Friday, June 25, 2010

Game production costs summary

The graph at left (click it to make it bigger) shows some results from quotes I've gotten for my card game, Diggity. I thought it might be useful to other game designers and people contemplating publishing their own games to see what I've learned.

Tuck and Setup refer to box types - tuck boxes are one-piece boxes with a flap that tucks in, like a regular playing card box, while setup boxes are usually two pieces (base and lid) with an internal platform for holding the contents in place.

These numbers are tricky to compile and to compare - even though I send the same specifications to each printing company, I don't always get the same results back. For example, some of the quotes include different kinds of boxes, or different box materials, or different card sizes, or different paper stocks and paper coating. Some of them include shipping; others do not, and I have to estimate it, which I've done here. I have only included printing and shipping charges and setup costs where appropriate; no other charges like import duties, file preparation, shipping of samples, etc.

I often got multiple quotes for different quantities from the same company; these are connected by lines. I sometimes got quotes for different products from the same company, e.g. tuck box vs. setup box (a two-piece box with a bottom and a lid). In this case, I've grouped them with a number; e.g. everything marked "China #1" comes from the same Chinese printer, while "China #2" would be a different Chinese printer.

I'm still pursuing bids, and I will not necessarily go with the lowest bidder here. There are a host of other concerns, such as product quality, the component materials, the box type, my estimates of other costs incurred when dealing with the company involved (which are higher overseas), the professionalism I perceive with the company, and others. I'd love to have a "Made in America" on the label, too, if I can afford it.

For a look at how this plays out in terms of actually making the economics work, see this post and this post.


  1. Get a quote from european publishers too, some might be interesting in terms of price/quality/risk ratio.
    Ludofact is 'the reference' for european factories, and they have an edge as theyr spinoff ludopakt offers full logitical services but for factory only, there's also ferriot cric in france, france cartes (cards only) and belgium's carta mundi..

    The prices are of course higher thanin china, but there's less risk w/regards to quality and shipping.

    Some publishers actually print two batches, in US _and_ europe, and dispatch to distributors accordingly.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions. I tried to get a quote from Carta Mundi a few months ago, but it went nowhere - sent the guy my specs, he asked for a phone number, I gave it, then nothing. Not an atypical experience in this endeavor, I've found. I'm a little reluctant to use a company that I have to harass to get a quote from.

  3. Just a word of warning about cheap China printing... both Mayday Games and I (Minion Games) got our games back where they used art-paper stock instead of card stock. This makes for a much less durable and even peeling card. Also they just couldn't seem to get the registration (alignment) right on any of our 4 games... I would NOT recommend you ever use Xinghui Industry Co., Ltd. who was one of the cheapest around - it shows.

    We'll be doing reprints with another company. Luckly many people are used to using card sleeves these days.
    - James

  4. The quotes from china 1, what do they include? I guess no shipping and no setup fees?

    WOuld be nice to se what is included with what company.

  5. No shipping, no setup fees for the Chinese companies. The others (non-China) generally include shipping to the US and any setup costs that were mentioned, although there may be hidden costs in some cases.

  6. Do you think producing multiple games at the same time at the same printingcompanies will get you a reduced price?

    If so do you think it would be worth the hassel to find some one and order a prinrun with them?

    Or print two games of youre own at the same time by youre self?