Countless gamers have started their journey by playing Tabletop Games, many of which have been around for quite a few years. Tabletop Games have been enjoyed by enthusiasts all over the world for ages, and with video games quickly taking the center stage in modern times, many people wonder how popular Tabletop Games still are.
It’s estimated that the total number of people playing Tabletop Games is in the millions, with the majority of most-played Tabletop Games being within the Board Game, Role-Playing Game, and Card Game categories. However, most Tabletop Game players play casually rather than concurrently.
While Tabletop Games are still relatively popular within certain contexts, the general ‘Tabletop Games’ category is still fairly vague and broad. Only specific Tabletop Games seem to have maintained popularity, with others becoming nothing more than a shadow of gaming history. Stick around to find out about some of the most popular Tabletop Games, their classifications, and how many people still play Tabletop Games.
When it comes to identifying a Tabletop Game, the basis comes down to the environment in which the game is played as well as the overall mechanics of the game itself. Tabletop Games can be formally defined as follows:
“Tabletop games or tabletops are games that are normally played on a table or other flat surface, such as board games, card games, dice games, miniature wargames, or tile-based games.”
Tabletop Games are further categorized into 7 smaller groups, depending on the nature and aim of the game combined with its model, design, and mechanics. The categories within Tabletop Games and examples of games that meet each category are described below.
|“Board games are tabletop games that typically use pieces – moved or placed on a pre-marked board and often include elements of table, card, role-playing, and miniatures games as well.”
|Adventure board games, Adventure gamebooks, Backgammon, Can’t Stop, Chess, German-style board games, Go, Reversi
|“A card game is any game using playing cards as the primary device with which the game is played, be they traditional or game-specific.”
|Solitaire, Collectible card games, Hanafuda, Tarot card games, Poker
|“Dice games are games that use or incorporate one or more dice as their sole or central component, usually as a random device.”
|Bunco, Craps, Farkle, Generala, Poker dice, Sic bo, Yahtzee, Zombie Dice
|Paper and pencil games
|Paper-and-pencil games or paper-and-pen games (or some variation on those terms) are games that can be played solely with paper and pencils (or other writing implements), usually without erasing.
|Battleship, Connect 5, Dots and Boxes, Hangman, Sprouts, Sudoku
|Tabletop role-playing games
|“A tabletop role-playing game (typically abbreviated as TRPG or TTRPG), also known as a pen-and-paper role-playing game, is a form of role-playing game (RPG) in which the participants describe their characters’ actions through speech.”
|Call of Cthulhu, Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
|“A strategy game or strategic game is a game (e.g. a board game) in which the players’ uncoerced, and often autonomous, decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome.”
|Wargames, Government simulation games, Miniatures games
|“A tile-based game is a game that uses tiles as one of the fundamental elements of play. Traditional tile-based games use small tiles as playing pieces for gambling or entertainment games.”
|15 puzzle, Anagrams, Dominoes, Mahjong, Mahjong solitaire, Tangrams
There may even be sub-categories for some of these Tabletop Games Categories – in some cases, even sub-sub-categories. In other instances, such as Monopoly which utilizes elements from both the board and dice Tabletop Game category, the game will still be listed as a Tabletop Game but it may be uncategorized.
Additionally, Tabletop Games are also split into two categories depending on the element of chance as well. These two categories are Deterministic and Stochastic, both of which will be affected by full/ perfect information or partial/ imperfect information.
In modern times, many of the most successful and popular Tabletop Games have been digitized for enjoyability and convenience. These Tabletop Game digital variants generally include the following aspects:
- Straight reproductions of existing physical Tabletop Games
- Video games that use Tabletop Game aspects, incorporated into the video game’s principles and gameplay mechanics
- Tabletop Game Simulators, using a virtual tabletop and platform for conducting Tabletop Games online with opponents
How Many People Play Tabletop Games?
