Monthly Archives: May 2024

How to Sell Your Board Game on Amazon

While we all like to buy games from our local tabletop gaming shop, Amazon’s presence in the board game retailing industry is undeniable. Amazon is a huge marketplace, and its sheer size alone makes it the largest market in the world for board games and card games.

As such, as a board game designer, understanding Amazon is critical if you want to bring your game to a large audience and generate plenty of sales.

Amazon is designed specifically to make selling easy for you, as a product creator. However, it is a big platform that can be intimidating at first, and there’s plenty to learn before you’ll be able to use it to your advantage to sell your game.

The good news is, we’re here to help. From setting up your first listings to understanding exactly how Amazon’s search engine works (helping you get your game to the top), we’ve covered all of the basics of Amazon for board game sellers below.

Got more questions about selling on Amazon (or marketing your game in general)? Contact our team and we’ll answer your questions and help you accomplish your goals.

Reasons to Sell Your Game on Amazon

  1. Large audience. Amazon has an absolutely massive customer base, giving you access to millions of potential buyers worldwide, increasing your reach and sales opportunities.

  2. High degree of consumer trust. Amazon’s reputation for reliability and great customer service builds lots of trust with buyers, making them more likely to purchase from you via Amazon than directly from your website.

  3. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). By using FBA, Amazon handles all storage, packing and shipping for your game, as well as customer service, allowing you to focus on the other aspects of your business and ensuring quick, reliable delivery.

  4. Marketing tools. Amazon offers lots of advertising options, like Sponsored Products and Amazon Stores, helping you increase visibility and drive traffic to your listings.

  5. Analytics and insights. Amazon offers highly detailed sales data and helpful insights, which enable you to optimize your listings and marketing based on real-time metrics.

  6. Global reach. Amazon covers many countries, not just the United States, allowing you to port your successful listings to other markets and expand your reach.

  7. Reviews. Amazon’s built-in review system works well, can help you rank higher in the search results, and makes it easy to build your game’s reputation on a platform with a very high level of consumer trust.

How Amazon Works for Sellers

Here are the fees you can expect to pay if you sell your game on Amazon:

  • Referral fee: $0.30 or 15% (whichever is higher). This fee is charged whenever your product sells via Amazon’s marketplace. All products in the “Toys and Games” section pay the same 15% referral fee. Fees may vary for products in other categories.

  • Refund fee: $5 or 20% of referral fee (whichever is lower). If you accept a return for your item, Amazon will refund you the referral fee minus this fee, which is either $5 or a 20% share of your original referral fee.

  • Fulfillment costs. If you use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) you’ll also pay fulfillment fees for each item you ship. Fulfillment costs can vary based on your game’s size and weight, outbound shipping method and average storage duration. One thing to note is that you can use external fulfillment services to fulfill your Amazon sales (for example, we offer our own in-house fulfillment service in the USA that you can use as an Amazon seller).

  • Advertising fees. Amazon has its own ad platform, which you can use to generate sales for your game and improve its visibility in search. Amazon ads are quite expensive, and it’s often cheaper to promote your game off Amazon by driving traffic from social media.

Amazon has a fee estimator that you can use to calculate an approximate value for how much you’ll need to pay Amazon per sale. 

Creating an account is simple. You can register with Amazon here and access Seller Central to manage your listings. Amazon’s Seller University is an excellent place to learn how the platform works and gain the skills you need to set up listings for your games. 

Selling in Amazon’s Toys & Games Section

Board games fall under the Toys & Games section on Amazon. As a seller, getting access to the Toys & Games section is generally simple, but there are specific requirements that you will need to meet if you want to sell your game during Q4.

Jungle Scout has a great guide to Amazon’s selling requirements in Toys & Games here that you can use to check if you’re eligible for selling in Toys & Games during the holiday season. 

Amazon SEO Tips for Board Game Creators

Most sales on Amazon occur via its search engine. Amazon is one of the largest search engines in the world. Unlike Google, which handles a mix of informational and commercial queries, all of the searches made on Amazon are commercial in nature.

This means that understanding how Amazon’s search engine works and optimizing your product page to show up for specific, gaming-related keywords can be incredibly valuable.

