If your marketing was in the right hands and done in an effective manner, your sales will automatically rise in number. People always say “Make a customer, not a sale”, but eventually creating a base of supporters will lead you on the path of consistent sales for your board game. Marketing is your starting point to gathering a customer base and pitching your product to the masses. Sales come into the picture when people give into your pitches and buy your product. And although the start may seem slow and difficult to create momentum, give it some time, accept the rejection from many, overcome the obstacles, strengthen your mindset, and just be ready to give it your all the next time you try. (P.S. Consider this a boost of motivation for you, as this is the final step on the series of publishing your board game!)
When it comes to sales, the essence of making a board game in the first place is to get others to play. The more sales you end up making, the more your board game is out there into the world ready for people to play! Thus, you want to at least have a break-even here, and there is of course no harm in making some profit with the amount of effort and hard work you have put into creating an entire board game.
One of the key aspects, before you sell the game, is to price it very reasonably so that people have that urge of buying it when they look at the price. The price shouldn't be so high that people might have to think twice before purchasing it. At the same time, the price shouldn’t be so low that it does not cover your publishing costs. So find yourself that midpoint and price it exactly at that. The determining factors for this would be the overall quality of the game and the components. For example, if you only have print components, people are aware that production costs would not be as high. Whereas, if you have a few wooden or plastic or other components, the cost of manufacturing will certainly be higher. Even the number of components you have in your game matters, as the manufacturing price will naturally become higher. Besides this, you need to set aside your cost of production, marketing costs, one-time costs, warehousing costs, taxes, VAT, discounts, cost of sales, etc which can help you factor out the cost price of your board game. Thus, in the previous blogs, we have mentioned that people need to have an up-to-date business case file that stores all the numbers for you to go back and re-assess any aspect of cost or selling price.
As a first-time publisher, you need to be geared for losses or be accepting of them, as it is just the beginning of a long learning process for you. The numbers/ percentage will definitely differ according to your case scenario. You need to prepare a mindset that says “Hey! I’ve not come to make a lot of money in this process” because as a new publisher, these are your stepping stones towards success. Learn the trait, gain all the information you need, and then venture out into the future with all you need to know, so you can overcome your battles more effectively. As you go on to publish more games, you will get a more clear idea of how you need to go about this entire process. In this context, your focus should be more on the reach, growing the brand, sales, marketing, and creating profits would be icing on the cake. Industrial studies state that profits via volume sales are better than immediate benefits. So let’s assume that you make only 300 units, you may not necessarily make a profit or even a break-even as compared to selling 3000 units. Volume sales suggest selling large quantities of the product. For this, you need to have the right pricing, promotions, and marketing structures in place.
To create sales, it is essential to have different sales channels. The most basic thing that you need to have in place is your own website. We use Shopify for the same and can affirm its quality services. You need to prepare upfront, as to how you would like your website to look and what content you would want on it. The website needs to be attractive, and eye-catchy which can be done by displaying a large number of photographs of the board game itself. When the visuals are appealing, people automatically find themselves interested in knowing more. For example, Amazon always prefers photographs with white backgrounds, so those can be reused onto your website as well as a product display. The images and brand are thus consistent across all platforms. The content needs to be engaging so that people want to learn more. Use catchy taglines or creative banners to do this. Other important details like the contact, purchase option, about the company, and about the game, should all be in place.
Another important aspect is to register for a payment gateway. There are quite a few payment gateways that you might want to check out. You can obviously go for one that is quite renowned in nature like Stripe which most people use. Make sure that there is a credit/debit card payment, and an Apple/Google Pay. These methods are very convenient for the people as everyone is now moving towards digital technology to make all their payments. It is quick and easy to use, making it an important option to consider for your payments. Thus, your hosting provider and payment gateway should have the alternative of using these methods too. Besides these, there always are local payment options that you can use based on the country, especially if you are targeting a local market. Such domestic payment gateways will make the payment process much simpler for you and the customer as well. We would like to call out PayU, a local payment provider in India which we use for our board game. For all our fellow Indian publishers, we recommend using them - less hassle, easy onboarding, and efficient working.
Shopify is generally a renowned and well-known e-commerce platform to establish your business. It is a bit expensive but in terms of the convenience, designing, how-tos, features, and website, it does not cost much except for the licensing costs. It is good enough for a first-time publisher as we use it too, and it is quite handy. We suggest it to other first-time publishers, as it is functional, and there are a set of additional apps that you can integrate with your Shopify platform. You could also choose to stick to the free versions of the apps if you find good ones, in order to avoid additional costs. You can send emails, link to Instagram, get your product reviews and create QR codes to link to your catalog and print into your pamphlets. A very recent feature of Shopify is Linktop which is very similar to Linktree and is available as a free app. Through this feature, you get a simple all-in-one link with a popup of all possible information about your board game(s). This link can be used further on any social media platform. You can also add your shop link to Instagram and Facebook where people can view your posts, and if they like your product, they can just click the link and it will take them directly to your website. In addition, it is critical to have your sales terms and conditions, and legalities in place, in order to create your presence through Shopify.
