A critical part of running a successful board game business is understanding how much it will cost to actually make your game.
The cost to make a board game can vary significantly based on the components used in your game, their customization level, how complex they are to produce, and a whole range of other factors.
Each game has different sized tokens, playing boards, cards, and other components. There is no one-size-fits-all price to manufacture your own board game, but rather each game involves its own unique manufacturing process and quote.
You can contact us to talk to our team about how much it will cost to make your board game or card game.
Although the exact cost can vary from game to game, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any underlying guidelines for quoting the price to manufacture your game.
In general, you can expect to pay a similar amount to the figures below for your game, based on the complexity of your game and the size of your order:
- For a simple one-deck card game, between $0.50 and $1.90 USD per unit.
- For a simple two-deck card game like Sabobatage or Chicken Challengers, between $1.40 and $5 USD per unit.
- For a multi-deck card game like That Sound Game or Made Up Movies, between $2.70 and $7.50 per unit.
- For a light board game with some decks of cards, tokens and other pieces, like Snack Time or Moonshell, between $4 and $11 USD per unit.
- For a medium-weight board game with seven to 12 components such as Sauria, Project EOS, or Ahau, between $7 and $20 per unit.
For a massive board game like Gloomhaven or Deliverance with miniatures and lots of pieces, between $14 and $35 USD per unit.
Note that the low price points above are for orders of 10,000 sets, and the high price points are for orders of only 500 sets. In addition to manufacturing, services like board game design and prototype manufacturing can affect these figures.
In this article, I’ll explain as clearly as I can how games are quoted, as well as the general cost of manufacturing a board game.
So far, most board game manufacturers have kept this knowledge secret — usually, it’s hidden from public view and isn’t widely shared with board game makers until late in the sales cycle, if it’s even disclosed to sales staff.
So, you shouldn’t be surprised if you end up knowing more about board game production costs than your current factory contact after you reach the end of this guide.
If you need any help understanding the costs outlined in this guide, or want to talk to us about the process of making your game, feel free to contact us.
The Basics of Board Game Manufacturing Costs
All board games consist of board game pieces. Covering all of these is a job too long for one page, so we’ll first start with the price of printed board game components.
The price for the printed materials that make up your board game is composed of:
- Raw materials costs
- Board game printing costs
- Coating and card linen finish
- Gluing and cutting
- Assembly and packaging
Let’s start with the raw materials costs, then cover the other components that make up this part of your board game’s total manufacturing cost.
Raw Materials Cost
The raw materials used for creating your game board and other printed materials are primarily papers and cardboards. These make up a significant percentage of your game’s pieces, so it’s important to keep them in mind when assessing costs for your game.
Papers and cardboard are sold in units of roughly 1 square meter (sqm), with two precise sizes — 780*1080mm and 882*1182mm.
Each sheet of paper is made to a specific weight. If you’ve received a pricing quote from us, you probably saw the term “gsm” in your quote, which stands for “Grams Square Meter.”
GSM refers to the weight of each sheet of paper. Some cards are only 280gsm, while others are 350gsm or 400gsm. Some board game boxes are made of cardboard that’s only 800gsm, while others are 2,000gsm.
There’s no “perfect” type of cardboard, but generally thicker and heavier is stronger and offers a more premium feel. Thicker, more dense cardboard and paper is also more expensive. The best option is totally dependent on the feeling you want your game to have.
Paper & Cardboard Prices for Board Games
In manufacturing, paper and cardboard are priced by ton. Low-grade paper and cardboard costs around $600 USD per ton, while higher-grade paper and cardboard will cost around $1,500 per ton, or even more.
As a board game manufacturer, the first thing we do is calculate the amount of raw material that is needed for your game’s production run. This amount of raw material doesn’t solely include the net amount of the final game sets you will receive, but also any waste/leftover materials.
It also includes any paper or cardboard sheets we will need to discard due to quality issues that can occur during the supply process.
It’s important to know the exact specifications of your game before we give you a final quote for paper and cardboard. Also, remember that the more complex your game is, the more errors can occur, which can result in more raw materials going to waste.
