The Merit of IP Games

By Ashleigh Hvinden

If you watch Board Game YouTube, you will hear a lot of board game experts discuss how IP games (licensed games based on intellectual property) are not great or not as good as the new, original games that are being marketed daily on Kickstarter. However, IP tabletop board games are great, especially for libraries or beginning game groups. Having IP tabletop board games in library’s circulating collection is important – and here’s why:

  • Increases circulation

Before I became a librarian, I worked for Borders (R.I.P). More often than not, we would hand sell books that selectors felt had merit or were the “Buzz” books of the month. The skill of hand selling translates very well to librarianship but it’s a good thing that librarianship is not a commission based job. Hand selling book titles often becomes very tricky and people often want to check out books that they have heard about from friends, family members or newspapers, not pick up the unknown. This is the same for board gamers. If you have board games in your circulating collection (and I envy you) and it is a choice between Sheriff of Nottingham and Photosynthesis, most people are going to choose the one that relates to them the most. People are looking to play board games to give them a connection and having IP games will give them that sense of connection.

  • Givex people a way to identify with the game.

Like anything new, people experience trepidation when you suggest they play a game called something like “Roll Player” or “Troyes.” Potential new board gamers have no way to connect to the game and determine whether it will capture their interest or worth spending the time learning the elaborate set of rules for games such as “Twilight Imperium” or “Captain Sonar.” IP games, whether it be Star Wars, Marvel, Dungeons and Dragons, Disney, Game of Thrones or countless others enable people to be on the same starting ground. The new player may not be a fan of the IP, but they most likely have heard of the property because of social media or advertising.

  • Enables a transition to similar-playing games

I read, listen to, and watch a ton of board game reviews. I find them very interesting. A lot of the time, when reviewers are discussing IP board games, they discuss what game mechanics are similar to other games, which people might not have not heard of. By using the IP game, people often discover elements which would lead to interest in a wider variety of board games.

  • Interests new tabletop board gamers

The only way tabletop board game interest thrives is by attracting new people every day. While some people think the board game market is saturated or there are too many tabletop games, the board game industry needs this boost. Having IP games is a sure way of infusing money and interest into the hobby.

Whether it’s Star Wars Monopoly, Thanos Rising, Harry Potter: Battle at Hogwarts, Jurassic Park or Lords of Waterdeep (based on Dungeons and Dragons), it’s important to remember not to judge these games or the people who would purchase them (including me!). These are gateways to introduce new players to library board game programs and hopefully they will keep people interested and entice them to return.

Here are just some of the IP board games that are coming out in 2019.

“Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game”

“Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker”

“Tailsman: Kingdom Hearts”

“Star Wars: Outer Rim”

What upcoming IP board games are you excited to add to your library’s (or personal) collection? Have thoughts? Share in the comments below the one that you are most excited about.

Happy Playing!

 Ashleigh Hvinden is a Reference and Teen Services Librarian with the Carlsbad City Library in California. Ashleigh loves IP board games and started developing a collection in 2016. In college, Ashleigh was the one who had all the board games and would make her friends play Disney Scene-It so much so that they would refuse to play. Her favorites include Chess, Monopoly, Splendor, Lords of Waterdeep, Thanos Rising, Ticket to Ride, and Farkle. Ashleigh is always looking for a brand-new game to play and listens to way to many Board Game Podcasts.


  1. I can see both sides of the coin with IP. When you look up IP games you have to ask yourself whether the publisher slapped an awesome IP on mediocre gameplay mechanics, or on a polished game? For example Quidditch the game is terrrible, but Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle and Fantastic Beasts Perilous Pursuit are both fantastic. Yes IP games can be a good choice to introduce new fans to board games, but don’t disregard reviews, or you might end up with a stinker.

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