A board game is a complex manufacturing project that will require many hours of your time to get right. We know because we help creators bring their games to life all the time! The resources below represent lots of answers to lots of questions that we've answered over the years. All of the content is designed to help people move their game forward - whether they're at the very earliest searches of research or they're ready to order their game.
No printing project is more complex than a board game. There are lots and lots of details to be settled – and the expense of the game is in the resolution of all of those details. Often times, we find that it takes months for the final stages of a board game design/production project to come together. That’s because game creators want to make money with their game, and that means that they will often have to make and remake decisions so that their project comes in at the right cost. We want to make sure that we give you the information that will help you make the most cost-efficient game that you want to make.
Towards that end, we’ve written up lots of thoughts and information about custom board game manufacturing from a manufacturer’s point of view. Below, you’ll find sample game prices (“how much would it cost to make a game like…”) as well as “behind the veil” information about the how’s and why’s of board game prototyping, playtesting, and the reality of minimum order quantities. These are the “manufacturing realities” as we understand them, and we hope that getting this information right out in front will help you with your project.
The first question everyone has about making a custom board game is the same: “How much will it cost?” Rather than give you a price list and force you to configure your game at this stage, we have taken pictures of several games – some that we have produced as well as some very popular games that we haven’t produced. For each game, we’ve broken down pricing to give you an idea of the total cost and also the component cost. The idea is to help give you an idea what it might cost to produce a custom game in a quick, concise package. This is the best place to start if you’re new to game manufacturing and are looking at some approximate costs for your project.See Sample Game Prices
PrintNinja doesn’t print prototype runs of games. We use the offset printing process for all of our work. Offset printing is very high quality but it has long setup times. These pages, however, contain tips and resources that you can use to prototype your game, as well as some general tips on game design that will help you manage your costs as you move forward in the process. (Decisions that you make during the prototyping stage often have major consequences to the final price of your game!)See Prototype Stage Resources
The playtesting stage – where you need 2 to 20 copies of your game so that people around the country or around the world can play – is the same as the prototyping stage from a manufacturing standpoint. We can make 500 games, but we can’t make 15 games. Our resources for the playtesting stage are directed towards the kinds of manufacturing decisions that you can be making at the prototype stage to keep your costs low when you get to manufacturing.See Playtesting Stage Resources
Maufacturing is hard and it’s expensive. Printing in particular has long setup times – and quick production times. It takes three or four hours to set a printing press up but only one hour to make the printing run itself. (That’s why printing costs go down so much as quantities go up.) Manufacturers are understandably sensitive to those setup time requirements, since they would rather be making money running their printing presses than doing setup and teardown. That’s why we have a 500 unit minimum order on all of our games. If you’ve tried and tried and just don’t think that you’re going to be able to get to 500 units, you can explore some other options these resources.See “Small Run” Resources
PrintNinja’s minimum order quantity (MOQ) is 500 units, which is actually quite low for a quality offset printing minimum! Happily, even at 500 units, your per-unit cost will be much lower with 500 offset units than they would be with 500 digital or POD units. Even at 500 units, there are still some things that will be difficult – plastic card trays and custom miniatures, for instance, have MOQs of 1,000 units – but we can work with you to help you understand those limitations. Our first quotes will be budgetary quotes – meaning we will quote within a range but not a specific price until we have seen your artwork. Examining your artwork before giving you a final price will let us work with you to optimize your game’s design; sometimes very small changes can result in big cost savings. You can begin building your custom quote with these resources.See Budgetary Game Quote and Production Resources
Things really start to happen once you’re prepared to consider a production run of 1,000 or more pieces! You will definitely want to begin conversation with one of our account managers so that we can help make sure your design is optimized for manufacturing. You’ll find us cheerful and professional as partners, and we believe that our knowledge can add value to your manufacturing process. You should fill out the quotation form so that we can begin the budgetary quotation process and we will follow up to help make your game a reality.See Budgetary Game Quote and Production Resources