Out of paper. Reaction from board game publishers

The paper shortage is getting worse. Game publishers are dealing with this.


Out of paper

Did you think the specter of scarcity would end with the pandemic coming to an end (hopefully)? This was without taking into account several global factors. Including the war in Ukraine, which continues to rage and choke. The shortage of paper is one of the major threats looming over the book and gaming industries.

According to a BFMTV article published this Sunday, May 8, publishers of books, comics and manga must face a serious challenge. And, consequently, to explosive printing costs. A serious threat to the existence of some independent publishers and books that are out of print or significantly delayed.

You certainly know, we have already told you this several times, the global economy and the board game industry, of course, must face shortages and serious structural problems. Between the explosion in transport costs, China’s lockdowns with a pernicious zero-COVID policy, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there are all signs to rock a globalized economic machine already weakened by two years of the pandemic.

Crisis, paper and scarcity

Books, newspapers, comics and games there is a paper shortage for several months. A shortage of recycled paper and a transport crisis for pulp are also weakening the sector.

The paper industry fears that sooner or later burned down. Literally: paper production has declined over the past fifteen years, which has led to a reduction in the number of paper manufacturers. And those who stay leave most of their production to carton manufacturers. As a result, after a one-time fall due to the pandemic, prices should rise from 2022.

Over the years, cardboard has become a fierce competitor to paper. A surge in online orders that has persisted for years but has been exacerbated by the pandemic has confiscated much of the raw material used to make both paper and packaging board.

Add to that the pharmaceutical industry, a serious competitor that buys large volumes of paper to package its drugs. The increase in the value of paper in accordance with the laws of supply and demand. With a vacillating offer.

Add another factor to this. Closing of many paper mills. All that’s left over 14 in Europe. Many paper manufacturers have switched or will move into paperboard production. It requires less investment and brings more profit. The production of packaging board with a sharp increase in demand, with all our online orders, especially during the pandemic and numerous restrictions, represents more interesting way.

Saving paper, paper

Another factor is the price. The tonne of paper hit an all-time low in 2020, at 20% of the long-term average. But it’s not like that not necessarily good news. The appetite of the cardboard industry is already pushing up the price of recycled paper, putting papermakers at a disadvantage over time. It becomes impossible to sell a ton of paper at the current price level, and the cost price is much higher. an absurd situation therefore it is better to cease production than to produce at a loss.

The prospects for this year 2022 are not very bright, with the planned increase in the cost of waste paper, and hence the final product, the price of a ton of paper can jump up to 50%. Which creates the risk of rising prices for books, newspapers, games.

However, unlike newspapers, books, comics and games are not made from recycled old newspapers, but from wood pulp. It is also becoming rare, on the one hand, for the reasons mentioned above, on the other hand, because, like many other raw materials, it is hostage to the shipping crisis, the lack of truck drivers, and also the port labor force. .

War in Ukraine

And if all of that wasn’t enough to impact an industry already ravaged by a two-year crisis, it’s also another print item that’s going up in price. Ink. In fact, the amount of ink has increased by 12-15%, transport problems have increased, and aluminum has become a collateral casualty of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Russia is one of the largest suppliers of aluminum, and in Ukraine aluminum is processed into a form for printing.

But that’s not all. The lack of paper pulp increases the risk of a shortage of paper and therefore an increase in cost. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupts supplies to Europe.

Pulp inventories around the world have fallen so much that there is a risk of a shortage of supply, which could lead to higher prices for basic items of our daily consumption, such as toilet paper.

Russia is an important source of timber for Europe, and this trade was completely blocked after the invasion of Ukraine. Russian wood has also lost world certificates. This means that pulp producers in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, will experience a major impact on their production capacity.

The limited market for wood pulp used to make paper is hitting consumption again. With prices that you have to take the elevator up to.

Pulp supply in the first quarter was also affected by lingering maritime logistics problems and disruptions to transportation associated with strikes and delays.

Russian pulp producers are struggling to keep operating throughout this crisis. And as the invasion of Ukraine continues, for example, in the Black Sea, more destruction is expected.

Short. With the already difficult world situation, this war only added fuel to the fire of the globalized economy. When a newspaper coughs, the economy catches a cold.

Board games and paper shortage

Industry a board game can do without plastic, but it is very difficult with paper. Rules, cards, board and other game materials, paper and cardboard are the pillars of board games. Due to the widespread paper shortage, we interviewed a dozen French-speaking board game publishers to find out how they are coping with the paper shortage.

Although some of them said that they were not affected or did not know about it, several publishers nevertheless explained that the situation was worrying.

Like matago, which explains that “The answer is yes, like everyone else, we are affected by rising paper prices. Assess the impact on the average cost of a game […] it is estimated to be on the order of 10% or more. This puts more pressure on us, but we have no choice. “.

Or YELLO, which “also suffers from a shortage, as do many publishers in various fields. »

Behind Super Meeple, “problems are multiplying in any case, especially with the conclusion in Shanghai, which affects the production time.” The publisher says that he “felt this influence more than the lack of paper. »

Let’s see how this situation develops in 2022. But the numbers don’t look good. With Shanghai in lockdown for more than a month and the Chinese economy hit hard by the regime’s anti-coronavirus policies that cannot be implemented with Omicron, the industry and economy, especially board games, are not close. paper.


Article written Gus. Editor-in-Chief Gus & Co. He has been working in the gaming world since 1989 as a writer and journalist. And above all as a player. His four passions are narrative games, his menagerie, and mathematics.