Sunday, April 4, 2010

A tale of two POD Publishers...

OK, here's a comparison between my experience with and, two print-on-demand game publishing services. Both of them offer a similar service - near-professional quality printing of games in short print runs - and both are suitable for making a small number of games up for yourself as a prototype, to use as a demo for a publisher, or to sell. Both purport to have an order-taking and order-fulfillment service.

I'm going to evaluate them head-to-head on a number of factors in two sets - the first set will be facts, either from their websites or in my experience with each company. The second set will be my opinions, based on my experience. How about table form? Here goes:


Possible productsCard decks (poker size only), game boards (thick cardstock only), tokens, counters, parts, money, rulesCard decks (poker or bridge size), tuck boxes, cardboard chits, RPG screens, rule booklets and other customized printing. Other size card decks and custom printed items listed, but it's not clear how to order them.
Acts as a sales agent and order fulfillment/distributorAutomatically when game is publishedCan be arranged through Publishers Warehouse system
Terms for sales50% of net profit
e.g., a game that costs $10 and sells for $20 would net the author $5.00
20% of net profit plus $2.00 per order plus $0.25 per item
e.g., a game that costs $10 and sells for $20 would net the author $5.75 (but production costs are lower on SuperiorPOD than TGC).
Art submissionIndividual images (PNG) are submitted and organized through web-based management systemImages must be pre-formatted into pages (TIFF) using templates (18 cards per page)

Opinions/Personal Experience

WebsiteVery nice and easy to use. Actively updated with active forums; product management straightforward and mostly glitch-free, although adding parts can be a little confusing at first; address management a little cumbersome during orderingSomewhat confusing website organization; not all products seem to be available for printing; you need to "order" the templates that you later submit for printing; no online content management other than FTP upload with e-mail response
CommunicationExcellent regarding orders; slower with regard to more technical questions. Employee responses in the public forums are very prompt.Minimal communication other than initial order response (they responded to my third and fourth e-mails and not to the two messages I left on their voice mail). Once I complained more, about three weeks after placing my order, I got more regular responses.
OrderingMostly straightforward except for address management; shipping is relatively expensiveMostly straightforward, but preparing artwork is more involved and requires more computer savvy than with TGC.
Cost to me for one copy$10.87 + $5.15 shipping
Total: $16.02
$8.40 + $6.06 shipping
Total: $14.46
Total cost to me for 15 copies (includes shipping)$189.20$113.79
Time to receive order after placement7 days40 days. Very frustrating. SuperiorPOD staff indicated this was unusual, and blamed a trade show, but it took much longer than the 10-14 days indicated on their site.
Product QualityGenerally very high; printing is darker than expected and dark-colored cards sometimes show flaking, but otherwise, a very good product. Cards come in ziploc bags. Games individually boxed with sticker; these are functional but nothing fancy.Very high; cuts seem better centered than TGC; cards shuffle a little better than TGC cards, and printing isn't so dark. Decks come shrink-wrapped. No individual boxes by default.

I hope that helps those of you considering each print-on-demand option.

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