Amazon’s search algorithm is called A9. Unlike Google, which determines which pages are best matched for each search term using a mix of on-page content and links to the website, A9 uses a more broad range of factors to determine which product is best for each search.

These include:

  • Product titles, descriptions and backend search terms (explained below)

  • Each product’s sales history, conversion rate and customer review ratings

  • Each product’s availability (how many units are in stock relative to sales)

By optimizing your product listing to score highly on each of these factors, you can make your game more visible on Amazon. This drives more sales, generates more revenue (allowing you to fund new games) and strengthens your game’s reputation. 

Below, we’ve shared some tips you can use to make the most of your Amazon listing and work your way up the rankings: 

Include Primary Keywords in Your Title

Don’t just include your game’s name — instead, make sure to include primary keywords that act as descriptions for your game. Think about what makes your game special (for example, is it an area control game, or a social deduction game), then include this as a key phrase in its title.

Many people search for specific types of games on Amazon (for example, “worker placement game”). Having your game show up in the top 10-20 results due to a descriptive title can work wonders for getting people to take notice and consider it while shopping. 

Can’t think of keywords to use in your title? SellerApp has a free keyword tool for Amazon that you can use to identify frequently-searched keywords related to board games. 

After you’ve listed the type of game you’re selling, use the rest of the title space to mention its name, list what makes it special, and talk about the factors that make it fun.

Tell a Story Using Your Game’s Description

Craft a compelling product description that tells the story of your game. Describe the gameplay, objectives, and unique features in an engaging way. Try to get into your target audience’s mind and think about the words you can use to make it clear your game matches their needs.

Use this section to connect with potential buyers and give them a reason to choose your game over others. Is your game perfect for parties? Mention it. Is it a great way to deal with boredom at college, or on a plane? Tell them! Describe exactly what makes your game fun. 

Use Keywords in Your Backend Search Terms Section

Amazon allows you to enter additional keywords in the backend search terms section. Use this space to include any synonyms, related terms and long-tail keywords that didn’t fit naturally into your title or description. This helps your game appear in more search results.

Choose High Quality, High-Resolution Images

High-quality images are crucial for attracting buyers. Provide clear, high-resolution images that show different aspects of your game, including its box, its components and its gameplay. Visual appeal can significantly impact a buyer’s decision to purchase your game.

Prioritize Reviews and Feedback from Players

Positive reviews can greatly enhance your game’s visibility and credibility on Amazon. Reviews play a key role in Amazon’s search ranking algorithm, as they act as a direct indicator that your customers are satisfied and your product is good quality.

This means that a lot of good reviews can make your game more appealing to customers, and make it more visible on Amazon. It’s a win-win combination that can drive lots of sales. 

Encourage customers to leave honest reviews by following up after their purchase. Respond to customer feedback quickly, addressing any concerns and thanking customers for their positive comments. This engagement shows potential buyers that you value their opinions. 

Encourage Reviews (Within Amazon’s Terms of Service)

If you’re struggling to get reviews, you can try encouraging reviews. Amazon has strict rules for encouraging customers to leave reviews. By working within these rules, you can get customers to leave reviews for your game without putting your listing at risk.

Amazon’s Guidelines for Requesting Reviews

  • Do not incentivize reviews. Offering compensation, discounts, free products, or any other incentives in exchange for reviews is strictly prohibited.

  • Avoid review manipulation. You can’t ask for positive reviews specifically or suggest that negative reviews should not be posted.

  • Use approved communication methods. You can request reviews via Amazon tools such as the “Request a Review” button in Seller Central. You can also send follow-up emails, but these must be compliant with Amazon’s Communication Guidelines.

  • Be neutral and honest. Any request for a review needs to be neutral and mustn’t put any pressure on the customer. Simply ask for their honest feedback and accept that it will reflect their opinion, not yours.

Legal & Compliance for Selling on Amazon

Safety Certificates Required for Selling on Amazon

When selling board games on Amazon, particularly those intended for children, it’s essential to meet certain safety standards. 

