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Subject: "It's what's inside that counts" ----- yeah.... RIGHT.... rss

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Eric Etkin
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Ok, so this is a pretty simple question – and please be honest, ‘cause this is a lot like the “it’s what’s inside that counts” thing you heard in high school – as everyone ran their eyes up and down the star cheerleader or quarterback.

So – yeah… the dirty little secret most of you probably already know about games: The packaging is stupid expensive, and is contributing directly to anywhere between 20 – 40% of the MSRP you’re paying.

As I look further and further into printing options for the TactDecks revised edition (obligatory pimping linkage there), I’m finding that I can pretty easily get anywhere between a 1 – 5K units of the game made for a price point that will better allow start-up funding... pretty critical for an indie publisher.

The problem? The damn box. Gods, how I loathe the box. I can find no shortage of great printers to print my cards, rules, pack in map, etc., but that $#@&! box is killing the dream. Either it’s adding WAAAAAY too much to my printing costs (as much or MORE than a deck of 162 cards), or the printer won’t even touch making a box at all… which means I'd STILL have to source an independent box manufacturer… OR… the following…

How do you all feel about unconventional packaging?

Sure, FFG’s boxes look all snazzy, with that nice chipboard & linen finish goin’ on, but at the end of the day, TactDecks (there’s that pimp again…) is just card components and a rulebook. The simplicity IS the point, on account of it being sort of a portable "Heroscape on cards."

If we were to offer the game in a dignified, off-the-shelf standardized box (or some other more brilliant solution I haven’t thought of yet) how many of you would cease to take the game seriously?

So… let’s cut to the chase:

Poll
Pretty boxes - Do they matter?
Yes (sorry, I couldn't hear you over her bulging chest)
No (I don't mind eyepatches, really)
Only for retail store impulse buys (insert something crass here)
      208 answers
Poll created by MOTHDevil


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Gláucio Reis
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I don't know what exactly you mean by "unconventional packaging", but I will not buy a game that comes in a bag or a tube, for example, unless (perhaps) the game is exceptionally good. But if your game is just cards, you probably can get away with a tuck box. That can't be so expensive.
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Curt Carpenter
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I voted no, but the problem is for stores, the answer is an emphatic yes. So good luck getting distribution without a box.

Of course Cambridge had some success with Glory To Rome (and other games) in that annoying clam shell.
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Eric Etkin
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Good points... here's my answers.

1) IMO, tuck boxes suck. We tried them with the version 1 printing and I'm not happy with them (no complaints from players, but I don't always use that as a benchmark to improve product).

Frankly, I'd prefer a sturdier, labeled off-the-shelf box to a flimsy-ass tuck box. Not to mention - tuck boxes are REALLY small, and I'd like some degree of shelf presense.

2) Unconventional is a nebulous term that basically says "all freakin' options are on the table." A Uline box with labels? A plastic card box with labels? Some sort of generic box solution? Dark chests of wonder I can get in run-offs from Finland - I don't care, as long as players don't care and it's sturdy and looks professional.

Yes - hard benchmarks to hit. Very hard. I'm not optimistic. I may be stuck getting a custom made box and passing along the costs. I'd rather avoid if at all possible... I'd rather put money into components and art.
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Well, if you only needed to pack cards I'd suggest those hard plastic card boxes. You should be able to buy them super cheap and perhaps just get a cardboard wrap to go around the box. Apparently there's a map required. Sounds like a box is the best bet.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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I can think of two games I've purchased whose boxes weren't designed for their games.

Glory to Rome uses a plastic shell (clamshell?) package instead of a box. It doesn't stack very well with other boxes, and it's hard (at first) to cram all the components in. I think the new black box edition of the game will be the first to use a box.

Princess uses what I believe is a standard Family Pastimes box with a game-specific label on the top only.

In both cases, I bought the game because I really wanted it; the box issue was not a barrier. Having them on the shelf is kind of a pain, because it's harder to spot them when I'm looking for them.

If you end up going with something other than a special box, I suggest you make it stackable and try to ensure that it has TactDecks on all surfaces, so it's easy to spot.
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G Schulteis
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Hamster ball packaging would be unconventional!
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You could package each card individually with a big stick of bubble gum. Make 'em collectible and tradable. Users who collect 'em all will find their own box.

