Video game board games are an odd concept to me. Video games are often the best distillation of their ideas, so the creation of a board game feels unnecessary. However, I also understand that there is a lot of money to be made by transforming existing ideas, and reaching new audiences.
Board games do work online, we’ve seen that with the likes of chess, or Cards Against Humanity. But can video games successfully work as board games?
Most video-games-turned-board-games are actually quite different to their online versions. Games like The Binding of Isaac will never be the same experience when turned into a board game. The strange noises, the tense playthroughs, moving Isaac around the screen. Those elements cannot fully be replicated onto any board game, and so it makes sense that the board game version of this game is a card game. In this way, it isn’t trying to replace anything in the online version, and more exists as supplementary content for fans. I don’t think these board games have any intention of replicating online material, so as long as they stay true to the games’ characters and give fan service in that way, I think they can be a successful alternative form of the original video game.
Do I think they are anything more than a money making scheme? No. If there was a need for the game to be in a board game version, this would have come out originally with the game, or been a clear part of the game development and creation. Mostly, when a game has been successful, turning it into another format and reusing content in a different way is a good money-earner. The fans of the original game are already established, and will grow as demand for the board game increases.
The only real negative side to these board games, is price point. Binding of Isaac can cost as little as £11.99 on steam, but the board game is around £30, and expansion packs start at £15. Is it worth it? I’d lean towards no, but if you have the money, and want to experience the game in a different way, go for it!