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How to create and sell a board game

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A home-made board game is a great thing that you can impress your friends on the next night of home entertainment. But before boasting the final result of your work, you will have to develop the basic principles of the game, including its goals and rules. Having taken care of the first stage, then you will need to create a prototype of the game to test your ideas. After the board game is successful in testing, you will need to make the final flawless version of the game, which can already be used for evening gatherings with friends.

Market situation

The Russian game market is developed quite interestingly: we once had a culture of board games, in every house there were chess or checkers. For comparison: in Germany, for example, dozens of games can be at home. In our country, not everyone knows that there are board games besides Monopoly and chess.

At the moment, the market situation looks like this:

  • Only about 20-30% of the market is covered, that is, in the coming years, sales will grow.
  • At the same time - a fairly high level of competition between individual players. For example, in Moscow and St. Petersburg now, in fact, there is a price war. Of course, this is beneficial for buyers.
  • Games are in many stores from the Children's World to the bookstores, and the price difference can reach 50%. In non-specialized stores, games are sold very, very slowly: this is partly due to the fact that they do not appear to customers there at all, and partly because of an offer that is not very beneficial for the end customer.
  • Real sales are shown only by network players. For example, before we developed the network, it was difficult to imagine that most of the non-specialized stores have really low conversion in the segment.

The more is more model

A very important factor is the number of games that you sell for a subsequent increase in sales. Each sold game is an advertisement for all familiar players, which means one or two more sales. A man takes a box home, plays with friends - and they quickly come to the store for an already familiar thing.

This means that if you want to publish a board game, you will immediately you need to work with one of the major players capable of maximizing sales by the number of boxes.

Printing lots of up to 500 pieces (for the average game) is usually unprofitable: the price of a copy is getting too high. Moreover, not every network can sell the game in such quantity in a reasonable amount of time.

Suppose you have released an average game at an average price that will not be in great demand: this is either a “four” game or a good niche game for an amateur. According to statistics, it will leave us at a speed of about 2-3 thousand boxes per year, and 90 percent of this number will not be sold by our partners such as the Union and other networks, but by specialized stores where the game can be shown and told about it. And where she will not compete, say, with a trip to a cafe, a book or a new shirt.

Another interesting feature of the market is the overestimation of forecasts for games at the time of publication. Our practice shows that sales of even hit games in forecasts (at negotiations) are significantly overstated.

Game positioning

First you need to focus on the audience of your game. You need to answer two questions: for what age and sex is the game (moreover, accurate to a year, for example, for boys 12 years old) and to which genre it belongs. The first is important for the formation of a sales case from the seller (to whom specifically and for what purpose to sell your game), the second - for understanding what rack it will be put in the store. If the rack is difficult to determine, your game will be put into storage.

In terms of price, it’s important that the game falls into the category of “spontaneous purchase" or not. For Moscow, a spontaneous purchase is all below 1000 rubles. For St. Petersburg, this is approximately 700 rubles and below. For, say, Nizhny Novgorod, only the cheapest store games worth from 300 to 500 rubles fall into this category. If your game does not go like a spontaneous purchase, it should be VERY and VERY good for people to come to the store for it.

What rake you can step on

  1. High cognitive resistance or, more simply, obscure rules. This is a drawback only if the game is designed for people “from the street”: for example, a strategy with complex rules can be explained by the example of several important differences: you don’t need to show everything at once. The average number of parties that will be played in your game is about 6-8. Then it will be replaced by another or simply put on a shelf. Count on the normal level of players.
  2. Be sure to spend tests. First, on friends and acquaintances, then give the game to an unfamiliar company and look, and then assemble a focus group for 30 people. If the tests are not very successful - change the game: it hurts, but it is necessary.
  3. Transfer risks to the publisher. He must be responsible for the quality of the boxes, the correct number of components in them, and so on. It is difficult and expensive to publish independently. True, convincing the publisher to get involved in the project is not easy.
  4. Compare your box with the boxes of other games: will not be confused? Make sure that the game is shrunk (in film): otherwise the boxes will be perceived as open. Do not sell the game in a travel bag (bag), make a separate box: the product should look like a gift. When designing the box, make sure that it stands flat on the edge of the shelf and does not swing, otherwise it will quickly move to the worst places of the display.
  5. Can a person from the street, looking at your box, answer the questions: “Is this game for me? What is she talking about? Why should I choose her? ”

What do you personally get

  1. A fixed amount for the sale of rights to the game. Usually this is the cost of the share of estimated runs for two years.
  2. Redemption of a license for a year with the right to renew: usually this is the cost of a share of the circulation for the year.
  3. Percentage of each print run at the time of printing. As a rule, this is 10% of the wholesale price when providing the publisher with a full prototype (with design) or about 3-5% for an idea with the described rules and mechanics. The main thing to keep in mind is that nobody needs “bare” ideas: without a prototype, they are of no interest to anyone in principle.

