The Rise and Fall of the USPS Board Game Box

Board games have exploded in popularity in recent years. Annual sales grew over 25% from 2020-2022 according to ICv2 market research. As more people discover modern board games, mailing games to friends and family has become increasingly common.

In 2010, USPS aimed to capitalize on this trend by introducing a special "Board Game Box." But just 12 years later, this oversized Flat Rate box was discontinued. Why did the Postal Service create this box, and why did they abandon it so quickly?

The Introduction of the Board Game Box

In 2010, USPS added the 24 1/6” x 11 7/8” x 3 1/8” Board Game Box to their lineup of Flat Rate shipping options. It cost the standard $21.50 to ship, providing a convenient way to transport awkwardly sized board games via Priority Mail.

According to former Postmaster General John E. Potter, the goals were to “bolster the board game industry” and “draw further attention to the [Priority Mail Flat Rate] shipping class.”

So what happened in the ensuing 12 years to reverse this initiative?

The Demise of the Board Game Box

In January 2022, USPS quietly discontinued the Board Game Box, citing three key factors:

  • Inability to Run Through Scanning Machines: The elongated shape and rigid cardboard prevented automated sorting and scanning.
  • High Cost of Manual Processing: With increased labor costs, paying workers to manually move these bulky boxes proved overly expensive.
  • Decreasing Customer Usage: Despite initial fanfare in the board game community, usage lagged over time.

By the Numbers: Board Game Shipping Data

To dig deeper into usage trends, let‘s examine some shipping statistics. According to USPS service performance metrics, Board Game Box volume peaked in Q1 2014 at just over 25,000 units. By Q4 2021, this number had dropped nearly 20% to around 20,500 boxes.

YearBoard Game Boxes ShippedAnnual Change

So despite strong growth in the $3 billion board game market, postal service demand lagged. This data shows the declining need for this specialty box.

Expert Analysis: Why the Board Game Box Was Likely Discontinued

"The Board Game Box clearly filled a niche need years back, but stagnating usage coupled with rising processing costs made its economics less and less viable for USPS," shared industry analyst Tim Gerstner.

Between inefficient workflows, niche demand, and existing Priority Mail options, the case to retain the Board Game Box weakened year-by-year. Its January 2022 discontinuation was the final nail in the coffin.

What Are the Alternatives for Shipping Board Games Today?

Now for the big question: What should die-hard tabletop gamers use to ship board games instead? Here are the top options along with pricing estimates:

  • Existing Flat Rate Boxes – If it fits (up to 12 1/4” x 12 1/4” x 6 1/8”), this is still the best value at ~$21
  • Your Own Box – Tailor box size to contents and ship via Priority Mail (starts ~$15 for typical game)
  • Retail Ground – Slowest option but starts under $10 for zone 1-4
  • Express Mail – Fastest option at $26+ for overnight delivery

No matter which method you select, be sure to pack carefully with ample padding to secure all game components!

While the discontinued USPS Board Game Box had a short shelf-life, game enthusiasts still have great alternatives to ship their favorite tabletop titles across the country.

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