Classic Board Games Win New Fans on Tablets and Online

Originally published July 3, 2013

By Ian Sherr

Scrabble might want to consider adding iPad to its dictionary of acceptable words.

The Hasbro Inc. board game, which was created about three-quarters of a century ago, has found a new audience as one of the most popular games for tablets. It is now the 14th best-selling app ever for Apple Inc.’s iPad.

Scrabble isn’t alone. Its online cousin, the Zynga Inc. word game “Words With Friends,” is ranked No. 8. Other titles from the board-game world such as TheCodingMonkeys’ Carcassonne, United Soft Media Verlag GmbH’s Settlers of Catan and Hasbro’s Monopoly have become mainstays of the app store’s popularity lists.

Chip Lange, who oversees Electronic Arts Inc.’s digital versions of Hasbro’s classics, says the reason these games have found such an audience on tablets is because they are timeless classics to begin with.

The sales haven’t been limited to tablets, either. Eric Hautemont, chief executive at Days of Wonder Inc., says that 16% of the people who buy the iPhone or iPad version of Ticket To Ride buy the physical version of the game within a month.

Overall, he says, between 30% and 40% of those who purchase the iPad version will eventually buy the board game.

The reason for the tablet version’s popularity and the strong crossover in sales, he adds, is that players touch the screen. “When you play with your computer you know you’re playing on a computer,” he says, and the keyboard and mouse keep players at a physical and emotional distance from the action. “The iPad is transparent.”


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(Published July 3, 2013, in The Wall Street Journal.)