Oh--it might help to print pictures of those quarterbacks and cheerleaders on the cards too, along with some personal stats.
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Andrew Kluessendorf
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Just go the old Ogre-in-a-VCR-Cassette-box approach. Someone's got to have a TON of those still available.
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RE: "It's what's inside that counts" ----- yeah.... RIGHT....
There are plenty of fun and/or good games that only come in deck boxes (munchkin, let's kill for example to name some that are fun the first few times you play ém) or small boxes like Coloretto, Pickominio, Bohnanza, etc.
I don't mind just a box for a cardgame but it's usually the rulebook that is either very abbreviated or printed in a very small cramped font. no problem for me (yet ) but not very age friendly.
But I wouldn't buy games that are just cards etc in a ziplock bag or something, cheapass games does that but I can't for the life of me remember when I last bought a cheapass game.
But as said above, gamers who've researched your game won't be put off by cheaper packaging but it's those damn impuls buying gamers that are attracted to shiny bling like magpies so for stores it would be difficult to reserrve valuable shelfspace for a game that doesn't look good.
 
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Chris Stanton
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I know you wanted to avoid tuckboxes so as to have decent shelf presence....but what about 'right next to the till presence'?
Is the product suitable for that sort of space?
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Tom Steynen
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I voted yes. Like many gamers I stack my games neatly on to shelves and I like looking at these shelves. Boxes are very important for this.

I would be willing to accept expansions that come with minimal/throwaway packaging though. Provided they would fit in the base game box.
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james zevnik
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I would gladly buy a game with an unusual box provided it didn't cast doubt to the quality of the game and/or components.

Clear plastic box with an insert, so I can see the awesome components? Wouldn't think twice about it.

Flimsy cardboard with low production value? Probably going to pass.
 
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If the game is good, the packaging matters very little to me.
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A counterpoint to the "but Glory to Rome did it" thought... sure, they sold a lot of games but look at the reaction of the fans now that they are printing a newer, nicer looking game. Glory to Rome has had some success with a crappy box and not-so-nice looking cards but the game play is phenominal.

Imagine if the game play was not so good. Or imagine how much better the game would have done initially had the box been better. I know for a fact a copy of GTR sat on the self of a local game store, passed over hundreds of times for months and months, with no one bothering to look at it because it came in a clam shell.

Now, no one says the game has to be "expensive," only that it has to look interesting. So the trick might be to see if you can find a decent affordable solution to making your game package look unique and inviting.

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Packaging doesn't have to be over-the-top glitzy-glammy—full of colors and special printing effects. But it does need to show that the product is being presented attractively and appropriately to a gaming audience.
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Bwian, just
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Ad Astra Games uses unmarked generic boxes with a slipcover that covers the four largest sides of the box. I find that (and similar schemes, like the Ogre miniatures already mentioned) to be a good combination of price and shelf presence. That might work for a card game, too, and there are plenty of sizes of generic card boxes to choose from. I repackage many of my games into generic boxes anyway, for more compact storage and transport.

Having occasionally looked at Tactdecks, I would have thought tuckboxes were a good bet. But if you're determined to move away from those, I've seen card games packaged in VHS-like boxes with an insert covering three sides of the box.

Finally, what's your target market? People will have storage solutions based on what they've already bought. So card players will want tuckbox or tuckbox-aligned boxes, while boardgamers will want thinner but wider boxes to stack with their other games.
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Of course generating buzz would help you tremendously. I happen to know a fairly good reviewer who loves trying new games. whistle
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For me this is very hard to answer with the options you have.
First to be honest I have LOOKED INTO a great many games because the packaging caught my eye. Doesn't mean I bought them because of it but it got me interested.
BUT thats not to say if you found an ATTRACTIVE but unconventional packaging that it wouldnt also catch my attention.
As long as the packaging isnt boring innovative packaging could still work. The worst crime that any entertainment can commit is to be boring
 
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Joe Wert
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Personally I'd buy a game that came in a paper sack. I don't even care a little bit about boxes or inserts or mounted maps or glossy rulebooks etc.

