Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
20 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Publishing Companies rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Grady
United States
Oak Ridge
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hey all,

I've recently been turned on to the idea of starting a small publishing company. I've been reading a ton of information online, including the extremely helpful Tasty Minstrel blog. However, like most things it seems like I am coming in after something has already become extremely popular. Especially with kickstarter now enabling people to raise a good amount of money without spending nearly as much personal cash in the production of the game.

Obviously with every endeavor there is risk and reward. The risk is obviously picking a bad game, having poor manufacturing, etc that basically ruins your new name and company. I would imagine it's almost impossible to bounce back from that without some major damage control.

I'm curious as to how many publisers are starting per year, and just how many of them fizzle out? Just glancing through the forum has several "I'm about to start publishing games and already have a game (or two) lined up!" How many of you have your own company as well?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Filip W.
Sweden
Linköping
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Euros are better with dice!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Perhaps you should be asking the question: how many publishers make a living out of it? Truth to tell it's not a lot. If I'd be guessing I'd say that 1 out of 20 or 30 (or even less) manage to make a living out of publishing games. The rest pull in some cash (or at least cover their cost) while giving it insane amounts of time.

From what I've read and the people I've talked to I'd say: do it if you're willing to do it for the love of games/publishing/entrepreneurship. If you think about it as a source of income you'll risk being severely disappointed.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Walt L
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
flag msg tools
publisher
1/ Consider why do you want to have a publishing company? Is this going to be a hobby or are you going to try to make $ at it?

2/ Have you ever run a company or worked for yourself before? If not, you should talk to some people who have. It might not be what you think it is.

3/ What is going to be different about your company from all the other already existing successful game publisher? If you cant answer this, don't bother starting a company, you've already failed before you even begun.

4/ How much $ are you willing to sink into this? If you aren't thinking 6 figures, your not being realistic.

Starting a publishing company is a huge endeavor, have good games is probably the easiest part. Best of luck!


3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
mike
United States
columbus
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
That was my first question as well, why start a publishing company?

I would follow that up with are you planning on writing a business plan?

While writing that you would discover a bit about the market in general and should be able to answer some of your questions in regards to how many publishers have come onto the scene recently and how many have been successful or not

Other than reading TMG website and the discussions here have you talked with any of the publishers?
Have you been to any of the industry level conferences (GAMA, CHITAG, etc)
Have you been to Origins or GENCON recently to see which publishers are out there and what kind of games they are producing?
Have you talked to any manufacturers, distributors or retailers?

Do you have a market niche in mind?

Do you see yourself operating like Game Salute where you work with new designers, help them with their crowd funding campaigns, marketing, distribution, etc

Or would you see yourself having a small in-house or possibly free lance team of designers that come up with the games?


Are you planning on staying in your current job while doing this? or do you see this as a full time venture?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate K
United States
Utah
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wdljr wrote:

4/ How much $ are you willing to sink into this? If you aren't thinking 6 figures, your not being realistic.


I do disagree with this part; it is possible in this day and age to get away with a mere four or five figures, thanks to sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. But you're right in that starting a business is going to require some investment capital. And if you cannot afford to lose that initial investment, it would be best to not take the risk!

Quote:
Starting a publishing company is a huge endeavor, have good games is probably the easiest part. Best of luck!




Seconded.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Walt L
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
flag msg tools
publisher
kurthl33t wrote:

I do disagree with this part; it is possible in this day and age to get away with a mere four or five figures, thanks to sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.


I seriously doubt it and here's why.

You have to hire people. You need at the bare minimum someone who can:

1/ Write and Edit. This is a publishing company an as such needs to be professional. Granted not everyone is going to want an editor, but anyone who doesn't get their work looked over by a professional has a much lower chance of putting out a professional game. True they can get editing services else where, but if your going to be a publishing company isn't that a service that you should be offering?

2/ Graphic Artist. Dragging and dropping in Word doesn't cut it. You need some who know Adobe and can work with it and translate that to what ever printing machine that you are using.

3/ Some one to run the machines. Machines that do large scale printing and cutting require some one that know what they are doing to operate them. I'm not saying you can't learn how to run these machines yourself, but do you want to take the chance of messing up a piece of machine that you just spent 5 figures for?