Here are the key certifications and regulations you need to be aware of for Amazon USA:

  • ASTM F963 (Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety)

  • CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act)

  • Children’s Product Certificate (CPC)

  • General Certificate of Conformity (GCC)

If your game contains an electronic device, you may also need to get an FCC ID to show that it doesn’t cause electromagnetic interference.

If you’re selling in the European Union, you’ll need to verify that your game complies with EN71 (European Standard for Safety of Toys) and has a CE mark before going on sale.

If your game has markers, powders or other items that may be considered hazardous for transport or storage, Amazon will also ask you for the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) and/or a TRA (Toxicological Risk Assessment) certificate.

Beyond safety certificates, Amazon is really strict about the labeling of your game. This guide goes into detail about the importance of proper labels and barcodes for Amazon and explains how you can check that your items are compliant before shipping them to Amazon’s fulfillment centers.

Intellectual Property Protection

As we’ve discussed in our guide to patenting your game, there are counterfeit copies of many popular games out there. These are usually sold online at 10-25% of the price of the authentic game, especially on marketplaces outside the United States.

If your game sells a reasonable volume, you’ll want to safeguard your brand and stop potential counterfeiters from affecting your sales and reputation. Start by registering trademarks for your board game’s name, logo, and any unique elements of your branding. 

This legal protection gives you the exclusive right to use these trademarks and helps you take action against unauthorized use.

Once you’ve registered your trademarks, you can join Amazon’s Brand Registry. This program provides tools to help you protect your brand on Amazon, such as enhanced reporting, access to A+ Content and proactive brand protection. 

These tools make it easier to deal with counterfeits on Amazon and protect your game against IP infringement.

How to Choose a Board Game Manufacturer

Finding a manufacturer for your board game or card game can feel daunting, especially if it’s your first time creating a game. You’re spending a significant amount with a company located halfway around the world. Add language barriers, cultural differences and plenty of jargon into the process and it’s easy to feel stressed and unsure of what to do.

The good news is that choosing a manufacturer isn’t as difficult as it seems once you’re aware of how the game manufacturing industry actually works, as well as the factors that separate a great manufacturer from one that doesn’t belong on your list. 

The purpose of this guide is to take you from a nervous first-time creator into someone with a strong understanding of:

  • How to find board game manufacturers.

  • Key questions to ask when comparing manufacturers.

  • What the process of working with a board game manufacturer is like.

In other words, we want you to have all of the knowledge you need to make sure your game is manufactured successfully, without any of the common issues that often affect first-time game creators. 

Where Board Game Manufacturers Are Located

The vast majority of board game manufacturers are located in China. For example, we’re based in Yiwu, approximately 300 km from Shanghai. Yiwu is the world’s largest wholesale market for small commodities and a major world center for toy production.

China offers numerous advantages for board game manufacturing, which is why it’s the location of most of the world’s top game manufacturing companies.

The first of these advantages is pricing. Factory costs such as rent and building space are more competitive in China than in the EU or USA. Furthermore, the machines that we and many other manufacturers use to manufacture board games are made here in China. 

This means that the costs associated with operating a factory are simply lower in China than in other countries, resulting in more competitive pricing for you as a board game creator.

While labor is less expensive in China than in the EU or US, lower labor costs aren’t the primary reason board game manufacturers are mostly in China. In fact, many countries with much lower labor costs than China aren’t competitive for board game manufacturing. Why?

The first reason is simple: China has an incredible supply chain for board games. Just about every type of component you can imagine for board games is made here, making it easy to pick and choose the perfect parts for your game without importing from other countries.

In fact, because of this incredible supply chain for game parts, many Western manufacturers of board games and card games outsource most of their production to China anyway, then add a profit margin to the price they quote you. 

The second reason is that labor costs don’t play a very significant role in the cost of making a board game, meaning a country with lower labor costs than China but a low quality supply chain will actually end up being more expensive. Most of the processes involves in board game manufacturing are automated (unless you are making very heavy, detailed games with lots of miniatures). For example, a printing or coating machine can process between 10,000 and 7,000 sheets per hour. Other machines, such a gluing machines, can easily process 1,000 sheets per hour.