Other e-commerce platforms like Amazon can also be of great help when it comes to selling your board game. Amazon has models that specifically cater to an easy process of sales for your company and the customer. The two models that you could choose to work with are: Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) or Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM). In the FBM model, you can simply use Amazon as the medium of sale but you are doing the shipping, warehousing, etc. In this case, the seller will have complete dominance and control of the sales process and it is their responsibility to fulfill the end-to-end purchase process for the customer. We personally feel that economically, this model does not provide as much benefit as compared to the FBA model. The difference with the FBA model is very marginal because you pay a little more and Amazon takes care of the logistics. But you have to pay a storage fee and a long-term storage fee if your games are not sold. The FBA model is better as you have better reach, you can easily participate in the periodic sale days, it provides better visibility, and you come in the top results of search pages if you advertise properly. The only plus point with the FBM model is if you are integrating with your warehouse and are available on multiple e-commerce platforms. If the order is placed from Shopify, Amazon, Flipkart, or any other e-commerce site, they all can be processed through your warehouse, giving you better control of the sales you make and inventory. With the FBA model, make sure that the documentation process is in place, you’re registered as a seller before your game releases, and the movement of goods is prepared after production. The most vital thing with Amazon is active participation in Prime days, discounts, sales, price-offs, and so on. Prime discounts are quite attractive to the audience and most people who frequently use Amazon, are Prime members as well. Be careful of the keyword research and bidding processes involved in your campaigns. Don’t overspend, keep it reasonable and targeted. Spend a little extra during festive and sale seasons, when you know people are going to be surfing for products. And you’re good to go with Amazon!
The third sales channel is everything physical and retail in nature, where you can go and check out the board game for yourself and buy it. This includes shopping centers, board game stores, board game cafes, gaming stores, entertainment centers, geek stores, brick-and-mortar stores, and so on. Look out for these spaces in your local areas and choose to sell through them. Although it is a form of income for those who own it, it will leave you with a happy heart as you will be collaborating with similar businesses as yours.
When you want to move volumes, you need to work with distribution partners. You can connect with companies that deal in this and learn more about how you can go about the entire process. Another practicality that you need to ensure is the packaging of the entire board game if you’re using boxes or crates. There are always conflicts that take place and thus, you need to put a little extra effort into the packing and administration process of your board game. This is totally worth it if you are selling a mass amount of your product.
So whatever be your sales channel of fulfilling the delivery of the board game, needs to be carried out very efficiently. A good place to start off with this as a first-time publisher is to not complicate things more than it already is, by going for extra processes and warehousing. It is just a waste of money and time for lower volumes. You can definitely try it out in the future when your game is more stable in the market. But if you are right at the beginning of your board game journey, make a choice of storing your inventory at home itself. Create limited copies and store those. Learning about sales as you go through this entire process, will provide more insights into what you should do and what you shouldn’t.
When it comes to fulfillment, assure yourself and the customers of punctuality on receiving the orders. Don’t put up promises that you cannot fulfill. It is fine if the board game might take 2 days or even a week to reach its destination, but give the right ETA to your customers, so that they are not left stranded and upset. This will reflect well on your board game and the customer experience that you are providing. Of course, your shipping rates need to be reasonable and attractive enough for people to want to purchase the product. The integration of the different sales channels with your warehouse and storage spaces needs to be a well-managed and unwrinkled process, be it you who is personally handling it, or a company doing it on your behalf.
Once the order is fulfilled, you are guaranteed your money and you receive the amount directly into your account. These financial bits follow the sales process and need to be sorted out, as it is a crucial part involving a whole lot of money. You do not want anything going wrong here or not tallying up as it is the fruit of your hard work at the end of the day. Every sale and purchase needs to be properly recorded from a financial perspective because you would want to understand your sales in a simple and efficient way. If you are not organized about your finances, it will create problems for you later as you will have to recollect your transactions. A good and structured process will be of great help to you with a good accounting system for the purchases made. For this, you need to find the right accounting tool for your company, according to its size and type of product being sold. There are many quick open-source tools that are available for the same and you might be able to install them on your laptop/device for free. It may seem a little technical-oriented at first, so you could maybe find a friend who could help you make sense of the tool and use it well.
The other option you could go for are hosting providers who save you from these hassles. You pay a nominal fee for the hosting and you can use their set of tools for your finance management. Before doing this, you need to assess the overall costs involved. It needs to be practical enough for your company. Don’t overcomplicate it in any way and make sure it is fit for purpose. When it comes to this, you need to follow a standard and strict process of carrying it out. Make sure you indulge in accounting where the orders are backed up with an invoice, be it a sale or purchase. The sale order suggests that you are creating the order and based on it the customer will be paying you. Use this logic to record transactions for your own accounting process, even if your customer has already paid. If you are selling a high volume of games to a retail partner, the first step is always the sale order, and then you send an invoice for your partner to make the payment. In conclusion, the numbers need to make sense to you and be at equilibrium. The tool could also have an additional feature that records your VAT because you can then affirm that this is your VAT or tax percentages. If you want to check some account details out, the tool can be your go-to, to assess all your numbers. Recording your chart of accounts (most accounting tools offer to configure this) could also be nice if you have a friend in the finance field to help you out with the same. It needs to cover the key aspects of accounting so that you can close your books easily when it comes to the end of the year.
