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!