How are board games made you ask? Well in this day and age, with new technologies and crowdsourcing opportunities it gets easier by the day. You can self publish or you can try to get your idea in front of a publisher that will take it on. All you need to worry about is that you can do it. You have everything at your disposal to do this and we hope this how are board games made guide will help shed some light on the steps of the process.
The #1 step in how are board games made is Design. In the board game world, the companies that put out the games are not the ones that create them. That R&D cost is not something these companies want to have on your payroll. Luckily for you, the board game inventor, that means they leave it up to the individual to make something they can buy or license from you.
This means that you have to do everything. You need to come up with the rules, you need to design all the elements and you need to make sure everything comes together for a fun experience. This is done by mapping out your idea, create a prototype by making all the components and delivering something that can be played. You do not have to get fancy here, index cards and play markers do the trip.
This is the stage where all you need is to be able to demonstrate it plays, it does not have to be perfect. That being said, the right amount of polish along the how to make board games process goes a long way.
The #2 step in how are board games made is Pitching. Once you have a working prototype you have play tested over and over, with everyone loving it each time, you are ready to move on to pitching.
Pitching is the process of getting someone to take on your board game. It is either a financial source to back you or it is to a publisher to take a final product off your hands. Whatever the meeting or opportunity, this is the you as a salesman part.
Your charisma and understanding of the target audience is what is going to get this done. If you can prove to someone that people are going to love your game, and you have an answer for any curveball they throw at you, how are they going to turn you down.
Comparisons and why it is special are key. “It is like game A meets game B but with better X” or “This capitalizes on the popularity of X, but no other game does Z like this” are phrases you might find yourself saying with poinant observations dropped in.
The #3 step in how are board games made is Manufacturing. After you have a publisher or financing (if you are self publishing) in place, next you need to think about the game actually coming into existence, and that is manufacturing.
If you have a publisher, there are most likely going to help with this. Every deal is different and you may have one where they do everything or maybe you have one that requires you to deliver a finished game. If they are not doing it through their trusted manufacturers, they can at least give you recommendations they know are good or some guidance.
Most, if not all, game manufacturing is done in China. Even if a company has an office in the US or some other country, they are most likely still doing it through someone in China. Like everything it is hard to compete with their manufacturing, and with a specialty industry like Board Games, that makes it even harder to survive. With 3D printing technology, new manufacturing opportunities on the how are board games made trail are coming to fruition that are making small batch options far more real.
If you are making your own game, you want to do at least 10,000 copies. If not it is going to be hard to reach economies of scale that are going to make you any money. You have to then sell all the copies, but that is the challenge.
The #4 step in how are board games made is Distribution. Once many beautiful, final wrapped copies of the game are available, not it is time to figure out how to get it into the hands.
Board Games went through a huge change in the mid 90s in terms of new genres and content no one every dreamed of. Well there is another change going on now, and distribution is a big part of that. Almost all board game sales are done via Amazon. This means absolutely anyone can do it. The publishers are not doing anything you can’t do, it is all about marketing on a shoestring budget. You could do that.
One other big part of the board game world are the vibrant exhibitor conventions. This is where buys, sellers and tastemakers meet to make big deals in the world. This mainly has to do with distribution, like a wholesaler buying 1000 copies of a game, but it could also be about getting a game picked up or forging major marketing activations. All the big players are here and it is a special tight knit world.
The #5 step in how are board games made is Design. This is hardly even a step any more because the board game brick and mortar board game operation is disappearing and almost all games are sold individually via Amazon or in mass via a crowdsourcing platform like Kickstarter.
Toys R Us was a huge seller of board games with giant market share and now they are gone. Much of it has gone to Walmart or online. Borders and Barnes & Noble were huge sellers as well and we all know what happened to them.
Local shops are surviving here and there if they have been amassing a loyal local following, but selling to them is just a few copies here and there with many little sales instead of the possibility for a big one. A big new player in the game buying up many titles are board game cafes, which are popping up everywhere and in need to fill their shelves.
BOOKS THAT MIGHT HELP
- Game Design Workshop by Tracy Fullerton
- Think Like A Game Designer by Justin Gary
- The Game Inventor’s Guidebook by Brian Tinsman
- Indie Games: From Dream to Delivery by Don L. Daglow
- The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell
HOW ARE BOARD GAMES MADE – IN CLOSING
We hope you can now answer the question of how are board games made. There are different steps that are each going to have their own individual challenges. The timing could vary dramatically, it could take you years to bring a project to life. All the hurdles and all the pitfalls, they are all ok because this is a labor of love and you are doing this for the greatness of board games. If you are doing this to get rich, maybe not the best plan, though good things can happen.