For some games like Android:Netrunner, Machi Koro, Splendor, Star Realms and Pixel Tactics to name a few the playing experience of the games is improved by using a playmat. The playmat isn't needed to enjoy the game. However especially when they have play areas marked out they help the noob to the game, and aid the experience player who is returning to the game.
I love a good playmat. The combination of rubber and material give a great playing surface, usually have colourful art work based on the theme of the game. Which as I have said enhances the playing experience.
Which brings me to my main gripe. Why aren't playmats easily available to purchase for the games I listed?
I know they have special playmats as prizes in the Android:Netrunner organised play, but that shouldn't stop them selling playmats to the public.
Star Realms has an official playmat, but getting hold of one is a challenge in the UK. Pixel Tactics also has an official playmat to replace the paper one that comes with the game. But guess what? only place I found selling it was Level 99 in the US. Machi Koro the distributor GTS did a limited edition US only mat that is rarer than a Tory with a social conscience. While there will be an ultra rare playmat for Splendor only available to stores for organised play. That's not going to make it expensive at all on eBay!
The game Marvel Legendary comes with a game board but the paper joints are weak and prone to breaking. They did do an official playmat as a replacement but no longer available. But at least they corrected things in the Legendary Encounters:Alien game by providing a playmat with it.
I know why playmats are easily available for Magic. It's a very large market to sell into. But the games I've mentioned above have sold well and it's not as if they haven't got the designs done. Or if they have them to sell, why they are not doing a better job getting them out into stores for people to buy. Why does getting an official playmat have to be such an ordeal?
Of course a solution is to use one of the sites that allow the printing of custom playmats. Then it comes down to designing a playmat, uploading the file to the site and paying. Or if your artistic/design skills are limited like mine, then finding a high quality design by some-one else online is the route to go. Luckily on BBG the community has some very talented folks out there who put up playmat designs for people to use.
I currently have an Android:Netrunner custom playmat on order from a place in the US. But I have a Splendor playmat design downloaded that I will get printed, which will be me trying a UK based company. At the same time I'm going to get them to print out a playmat for Marvel Legendary too.
I'd love to buy official products but if the companies insist on making that harder than climbing K2, then they have only themselves to blame when fans of their games end up having to find alternative avenues.