The end result is that cost-efficiency is much more about access to machinery, materials and infrastructure than cheap labor. (By the way, you will want to make sure any factory you work with, in China or elsewhere, has a BSCI certificate to verify that their staff are treated fairly and adequately compensated — something we’ve discussed more further down the page).

China also has other advantages, such as economies of scale and excellent shipping services that make it easy to deliver your game to your fulfillment providers (or directly to your backers).

In other words, it’s not just cost — you’ll find the most effective manufacturers in China because it’s the only location that offers these advantages.

We’ve expanded on this more in our About Us page if you’re interested in learning more about the business side of manufacturing games. But for now, just be aware that 90+% of the board game and card game manufacturers you’ll find when searching will be located in China. 

Choose 4-5 Manufacturers and Add Them to Your Shortlist

If you’re manufacturing for the first time and don’t know where to begin, a good approach is to find four to five manufacturers that meet your criteria and add them to a shortlist.

You can find board game manufacturers by Googling “board game manufacturers China” and “board game manufacturers,” or by asking in communities like Reddit’s Tabletop Game Design subreddit.

BoardGameGeek also has an alphabetical list of board game manufacturers that you can use to quickly build a shortlist of potential manufacturers for your game. 

Once you have a shortlist of potential manufacturers, you can start screening them and narrow your choices down to the companies that best match your needs.

Check Reviews and Ask the Community for Feedback

Whenever possible, try to look up reviews and feedback on manufacturers from the tabletop game design community. You’re almost sure to find at least someone who’s worked with the manufacturers on your shortlist who can provide their feedback on the experience.

Good places to look for reviews and feedback on game manufacturers include:

  • Reddit and BoardGameGeek, especially communities that focus on game design and manufacturing.

  • The Board Game Design Lab Community Facebook group. Search for “manufacturer” and you’ll find previous discussions where people share their feedback.

Key Questions to Ask When Comparing Manufacturers

Do they own their own factory?

The dirty little secret of the board game manufacturing industry is that not all manufacturers are actually manufacturers. Many companies that offer board game manufacturing services partner with third-party factories, meaning they will take your order and act as a middleman passing it to a manufacturer that will make your game on their behalf. We refer to these companies as trading companies rather than manufacturers.

We strongly advise against working with a company that outsources production of your game to another factory for several reasons.

First, these companies are inherently unreliable partners. Because they don’t actually manufacture themselves, they can become less stable as you scale your board game business. They depend on third parties to actually manufacture your game, and these third parties have their own work orders and challenges. This means that you’re more at risk of delays and other setbacks that can have a significant cost on your ability to get your game into players’ hands.

Second, there’s a strong correlation between companies that outsource manufacturing to other factories and poor quality. These companies rarely produce the best, meaning you end up with higher costs per unit and mediocre quality. 

Expanding on this point, when it comes to pricing, some trading companies will be able to offer lower pricing than direct manufacturers. How is this possible? Mostly, it’s because they don’t perform any quality control themselves, and simply shop your game to other manufacturers. Since they don’t need to account for any QC issues, you may get cheap pricing, as well as a lot of risks related to your game’s materials, printing quality and other factors.

Third, by adding an additional person in the communications, there’s a much higher risk of your game’s details getting lost in translation. This means you might not get the exact materials you wanted for your game, or your finished game might have design or quality issues caused by a communication error between your agent and the factory that makes your game.

Because of this, the #1 question you should ask any manufacturer is whether they use their own factory or outsource production to a third party manufacturer. If they’re a trading company, make sure you weigh up the risks of working with them and the impact these risks could have on you game and business.

What games have they made?

Another topic to bring up with potential manufacturers is games they’ve made. This gives you a quick idea of whether a game manufacturer is well established, and also gives you a good list of existing games you can use to assess the manufacturer’s average quality.

If you’re interested in a manufacturer, consider ordering copies of games similar to yours they’ve manufactured for other clients. Look at factors like the printing quality, how solid the components feel, and just the general durability of the game boards and other items. 

You can also ask manufacturers for a sample pack, which will give you an idea of what they can produce and the typical quality level you can expect from them. 

