A tabletop tariff is among the list of new tariffs proposed by President Trump after recent trade negotiations with China fell apart. If you’re unfamiliar with the inner workings of the industry, an awful lot of components for tabletop games are produced in China; this proposed tariff could consequently see an increase in production costs that would inevitably be passed along to consumers.

The proposed tabletop tariff is listed in a section of the proposed modification to current tariffs as reported by Tabletop Wire. Here are the relevant sections as they relate to gaming:

  • 9503.00.00 – Toys, including riding toys o/than bicycles, puzzles, reduced scale models
  • Coin- or token-operated games for arcade, table or parlor (o/than bowling alley equipment) nesoi and parts and accessories thereof
  • 9504.40.00 – Playing cards
  • 9504.50.00 – Video game consoles and machines, other than those of heading 9504.30
  • 9504.90.40 – Game machines (o/than coin- or token-operated) and parts and accessories thereof
  • 9504.90.60 – Chess, checkers, backgammon, darts and o/table and parlor games played on
    boards of a special design and parts thereof; poker chips and dice

As you can see from the above categories, it appears that arcade games would similarly be affected by

Tabletop developers, publishers, and third-party manufacturers often outsource their orders for the various bits and pieces in your favorite games to Chinese factories. The tabletop tariff would see a 25% increase in cost for anything being shipped to the United States from China. The short term scenario would likely see tabletop game makers increasing the prices of their new stock to compensate for the higher costs. Long-term changes would likely include turning to manufacturers in countries with lower or no tariffs. Although the latter option may result in an overall higher cost, it probably wouldn’t be a 25% increase.

While the tabletop industry has relied on China for cheaper manufacturing, it hasn’t been without its fair share of problems. Government censors ordered the entire print run of The Sassoon Files burned because they were deemed to fall afoul of regulations on content.

The proposed tabletop tariff is yet another step in an escalating trade war with China. The short-term shocks are sure to be felt in the industry, but tabletop developers are an innovative lot — hopefully, they’ll figure out a way to keep things from costing their fans and customers too much money.

What do you think of the tabletop tariff included in President Trump’s proposal? Should tabletop developers have their manufacturing done somewhere besides China? Let us know in the comments below!


Robert N. Adams

Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!



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