If you have the intent to grow and make more games, you need to be organized and keep everything as structured as possible. The complete administration of the board game needs to be in place so that you have a hassle-free sales process. Once your finances are settled, you know the profits you are creating and you would want to expand your business through new board games. And just like that, before you even know it, you are done and dusted with the entire process of publishing your own board game! Although just saying all of this to you is nothing compared to actually working on the entire process. You will grow so much and learn to do things you would never imagine yourself doing. It is a holistic experience overall, to give birth to something of your own. We have given you all the steps that you should work on, but following it is now up to you. You can tweak the process wherever you like and make your own set of discoveries along the way, which you should definitely share with other first-time board game publishers. But make sure to give it everything you’ve got! Only then will your hard work pay off, and success will be yours and only yours to conquer.
“We wish you all the luck and good mantras you need to create your own board game! Alas, don’t sweat it, just go for it!”
A series of blogs to share our experience in Board game publishing
Archive for Madhumita Mani
06 Feb 2022
- [+] Dice rolls
30 Jan 2022
“Good marketing makes the company feel smart, but great marketing makes the customer feel smart” What better way to put forward our perspectives on marketing, than this? Remember that the customer is always your God and everything you do is to please them. Moreover, it is your board game as a primary product that plays such an important role in engaging the customer, so why not create marketing styles that do the same for your overall brand name? Marketing might seem like the easiest of tasks but what you don't know is that it can either make or break you. We believe that your board game is the best out there, but how do you prove that to an audience to make them interested and invest in it? Think about this for a moment: If the biggest companies like Nike and Adidas spend so much money, energy, and time on marketing and advertising their products, what does a first-time board game publishing company as yours do? This might seem like a bubble we need to pop for you, but there are so many simple ways that you can explore to market your board game, and if you do it the right way, we assure you of success in your sales. So let us get this phase right out of the way for you, in the simplest ways possible! Don’t worry, we are not ready to let go of you just yet!
Firstly, your mindset needs to be straight about the fact that even though you have the best board game out there, it is not going to sell until your marketing mechanisms make it sell! Your board game could be great and you will put a lot of effort into creating it, but the marketing helps it reach the audience and promotes it to make people know about the company as a whole. To be honest, even if you create an average game that is not that great, but the game is accompanied by extensive and really good marketing, it will sell like candy to little kids. I think this establishes the crucial responsibility that you have, to strike a balance between your board game and the right level of marketing!
So for any product, a board game in this context, it is always key to have a reasonable and predetermined budget for the marketing process. Set aside some of your finances to be put to good marketing use. The focus for a first-time publisher is ultimately building the brand presence, brand name, promotions, and getting people to know more about who you really are. People need to build their trust in your brand and your board game. You need to put out important details for them to know about your company, about the game, its components, costs, shipping process, etc. Satisfying your customer can help you boost your marketing efforts. It is normal to spend around 30-40 percent of your budget on marketing itself, as per the industry experts. You have the choice to not spend so much, but remember to strike the right balance with whatever amount of resources you choose to spend.
When it comes to the general approach to marketing, you need to find the right medium to do it. Marketing has grown so much over the years, and we need to adapt to it. Nowadays you have a plethora of mediums for you to choose from. You could choose to try them all out at the beginning or move into different platforms, as per your choice. You cannot do marketing without social media. Social media is where marketing truly thrives. So making the most use of all the social media platforms out there, would be the wisest option to hop on as a first-time board game publisher!
We generally suggest using Instagram for most of your marketing activities and building your brand for the audience to peruse. You can create a profile for your game or your company. If someone wants to know what your XYZ board game is, your profile should be a direct answer to all their queries. The view you present on your profile should be good enough for them to check out, and at the same time, it should be convincing enough for them to make their next move of buying it. You can make your page appealing through pictures of the board game, facts, information, rules, backstories, reviews, publishing processes, videos, reels, engaging Q and As, and so much more. Trust us when we say that this list is endless because the scope Instagram provides for marketing is very vast. So make the best use of everything you have at your fingertips! You might not receive a lot of leads through it, but it is more like a built-up for your brand presence.
As a first-time publisher, you might get a lot of requests for review copies from different reviewers. It is great to provide them with review copies but do not be misguided while you’re at it! You need to be very smart about who you give your review copies to because it should benefit your brand in the end. Just aimlessly providing all the reviewers with review copies might not help you the way you think it will. You need to be careful and measure your pros and cons while giving out review copies. How many reviews do you want for your game and who do you wish should review your game? Analyze what you do every step of the way. A reviewer who has less number of followers may not get a minimum expected reach and the same logic unfortunately also applies to reviewers with several followers. If at all, it is wise to give out review copies to established and renowned reviewers who have a massive following and all you offer is only a review copy for the post.
Twitter can be used more for engagement purposes with your audience, customer, and supporters. You can interact with them on many different levels through tweets, lists, hashtags, and communities. You can keep in touch with the board game community on Twitter as well which is very important to do as a board game publisher. Know who your fellow board game publishers or board game enthusiasts are, and support what they create. Spread the word about different board games and give a shoutout to others. It is only when you give, that you will receive!
