This is not the norm.
Most board games only sell a few thousand copies. Most board game publishers are small size businesses. Anticipating the demand for any given title is difficult. Publishers tend to produce their games in small quantities, called print runs, and reprint them periodically. Or never.
Which means that most board games will only be on the market for short periods at a time. The rest of the time they are between prints (the publisher has signaled his intention of reprinting them), out of print (the publisher is not willing or able to produce them anymore), or anywhere in-between.
Several phenomena familiar to gamers partly derive from such predictable and inevitable shortages.
Cult of the New. Games that are available are the ones most talked about. The latest releases quickly overshadow games that disappeared from the market. Out of print games are soon forgotten, or regarded as old and obsolete. Next!
Acquisition Disorder. The belief that the few weeks following a game’s release are the only opportunity one has to buy it maintains some gamers in the constant fear of missing out. Which leads them to buy games compulsively, even if they are short on money or time. As a result, unplayed games stack up on their shelves, and will likely still be in shrink when the reeditions get published.
Grail Games. Many collectors will obsess over the scarcity of some titles and spend years on an existential quest. Condemned to patrol thrift shops, auctions and yard sales, to endlessly browse community sites and classifieds, they will not find peace until they get their hands on this rare game — or rare edition — that has been hard to find for decades.
Speculation. Amazon or eBay are not the only ones asking outrageous prices for out of print board games. Some individuals like to speculate: they buy multiple copies of the most popular titles while they are available. Then they put the games aside until they become hard to find and the demand increases. They will have no difficulty reselling them with a profit
Anyway, despite the reassurances of Vasel’s Law, most board games end up being often hard to find over a long period of time, for the acronym OOP to become part of the common board game jargon and deserve an entry in a board game glossary.
With thousands of new titles released every year, and many games sharing similar mechanics or theme, refraining from spending too much money and just waiting for reprints should not be too difficult.
Or so I’m told.
References and Further Browsing
- How often do games go out of print?, on Reddit
- How do you figure out if a game is out of print?, on Boardgamegeek
- How much would you pay for a rare board game?, on Boardgamegeek
- How to buy rare and out of print games for cheap(er), on Reddit
- Where do you buy out of print games?, on Reddit
- Why is it common for games to go out of print?, on Reddit