All of these people are going to want to be paid, you need at a minimum of 6 months of payroll in the bank.

Aside from the machines, where are you going to work? Out of your house, keep the machines in your garage? Maybe. Better hope no one calls you into zoning people. And don't forget about storing all the games you make before the order is complete and you ship them.

I could go on but I think you get the idea.

However, you mentioned crowd source funding. A great way to go, and if you have a good enough business plan or some good ideas on how to do things better than it can work.

I am by no means trying to be negative. I encourage people to follow their dreams. I'm just pointing out the reality of the situation.
2 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate K
United States
Utah
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wdljr wrote:
kurthl33t wrote:

I do disagree with this part; it is possible in this day and age to get away with a mere four or five figures, thanks to sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.


I seriously doubt it and here's why.

You have to hire people. You need at the bare minimum someone who can:

1/ Write and Edit. This is a publishing company an as such needs to be professional. Granted not everyone is going to want an editor, but anyone who doesn't get their work looked over by a professional has a much lower chance of putting out a professional game. True they can get editing services else where, but if your going to be a publishing company isn't that a service that you should be offering?

2/ Graphic Artist. Dragging and dropping in Word doesn't cut it. You need some who know Adobe and can work with it and translate that to what ever printing machine that you are using.

3/ Some one to run the machines. Machines that do large scale printing and cutting require some one that know what they are doing to operate them. I'm not saying you can't learn how to run these machines yourself, but do you want to take the chance of messing up a piece of machine that you just spent 5 figures for?

All of these people are going to want to be paid, you need at a minimum of 6 months of payroll in the bank.

Aside from the machines, where are you going to work? Out of your house, keep the machines in your garage? Maybe. Better hope no one calls you into zoning people. And don't forget about storing all the games you make before the order is complete and you ship them.

I could go on but I think you get the idea.

However, you mentioned crowd source funding. A great way to go, and if you have a good enough business plan or some good ideas on how to do things better than it can work.

I am by no means trying to be negative. I encourage people to follow their dreams. I'm just pointing out the reality of the situation.


I'll rephrase, then. It is possible to invest a mere 4 or 5 figures, if you have a wide variety of skills and are willing to put in a lot of time and effort into the design and production of the games. Most people lack the necessary skills, however.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Filip W.
Sweden
Linköping
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Euros are better with dice!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wdljr wrote:

1/ Write and Edit.

2/ Graphic Artist.

3/ Some one to run the machines.


1/ Work for hire - at a professional level, you'll still get away with one writer, a bunch of volunteer testers (remember, testing the rule book is just as important as testing the game) and a proof reader. This shouldn't set you back more than $1000, probably less.

2/ Illustrator as well. I imagine that this point is the most costly, but unless you're doing a card game (which card art) you can get away with professional art at a couple of thousand dollars.

3/ Hire out. No publisher manufactures their own games (unless it's a print&play publisher). And if you Kickstart it this point won't come up until you've gotten paid and you'll know exactly how many copies to print as well, so you won't lock up all that much money in unsold merchandise.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
CW Karstens
United States
Nevada
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wdljr wrote:
kurthl33t wrote:

I do disagree with this part; it is possible in this day and age to get away with a mere four or five figures, thanks to sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.


I seriously doubt it and here's why.

You have to hire people. You need at the bare minimum someone who can:



It depends on how he wants his publishing company to work. I run my company by myself. For the jobs I cannot do or do not want to do, I farm out per job/game. I do not have employees, I commission. Having in house artists limits the breadth of games a publishing company can work on as art styles differ for different themes.

Even printers/manufacturers differ in what they are better at. A pure card game or a massive, bit intensive game are likely not to get printed effectively by the same manufacturer from my quote requests.

The key is a solid business plan. If you do it right and have experience with other industries, you will find the profit margin in the analog game industry to be extremely meager.

You will really need to enjoy doing it and spend a lot of time on it effectively.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Walt L
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
flag msg tools
publisher
Remember this all started with:

cgsaunde wrote:
Hey all,

I've recently been turned on to the idea of starting a small publishing company.