Youtube is key to explaining everything there is to explain about your board game. Create a youtube channel for yourself where you can upload your videos. You can create videos on how to play the game, the rules, a playthrough, reviews, and much more. You can also seek reviews from other board gamers on Youtube. The reach via Youtube is far better, as a lot of people will end up watching Youtube board game reviews and like learning more about the game. Reviews by board game critics may also help you promote your game to a good number of people. While you do this, you need to be mentally prepared for honest feedback on the game by the critic and the audience too. And while you’re at it, do a little background check of all the reviewers to see who is best. When you finalize on a Youtube reviewer, you need to go through their past videos and see if they provide good quality and thoroughness in what they do. Acknowledge different criteria, and if they are actually conveying everything that needs to be conveyed. Remember that a good review comes out of the genuine effort of playing the game a number of times so that they know the game inside out. You cannot create a review based on playing a few times as different games have different nuances. Normally board games take about 5-10 iterations to have a good assessment and understanding of the game itself. It is absolutely fine to give fair and honest feedback, but the point is to check if the reviewer makes a genuine effort to play the game and then provide a detailed and descriptive review of it. Such reviewers can definitely speed up your sales!
You can explore reviewer options based on country, language, and the number of followers. For example: If you are targeting customers from a certain country, getting a review from a well-known reviewer who speaks their language will be beneficial for your sales. Thus, you can look at German, French, Japanese, or any other language reviewers, according to your liking. It could also be based on geography as you can choose a renowned reviewer from Canada, the USA, Australia as well. If the person has more subscribers, the traction and visibility you get are automatically more.
From a more generic marketing perspective, we believe that BoardGameGeek should be your beginning, means, and end. Every board gamer or board game enthusiast has a BoardGameGeek account, as it is the place to be at for everything board game. Hence, you can create a nice, original profile for your game here, and it will be one of the thousands of other board games. What makes BoardGameGeek stand out from other social media platforms? This platform only caters to a specific niche which is board games, unlike other social media. It is created as a form of focus to board gaming in the limelight. Everyone on BoardGameGeek is pretty much someone who is into board games in some way or another. You will find the most varied kinds of board games here, it’ll definitely surprise you! The first step when you plan to publish your board game is always to create a profile on BoardGameGeek and register your details. The key aspect of this platform is the community of board gamers that are on it. You need to be respectful and contribute to supporting others as much as you can. Being open to honest reviews and ratings that people give to your board game is a must. As a part of this community, it is important that you keep tabs on the forums, activities, blogs, videos, playthroughs, new games, and participate in them too.
Another dimension that you might want to look into is the good, old, classic methods of marketing like posters, print, articles, and advertisements. Do not underestimate the power that these methods still hold, as they can always do wonders for your company. Newspaper articles spread the word about your board game to a very large audience as people still prefer reading the newspaper. Even online writeups paint a good picture of your product. If you have enough resources, you can invest in advertisements as it is a great means of publicity. Facebook & Instagram paid advertisements and influencer marketing are also something you can try out. Users are very high on these platforms and it will help you gain more sales/page visits, as you have the possibility to make your ad's audience targeted. Choosing the right influencer according to the target audience, with a huge following, is key. Before making any big marketing investment, make sure you analyze your expectations and budget the process.
Crowdfunding campaigns bring creative projects into the public eye as well. It is a very good way to gain resources and build a community to back your board game up. This is a great place for first-time publishers to create a presence and get others to invest in their game. Before your project campaign releases, say on Kickstarter, you need to boost your board game with enough marketing upfront so that people have the slightest idea of what is to come. This will help you get enough attraction once your campaign starts. This campaign and its success will not decide whether your game is good or bad. It is just a way for you to put your game out into the world, to get more eyes towards it. Don’t take it to heart if the campaign fails in any way or things do not match up according to your expectations, because your game could still be worth enough to make it big.
When you publish your board game or set up your own company, it is key to create your profiles on all social media platforms as well as BoardGameGeek, to make the most of the organic marketing and promotions available to you. Just creating the profiles isn't enough, you also need to stay active on them, by posting and increasing your engagement every single day. Repost any kind of engagement that takes place with your profile. When you produce your game box, do not forget to include a small note inside that shows gratitude to the customer for their purchase. Add your social media links and QR codes in the note and everywhere you can, so that it does not miss anyone’s eye. Be as creative as possible, the sky is your limit. Marketing is all about innovating towards what you want to achieve. The smallest of things you do can end up in a big result that you never expected. So, partake in everything you can. By the end of it, the more effort you put into marketing your board game and promoting it to your customers, the more fruit shall you reap. Remember that even if you have the most brilliant product, only the right level of marketing can take you to a higher pedestal.
Stay tuned to our blogs to check out the next step on this rollercoaster on how to publish your own board game!
- [+] Dice rolls
23 Jan 2022
You are finally ready with all your board game copies and want them to reach your doting supporters as soon as possible. The dilemma of smoothly and quickly transporting these board games to your customers now pops up! But guess what? This is exactly what the Logistics phase in the publishing of your board game is for! Although this process might seem quite complex at first, you are going to be hassle-free once all your logistics are in place. And by that, we mean the pricing, packaging, transportation, warehousing, and shipping. These words could look intimidating, but we’ve all been through them. Thus, we are sure to clear your doubts through this blog and help you get through the logistics phase as swiftly as possible!
