A Business Biography of Ravensburger

Ravensburger, a world famous German game and puzzle company for more than a century, has been delighting the world’s kids and adults alike with its endearing and challenging products since 1883. This global leader in supplying puzzles, games and children’s books has the distinction of being a top job provider in Europe. Learn more about that makes this company tick, where it came from and why its products continue to resonate with people young and old.

The Beginning

Ravensburger was founded in 1883 and is today symbolized by its distinctive blue triangle logo. A man named Otto Robert Maier, who lived in southern Germany, originally created the company with the publishing of how-to guides for professionals like architects and craftsmen. His expertise expanded into putting out his very first board game the next year, entitled “Voyage Round the World,” a handcrafted testament to Jules Verne’s novel “Around the World in 80 Days,” according to the official Ravensburger site. With the turn of the 20th century, Maier expanded his product line further to include picture books, activity books for kids, art instruction manuals, references books, games and non-fiction literature. The early 1900s saw the first export of board games to Western Europe and Russia, as the current headquarters was far from economic and cultural hubs of Germany. Expansion only made sense in order to gain more visibility. In 1923, the company—made up of Otto and his three sons—was producing 25 million games and puzzles each year. At the age of 73, Otto Maier died in 1925. His sons kept the business alive and started to see an additional swell in popularity during and after World War II.

Progressing in Popularity

Although Ravensburger headquarters took a hit during World War II, the company soldiered on and continued to produce games, particularly with the production of Memory, the classic board game, and Malefiz, a beloved family classic. In the 1960s, the spotlight streamlined to focus mainly on children’s books and games, as well as detailed books and guides for art, hobby and architecture enthusiasts. In 1964, the company began producing jig saw puzzles, paving the way for what would become one of its most popular products. Ravensburger opened additional bases in the UK, Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland to better handle global operations. Dividing into a book publishing operation and a game publishing operation in 1977, Ravensburger went through a bit of a restructuring, with the addition of learning resources for preschoolers and kindergarteners, as well as the addition of youth literature series. To combat the increasingly popular diversion of video games’ emergence in the 1980s, started to develop children and family TV programs as well as educational CDs.

Success Around the Globe

Ravensburger’s product line today includes more than 8,000 products sold around the world, leading it to capture the number one spot in Europe as the leading manufacturer of puzzles and handicraft products. Conversely, it leads the German market for games. The company prides itself on making 85 percent of those products itself, retaining the historical mission, branding and design it is famous for. Growing from a company that had only eight employees as of 1906 to a company boasting 1,700 employees as of 2012, Ravensburger continues to grow despite rising competition from computer games and video games.

Melvin Bishop is a self-proclaimed puzzle fanatic who enjoys writing articles on board games, video games, mtg theros, strategy games, geek conventions, movie trivia and other associated topics.

Image credit goes to Arturo de Albornoz.

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