Spielwarenmesse: How new board games extend the playing experience

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How new board games extend the playing experience

from Maria Costa

Far from being just a traditional category of toys, board games are embracing a great deal of innovations from different perspectives. Get to know the highlight of some of the most interesting proposals the toy industry has been launching to the market lately. 

Hybrids: Board games merging with toys

Some of the most surprising new board games that are being developed are actually a great mix of a board and a 3D toy. For instance, in the last Spielwarenmesse Spin Master presented two good examples; Soggy Doggy, a game in which the player has to shower, shake, and bath a plush dog, and Silly Sausage, a sausage that gives commands to the player that has to follow them quickly to not lose the game. 

Soggy Doggy Game

Some of the most relevant European companies producing board games have also introduced games with similar concepts. Break and free is a game by Ravensburger in which children play with toy handcuffs. Identity Games has created another game that uses toy handcuffs, Escape Room the Game, this time targeting adults.

There are combinations of board games and toys even for the youngest. For example, Chicco is launching Playroom, a game for 3 years old with a toy drawer. Haba has also been developing products in this sense, with board games for 2 year olds such as My Very First Games Sleepy Princess Good Night, a game with a downy comforter, a princess bed, and a pillow tile, among other complements.

Chicco: Playroom
Chicco: Playroom
Haba: Good Night
Haba: Good Night

Innovative unique characteristics and topics

At the Spielwarenmesse® 2017, one of the board games presented that amazed me most was the Kullerhexe by Schmidt, a game that work with a moving board that is part of the case. This product design strategy (thinking about the packaging as another feature to be used on the game) has been implemented by some companies in the last few years. Story Grand Prix Suitcase by Janod with a case that becomes part of the racing cars’ play scene, or Djeco’s products such as Lunch Time, a game in which the packaging converts into a dinning table are further examples. Both products are considered board games but also offer a symbolic type of play.

There is also innovation in the themes games are being based on. A Dog’s Life, created by the designer Christophe Boelinger, is about helping puppies succeed in an adventure through the city without their owners. An original board game combining play with action figures and a play set.

Virtual and physical play

Entrepreneurs and well-established companies are taking advantage of new technologies to come up with original proposals that are appealing to a large group of targets in a various ranges of ages. For example, the Play-Doh Touch Shape To Life Studio by Hasbro is a game to model shapes with dough that can be scanned into an app for the child to also play with digital versions of their creations. A board game that has an art and craft component and presents a type of interaction that is appealing to parents as well, so the joint play is promoted by this sort of proposals.

Another game that is embracing new technologies in a great way is Maze by Seedling. A game that starts with children physically designing their own marble Maze by placing the walls and traps however they want onto the grid. Then they can play with the real marbles or scan the lay out and play with virtual reality. The digital option allows them to customize the game even more, with new traps, themes, sounds and even including personal photos.

Maze by Seedling - Design Your Own Virtual Reality for Kids Game


New board games are introducing new ways of playing and extend the possibilities of board game play. With innovative proposals that appeal to children but also everybody in the family. From games that combine different categories of toys to implementing the newest technologies available.

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spielwarenmesse eG.


Author of this article:

Maria Costa, AIJU

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