As a first-time publisher, the primary thing to keep in mind is that you need to begin thinking about the logistics of your board game as early as possible. It is an elaborate process that requires critical analysis and time. When you know that “Yes! I am ready to publish my board game!”, it is a cue to start scrutinizing the logistics parallelly. This phase usually takes the longest time to figure out as there are a lot of details to check off, and it all requires perfection. To settle on the right approach itself takes some time because your options are endless. If you are not a first-time publisher and have experience with creating your own board games, it is important to re-evaluate all your options by maybe trying out something new if it attracts your eye or doing something that will make the process an absolute cakewalk. Experience is definitely a teacher of all things and thus, you know what is best for you!
There are different considerations that you need to take care of during the logistics phase. First and foremost is settling the idea of where you want to ship the board game? Which countries would you like to ship to? And secondly, from where do you want to ship? Do you want to ship it from China, Germany, the USA, India, or the country you’re based in? Thus, these two criteria of where you manufacture and where you want to ship to are key. Besides this, you need to decide upon the quantity that you will be making, and depending on that, where would you like to store your inventory? It happens quite often that as first-time publishers, people choose to store their inventory within their home itself as it proves to be a more reasonable option than warehousing if you have unused space. The size of the game box is very important as well as the volumetric weight which we spoke about previously on the Design Blog. Considering the volumetric weight is key to making sure it is perfect for the dimensions of the game box. The components involved in making the prototype will help you judge the actual weight of the game box. Whichever weight is higher, the actual weight or volumetric weight will finally decide your shipping and cost estimates.
Depending on the size of the game box, you will get an idea about the size of the carton that you need for packing and the packing materials that you require for it. Some people choose to go for a very strong box like a 5 ply so that they do not have to worry about additional packing materials. There are many sustainable and eco-friendly ways of packaging that many are opting for now. If you are not going for a strong box itself, you can go for an alternative carton but protect the game box with either a bubble wrap, some polystyrene packaging, or any sort of cushioning. Going the extra mile and branding your custom-made cartons is also one way to go if you want to spend that extra dollar on a wholesome finished product.
Now that we are at Logistics, the most crucial point hits us, as to who would provide the logistics services like shipping for our board game? Many companies serve as logistics providers so jotting down their details and comparing them is important to find the best fit. You need to clear out a number of specifics like - will the logistic provider take care of warehousing as well? As a starter, it is always good to go for well-known shipping companies like DHL, FedEx, or UPS, as they are top-notch in the logistics field. Sometimes, you can choose to go for your trustworthy local shipping services like the national post or any new players as well! There are predetermined prices for each company but it is important to negotiate and understand the breakdown of prices so that there are no discrepancies. Make sure you have the right number to give them for your forecasted volume of product so that they can estimate the right prices and give you a rough idea about the same.
Many publishers have Kickstarter campaigns to abide by, whilst some directly jump into production. Thus, it is key to estimate the shipping costs upfront, keeping in mind the tax rules of the place of production and destination. Most of the exports avoid local VAT for most countries, in which case you would need to consider the import rules, taxes levied, or customs duties, for the arrival of the product into the destination country. With simple mathematics and calculations, you can actually save on the export VAT of xyz% and that can be used to offer reduced shipping costs for your customer. All of this in totality makes your shipping costs a lot more attractive to the eye. Most people offer the actual price, but there are always such interesting ways to play smart if you understand the tax rules inside out. In addition, it is always nice to consider providing further discounts on shipping by reducing your margin.
It is primary to settle on the general terms and conditions for the shipping process. The shipping of your board game is a road with two parties and thus, the customer needs to be aware of the terms you have laid down. He/she is responsible for taking care of the VAT payments on any additional taxes/costs. Every country has its own set of rules which can be quite complicated, so it is better to give a discount upfront so that the customer is not dissatisfied when they have to pay a customs fee or VAT on arrival. Striking this balance with the customer is very important, and the terms and conditions should be available on your website or the source of the sale.
A small tip that we would like to equip you with is to not plan to ship to every country possible, right at the beginning of your board game ventures. We say this as some countries definitely cost much higher than expected due to lack of connectivity. We do not want that to come as a shocker to any first-time board game publisher. Be precise with the number of countries and which countries you would like to ship to. Start small and add on as you go. Have a keen eye on your customer base or target audiences as well, so that you make the right choices on the countries to ship to. Check on the VAT rules of every country before making your shipping decisions as the rules are very volatile and subject to changes at any given moment. Some countries levy additional costs with the customs duties too. Thus, you must ensure that you do a thorough background study of export/import laws for every country. Some places also have reasonably cheaper costs for shipping. Such places are prone to no harm and you should unquestionably consider shipping to them if you have plenty of resources. At times, your shipment is susceptible to getting lost, so create a backup plan with your logistics provider for such unforeseen cases. When it comes to shipping, some companies have this fee where they charge extra for remote locations. For example, the USA is massive and has the best facilities, but some towns do exist that are not well connected to the mainland and its zip code will be marked as a remote location. Such a scenario will carry extra charges so it is important to be wary of each zip code and check the same with your shipping company. You clearly would not know which places qualify as remote areas and thus, this is something salient to factor out before shipping.
Another aspect to keep in mind is the accounting and billing system, or the medium of sales of the board game. It depends on which e-commerce platform you choose for the sale of your game. The question for us to sort here is how are the billing and accounting done once the order is placed? The website hosting provider would probably offer to generate the bill but you also need to make sure that you have an accounting and billing system in place to track everything. In the end, you need to be able to tally your sales, customer data, vendor invoices, bills, total gains, etc. Thus, find yourself a reasonable way to record all your sales and shipping costs.
