successful -- at our conventions this summer and on Twitter and Facebook, we've heard from lots of people that they saw our games on Tabletop or on the shelves at Target, and now they're dedicated fans! Target and Geek & Sundry have been great partners for us, and we're thrilled to see THEM partnering up as well."
As new episodes of TableTop continue to air, we'll get a better idea of what games might make the Target cut. We've yet to see board games such as Last Night on Earth or Dixit, both of which have TableTop episodes waiting to air. Also, the Dragon Age Roleplaying Game will be the second RPG to get the TableTop treatment after Fiasco got its spotlight during the past several episodes. If Fiasco or Dragon Age were to hit Target shelves, they could very well be the first RPGs sold at the retail chain.