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Subject: Print run numbers rss

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Daniel Brian
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Two people and I have started a board game design studio of sorts and we're currently prototyping several games. We have a successful gaming related nonprofit under our belt and we want to publish one of these designs within the coming year as an extension of that business.

One of the many questions we keep wrestling with is, how many do we print? We literally have very little idea as to how to gage demand, and it seems unlikely that we can just ask other publishers' for their numbers.

Has anyone here grappled with this question? If so, how did you go about answering it?
 
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    For the record "non-profit game company" is the straight-line to about two-dozen jokes. Prepare for impact.

    If you run a google search on site:boardgamegeek.com "print run" thousand you'll get a fair amount of discussion on the issue. The recurring theme is that no one ever says, but generally it's in the few thousands. If you're a new company with a new game, you'll not get the same amount of consideration as one of the big publishers with an advertising campaign behind them.

             S.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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I have no idea either.

Perhaps you can go look at kickstarter and see what those guys are up to.
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Isaac Shalev
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If you really want to be broadly distributed (ie carried in lots of FLGS around the country) I think 5k is the minimum number. But that's a LOT relative to what most kickstarter print-runs are doing, which is more in the 2-3k range.

If you want to gauge demand you need to start by marketing. Do you have a blog or website? Are you collecting email addresses or likes on your facebook page? Does anyone know that you and your games exist? Once you start doing marketing you can being to measure how many people you're engaging and start projecting what you might be able to do for sales. If you don't do any marketing, it's even easier to project your sales: count up your family members and close friends who play games.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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ender7 wrote:
Once you start doing marketing you can being to measure how many people you're engaging and start projecting what you might be able to do for sales. If you don't do any marketing, it's even easier to project your sales: count up your family members and close friends who play games.

Sounds right!



to the OP: are you thinking of self-publishing? Or are you going to a publisher?

If you're self-publishing or doing any kind of work at distributing your own game, then Isaac/ender7 is pretty spot-on about the need for some marketing and marketing research. You wouldn't want to publish 5000 copies of a game and find out that 3000 of those copies are just going to sit in your garage.

If you're going to a publisher, then the question of how many copies to produce is somewhat moot since it's ultimately up to them.
 
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Brook Gentlestream
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According to Tasty Minstrel Games: "I like Panda, because they have experience manufacturing complicated board games in relatively small print runs (1,000-3,000 units), which we use to test the market initially."

According to Indie Board & Cards: "2,000 is a small print run. Most games are printed at 3,000 - 5,000 copies. I would consider selling 2,000 copies of a game a disappointment, especially if that number included foreign language publication."

According to my kickstarter backer updates, Eye Level Entertainment used a 1,000 copy print run for their latest Nature of the Beast stand-alone expansion. Most of those are going to the kickstarter backers, but some are going to a warehouse for any stores or distributors that want to pick up a copy.
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Mike Geller
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I recommend that you give a listen to Ludology episode 33 for an interview with the owner of Panda Games. I believe he spoke of the typical smallest run of 2000 games, but I might have misremembered. He also talked about a lot of other interesting issues related to game production.
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J C Lawrence
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Sub-1,000 print runs regularly happen for niche games or very new publishers. Examples: Reef Encounter (first edition), Cannonball Colony, City and Guilds. Winsome Games famously does print runs in blocks of 80 copies. 2,000-3,000 is where the first significant production-cost price break happens, which is why most eurogame print runs fall in this slot. 5,000 is pretty rare -- the land of already successful publishers dealing with largely known or market-proven quantities. 10,000+ print runs are for SdJ winners and the like.
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John "Omega" Williams
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If you are planning to sell to retailers then 5000 is about average. Some go more, some go less. Some go alot more and some go alot less.

Yep. Thats right, it varies wildly from publisher to publisher. cry

Unless of course you are selling it direct out of the garage and doing Print-on-Demand or Kickstarter type targeted sales.

My first game company printed off 100 books. These sold out in a year with minimal advertising and so we printed off another 100 with better advertising. Which was pretty good in the field I was working in at the time and selling direct. No retailers.
 
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Clay Hales
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If I recall correctly the Plaid Hat Podcast mentions 5000 print runs.
 
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Daniel Brian
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Thank you. It's not a non-profit game company, we have a game related non-profit in conjunction with this startup that helps teach kids how to play games and the intrinsic rewards they can reap. I should have clarified that.
 