Do they have ISO, FSC, BSCI and other industry certificates?

Whenever you’re manufacturing anything (this advice doesn’t just apply to board games), you’ll want to check that your selected manufacturer complies with international standards for quality control, safety and responsible sourcing and ethical business practices.

The easiest, most effective way to do this is to look for certification from respected international industry groups and standardization organizations.

Look for the following certificates:

  • ISO 9001

  • FSC

  • BSCI

These demonstrate that a factory has good quality practices, uses sustainable materials when possible, and achieves high levels of social responsibility for workers.

You’ll also want to verify that the manufacturer got these certificates for products related to card games or board games, not just for managing an office. Ask your sales rep to provide a copy of any relevant certificates and check that they actually correlate with the name of the factory, not a third party.

You can view our industry certificates on our board game manufacturing page. Not all factories will list these publicly, so make sure to ask your sales rep about certification when you compare manufacturers from your shortlist. 

What’s the minimum order quantity (MOQ)?

All factories have a minimum order quantity. This is because it takes time and resources to set up the manufacturing equipment to make your game. These costs are fixed, meaning there’s a minimum amount of copies you’ll need to print for your game to be a viable project. 

If you’re planning on doing a small production run of 1,000 units or less, make sure you ask the manufacturers on your shortlist about their MOQ. Pricing for your game will generally be higher per unit for a small production run, and some manufacturers may not be willing or able to do a small-volume production run. 

For very low volume manufacturing, you will need to use a print on demand (POD) manufacturer.

What’s the prototype/sample process and pricing?

You’ll want to receive samples of your game before going into production. Receiving samples allows you to identify potential issues in your game before you commit to a full production run, then address these issues ahead of time.

Every game manufacturer should allow you to receive pre-production samples of your game, but the process and pricing will likely differ between manufacturers. Make sure you ask your shortlisted game manufacturers to explain how their prototyping and sample process works, as well as what the associated costs are (if the manufacturer doesn’t provide free pre-production samples). 

We offer free pre-production samples for all game creators, as well as paid prototypes for marketing purposes. You can learn more about how our prototyping process works here

How good is the service and communication?

Good service and communication is extremely important in a manufacturer. Your board game contains lots of unique pieces that need to be designed, printed and manufactured accurately, and every step down in communication quality greatly increases the risk that one or several of these pieces aren’t made to your expectations.

Look for manufacturers that have sales staff fluent in your language. Furthermore, make sure that the chain of communication is as short as possible. The more people your project passes through on the way to manufacturing, the more likely it is for errors to occur. 

This is one of many reasons we do not recommend working with a company that outsources manufacturing to a third party. The more parties involved in making your game, the more you face the risk of translation issues and communication problems that lead to quality issues.

What happens if something goes wrong?

No manufacturer has a 100% accuracy rate. Every company in the board game manufacturing industry occasionally makes mistakes, including some that can affect the look and feel of your game. These include scratches on cards, cutting errors, imperfect punch-out of tokens, or assembly mistakes like extra glue on some game components.

Additionally, all manufacturers are at risk of communication issues that could lead to problems with your game.

This is where a clear contract with your manufacturer is essential for protecting you.

Before you manufacture with any company, you’ll need to enter into an agreement that details your print run, as well as additional services such as storage, shipping and safety testing. This agreement needs to clearly state the specifications of your game, the manufacturer’s commitment to quality, as well as what the process is if something goes wrong.

Your manufacturer should provide clear information about all of these factors and potential issues so that you can proceed with confidence, knowing you’re protected if things go wrong. Avoid manufacturers that provide unclear contracts or give value promises instead of concrete information. Make sure everything is written into your contract so that you know what will happen and know you’re protected.

You can view our terms and conditions here.

How competitive and transparent is the pricing?

There are three key things you’ll want to look at when you’re comparing pricing between game manufacturers:

  • What is the total price quoted for your game? You don’t want to pick a manufacturer based solely on the total cost for your game, but it’s still important to know what you’re going to pay at a per-unit and total price.

  • How transparent is the pricing? A good manufacturer will break down your costs by component so you can see exactly where your money is going and which components contribute most to the cost of your game.

