CSE Games featured in the ‘Brill Report’

August 3, 2006

The Brill Report
The On-Line News Magazine of the Collectibles/Hobby Industry
Vol. 2, No. 60


The world of sports board games has traditionally been an enigmatic category for players and retailers alike. And with all the competition from Internet-based Fantasy leagues, computer games, fantasy games, and just other sports-oriented products in general, the market is not getting any easier to decipher.

However, there is a Toronto-based company that has been making a substantial push toward breaking into the sports board game market. CSE Games, to date, have released both a football game (Card Football), and a hockey game (NHL Ice Breaker). Both have done well to date, with each game garnering multiple praises from fans and industry people alike at events such as Origins International Game Expo in Columbus, Ohio last month, the Las Vegas GAMA show, and the Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair.

A big part of the appeal of the games, according to Fabio Del Rio who works in sales and product development for the company, is the fact the games are built around a standard deck of playing cards.

“It makes a new player immediately comfortable,” says Del Rio, “since everyone is familiar with the playing card deck. It doesn’t feel like a brand new undertaking where you need to learn all kinds of rules in order to enjoy the game. Sure, our game has its nuances, but we worked real hard to keep it as straight forward and intuitive as possible.

“There have been lots of sports games over the years,” continues Del Rio, “but most have been either dice-based or trivia-based. Since our games our built on the deck of cards, game players can get a sense of the fact that there is strategy to be considered. Strategy and decision-making are really what allows the game to simulate the action of the sport. Not just the outcome of each play, but the action and the tension of sport. Players continuously comment to us that our games ‘feel’ like the sports they depict, and that is really the ultimate compliment.”

To date, the response all around has been overwhelmingly positive. The company knows it has a solid pair of products on its hands.

“Industry insiders have commented on the smoothness of game play and how accurately we have applied each sport to a card game,” explains Del Rio. “In addition, people are learning the games remarkably quickly – it usually takes less than five minutes. Watching first-time players catch on to the game and really enjoy it is so rewarding for us.”

Montreal-based Universal Distribution, one of the largest sports card and gaming distributors in North America, has handled the Ice Breaker game. And according to company salesman Oliver Lea, it has performed very well for their customers.

“The response has been positive,” says Lea. “It’s been a while since anybody has gone after gamers with a hockey product. We’re very pleased with the results because we know it’s hard to get crossover from gaming stores into sports collectibles. We’re getting stores that don’t normally carry sports stuff and games.”

Del Rio maintains that it is the sports fan to who the game is designed to appeal. If any gamers get caught up in the excitement, that’s icing on the cake.

“We know that there is a definite niche of sports fans out there that are also big gaming fans, and we’re happy to have a couple of new games to offer them,” he explains. “However, the idea behind our games is that by taking the playing card deck and using similar mechanics from popular classic card games, we could have a game that a sports fan – not necessarily a gamer – would play and enjoy.

“Being that we are huge sports fans ourselves, and through what we have learned over the years about the sports industry, we decided to come up with a game that we would play – a game that’s fun, easy to learn and has the feel of the sport.

“Obviously the poker craze of the last several years has only helped us. But really, it all comes down to game play. Our thinking has been that there is always a market for fun games. So, our games are always a balance of being accurate and true to the game on the field (or ice or floor) without compromising any of the fun of the game.”

Lea also indicates that the product has other factors in its favor, and they certainly have helped to break into the market.

“The game makes sense, so it’s easy for kids to play. It has a low SRP and the re-orders have been steady and that helps when it’s on a shelf against products twice the price.”

As for the immediate future, CSE Games will be set up at the Gen Con Indy in Indianapolis from August 10-13.

CSE Games has also re-packaged their Card Football game to coincide with the 2007 NFL campaign. The latest edition will be available later this month.

“We’ve gone to a standard closed-box format and updated artwork for Card Football Premiere Edition,” says Del Rio. “All in all, the changes allow us to more clearly convey how the game works and what is fun about it. Our new artwork has the playing cards themselves as the focal point, since it really is the cards that make the game.”

Del Rio also says plans are in the works involving new games for other sports, and they are pursuing additional licensing options. He hinted at the possibility of a new licensed game announcement within the next several months.

For full details on the product, visit www.csegames.com.

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