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Daniel Brian
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Thank you all VERY much. This is enlightening. We are probably going to Kickstart the first few designs.

We're working on the marketing angle to better figure this out and I'm going to start trolling the Kickstarters and see what a lot of those guys are coming up with, as well.
 
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Kim Brebach
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Shmello50 wrote:
I recommend that you give a listen to Ludology episode 33 for an interview with the owner of Panda Games. I believe he spoke of the typical smallest run of 2000 games, but I might have misremembered. He also talked about a lot of other interesting issues related to game production.

He mentioned 3000 as the sweet spot for cost per unit efficiency and minimised risk of low sales (and the storage that goes with it). I guess it depends how many copies distributors wanna buy?

Someone else mentioned Plaid Hat do 5k. They may have done 5K for Mice and mystics but AFAIK they had an astronomical 1800 preorders for that.
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Clay Hales
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kbrebach wrote:
Shmello50 wrote:
I recommend that you give a listen to Ludology episode 33 for an interview with the owner of Panda Games. I believe he spoke of the typical smallest run of 2000 games, but I might have misremembered. He also talked about a lot of other interesting issues related to game production.

He mentioned 3000 as the sweet spot for cost per unit efficiency and minimised risk of low sales (and the storage that goes with it). I guess it depends how many copies distributors wanna buy?

Someone else mentioned Plaid Hat do 5k. They may have done 5K for Mice and mystics but AFAIK they had an astronomical 1800 preorders for that.
I believe they said that was their standard run. The print run size had nothing to do with those preorders.
 
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Kim Brebach
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Yep. I guess their preorder for M&M could be taken as indicator for demand for their games though. They are reasonably well established and known and im guessing have both loyal buyers and good market research on top of pretty well respected games.

I have a feeling a 5K print run would be ambitious and risky for a first gamers game launched into the blue unless you had some real feedback about the games realistic market size eg a very successful KS campaign, or the backing of publisher with lots of advertising $, faith and spare warehouse space. Maybe im wrong. would love to know.
 
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monchi
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I would say realistically the smallest runs that make sense are 1500-2000.
 
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Filip W.
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ender7 wrote:
Once you start doing marketing you can being to measure how many people you're engaging and start projecting what you might be able to do for sales.

I'm listening to the excellent Writing Excuses podcast by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Welles and Howard Tayler and in one of their marketing segments they mention that a conversion rate of 5% is pretty good (for book and webcomic sales). So if you've got 10 000 returning visitors to your site you might be to sell 500 games.

Good Luck!
 
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mike
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If you're at the prototype stage then the first thing you need to do is market the game and build a following. After that 2 ways to gauge interest would either be put up a pre-order form on your website or go the crowd funding route. You would of course need to need set a funding goal based on your estimated costs which you'll get from a number of manufacturers for different print run sizes. It really depends on what type of game you have card, boxed game with a bunch of components, etc but I would get quotes for 500, 1000, 1500, 2000+ units. For your first game 500-1000 is probably going to be reasonably successful crowd funding campaign.

As far as marketing what do you have set up so far?

I would look at the following

1. website as your central hub
2. BBG Database entry once the game is complete and available in some form print or play, prototype, etc
3. Designer Diary Blog
4. Some type of social media account

Facebook: General Campaign updates, when you launch, calendar of events, announcing stretch goals, etc

Twitter: Live updates ex Campaign countdown, travel to conventions, demo times, etc

Youtube: game demos, reviews

Linkedin/Google +: company page and personal account join the game industry related groups along with the crowd funding



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Isaac Shalev
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filwi wrote:
ender7 wrote:
Once you start doing marketing you can being to measure how many people you're engaging and start projecting what you might be able to do for sales.

I'm listening to the excellent Writing Excuses podcast by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Welles and Howard Tayler and in one of their marketing segments they mention that a conversion rate of 5% is pretty good (for book and webcomic sales). So if you've got 10 000 returning visitors to your site you might be to sell 500 games.

Good Luck!

I wouldn't translate anything from books to board games. Sanderson's anticipated royalties from his next book series is over $2 million. He's going to sell hundreds of thousands of units at least. Apples, meet oranges.
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Dave K
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I wish you luck with the KS campaigns. I've funded several things there, and some campaigns work out better than others. I think if you have a really good idea what you will actually need in terms of capital you will be able to run a much better campaign. I have funded some things where the creators essentially promised more than they could deliver because they failed to truly understand what their costs were (especially when stretch goals started showing up).
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