The Last Gameboard, creator of Gameboard, a tabletop gaming console that blends physical objects with digital gameplay, has teamed up with GameStop in a 10-city “Game Night Experience” launching on Saturday.
The first leg of the tour starts at GameStop stores in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where players will be treated to a live game night experience. This live and in-person experience cheers on the tabletop community’s triumphant return of game night. Players can join in and play at participating GameStop stores and reserve their very own Gameboard.
Board games and tabletop role playing games (TTRPG) are about bringing people together and creating shared experiences. This partnership is creating a unique mix of retail and entertainment, allowing fans to meet and play the games they love in a whole new way, said Shail Mehta, CEO of Denver-based The Last Gameboard.
More than 40 million people play D&D around the world and sales have grown by double-digit percentages for the last five consecutive years, according to a post by game venture capitalist Jonathan Lai of Andreessen Horowitz.
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Gameboard’s digital-physical platform gives players instant access to a growing library of content including role-playing, strategy, party, and card-based games. It has a 16-inch by 16-inch touchscreen gameboard with a 1920 x 1920 resolution.
The design brings together three key engineering components: proprietary hardware with SenseScreen technology; custom designed software with native operating system and community and marketplace capabilities; and machine learning that enables object identification and tracking of touch and gestures on and above the board. This enables players to blend physical, tactile play with digital animation and game immersion like no other game system before it.
Gameboard connects physical and digital game pieces like minis, dice, cards, and even mobile devices while keeping the gaming experience immersive and intuitive. Gameboard goes beyond just detecting pieces; it understands how the pieces are being used in the game and how they should interact with digital elements during gameplay.
Gameboard’s technology breaks the barrier that similar products in the past failed to crack. Players treated those like big tablets because they lack the core factors a proper electronic game board should have: smooth unlimited touch technology, network play, community-based features like our companion app, and the ability to support online parties and creating guilds.
Each event, hosted by professional Game Masters at local GameStop stores, will provide an immersed tabletop role playing game (TTRPG) experience for guests (elvish ears not included but encouraged).
Getting to market
I talked with Mehta and cofounder Rob Wyatt in the fall of 2019. Since that time, the company has had a lot of challenges during the pandemic, as The Last Gameboard and other hardware startups were hit hard by supply chain disruption during the pandemic, Mehta said in an email to GamesBeat. Tim Schuckar is also a cofounder.
“Costs rose dramatically from smaller components, packaging and now freight. Large companies faltered under the pressure and we are just a startup here at Gameboard,” Mehta said. “It was difficult to manage the geopolitical issues and the pandemic simultaneously. We couldn’t have done without our team here at Gameboard.”
She said that partners and investors rallied to help the company navigate the past two years. Costs are not changing, they are still on the rise but because the company worked so closely with suppliers and partners, it has helped forge a solid path for Gameboard for sourcing components.
“Finally, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for Gameboard. We finally start bringing this incredible product to market,” Mehta said. “We ended up sourcing all of our components overseas, bringing them to the U.S. and now are building Gameboards right here in Denver.
Meanwhile, Mehta met Stacey Ferrira who heads In-Store optimization and new formats at GameStop in the fall of 2021. They started planning these experience game nights for almost six months.
“GameStop is focusing on experience-based retail and Gameboard’s core mission is to bring people together around gaming,” Mehta said. “It is a great partnership for both of us. Gameboard has launched beta, we have over 200 game partners and publishers signed on our platform with hundreds of different experiences: from TTRPGs to simple boardgames.”
She said the company is fulfilling all of Kickstarter and beta waitlist units next month. And thousands of people on the waitlist will start receiving their Gameboard this fall, she said. Gameboard is currently $199 for a reservation fee to get on the waitlist.
“Two years and a pandemic later, we are still holding strong,” Mehta said.
Locations and times
May 14, 2022, at 6PM-9PM Local Time
Local Oklahoma GameStop Stores
10916 S Memorial Drive, Tulsa, OK 74133 (#3430)
430 W Wekiwa Rd, Sand Springs OK (#2804)
2419 W Kenosha Street, Broken Arrow, OK (#3887)
12401 E 96th Street N, Owasso, OK (#3073).
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