The Story of Exploding Kittens: Purr-fecting the Board Game Formula

A Blog by Justin Ponti
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The board game industry, once considered a niche hobby, has undergone a remarkable resurgence in recent years. What was once confined to traditional classics like Monopoly and Scrabble has evolved into a dynamic landscape featuring a plethora of innovative and engaging games. 

Among the vast array of board games, "Exploding Kittens" emerged as a true game-changer. Created by The Oatmeal's Matthew Inman, Game Designer, Elan Lee, and Creative Director, Shane Small this card game skyrocketed to fame through a groundbreaking Kickstarter campaign.

In this blog, we explore the journey of Exploding Kittens. Not only did it break crowdfunding records, but it also illuminated the growing appetite for distinctive, enjoyable, and at times, unconventional gaming experiences.

The Birth of Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens, conceived in 2015, is the brainchild of the dynamic duo, cartoonist Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) and game designer Elan Lee. Matthew Inman, renowned for his witty webcomics on The Oatmeal, brings a creative force that resonates with millions of online visitors monthly. 

Elan Lee, formerly the Chief Design Officer at Xbox, possesses a wealth of experience in the gaming industry. The collaboration between these two visionaries laid the foundation for a game that not only incorporated strategic gameplay but also fused humour and creativity in a way that appealed to a broad audience.

The genesis of "Exploding Kittens" can be traced back to Elan Lee's observation of his young nieces and nephews engrossed in video games. Seeking to create an interactive experience that encouraged real-time connections, Lee shared his initial game concept, known as "Bomb Squad," with Matthew Inman.

Makers of Exploding Kittens

Image Courtesy: CNBC

Recognising the potential for something extraordinary, Inman, known for his keen comedic sensibilities, offered invaluable insights and tweaks to the game's concept. This collaboration, further enriched by creative director Shane Small, gave birth to Exploding Kittens, a highly strategic and delightfully absurd rendition of Russian Roulette, propelled by explosive felines.

The trio unveiled Exploding Kittens to the world through a Kickstarter campaign, and the response was nothing short of phenomenal. The Kickstarter campaign quickly became a sensation, breaking records and becoming the most-backed project in Kickstarter history at that time.

Beyond its success on Kickstarter, the game has achieved global sales of nine million units to date, consistently maintaining its position as one of the top-selling toys and games at major retailers such as Amazon and Target.

Breaking Down the Exploding Kittens Gameplay

 Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens offers a refreshingly simple yet engaging gameplay experience. Designed for up to five players, the game revolves around a deck of 56 cards, each with its unique and quirky illustration. The objective is straightforward: players take turns drawing cards from the stack, hoping to avoid the infamous Exploding Kitten card. 

Once drawn, the Exploding Kitten card eliminates the unfortunate player, unless they possess a Defuse card, the game's lifeline. Defuse cards, cleverly designed as items like laser pointers, belly rubs, and catnip sandwiches, allow players to thwart the explosive fate and remain in the game. As players navigate the deck, other cards introduce strategic elements that manipulate, weaken, or strategically avoid the lurking Exploding Kitten.

The beauty of Exploding Kittens lies in its delicate balance between strategy and luck. While the initial draw of cards is largely based on chance, the game introduces strategic depth through the use of action cards and the Defuse card. Players must weigh the odds of drawing the explosive feline against the potential strategies employed by opponents. 

Exploding Kittens distinguishes itself from traditional card games through its ingenious combination of humour, strategy, and simplicity.

Exploding Kitten’s Incorporation of Technology

Exploding Kittens App

Exploding Kittens extends its reach beyond the physical cards with a strategic foray into the digital world through the creation of The Exploding Kittens App. This innovative move not only broadens the accessibility of the game but also introduces a new dimension to player engagement. The app, available on various platforms, seamlessly translates the unpredictability and hilarity of the card game into a digital format.

Furthermore, enthusiasts can now immerse themselves in the whimsical world of exploding felines through an entirely different medium. Exploding Kittens has not only expanded its reach with a dedicated game on Netflix but has also ventured into the realm of animated series on the platform. This dual presence on Netflix offers yet another thrilling avenue for fans to enjoy the hilarity and unpredictability of the game's universe.

The Future of Exploding Kittens and the Board Game Industry

Exploding Kittens

As we peer into the future of the board game industry, Exploding Kittens stands as a trailblazer, paving the way for future innovations. The game's fusion of physical and digital experiences hints at a trend where traditional board games seamlessly integrate with technology. 

Additionally, the success of crowdfunding for Exploding Kittens also points to a democratisation of the game design process, suggesting that we may witness more independent creators bringing their unique visions to life through platforms like Kickstarter. 

At Hobbyco, we celebrate the joy and innovation that games like Exploding Kittens bring to the gaming community. As enthusiasts ourselves, we are proud to offer Exploding Kittens and a diverse range of tabletop experiences for our customers. 

Whether you're a seasoned gamer or just starting on board games, Hobbyco is your destination for endless fun and entertainment.


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