So if you do this:

filwi wrote:

1/ Work for hire - at a professional level, you'll still get away with one writer, a bunch of volunteer testers (remember, testing the rule book is just as important as testing the game) and a proof reader. This shouldn't set you back more than $1000, probably less.

2/ Illustrator as well. I imagine that this point is the most costly, but unless you're doing a card game (which card art) you can get away with professional art at a couple of thousand dollars.

3/ Hire out. No publisher manufactures their own games (unless it's a print&play publisher). And if you Kickstart it this point won't come up until you've gotten paid and you'll know exactly how many copies to print as well, so you won't lock up all that much money in unsold merchandise.


Then your not really a company, your a middle man, a broker. Now granted brokers have there place, and I'm not knocking the idea or your response, but then like I said that's not really a publishing company.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joe Mucchiello
United States
Edison
New Jersey
flag msg tools
designer
Wdljr wrote:
Quote:
3/ Hire out. No publisher manufactures their own games (unless it's a print&play publisher). And if you Kickstart it this point won't come up until you've gotten paid and you'll know exactly how many copies to print as well, so you won't lock up all that much money in unsold merchandise.


Then your not really a company, your a middle man, a broker. Now granted brokers have there place, and I'm not knocking the idea or your response, but then like I said that's not really a publishing company.


Do you think FFG or Mayfair manufactures their games? It doesn't. It uses a manufacturer for that. Are FFG and Mayfair brokers?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brook Gentlestream
United States
Long Beach
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Book publishers hire writers and illustrators to create the content for their books. Afterward, once they have the editorial and layout work done, they hire printers to physically create the product.

In the same way, game publishers hire manufacturers to physically create the product once they have the graphic design and layouts all complete and "print ready". They may even use several different manufacturers, depending on the precise needs of their components.

There are lots of ways to be involved in the board game industry;

Game designers, to create the "blue print" and text of the game. The puiblisher may choose how much of this design to incorporate into the final product, but usually will only make minor changes.

Publishers, who provide funding, hire the labor, and approve final revisions to create the product. They usually have a graphic artist, editor, and writer on staff. There is usually only one publisher, and this publisher hires everyone else. If not using a fullfillment company, the publisher must have warehousing space and pay for shipping products and components.

Manufacturers, who may make multiple components or specialize in one component, such as game boxes or dice, for example. My guess is that most of these manufacturers produce lots of other stuff and not just games, but if provided the specifications, they can make board game components as well. Sometimes you don't need a manufacturer, but rather a Printer, to make your rulebooks, player aides, cards, etc.

Fulfillment Companies - These companies exist to help smaller publishers, and ease the burden on publishers. They work with various manufacturers, shippers, and warheouses, to provide logistical support and storage during and after the print run, providing predictable prices for the publisher.

Illustrators - to provide pictures for the rulebook, cards, board, box art, or other components. Sometimes different illustrators will be used to provide art for different components, such as having a seperate box art artist.

Graphic Designers - to work the illustrations with the text, help create the board, and make final modifications to the art so that it all works together.

Shippers - if not using a fulfillment company, a publisher will need to have a contract with an LTL shipping company to move product from the maufacturers to his warehouse, and often from his warehouse to the distributor's warehouse once the product is sold.

Distributors - to purchase the product in bulk for eventual distributions to their customers, the retail stores and websites. Often distributors will specialize in a particular region or country. These are the final customers for the publisher, and the publisher must find them, convince them to buy, and form a sales contract with them.

---

All of these people work independently, and are usually hired by the publisher or work on contract for the publisher. The publisher is the "go to guy" to work with all of these various people, and he's the one responsible for paying them and making sure they all know what they have to do.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Mathe
United States
Greenfield
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
http://www.Game-Universe.com
badge
http://www.MinionGames.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Another problem is there are way to many people thinking just like you and thus more of the same pie to split. Now days it's possible for even an establish company to sell only 500-1000 copies of a game. What are you but an unknown?

Tons of time must be spent. Money must be spent. Payback is slow (1 year per game usually) and there isn't much money to be made.