Typical raw materials cost for paper and cardboard: $600 to $1,500 USD per ton.
We know this can sound confusing and overwhelming, so if you have any questions about paper or cardboard for board games (or other aspects of this part of production), feel free to contact us via email for a personalized answer.
Board Game Printing Costs
Printing your board game is generally a fast process. We use modern, state-of-the-art machines that are capable of printing 10,000 sheets in one hour.
The main sources of costs when it comes to printing your game are the process of creating the printing plates, calibrating our printing machines, and covering the operator’s hourly cost during the printing run.
Many creators and people in the industry think the price of printing is per sheet. This isn’t really accurate — it’s more of a fixed price to create the plates and calibrate machinery.
For this reason, the cost per unit for a small print run is significantly higher than the board game printing price for several thousand sets of your game. In fact, the total price to print 500 sets of a game isn’t very different from the price to print 10,000 sets, as it takes the same amount of time.
Typical printing cost: $200-$1,000 USD per printing side, depending on the machine size and accuracy that’s required for your game.
Contact us with your game art and we can assess which machine suits your needs best.
Variations of Machines
One important thing to keep in mind is that there is variation in pricing between different printing machines. We offer printing machines with three different sizes:
- Small, up to 280*440mm (+/- $250 USD)
- Medium, up to 540*780mm (+/- $400 USD)
- Large, up to 882*1182mm (+/- $800 USD)
Certain features offered during printing, which are available on some machines, may affect this cost.
If your game’s cards and tokens can be printed using a smaller machine and fit within a smaller paper or cardboard size, it can reduce the printing costs by a significant amount.
Coating and Card Linen Finish
The cost for the coating is priced differently and goes per meter of paper. The thickness and the quality of the oil used during this step can affect pricing.
Typically, each sheet of paper in your game will cost between $0.05 and $0.35 for lamination or oil varnish. You can check out all of the different finishes we offer here.
Adding texture on the card (aka linen finish) is both a fixed cost for installing the stamping plates and a fixed price of $0.06 per sheet.
Typical finish costs: $0.10 to $0.35 per sheet.
Gluing & Cutting:
Gluing for paper and cardboard is charged per sheet. A sheet of paper can cost anywhere from $0.10 to $0.30 USD to glue.
Cutting is divided into two parts: cutting cards and cutting cardboard pieces. Cards are cut by a machine and are +/-0.15USD per deck.
On the other hand, cutting cardboard pieces involves (1) a fixed cost for making the cutting die, and (2) a price per sheet for cutting. Both of these processes have an initial configuration fee of approximately $100.
Cutting Method and Results
It’s important to note that die-cut molds cut best when they are smaller than 30*30cm (12*12”). This means that if the cut is very customized and with a lot of little details, we will need to make multiple cutting dies, preferably under 30*30cm.
In this regard, I must add that some factories don’t consider this at all before starting production of a game. Only during production do they realize the error, which can potentially lead to defects in your final product.
Typical gluing and cutting costs: $0.15 to $0.70USD per sheet.
Assembly & Packaging:
The assembly and packaging process for creating board games involves collating all the pieces, shrink wrapping them, putting them into boxes, and sealing them. This process is mostly manual labor.
Unlike the other steps, which are done by machines, this part is done by people and can come out quite expensive — it generally ranges from $0.25 to $0.55 per game.
This step also includes putting the games into the shipping cartons. Shipping cartons should be at least five layers thick so they will protect the merchandise. This is not something to save money on, as the shipping can damage many games, and the shipping insurance will only cover damages if the cartons are high grade.
Typical assembly and packaging costs: $0.25 to $0.60 USD per item.
As I mentioned above, there’s no one-size-fits-all cost to make a board game. Depending on the number of pieces in your game, its packaging, and other factors, your cost per unit may vary from less than $1 USD to $10 USD or more.
If you’re interested in manufacturing a board game and want a more precise quote or pricing information, feel free to contact us. Our team can provide a detailed, accurate quote for your board game production and help you with every step of the process.