I am a millennial heretic (or a heretical millennial, if you will). I do not own an e-reader of any type, so my room is filled with towers of books and comics. When I want to listen to some chill tunes on a long road trip, I will reach for a CD before I even search for the aux cable I have lost in the middle compartment in my car. I wear a watch and still buy DVDs! And when I want to play a board game, I want to play a physical board game. I like to gather all the dice in my hands and place the tiles of the game right in front of me.
Transitioning to a completely virtual space has been a difficult task for me. In the last year, my stable board game group was forced to enter the digital world to play our favorite board games with a mouse and keyboard. Of course, I cannot stave off the impending wave of touchscreens and the all-encompassing cloud save. I do, however, refuse to sacrifice what I see as essential components of board games.
Almost like a sign from the heavens, Arcade1Up answered my call and bestowed a compromise upon me: The Infinity Game Table. It’s a product that blends the virtual experience of online tabletop gaming while still letting players sit on a couch and enjoy games together. The Infinity Game Table is a step in the right direction and has potential, but its steep price tag and limited functions keep it from being a viable alternative to physical games.
A modern spin on board games
The quickest way to describe the Infinity Game Table is that it is a giant tablet with detachable legs. While there are 24-inch and 32-inch screen size options, the table itself is the same size for both. It’s just a matter of screen real estate. It comes with an AC adapter, as well as a built-in battery that allows players to set it up in places far away from power outlets. The table supports Android OS, so it is rather easy to navigate and set up, and it also can connect to 2.4ghz Wi-Fi, which is essential to this product. All of this is built into a rather sleek modern design that would look comfortable in any game room and not too out of place in your parents’ living room.
The real digital meat of the Infinity Game Table is, of course, the games. The table has access to word searches and puzzles, as well as multiple classic Hasbro games like Candy Land and Battleship. All are built into the device, ready to download completely free. The table will also be updated with new games to purchase on the marketplace like Ticket to Ride.
With the responsive touch controls, it really feels like playing a physical board game.
Each game utilizes the table’s touchscreen very well, allowing players to roll virtual dice in games like Monopoly and place letter tiles in Scrabble. It still feels like playing a board game even if every component of the game is on a screen. When playing competitive games, players have the option to hide elements from other players around the table. The table comes with four paper blockers that allow players to obscure their hands in games like Scrabble, though with a game like Battleships players will have to ask the other player to look away while they are positioning their ships.
The blockers are only a half-baked idea. Take the aforementioned example of Scrabble. Players have to drag their tiles onto the board, which is difficult to do with the small piece of paper hindering the way. Players can elect to view their tiles one at a time, but it’s still not an ideal way of handling it.
Besides the gripe with the blockers, the in-person experience works rather well. With the responsive touch controls, it really feels like playing a physical board game. The tablet does not hinder that experience.
Playing in-person is not the only option with the Infinity Game Table. The games can be played with friends online, so long as you have a stable internet connection. This eliminates any potential peeking, and also gives a more spacious experience as players can have a whole screen to themselves. The table employs cloud saving, so friends can call it a night and pick it up right where they left off later. This is also incredibly useful if there’s an online disconnection — you never have to worry about losing progress.
The Infinity Game Table seems like a solid idea, and so far has a rather good foundation. There’s a lot of potential here, as it allows players to play their favorite board games with friends all over the world. However, it’s only potential at the moment. With a steep price of about $500, it’s a huge investment. As of right now, it’s hard to justify paying that much just to play Sorry! or Monopoly with no real idea what other games are coming to the table.
The Infinity Game Table is its own little ecosystem that requires multiple people to drop $500 to really work.
With that in mind, any games have to be built specifically for the table. So it can’t be used to play the online version of Catan or as a Dungeons & Dragons battle map. Those who want to use it for those purposes will have to wait until the official versions that are made for this table come out. It doesn’t help that players can only play other people online who also own the table; there is no crossplay with other consoles or devices, as you might expect. The Infinity Game Table is its own little ecosystem that requires multiple people to drop $500 to really work.
There are a plethora of ways to do the things that the Infinity Game Table does at a fraction of the cost, making it a tough sell. The idea is solid, and the bones are there. It does an excellent job of giving a hybrid experience of virtual and physical tabletop gaming, but there is no gangbuster game on it currently that motivates me to run out and buy one. The technology inside of it is also already feeling a bit outdated. It can only go up to 1080p and there is no 5G support for the Wi-Fi. It just feels already outclassed by even a normal tablet that has access to Steam.
The best way I can look at this product is that it is an excellent proof of concept that asks an interesting question: Do you want a device dedicated to a tabletop experience that lets you play games online with friends? Yes, absolutely I do, but what the Infinity Game Table offers right now fails to fulfill exactly what I need to justify it as both an investment and as a piece of statement furniture.