In part one of this series, we discussed some of the fundamentals of starting the manufacturing process and then started breaking down some of the components through part 2. In this post, I want to talk more about components that you may need to include in your game box, discuss costs, and some of the processes behind making these components so you can be thinking of ways to bring down the total cost of the game.

How Do you Store Your Games?

Are you a verticalist or are you a stacker? I personally store my games vertically because it’s the right way 😉. I’ll admit there are advantages to both but I have decided personally that storing them on their side like books is what’s best for me.

Another light-hearted debate among gamers that is closely related to this idea is should games have a plastic insert or not? I’ve seen some people who will make their own, especially if the one that it comes with is poorly designed, and others who throw away the insert and just bag everything.

What does this have to do with storing your games vertically or horizontally? One of the biggest arguments against us verticalists is that the components scatter all over the box, making a mess for the next time you go to play. The plastic tray inserts can really affect the outcome of this so I thought it would be worth talking about if you should include it in your game or not.

I had an issue with one of the tray inserts that came in a Kickstarer I backed a couple of years back. I won’t name the project as I don’t want to cast shame on other publishers. I was really excited about the project and it was a great campaign. One of the things I was really excited about was the mini-expansions that were unlocked through stretch goals. The mini expansions included extra tiles and cards.

When I received the game, I quickly realized that most of the mini-expansion tiles did not fit in the slot where all of the other tiles from the base game went. The mini expansions came in the box thrown in another section that wasn’t meant for those tiles. To me, this seemed like an oversight and I was pretty disappointing because the tray was organized well but they didn’t account for the mini-expansions that were added to the box. First-world problems, am I right?

I realize that it isn’t that big of a deal as the game is actually really enjoyable and I enjoyed most of my other experiences with the game, but it was one of the spots where I feel like the ball was dropped a bit. I will say that these extra components were Kickstarter Exclusive so not everybody who bought the game would experience this annoyance. Maybe they were just thinking about their retail clients but it seems like it could have been adjusted so that the Kickstarter backers had a home for everything.

For me, I am at the point where I am ready to throw away the tray because it actually is more cumbersome than it is helpful. So should you even bother wasting money on a tray if some people are just going to throw it away anyway? I think that is a call each publisher is going to have to make on their own.

Plastic Trays or Not?

The majority of people who buy your game won’t throw away the tray and will take any inconveniences on themselves before getting rid of something from the game box. Heck, many gamers I know refuse to throw away the little booklets with all of the other games the publisher has for sale or even the components that are supposed to be replaced by newer versions.

As a designer and publisher, consider what your visions are or even potential visions are for the game. Do you plan on offering expansions in the future or include extra bits right off the bat? Are you considering those additions in your tray layout design?

If you say that maybe one day there will be expansions but for now, you just want to release your game as is, maybe a tray is for you, but also consider the layout design. Does it hold the components well so that if someone stored the game vertically, the pieces will stay in their designed spaces or will they need to bag the components anyways? If it is the latter, maybe save a bit of time on production and lose the tray.

Maybe you have a wide variety of the same components like cards and you only need certain groups of cards for each game like Dominion. Their tray insert is great because it makes the setup process much quicker than without it. There are quite a few factors you need to consider when deciding if a tray is right for you but the cost really isn’t a factor that you have to consider too much.

Tray insert with slots for various cards and other components

Molded trays are relatively inexpensive. We were quoted $0.63 USD for a custom-molded tray from Nice Funny Games but typically there are some tooling costs to make the initial mold. It won’t save you a whole lot of money but it could save you a good deal of time in the designing process if you decide not to include a tray.

Custom Dice and Wooden Pieces

Gnomes and Wizards has a total of 10 dice included: 4 action dice and 6 bonus action dice. The action dice and bonus action dice are slightly different so there are 2 molds that are required to make both designs. The action dice we were quoted from Nice Funny Games was $0.59 USD and the bonus dice were $0.75 USD bringing the total to $1.34 USD per container with a $50 USD tooling fee. This is a decent sum and a lot of the cost goes back to what we talked about in the last part of this series, the custom aspect.

In a similar vein, we have 24 wooden discs with engraved icons on the top included in each box. These were quite a bit less due to the process to engrave these being simpler. The total for all 24 discs was $0.75 USD. Based on my experiences working with manufacturers, there is not much cost difference in silkscreening dice and wooden components versus molding/engraving them.

Silkscreening and Engraving

When I was first getting quotes for Gnomes and Wizards, I assumed that silkscreening would be cheaper so we started there in the quoting process but as we continued conversations with various manufacturers, I was assured that this was not the case. The problem with silkscreened components is it’s easy for the icons to rub off or wear away over time. Dice are the most susceptible to this because of the high amount of contact they have from the oil on the player’s hands and also the impact of constantly rolling them.

The benefit of silkscreening components is you can do full-color icons and the icons can be much more detailed. There really isn’t one way that is clearly better than the other since they both have benefits and drawbacks. It all depends on your project and what it calls for. Thankfully, both options are similar in cost so you don’t have to factor that in when deciding what is the best choice for your game.

Smallest Components

Wooden cubes (4) ($0.08 USD) and zip lock bags (7) ($0.11 USD) are the cheapest items contained in Gnomes and Wizards. These types of components are easy to mass-produce because they are common components that get shared across games. The plastic clips (56) ($1.09 USD) are a little bit more expensive because we need quite a few of them in each box but we think this quoted price may be a bit high so we plan to further inquire about our latest quote. Overall, “generic” components are going to be pretty cheap because oftentimes manufacturers will already have the tools set up to create these items for other games.

Final Thought

Next week, I want to finish up this conversation on manufacturing by talking with you about some more unique items that you might want to include in your game box and most importantly, how you can include those components even if you can’t afford to add the intense costs to your final game.


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