For example, the author of Munchkin receives about a dollar per box. This is a lot, given its circulation, but it is very small, given the circulation of your new game.

Our partners - the Magellan publisher - offer 10% royalties on the wholesale price of the print run, despite the fact that the game passes the tests and meets the quality criteria. There are many criteria, but the main thing is that the game should be something new and very interesting in its category. The deductions are made upon the issue of the circulation, not the sales completed: that is, even if the Colorado potato beetle eats the whole game after leaving the shop at once, you will still receive money.

Manufacturer's choice

As a rule, each manufacturer works with one "own" or several affiliate networks. Of course, the more important the product is for the network, the better it will advance in it: accordingly, choosing a manufacturer, you choose a network. If Magellan publishes your game, you will receive priority conditions from us (and our network is the first among specialized stores in terms of retail sales in the Russian Federation).

The second question in choosing a manufacturer is print quality. Just look at the line of games of a particular publisher and answer the question: are you satisfied with everything in the execution of games? Take a look at the box, check if there were problems with layout, and so on. Incorrect box design or poor design is a significant minus in sales.

Printing in Finland and ordering in China

Domestic printing houses almost never can provide the required level of quality. There are a variety of problems: from improper cutting or creasing to the classic “floating” color. A part of domestic magazines, for example, solves the problem simply: it is printed in Finland or in other countries.

In addition, almost anywhere we do not make figures, counters and serious playing fields. In practice, this means three possible options for publication:

  • Turnkey order in China. This is a good option if you know how to formulate an exact technical task and know how to go through customs. With print runs of less than 3,000 (for a mid-range game), there simply is no point in bothering. We need a person "on the other side", able to control quality. This is the way of big players.
  • Order parts parts in China. A similar situation, but already easier in terms of delivery. With some attempt, you will find the right suppliers.
  • Production in the Russian Federationbut with clear quality control. When signing the contract, carefully indicate the acceptance criteria and very carefully check the entire circulation from start to finish (yes, top, bottom and middle of the pile). The main problems are the technical impossibility of manufacturing something, problems with the timing, expensive small runs.

It is interesting that domestic boxes can have very large backlashes between the case and the lid: if you have small chips, you need to either put them in bags or on lodges, or think about alternative ways of making boxes.

Going global or localizing

Localization of a foreign game with us is always a profitable step, since the popularity of the product has already been proven in another country. Another thing is that high-quality localization requires quite serious efforts comparable to the cost of releasing a new game. Localization is usually performed under a license similar to the scheme described above in the section on royalties.

If you want to independently publish your game in the West, then keep in mind that the situation is somewhat tougher than the authors think. The idea of ​​the game (rules + prototype without design) costs from 300 to 1000 dollars maximum. A prototype with a design is two to three times more expensive. Buying a finished game is complicated by the need to prove its popularity: as a result, with any options, the publisher gets all the cream if successful, and you don’t. The only exception is if your goal is to play for the promotion of the name, and not for profit. The author rarely makes a profit from the first game.

How to put in large networks. Negotiations and features.

The presentation of the game is not based on the principle “see how cool it is”, but should answer the following questions:

  • Why the game is better than other games of the category,
  • Why will it sell well
  • What the end customer will like,
  • In what specific category will it lie
  • Why do people (and which ones) go to the store for this game.

The network wants to make a profit from the game and, more importantly, to make the game appealing to customers who always associate the positive shopping experience with the store itself.

The second thing that is interesting about the network is how the game will be explained. Usually this takes 25 seconds: if there is something sophisticated, it is better to think through a mini-presentation in advance. For example, I propose to explain the games "Overboard", "Kuhandel" or "Castle for All Seasons" in 25 seconds each. Slowly and calmly so that the client understands.

After putting the game on the network, you need to provide demo samples (open boxes) for each point, as well as train all sellers to play your game. So you greatly increase the chances of sales.

The first week of sales is purchases for criticism. The first 10 boxes will be bought solely in order to be the first to write a critical review (moreover, there will be three times as many reviews as the fact of the purchased boxes), so just ignore it. Real reviews will go in a week or two, they already respond in full force.

If there is a problem in the game, you should immediately tell everyone what it is, how to determine if it is or not in a particular publication, withdraw the circulation and explain how to replace games with those to whom they have already been sold.

  1. Come up with an idea
  2. Define clear positioning (price, segment, offset from competitors)
  3. Make a prototype "on napkins"
  4. Test it with friends
  5. Choose publisher
  6. Show the prototype without art to the publisher and at the same meeting - to representatives of the affiliate network
  7. Clarify positioning, solve the issue of game design
  8. Sign an agreement governing the management of rights and deductions with circulation
  9. Take the final tests on a large number of different players (in particular, on the balance)
  10. Show the game to network sellers and survive the first week of criticism

If you have questions or if you already want to offer the game for publication and sales - write to me in PM or at [email protected] (there, like this: “Hello, I am the author of the game, I would like to meet with your leadership, here is my phone number”).

Here in the review you can see some niche games.