Interested in manufacturing a board game? Our free brochure explains how we make the board game and card game manufacturing process simple for you, from choosing components to packaging, shipping, and more.
When making a board game or card game, there are lots of different components, materials and processes to choose from. As such, the overall board game production process is very detailed, and can sometimes be quite long.
For example, the paper used for a seemingly simple piece such as a playing card can have a lot of different potential cores, weights, coatings and processes.
Boxes also come in various thicknesses and sizes depending on how durable you’d prefer your game to be. The size of your board game box, its overall look and its feel can also impact which material is best for you and affect the board game manufacturing process.
And in many games, there are other components such as miniatures, dice, wooden pieces, and accessories, all of which need to be specified in precise detail so your game looks and works in the exact way you expect it to.
Below, we’ve explained the full manufacturing and production process for custom board games, from determining your specifications to putting your game into mass production.
We hope this content helps you if you’re planning to produce a board game. For more hands-on help, you can also do two things:
1. Download our free brochure, which goes into more detail about what it’s like to manufacture a game with us.
2. Contact us and talk directly with our team about the best way to plan, design and manufacture your game.
Preparing Your Game's Specifications
The first step in the manufacturing process is to decide on the specifications of your card game or board game.
This process involves developing your game ideas into a real concept, with art for your board, game cards, game pieces and other components. It also involves finalizing your game’s actual gameplay — the actions people will take in order to play the game.
There are many aspects to consider in this part of the process, so it’s important that if you’re a game creator or publisher, you work with a manufacturer that communicates clearly and offers the best information and solutions.
As specialists in board game manufacturing, we can help you understand these specifications and their costs so you can make knowledgeable decisions and get your game ready to make the right way.
Designing Your Game Files
So, you worked hard and prepared your artwork yourself, or hired a professional artist to do the artwork. Each piece looks splendid, but it’s time to lay them out for print.
When it comes to printing, you’ll want to get as much as possible out of each sheet of paper or cardboard, as extra resources mean extra costs. In some cases, you’ll also want to have your pieces laid out in a particular order as they’re printed.
Graphic design might seem simple, but it’s actually one of the most complex parts of the board game development and manufacturing process.
When your artwork isn’t designed properly for printing, it can result in quality issues and game components that don’t look the way you expected them to.
In addition, graphic design for print can be challenging even for the best designers. There are many excellent designers out there who simply don’t have experience with board games, and it’s far from uncommon for art that “looks” good to print poorly if it isn’t properly optimized.
Because of this, at Hero Time, we’ve created a short 16-step guide to make sure your artwork prints beautifully.
We’ve also created a YouTube playlist that covers 22 different points that other game creators got wrong to make sure you’re aware of them before you start this step.
During this process, if you need any assistance with designing the file or advice, you can get in touch with us for help. We’re more than happy to assist you with the design process, even if you choose a different manufacturer.
Making a Sample and Adjustments
Once the specifications have been agreed upon, we move to make a sample. In this step, the factory produces a sample game for you to view and check for any errors of any kind.
We understand that some game creators and publishers use a crowdfunding campaign and sometimes need a few sample copies to show the game community.
At Hero Time, we offer the production of up to 20 samples in this stage to make sure you have everything you need to move forward successfully with the crowdfunding, game promotion and manufacturing process.
You can access our prototyping service online to choose your components and start creating a prototype for your board game.
Manufacturing Your Board Game
After you’ve received and approved your sample, we’re at the actual manufacturing stage of the board game production process. During this stage, the most important things are:
It’s important to make sure that everything is crystal clear before we start manufacturing, both in terms of the art assets and materials for your game and the cost of producing each piece in our manufacturing facility.
To provide total transparency and accuracy, a representative of Hero Time will go over each and every part of your quotation and specification with you.
Using our top-of-the-line ERP system, we’ll finalize all of the details of your board game with our production team.
You can check our terms and conditions to learn about common pitfalls board game makers can experience during the manufacturing process, as well as what we do at Hero Time to offer total accountability for all issues.
A mass-produced game is not printed in the same way as a sample copy. One of the differences is the printing method that’s used.
Sample games are printed by digital printers that use a toner moving along the page. However, for a production board game, the printers use plates that stamp the page with the desired color and design. Generally, there are four metal plates, one for each of the four CMYK colors.
You need top-of-the-line printing machines.
During printing, each metal plate is engraved with a design of one color alone. Throughout the printing process, the page moves under the four plates, and each plate stamps the page with a designated color.
Four colors are enough to make a complete picture. During the printing stage, we need to check that the shades and color mixes used on the plates stay consistent to avoid your print potentially coming out faded or inconsistent.
The level of perfection depends on three things:
- Your design files
- The competency of the machine operator
- The printing machine itself
At Hero Time, we use the highest-quality printing machine: The Heidelberg Speedmaster. This type of machine offers several major advantages, including color consistency, color density and minimal registration issues (position misalignment in any overlapped, printed patterns).