A single game takes a lot of effort and micro management to get completed and about $20-30,000

Good luck
James
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Isaac Shalev
United States
Stamford
Connecticut
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wdljr wrote:

Then your not really a company, your a middle man, a broker. Now granted brokers have there place, and I'm not knocking the idea or your response, but then like I said that's not really a publishing company.


There's not a single game publisher that handles the end-to-end work of designing, producing, shipping and selling games. The publisher is unique in the sense that the publisher is the one that puts up capital... but even that's changing. There are companies today who do all the other coordinating and oversight roles of a publisher, but thanks to kickstarter, don't actually put up the capital. Look at Gamesalute's Springboard program as an example.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Walt L
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
flag msg tools
publisher
Has anyone else noticed the person who started this thread hasn't responded ? I hope we haven't scared them off, lol laugh
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nicholas Vitek
United States
Houston
Texas
flag msg tools
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Traditionally publishers have been a combination of:
- Project Management
- Financial Supporter


Some publishers incorporate:
- Game Design
- Game Development
- Graphic Design
- Art / Illustration

Almost no publisher incorporates*:
- Manufacturing


*Some specialize in limited run games and manufacture in house, though it is more assembly than actual printing.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Grady
United States
Oak Ridge
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wdljr wrote:
Has anyone else noticed the person who started this thread hasn't responded ? I hope we haven't scared them off, lol laugh


Ha! No, not at all. Just been out of town for several days without access to a computer.

My goal is to start this on the side and either just have a steady side stream, or be that 1 in 20 that could break down and do this full time.

I like the idea of taking a designer's game, working with the designer to improve on the game and/or artwork, and then print/market/sell the game. I would definitely plan on using kickstarter to help with the upfront cost.

Obviously if I were to do this I would have a business plan. I have never run a company, but have had a driving desire to do so for the last year or so. It was more of the entrepreneur drive but I didn't know the outlet to proceed with.

And as I was searching through BGG one day, I decided that I enjoyed board games so much I would love to do something with them. It may not be publishing, it may be something else.

Thanks for so much information.

RPGShop wrote:
Another problem is there are way to many people thinking just like you and thus more of the same pie to split. Now days it's possible for even an establish company to sell only 500-1000 copies of a game. What are you but an unknown?

Tons of time must be spent. Money must be spent. Payback is slow (1 year per game usually) and there isn't much money to be made.

A single game takes a lot of effort and micro management to get completed and about $20-30,000

Good luck
James


It's interesting to think about how many publishers jump head first without much planning, and just fizzle out. Obviously no one starts out as a FFG, but I also don't want to be one of these publishers that has 500 copies of one game, and it's murdered in the rating due to poor game selection/modification, and also poor component quality.

I haven't decided on this yet, but it is definitely an option. I want to explore some other potential avenues to pursue within board gaming. I feel like board games are becoming more and more popular, and we are probably going to see a big boom in the future.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
mike
United States
columbus
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
so essentially you want to follow the game salute model?


http://www.wired.com/design/2012/05/game-salute/

http://gamesalute.com/home/springboard/
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthew Rodgers
United States
Georgia
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmb
Okay, here's a different way to look at it: What do you bring to the equation?

For a designer who thinks they've got a great game, what services/benefits are you going to be able to offer them?

Obviously, money has already been discussed, and an independent unbiased viewpoint is vital. But what other areas of expertise are you able to offer?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Grady
United States
Oak Ridge
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
zedturtle wrote:
Okay, here's a different way to look at it: What do you bring to the equation?

For a designer who thinks they've got a great game, what services/benefits are you going to be able to offer them?

Obviously, money has already been discussed, and an independent unbiased viewpoint is vital. But what other areas of expertise are you able to offer?


This early in the process, it would be a list of what I would want out of a design company.

I would do my best to strive for high quality components (I hate cheap feeling games), working with the designer on clarity of the rule set and possibly play testing in my group, and hopefully extremely easy and beneficial to work with.

At this point, I'm still toying with the idea of how I want to be involved in the industry. I want it to be something on the side that I can do but I just don't see myself being creative enough to design a game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.