Distribution partners are another option you might want to check out for the shipping of your board game. So instead of sending just one box at a time, you can integrate with a distribution partner who is local to that particular country and provide them with a standard amount of boxes. In this case, you will have to carry out what we call a “B2B- business to business” process where you partner up with another business and they buy XYZ number of games from you. When you sell directly to the customer, it is known as “B2C- business to customer”. You tend to get better rates when it comes to B2B, and thus it is an alternative you can try out if the export systems and costs are going to be cheaper in terms of shipping!
It is also your job to make the shipping and costs reasonable enough for customers to purchase. You cannot have a 20 dollars game with the cost of shipping as 25 dollars. The shipping costs work out higher than the game itself in such a scenario. Thus, the prices you quote according to your game components and boxing, are very important to make more sales for your game. Optimize wherever possible, so that there is an equilibrium between all the elements.
When it comes to warehousing, as aforementioned, it is as per your convenience. As a first-time publisher, it is your choice if you want to invest in a warehouse or store your inventory someplace else. Warehouses have their own set of costs which might be on the expensive side as it is measured by each cubic foot. For a set number of months, the warehouse company will give you a cost estimation for storage. Some countries have a very expensive warehousing system, whereas countries like China have shipping providers that are reasonable but you need to be sure about the volume you provide them with. Generally, they put up starting offers like three months free and then pay. You need to consider the scenario after those three months. You need to factor out situations like, what happens if you don't sell enough? We personally found warehousing in India to be quite reasonable and thus took up to it but there are definitely other factors that come into play when you use the warehouse. You need to have clear instructions with the warehousing team on how you want to pack your game using the carton. The sequence of the packing process as well needs to be clearly defined upfront. This is all done to protect you from customer complaints about flaws or damages when shipping the game. As mentioned in production, quality checks are key throughout the process of publishing your board game, so that you do not have any setbacks in the future.
When it comes to sales, the Amazon FBA model has its own warehousing system that you could learn more about. With this option, you will move a certain number of goods to the Amazon warehouse. There are different steps, processes, and long-term storage costs involved around it, which you need to be careful about if you opt for it. You could also use the Fulfilled by Merchant option if your logistics and warehouse provider can offer seamless integration with Amazon or if you ship yourself from home.
At the end of the day, you need to plan out a smooth sail for your board games. Your logistics partner will have to integrate with your warehouse so that there are no broken or missing ties in the process of shipping. The logistics process of your board game needs to be absolutely seamless and leveled out, no matter what path you choose to tread. Whatever you do, remember that there will always be that little something that goes unnoticed, which could lead to bigger consequences. The matter of fact is that logistics is a complex but crucial system while publishing board games, but scrutinizing every aspect of it, can provide you with the most easy-going shipping and delivery process you’ve ever had! And once you inspect and finalize everything, you know that your game is in the right hands and that you can just sit back and wait for your customers to receive your board game and enjoy it with their friends and family!
Stay tuned to our blogs to check out the next step on this rollercoaster on how to publish your own board game!
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16 Jan 2022
Once you have your final prototype in place, and you’ve started with the pre-production copies, you know it’s time to get going with the complete production process for the board game. It is obvious now that no more changes can be made to the game, and that everything you’ve decided upon will be provided in the output. One of the key criteria to check off is finalizing the design, gameplay, and components. On that spectrum, you need everything to be perfect and spot-on, so that you are confident enough to take the next step towards production.
You need to keep in mind some dimensions that need to be cross-checked before you actually begin with production. You can work on this during the prototype phase, by assessing the different stages you have and asking for quotes from your manufacturer so you have a rough idea about the production process. When it comes to pricing for the production phase, it honestly depends on the market during the time and the prices of the different sets of material that you will be using in the game. For example, the price of paper in the market has been very erratic lately, thus making manufacturers very skeptical about providing their pricing quotes and costs. Even if they do give you a quote in advance, you will have to validate it later just before the production starts.
While you ask for a quote from your manufacturers, there are a few things that you need to be extremely clear about. Some questions you need to confirm include- what the components are (printed or wooden), the sizes you need, the quality and quantity, the color patterns, and the designs. If you have any other requirements like a tray, small boxes, zip locks, or pouches to store your components, the intricacies for all of those need to be confirmed well in advance as well. Write everything down so you do not miss out on anything and avoid future discrepancies.
Another important aspect is the assembly of your entire game box. You need to minutely discuss these details with your manufacturer, as the assembly of your box plays a very crucial role in how customers might perceive it. Some details you need to document here include - what needs to go first into the box? Do you want to keep the cards, tiles, or wooden components below? Where do you want to layer the rule book? Will you be using the tray to store some components? How do you want your board to be placed? Do you want your components to be let loose or packaged in zip locks/pouches? If you’re wondering why assembly is of utmost significance, think of yourself as a customer, opening the game box for the very first time. What you would expect from the box is a feel and an appeal to want to play the game and connect with it immediately. This awesome box-opening experience can only be provided to customers, through the way in which you assemble everything inside your box. Thus, it is vital to draft clear assembly instructions, and the same be communicated with the manufacturer too.