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Eric Etkin
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Ok - excuse my post count as I reply to everyone in sequence...

HerrJork wrote:
There are plenty of fun and/or good games that only come in deck boxes (munchkin, let's kill for example to name some that are fun the first few times you play ém) or small boxes like Coloretto, Pickominio, Bohnanza, etc.
I don't mind just a box for a cardgame but it's usually the rulebook that is either very abbreviated or printed in a very small cramped font. no problem for me (yet ) but not very age friendly.


Yeah - for me I'd MUCH rather offer a NICE, detailed-yet-concise rulebook over a nice looking box. Strangely, even at a 12 page glossy book, I'm still coming in under a third of what a custom box will run me!

But no worries about crappy rules presentation for TactDecks...
 
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Eric Etkin
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Toc13 wrote:
I know you wanted to avoid tuckboxes so as to have decent shelf presence....but what about 'right next to the till presence'?
Is the product suitable for that sort of space?


Pardon the regional vernacular - I'm assuming you mean cash register?

In the states, the space around our checkout sections usually looks like a card factory was BLOWN up and the bits and pieces settled exclusively in our FLGS checkout counters... we're talking CRAPLOADS of 3.5 x 2.5 inch tuckboxes and silver mylar booster packs EVERYWHERE.

IMO, if you're an indie game like TactDecks (especially for a card game that plays much more like a board or fantasy wargame) the last thing you want is to have your little tuckbox crammed next to the MtG and Yu-gi-uh-oh cards. They're just the wrong target market and the board gamers will never see them.

IMO, that's one of the reasons Battleground doesn't fare as well as I think it probably should - most stores I've been in stick it with the mass market CCGs. Summoner Wars on the other hand - that's with the board games.

I want to be closer to the Heroscape remainders than the Munchkin decks.
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Eric Etkin
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Tekar wrote:
I voted yes. Like many gamers I stack my games neatly on to shelves and I like looking at these shelves. Boxes are very important for this.

I would be willing to accept expansions that come with minimal/throwaway packaging though. Provided they would fit in the base game box.


Ok - what if the game was available in bare-bones packaging, but a fancy-schmancy storage box was available for it for additional cost?
 
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Eric Etkin
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Bwian wrote:


Finally, what's your target market? People will have storage solutions based on what they've already bought. So card players will want tuckbox or tuckbox-aligned boxes, while boardgamers will want thinner but wider boxes to stack with their other games.


I'm about 100% certain that board gamers - not card gamers - are my target market. It's possible MtG guys MIGHT be vaguely interested if they can tear themselves away from MtG periodically - but I think I have a MUCH better chance courting players into Heroscape, Summoner Wars, and D&D minis. TactDecks fits well in that spectrum without crowding or duplicating the niche.
 
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Good points... here's my answers.

1) IMO, tuck boxes suck. We tried them with the version 1 printing and I'm not happy with them (no complaints from players, but I don't always use that as a benchmark to improve product).

Frankly, I'd prefer a sturdier, labeled off-the-shelf box to a flimsy-ass tuck box. Not to mention - tuck boxes are REALLY small, and I'd like some degree of shelf presense.

2) Unconventional is a nebulous term that basically says "all freakin' options are on the table." A Uline box with labels? A plastic card box with labels? Some sort of generic box solution? Dark chests of wonder I can get in run-offs from Finland - I don't care, as long as players don't care and it's sturdy and looks professional.

Yes - hard benchmarks to hit. Very hard. I'm not optimistic. I may be stuck getting a custom made box and passing along the costs. I'd rather avoid if at all possible... I'd rather put money into components and art.


Okay - for me a pretty box doesn't matter. A box of some sort does.

How much would the most basic blank box cost? With stickers instead of printing? And a plastic bag inside to hold things?

I would never even consider touching something like the clamshell, or just a bag by itself, or a tube (I keep my games stacked on shelves).

I really don't care about the presentation - I don't buy a game on the strength of the box pictures (and who really does that?) - but I do care about the functionality. When I buy stuff, I already know what it is.

Oh, and thumbsupthumbsupthumbsup for the Nightwish reference
 
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