The second trend I noticed at the ACD Open House was an increase in licenses, especially Cartoon Network ones but also Munchkin. The purchase of licenses for board and card games has been quite common in the mass market but not as much so in the specialty game market, save for trading card games and ones closely related to our market, such as Star Trek, Buffy and Star Wars, rather than the board and card game categories. At both the GAMA Trade show and the ACD Open House , several different publishers showed off games utilizing licenses from Cartoon Network properties such as Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors and Regular Show including Looney Labs (Regular Show) and Catalyst Game Lab (Bravest Warriors).
The licensing trend has expanded to publishers licensing the rights to other games, specifically Munchkin and Bang and producing their own variants. Both Fireside Games and AEG licensed the rights to Munchkin, with AEG producing Loot Letter, a Munchkin themed variant of their hugely popular Love Letter, and Fireside Game entering the Munchkin market with Munchkin Panic, skinning Munchkin on top of their Castle Panic game.
Meanwhile, USAopoly, well known for their licensed variants of Scrabble, Monopoly and Yahtzee, announced the rights to an Adventure Time version of Munchkin and a Walking Dead version of Bang from Mayfair Games. What this means is that over the past 10+ years (almost 15) Munchkin itself has developed into such a strong brand that other companies are willing to pay Steve Jackson Games for the rights to use it, figuring that customers will see the Munchkin name and, if fans of the original Munchkin, at least look at their version of it.
It will prove interesting to see if this trend continues and other game lines prove strong enough that publishers will want to license them.