First time Board Game publisher

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Board Game Sales

Madhumita Mani
Switzerland
Dubendorf
Zurich
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publisher
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!”

- Madhu
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