More than a million people are using the Bubble system, which allows gamers to add friends and family to group video chats.
UK digital board games publisher, Marmalade Game Studio, says board games are going digital for the festive season as families look for new ways to stay connected on video despite the surge in Omicron hitting plans to socialise.
The company says a big driver for sales is the innovative Bubble feature it introduced in March. More than a million people are now using the unique system, which offers video chat and allows gamers to add friends and family to group chats, start games from these, and video chat whilst playing.
Marmalade Game Studio has seen strong growth, with 54% of accounts created in the past two months, as more people switch on to online board games. Up to 200 people can form a group chat and play together.
Bubble is available in Monopoly, Taboo and Jigsaw Video Party, with the Game Studio planning to add it across their entire portfolio, which includes Cluedo, Clue, Jumanji and The Game of Life.
Research in November, before the Omicron variant sparked renewed fears about the spread of COVID-19, found nearly six out of 10 adults (57%) expect to be playing a board game during the Christmas season this year, with Monopoly or Scrabble the most likely to be played. The study found average spending on a new board game will be around £22, with 828,000 people expecting to spend £50 or more on board games for the festive period.
"Much of the spending is now switching into digital games with video as families and groups of friends can stay in touch and stay safe while enjoying improved online games such as Monopoly, Cluedo, Taboo and Battleship," says Marmalade Game Studio co-CEO, Michael Willis.
"Families are making sure they celebrate Christmas and stay connected with family safely, despite worries about the spread of COVID-19. Adding video chat to the board game experience is a great new way of helping families and friends enjoy the festive season and is proving very popular with more than a million downloads already."
He says downloads of their games were already growing strongly but have been further boosted by increasing interest in the Bubble feature.
Digital gaming has surged in popularity throughout the pandemic, and throughout the lockdowns, Marmalade Game Studio estimates downloads have increased 144% in total compared with the previous 18 months.
The company, which has offices in London and Lisbon, has managed to boost staff numbers from 28 to 65 while its range of games, including Monopoly and Cluedo, has expanded from 3 to 10 titles with more planned.