Following printing, we need to make sure that the color of your game cards, game boards, and any other items remains consistent and doesn’t fade away, even after several years.
To do this, we put an oil coating or lamination on your paper. Both the coating and lamination are available in matte or glossy finishes. Some game publishers opt for a coarse linen finish, where the surface of the card appears to have lines.
After the print and finish have been done, we move to the step of constructing the game pieces and box. In this stage, we take cardboard (depending on the thickness you chose) and glue the print onto it, giving your game a professional appearance.
Glue & Sticking
Have you ever seen some crooked pieces in board games, uneven sides, or paper that peels off the cardboard? That is what happens if you don’t keep a close eye on the glue and sticking part of the manufacturing process of a board game.
After printing, the paper passes under large metal rollers with glue, then a person or machine is required to stick the cardboard to the paper. This process is challenging and needs to be carried out carefully to ensure your game comes out of the printing process looking its very best.
After your game board, cards and other items are printed and glued together, it’s time to either cut the printed items into individual pieces, or keep them on a single board and ready them to be punched out of the cardboard.
Cutting is an essential process. When it goes wrong, it has a direct effect on the quality of the game. There’s no going back if cutting is performed incorrectly, making it important to select a manufacturer who takes great care during this step in the production of your game.
The cutting process is simple: the paper and cardboard go into a press machine. The press machine has a cutting mold attached to it with small knives, which are organized according to the shape of the game pieces.
These knives need to be sharp and exact. Otherwise, when a customer receives your game as a finished product and attempts to punch out each piece, a small part of the paper might come off from the piece, or the cardboard could crack and fall apart.
If your board game uses miniatures, you’ll need to design and manufacture these as part of the production process.
There are two ways to produce miniatures. One is by 3D printing machine, where the factory in charge of your board game will use an STL file to directly print the miniature.
The second is via injection molding, where the factory will first make a wax sculpture, then use the sculpture to create a mold. The material of the miniature (typically PVC) is then injected into the mold and allowed to dry, creating each miniature.
Both of these processes are done by automated machinery — the difference is that an injection mold does so faster and much more cheaply. One machine can produce hundreds of models a day, whereas a 3D printer can only produce a couple of dozen models.
However, getting a mold produced is expensive. At Hero Time, we focus on making miniatures suitable for simple injection molds, which are cheaper than the regular process by as much as $3,000.
Producing Custom Pieces
If you want small trays, plastic separators, dice or anything else, there are two ways to go about this.
Buy Off-the-Shelf Pieces From a Factory
The first is to find matching pieces that are already in stock at some factories, and then buy the components from the factories for a low price. This process skips the hard work of creating your pieces from scratch and can significantly reduce the cost to create your game.
Make Custom Game Pieces
The second option is to make these pieces from scratch. This option costs more, but gives you greater control over how your game pieces will look. To balance value and outcome, you need to ask yourself how flexible you’re willing to be.
If necessary, we can ask over 100 factories until we find the pieces you need to complete your board game or card game successfully.
Download Our Detailed Brochure
Interested in learning more about the board game manufacturing process with Hero Time? Our detailed brochure explains what it’s like to work with us, as well as how we make the the entire manufacturing and production process simple and stress-free for you.
Quality Game Packaging
After the manufacturing process of a board game is finished, packaging begins. Packaging is a key step that requires a well organized team, since each employee needs to know where each piece is and where it needs to be put inside your game’s box.
Once each game is boxed and closed, it passes through a shrink wrap machine that puts a thin layer of transparent wrapper around the game to make sure it stays new until the end customer receives it.
Shipping your game, dealing with customs and finally, getting it into a fulfillment center, can be an incredibly complicated, abstract process. Acronyms like CBM, LCL, FCL, and many others can make this process even more confusing and difficult to manage on your own.
The best approach is to leave this to us. We can explain everything to you as you proceed with your order. We’ll identify the best shipping and delivery method for you and provide you with an estimated price at the start of your project so there are no surprises towards the end.
If you’ve done a Kickstarter for your project, you probably have a list of 200 more customers, all with different addresses. Working out the best way to ship your game to these customers can be challenging.
We can help you determine the best option, including shipping to our network of warehouses in key locations worldwide and fulfilling games to end customers, or shipping your game directly to end customers from our production facility.
Benefits of Hero Time
The process of producing a board game can look intimidating. There are numerous steps, with several ways for the process to go wrong at each stage of the process, from your artwork and graphic design to printing, cutting, and packaging.
At Hero Time, we work closely with everyone involved in the process of producing your game, from artists and our manufacturing team to our fulfillment and distribution team.
This means that your game is manufactured the right way and gets to its target audience, all without you needing to worry about the manufacturing and fulfillment process.
By the end, you will get your game, you will hold it, and you’ll likely feel immense satisfaction.
Now it’s time to sell it and get a return on your investment. To help with that, you can use our resources on marketing your board game, from crowdfunding principles to the most effective ways to increase awareness of your game and promote sales.
You can also contact us to talk to our team and learn more about how we can help you to create your board game or card game.