Good games don’t die; they get reincarnated. Yes, I’ve said it before, in fact it was the title of an article from January of 2011 featuring the newly reincarnated Hedbanz and Bed Bugs. (You can read it HERE) Well it’s happened again, this time with Chronology and TriBond, and I think it’s a great way to discuss how the game invention industry works. First, it’s important to know that inventors don’t “sell” ideas to game companies, they license them – meaning the company can manufacture product for a certain amount of time (the “term” of the license) and then it reverts back to the inventor. That’s oversimplifying it a bit, but the key point is that the inventor owns their idea. After the term is up and the current game company doesn’t want to renew the license, an inventor can license their game to a new company. Sometimes the new game will include minor changes (box art, questions on the cards, etc.) whereas other times it may have major changes (name, theme, a licensed character added, new play elements, etc.).
Let’s start with TriBond, back when it turned 20 I reviewed it and you can read that HERE. During it’s lifetime, TriBond has been with Patch, Mattel, just to name a few, now it’s found it’s home with Winning Moves. (one of the Mattel versions is shown below) I asked one of the inventors, Tim Walsh, a bit about what it’s like to have a game like TriBond and how it feels to find it a new home. Here’s what he said:
“TriBond has had a really unique history. It began as a specialty game, supported by game shops and built through word of mouth and a really strong marketing team. It earned its way into mass market stores and had a great mass run. We sold 3 million games. Then when Mattel took over, the aggressive marketing was gone and the sales were just not there. We are thrilled to be with Winning Moves now and really consider the game to be a reboot from the ground up. There are plenty of fans out there, but to many this is a brand new game! It’s exciting!”
Obviously Tim is thrilled to see his game at a new company and often that’s because the new manufacturer is excited to launch a well-known game that’s new to their line. When a game’s been with the same company for a long time it’s possible (although it’s definitely not always the case) that it’s not getting the attention it deserves in regards to PR and packaging redesigns, so freshness can be breathed into a classic game when a new company prepares to launch it. In the case of TriBond, its packaging has returned to a slightly-updated version of the classic 1990s cover and the game board has been omitted and this version has 400 cards and 2,000 questions, whereas most editions of TriBond in the past, including the original, had only 1,200 “Threezers.” (UPDATE: Now there’s a lower price card-only version of TriBond for $12!)
The last time we saw Chronology it was with Fundex, and given the recent financial woes of Fundex it’s not a surprise that we see Chronology popping up at another company. Buffalo Games has not only updated its packaging but did so in a way that it cleverly captures more shelf space than other skinny box games. The new game box is smaller than the old box, but with the 3 colors they can be placed on the shelf side by side and taking up 3x the amount of real estate, so despite being in a skinny box it has less of a chance of being overlooked.
You can see there are big differences in box size, look and design of the new Buffalo Games version versus the previous Fundex version of the game. Personally, I love the shape of this new box; it’s perfect “gift” size and living in the city where space is limited I am truly appreciative of boxes that are smaller than their predecessors. The only downfall to the new packaging was that one of my testers thought it was 3 different “flavors” or versions of the same game — like there would be different categories inside and I wonder if that was just her or if that’s going to be a real issue for this game. Regardless, I think the inventors of Chronology will be happy with their game’s new home.