Steering your attention to the last stage of the prototype phase where you create pre-production copies or the final prototypes, you need to make sure that the certifications and legal and regulatory aspects are all in place. Another decisive factor that you should look out for is the MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) which is salient for the manufacturing process. The minimum order for some people could be 1000, whilst 2000 for others. You need to set and decide the MOQ with your manufacturer. Remember that the lower the number of game units produced, the higher will the cost be. But this also comes with lower risk, as the overall spend will be much lower. You also need to factor in the “one-time tooling costs”. The manufacturer will thus provide you with details for the same.
When you have a high-level quote, the components are good enough but as you get closer to production and want to finalize certain things, you need to make sure that all the prior requirements are clear. When you get the quotes from different manufacturers, you undoubtedly need to compare and check what’s best for you and for the game. It is always wise to work out a simple business case file like an excel sheet, to break down and store information on what the fixed costs, one-time costs, production costs, and logistics costs are. As and when you get new quotes, you can update them in the file. It can be your one-stop destination for all the pricing structures. When you key in some numbers, it should automatically estimate your business case. This is a good habit to imbibe while creating any game, as it helps you analyze the final costs for manufacturing the board game and further, estimate the selling price that you would want to set for the board game itself. You can also evaluate all the risks, if you would want to go for a lower price or higher price, lower or higher quantities, logistics, etc. It is good to be pessimistic throughout this phase, as not all days are sunny, and things might not go the way you want them to. Unforeseen circumstances can always pop up out of the blue. You should therefore mentally prepare yourself for the worst.
Before going into production, you need to also finalize the overall logistics model of your board game. Some people choose to pick up the games after the production process is done, whilst some require the manufacturer to deliver them to a particular place. This needs to be discussed and confirmed ahead of time with the manufacturer. This includes coming up with answers to questions like- where you will store the game, from where is the game going to be shipped, to which countries are you ready to ship, what are the shipping costs, do you want a warehouse to store your games or you can keep it at home, and so on. The entire bubble around the logistics needs to be established in due time.
As you then go into production, the assembly instructions need to be as clear and as detailed as possible, as aforementioned. The contract needs to be concise and in place along with the final design file and templates. The format of these files could be pdfs, docs, or illustrative apps, keeping in mind the prerequisites of the manufacturer. Ensure that the quality is number one and that there is no compromise on that. The supplementary products that you would require such as the pouches, zip locks, tray, etc could be outsourced to someone else, hand-made if possible, or could be produced by the same manufacturer, depending on your budget. Some people also like branding on their components, which can be discussed with your manufacturer.
Last but not the least, agreeing on a final timeline for the entire production and logistics process is of paramount weightage while publishing your board game. A timeline needs to be decided with the manufacturer so you can plan your sales. The timeline should also be acceptable depending on how you go about the entire process, for example through Kickstarter where you have committed to certain timelines. Surfing through Kickstarter will give you a better idea of the costs and timelines that may be acceptable to your backers. You cannot make fake promises to your customers and not stick to the timelines that you have provided to them. Tiny things like the CE mark after testing, barcodes, metrological norms, etc need to be checked off the list. The contract drafted needs to state almost every little detail whilst being reasonable and practical.
And then when you eventually have everything exactly the way you want it, the production phase is going to fly by in the blink of an eye, and you’ll have the logistical aspects on your plate to think about! But you know what they say right? “It is all about the journey, not the destination” So whilst you’re creating the best board game ever, don’t forget to have a little fun and amusement through it all!
Stay tuned to our blogs to check out the next step on this rollercoaster on how to publish your own board game!
- [+] Dice rolls
09 Jan 2022
Just designing the entire layout, gameplay, and gaming components are not enough for the game to function. You need that extra bit of security by putting everything you’ve designed into a physical picture and seeing if it actually works. The creativity that you put to paper, will now be used to create something tangible and you can analyze if it actually works according to your liking or not. All of this constitutes the Prototyping Phase while publishing your board game.
The main objective of the Prototype Phase is to validate the design of everything in your board game and to test if it actually feels as expected, whilst trying to create an appeal to the audience through how it actually looks. The prototypes, once finalized, are then sent to other board gamers’ or reviewers so that they can provide their inputs on how they feel about the game. It will be surprising to see how many suggestions might come out during this stage, the number of tweaks you might end up making, and how you would have to come up with quick solutions to any issues in the prototype.
During this phase, your aim should be the design the board game box, board, components, and all the fine details that should not go unnoticed. You will have to make some major, final decisions on the colors, shapes, tones, output, finish like a glossy or matte finish, and so on. You must keep in mind that everything you decide needs to ultimately appeal to the audience and needs to look attractive or captivating enough to woo them. It needs to catch a customer’s eye when they are casually scavenging through a board game store or even scrolling online for that matter.
Although this phase is vital in the creation of your board game, many fear the expenses involved, as this phase can be quite expensive with multiple iterations if you are not thorough with the design phase. Making a few copies of your board game will be priced exorbitantly. Thus, preparation done during the design phase and settling on the final designs as soon as possible is key. You need to make sure that at least the majority of the components, if not all, are design-ready.