  • How flexible is the pricing? When your quote is transparent and you can see pricing for each item, you can negotiate. If you’re aiming for a specific price point, reach out to your manufacturer and ask if they can suggest ways to lower cost on components.

What other services do they offer?

Ask your manufacturer about additional services they offer, or people they can connect you with to help you with your game. They might be able to connect you with their recommended artists, crowdfunding specialists, and other professionals who can help you with your game.

Board Game Manufacturers in Australia

We often get emails from board game designers in Australia looking for our advice and opinions on manufacturing. A lot of the time, we’re asked for recommendations for Australian card game and board game manufacturers. 

We totally get this. If you’re a first-time game creator, working with a manufacturer that’s in your country seems like the logical choice. After all, someone local is usually going to be easy to get in touch with, and you might even be able to visit them in person to see their facility.

At the moment, there aren’t any board game manufacturers in Australia. There are several print on demand companies in Australia that may be able to make a prototype of your game concept, but when it comes to manufacturing, you’ll need to work with a factory overseas.

Currently, you can find board game manufacturers in the following countries:

  • China. China has by far the largest number of board game manufacturers. This is where we are based. China is by far the best place to manufacture your game thanks to its supply chain, cost-efficiency and access to competitively-priced shipping and fulfillment.
  • Europe. There are several good quality board game manufacturers in Europe. Germany, for example, has numerous good quality board game manufacturers. Prices are higher in Europe than in China, and many factories may have high minimum order quantities.
  • United States. There are a handful of manufacturers located in the United States. Many of these manufacturers have operations in East Asia (usually China), and others need to import certain components that aren’t made in the USA. 

We’re the first to admit we are a biased source, but in general, if you’re located in Australia and want to manufacture your game, we strongly recommend choosing a manufacturer in China for several reasons.

The first of these is that China’s supply chain for board game components and materials is by far the best in the world. All of the materials used in your board game are produced in China, such as paper, cardboard, plastic, and others. This means that there’s no need to import any materials or components that are used in your game.

When you manufacture outside of China, what frequently ends up happening is that your game is “made” in another country, but using materials and components that are imported from China in the first place. The end result is the same, but the costs are higher due to the less efficient process. 

The second is that China wins on cost, but not in the way most people think. China has lower labor costs than Australia, the United States, or Europe, which obviously helps to reduce the cost of manufacturing. 

However, China also has much lower costs for factory space, equipment (which is also made here) and materials. It also has excellent economies of scale, which means that your game is able to be completed more efficiently, again reducing costs and improving timeliness.

This is why countries with cheaper labor than China, such as India or Bangladesh, just aren’t major players in board game manufacturing. Despite the much cheaper labor, these countries don’t have the same combination of supplies, infrastructure, cost advantages and efficiency.

There are other advantages of manufacturing in China, which we’ve discussed in much more detail on our About Us page. But in general, the point we’re making is that if you’re located in Australia, China-based manufacturers are going to be your best choice 90+% of the time.

Our Services for Australian Board Game Creators

So, how do we help you, as an Australian creator? We work with lots of board game and card game designers in Australia, and our entire service is tailored to make it as simple as possible for you to take your game from concept to finished product without problems. 

Because we work with a lot of Australian board game creators, we understand what you need and can offer the following:

  • Personalized service in English. Our Creator Assistants and other staff are located in the United States, China, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and other countries. We speak English, are available during Australian working hours, and can easily be reached via email or instant messenger whenever you want to talk about your project.
  • Direct shipping to Australia. If you want to sell your game in Australia, we ship to you and have access to the most competitively-priced, convenient shipping options.
  • Excellent quality control. Our quality, both in materials and quality control, is identical to Western manufacturers. You have total control over the materials used in your game and can select from a range of options based on your desired quality and price point.
  • Australian and other safety labels. We understand Australian regulations and can help you verify that your game complies with all Australian Consumer Law regulations and Safety of Toys requirements. 

If you’d like to request a free manufacturing quote for your game, or if you’d just like to talk to our Creator Assistants about the manufacturing process, feel free to contact us using the button below.