When it comes to manufacturing products, specifically a board game that you designed, you may think that manufacturing is the last part of the process, when in fact it comes into play right from the beginning.

What’s in the Box?

When creating your first design, it is important to be thinking about the components in your game from a manufacturing perspective: what will this specific component cost? How many of these should I include in the box? How big should the box be? Should I offer a box insert? Should I make room in the insert for possible expansions? These are all important questions to be asking yourself throughout the design process.

There are all sorts of components you could have in a game and the prices are going to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. In the first part of this 4 part series, I want to go over general costs, talk a bit about the process, and provide tips on how to bring down costs. I will use examples and information we have received from Gnomes in Wizards quotes. In the later parts of this series, we will get more granular with the prices of what components cost and look at the specs for specific components.

Getting Started

Let’s start from the first step of the process which is assembling a list of your game components. You will need to have a fairly detailed list depicting the quantity of each piece, the size, and the quality. That may sound like a daunting task, but start with the box and then work on one piece at a time. Before you go looking around the internet for component specs, go right to the manufacturers you are interested in getting quotes from. Ask if they have a quote sheet for you or a component catalog you can browse.

Panda Game Manufacturing has a great platform for getting all of your game components itemized. Even if you don’t plan to use them as a manufacturer, this resource is very valuable for getting a better understanding of the components that will be in your game. Panda’s easy-to-use interface has all sorts of standard sizes and quality levels preload, including boxes, cards, dice, cardboard punchboards, wooden pieces, miniatures, and much more. Unfortunately, at the time this article is being released, Panda has announced that they are temporarily shutting down the ability to add new quotes or even submit drafted quotes due to the influx of users on their system. We are trying to reach out to our contact to see when users will have access again. Keep checking back to see when this resource opens up for use again.

Panda is one of the larger manufacturers and they produce really high-quality components but as a first-time designer and publisher, you may want to consider looking at smaller manufacturers whose prices aren’t as high and have lower MOQs (minimum order quantity). Panda’s quoting process is still a great starting point to understanding components better but once you get a list of components you’ll need to produce your game, you can start taking that list to other manufacturers and put together quote sheets pretty quickly.

We have been pleased with our experience working with Nice Funny Games lately. They are very friendly and easy to work with as the owner speaks very good English.

Unit Cost

Gnomes and Wizards has a lot of components which makes it a great candidate to be used as an example for pricing out a game. To give you an idea of the total cost, our latest quote from Nice Funny Games put each base unit at about $12.24 USD for 500 units.

$12.24 isn’t a terribly high price for a mid-level game but it is on the higher side. There are several aspects that play into this increased price, one of them being the pandemic. The quotes we were getting from this company before the manufacturing and shipping effects of the pandemic were a bit under $12 but that’s still a decent amount per game. Another larger factor that plays into our price total is the quantity in which we are looking to purchase these games.

Before when we were working with Panda Games Manufacturing, we were getting quotes closer to $10 a unit. This was because we were getting quotes for 1000 units instead of 500. The more units you buy, the cheaper it ends up being. Unfortunately, while we were working with Panda, they changed their MOQ from 500 to 1000, hiking up our total funds need, therefore affecting our Kickstarter goal.

Now the big question you may be asking is, why would this game cost $60 then? To that, I would say there are some costs other than just manufacturing that you have to consider when making a game. Things like shipping, distribution, pledge managers (if you are doing crowdfunding or pre-orders), and the game stores that sell games get a big cut too. To factor in all of these extra costs and include a profit for the publisher/designer, it is recommended to multiply the manufacturing cost of the game by 5 or 6 to get your MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price), or you can ask your manufacturer for a more accurate recommendation as they know what is in your game and what other factors may affect the retail cost.

Although we have yet to get one of our games produced by a manufacturer, I personally have experience with working with wholesalers and manufacturers for products that I sell through my other online business called Fangorn Forge. I bring it up not as a marketing ploy as much as I want to provide credibility so that you are aware that my advice is backed up by some level of experience, even if it is not directly related. I will occasionally be pulling in examples from the experiences that I have gained from running this online shop.

In part 2 of this manufacturing series, I will break down the total price so that you can see what components cost the most. In part 3 we will discuss some of the smaller items that add up and then in part 4, we will talk about special components such as 3d objects, miniatures, playmats, and other cool bits. We separated those out since they are the most costly but want to give you alternatives to getting these awesome components made without breaking the bank. In each part, I want to give you useful information that you can implement in your design processes so that when it is time to take your design to a manufacturer to get quotes, you are prepared.

Note to our readers

As we continue to work on projects with CavernWire Games, we have two primary objectives with these blog posts: 1 is to keep you informed about what new developments have taken place to advance these projects and 2 is to create content that other game designers can utilize when going through this process themselves. You might be one of these individuals or maybe you’re just interested in understanding the whole process more. Regardless, we want to create rich content that you can find helpful in understanding the industry better based on our experiences while keeping you informed on the progress of our current endevours. We hope you can find something useful here.


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