There are many distinct ways in which you can go about this entire phase, the most basic and standard one being creating something by yourself and trying to build the game using what you already have available at home. You can use cardboard, cards, coins, tokens, or any other material that could closely substitute or resemble the real game components. Even in the early phases of the creation of your game, people like to deal with some components to see how things are panning out during gameplay. There are websites that provide such primary components that you can choose to buy for your gameplay and prototyping. We used a website called “Spielematerial.de” during the prototyping for our board game, Ettana. They have a vast library of many gaming components like wooden pieces, discs, dice, cubes, tokens, playing cards, etc which you can order and use during the initial trial and error phase, as well as in the subsequent phases if you choose to. We also did try out making prototypes using “Boardgamesmaker.com” which is based out of China. They are good for standard size/shape boxes, boards, cards, tokens, and tiles. They have quite an exhaustive list of components that you can definitely check out. We had fewer hassles while uploading our design files, hence furnishing us with a reasonably smooth and easy prototyping process. You can always split and buy different components from different websites and companies, according to what floats your boat.
We usually split this phase into three different stages for easy execution. The first stage is about making a few low-quality copies to validate the outcomes of the design. The copies from here can be used for testing, marketing, promotions through social media, photography, and videos, advertising, etc. One key factor that we recommend most people to do, is to keep the rule book printing process separate, instead of printing it with the other components. You might not be 100% complete with formalizing the rulebook as the rules might still need a lot more testing. You can settle on one place to print all the board game components, while the rule book can be printed anywhere in your vicinity, through a print shop, or even at home if you have a printer so that it reduces costs and is more reasonable to go through.
The second stage of this phase needs the prototype to be almost final or completely final. There should not be any more tweaks or changes here. If there are some flaws, or something did not work out, they need to be sorted out before this stage. You can go for a lower-quality prototype if you like. If you choose to go for higher quality, the expenses will automatically increase. Generally, if you compromise on the quality of the material, it might work out a tad cheaper. We usually make more copies of the board game during this time, as it can be given to reviewers, influencers, board gamers, or anyone who you prefer should test the game out. When you do share it with them, ensure that the review posts are made in sync with your Kickstarter campaign or release date.
You can also check with your manufacturer if they can help you out with this stage so that you can keep it closer to production quality. The number of prototypes you would like to make depends on you, as some like to use it for certifications as well. A point to keep in mind is that a low-quality prototype cannot be used for certifications. Thus, it could be helpful to ask the manufacturer for some production quality prototypes that you can use for certifications.
When your prototype is 99% ready, besides making them in of production quality for certifications, they can be used to assess the weight, quality, quantity of the game and prepare for logistics as the size and weight of the product actually matter for the shipping costs. It is important to assess these criteria, as the board game gets closer to the final stage of publishing. You can have as many prototype phases as you want, like the first prototype, second prototype, and third prototype, till you reach the ultimate product that is ready to hit the markets.
The third stage of this phase is when you actually end up going for the production process and decide you want to start manufacturing, you start off with making a pre-production copy. In this process, you have one last chance to validate if everything is perfect and exactly how you want it because changes cannot be made after this step. If there are any kinds of issues, they need to be overturned here.
This phase is characterized by the decisions you are going to make and how much you are willing to spend on prototyping at the end of the day. If you have just a small budget kept aside for prototyping, you need not go through the whole process, but finalize your product and take one final design route for it. You need to be very well prepared with all your game components and designs before you dive into the prototypes. It will save you a lot more time, energy, and money. So if you are confident about the final game and super design ready, you’re good to move into the board game production phase real soon!
Stay tuned to our blogs to check out the next step on this rollercoaster on how to publish your own board game!
- [+] Dice rolls
02 Jan 2022
Your design process might have worked wonders for your board game and you know that you would like to take its publishing one step further. Here is where you come to the crossroad of a crucial element to publish your board game: The Legal and Regulatory Phase. No matter what you choose to publish in life, may it be a product, a song, an advertisement, a food item, or a board game as in this case, the legal aspects need to be taken into consideration before anything else. And why do you need to do it? To extensively secure and protect your board game from IP violation, so that there is no scope for legal trouble in the future. Your game could be top-selling and the best in the market, but all you need is one misfortunate event to bring everything you’ve created tumbling down. You need your game to be flawless, and to do this, abiding by the regulatory norms is a must. Do whatever it takes, and do it the legitimate way!
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26 Dec 2021
Now that you have come up with the idea of the game and have settled on the gameplay, next comes the phase where you transform your thinking into creative visuals: The Design Phase. Your thoughts will now be put into physically creating and designing your board game according to how you’d like it to look. You might think of the design phase as something really easy and fun to work with. Well, you might be right! It definitely is fun to use your creative juices into outlining the entire look of your game, unless you’re picky about colors, patterns, and ornamentation. Don’t worry! This stage is intended to be all about those intricacies!
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19 Dec 2021
“Everything begins with a simple idea. But that simple idea is what will take you a long way”
Did you know that ideation is the first step to any project or endeavor? Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta (formerly Facebook), ideated and worked on the creation of Facebook out of his dorm room while studying at Harvard University. That beautiful thought might come to you out of the blue but you could wish to pursue it and accomplish something. The same applies to creating and publishing a board game. Without ideation, there is simply nothing to work on. But it definitely takes the right kind of ideation, to know that “This is it!”. We at Mad4Fun Games believe that ideation is the foundation to publishing an abstract strategy board game and it is just the start of a long journey, that ultimately propels you to the next steps in the process!
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