“Everyone recognizes Bicycle,” said Carol Rouillard, who leads marketing and product development at the historic playing card brand.
Rouillard was in Indianapolis, at Gen Con, launching Bicycle’s first entry into the board game market, a culmination of more than two and half years of research and development.
Bicycle is owned by The US Playing Card Company, which controls other storied card brands including, Hoyle, Bee and Aristocrat. It was purchased last month by the privately-owned Belgian company, Cartamundi.
As a card brand, Bicycle has been around since 1885. But, this is the first board game offering, and the first Gen Con for its new division, Games by Bicycle.
The company was showing off three games in the Entrepreneurial section of the Gen Con exhibitor hall; Shuffle Grand Prix and It’s Blunderful are in stores now, Tattoo Stories will be out in October.
Rouillard said board games were a natural extension for Bicycle, as it fulfills their brand promise of creating memories. “One of our goals as a company, and a brand, is to bring people together and foster those connections,” she said. “And we know that people who play card games also play board games.”
And with Bicycle’s extensive relationships in mass retail, Rouillard said it made sense for the company to leverage those connections.
“We’re already in mass retail just about anywhere and everywhere, so we have a big advantage,” she said.
But Rouillard admitted the hobby market was a new puzzle. “We spent a lot of time trying to understand the game market. It was new for us,” she said.
Not only did bicycle find support for their games in the hobby market, but there was also support for their other products, including playing cards.
These aren’t the first games for US Playing Card. The company has released three educational games under the Hoyle brand. The brand was positioned in the education space due to its association with the “Rules by Hoyle” books.
The company designed the first game, It’s Blunderful in-house. Rouillard said it was important to understand the process of bringing a game to market. They worked with game authors, Rob Newton and Eric Slauson for the other two titles.
Rouillard has been grateful with the support they’ve received as a new publisher.
“Other industries I’ve worked with in the past, you want to keep your contacts to yourself, and you’re looking out for yourself because it’s a little bit more competitive,” she said. “Where here in the game space, everyone’s looking to help each other.”
Rouillard said Bicycle is already working on more titles, but didn’t give any specifics.