With so many Tabletop Games coming into existence throughout the past few years (or even decades) the ever-growing list is astoundingly lengthy – there are thousands upon thousands of Tabletop Games belonging to various categories. Needless to say, the room for comparison and discussion is endless when it comes to Tabletop Games.
It’s estimated that the total number of people playing Tabletop Games is in the millions, with the majority of most-played Tabletop Games being within the Board Game, Role-Playing Game, and Card Game categories. However, there is no solid figure or quantifiable amount on a global scale – especially considering that most Tabletop Game players play casually rather than concurrently.
Unlike modern or online video games that have steady and more reliable player counter tracking technology with frequent updates, most Tabletop Games do not have the means to track player activity. As a result, the estimated number of people playing any type of Tabletop Game typically comes down to community feedback and calculated guesses, often using forums as a guide combined with total unit sales.
Tabletop Games User and Player Stats
Thankfully, an enthusiastic community member named Paul Booth conducted a private study back in August of 2019 to find out about Tabletop Gaming’s popularity worldwide. The data collected opinions from almost 1,000 people, and the information found in the study was later transcribed into a book named Board Games as Media.
It was found that the vast majority of people playing Tabletop Games were located in the United States, with the majority being middle-aged men. While this study was conducted almost 3 years ago, it does give us some really insightful and reasonably concrete information – information that is understandably tricky to find out from online research.
The top Tabletop Games according to the study in late 2019 were as follows, along with their estimated total sales as of 2022:
|Tabletop Game Name
|Estimated Total Unit Sales
|Settlers of Catan
|Over 32 million copies
|Ticket to Ride
|Over 8 million copies
|Over 275 million copies
|Over 10 million copies
|Over 1 million copies
|Over 2.5 million copies
|Dungeons and Dragons
|Over 10 million copies
|Magic the Gathering
|Over 35 million copies
It’s worth noting that while these Tabletop Games were popular within the context of the study, this shortlist is only the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of other Tabletop Games that are extremely popular within the community, many of which have accomplished unit sales and sizeable fanbases larger than many of the games mentioned above.
There also seemed to be a fair amount of variety between the genres or types of Tabletop Games that people preferred most (not necessarily affecting Tabletop Games Categories). Below were the preferences found in the study:
|Tabletop Games Type/ Genre
|Number of the
|Role-playing games (RPG)
That being said, 90% of the study’s participants chose multiple game styles, so very few people seem to be committed to just one style of game. At the same time, there are countless Tabletop Game mechanics that players absolutely love, ranging from placement and co-op to social deduction and asymmetric powers.
It’s well-known that board games rule the Tabletop Game market, with millions of fans playing both casually and actively. But, According to the Tabletop Game community on Reddit, around 17 million people play Tabletop Role-playing Games (TRPGs). This is typically followed by a few million that frequently play popular Tabletop Card Games.
Why Are Tabletop Games Popular?
While hobbyists can all agree that they enjoy their favorite game as is, there appears to be a lot more to Tabletop Gaming than meets the eye. The Tabletop Games community definitely involves a social element as well, with most Tabletop Gamers playing with the same group of people, and many attending Gaming Conventions.
According to My Kind of Meeple, Google Trends has been displaying an upward trend in board game searches over the last 5 years or so. At the same time, the global board games market is currently worth over $7.2 billion, expected to rise to around $12 billion by 2023.
Considering the fact that board games only comprise one fragment of the broad Tabletop Games group, it’s safe to say that the activity and overall profits for the entire Tabletop Games market are much higher. While many people expected Tabletop Games to die out over time, it’s clear that this isn’t the case at all.
Tabletop Games are becoming easier to find, access, and play in modern times – not to mention new digital variants. Tabletop Games offer a ton of fun topped with social connection, and many Tabletop Games are suitable for families, friends, and people of all ages. Whether you’re into strategy and brainwork or RPG and fantasy, it’s never been a better time to give Tabletop Games a try.