Updated: Nov 27, 2020
Board games are a complex product due to the variety of components used in the game and their high customization level. Each game has different size tokens, playing board, cards, etc. There is no one price fits all, but rather each has its own board game manufacturing costs and quote. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any underlying guidelines for quoting.
In this article, I will try to explain as clearly as I can how games are quoted. So far, board game manufacturers have kept the knowledge secret, so don’t be surprised if you end up knowing more than your current factory contact after reading this article. If, after this article, you have any inquiries, contact us
Board Game Production Cost Structure
To cover all the board game pieces is a a job too long for a single article, so we will first start with the price of printed components. The price for printed material is composed of
Raw materials costs
Board game printing costs
Coating and Card Linen Finish
Gluing and Cutting
Raw Materials costs
Raw materials used for print are mainly papers and cardboards. Papers and cardboards are sold in 1 square meter sheets, and each sheet has a different weight to it. You probably saw in your quotes the term “gsm”, well now you know it means “Gram Square Meter” - the weight of each sheet. Some cards are only 280gsm thick, and others are 350gsm or 400gsm. Some boxes are made of only 800gsm while others are 2000gsm; it all depends on the feeling you want your game to have.
The price of the paper and cardboard goes by tons. Low-grade paper and cardboard will cost around 600USD per ton, and the higher grade can reach up to 1500USD or even more.
So, the first thing we do as Board Game Manufacturers is to calculate the amount of raw material needed for your game. This amount of raw material doesn’t only include the net amount of the final game sets you will receive, but it also includes waste/leftover parts of paper, and all the paper sheets, which we will need to discard due to low quality.
Hence, it is important to know the exact specification before giving the final quote. Plus, an excellent point to remember is that the more complex the game, the more errors might occur, and more raw material will go to waste.
Raw Material Costs: 600-1500USD per ton
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Board Game Printing Costs
Many creators and people in the industry think that the price of printing is a price per sheet. As a result, creators sometimes don’t understand why there is such a big difference in price between small and large print quantities.
Yet, the price difference is significant because the price of printing is actually fixed. The printing is so fast, we basically pay only to make the printing plates, calibrate the machine, and to cover the operator’s hourly cost (usually 1-2 hours). Hence, the price of printing 500 sets and 5000 sets is almost the same.
However, there are some variants in prices between machines, so if your game’s cards and tokens fit within the size of 48*33cm (12*18”), we can use a smaller and cheaper machine for print, which is under 600USD, whereas if your components fit into a 90*58 (35*22”) plate, the cost can be double.
Printing Costs: 300-1200USD per printing side
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Coating and Card Linen Finish
The cost for the coating is priced differently and goes per sheet of paper. Each sheet of paper will cost around 0.25 for lamination or oil Varnish.
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.
Finish Costs: 0.1-0.35USD per sheet
Gluing and Cutting
Gluing is charged per sheet of paper anywhere between 0.1-0.3USD.
Cutting is divided into two: 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 have (1)- a fixed cost for making the cutting die, and (2) a price per sheet for cutting.
It’s important to note that the die-cut molds cut best when they are smaller than 30*30cm (12*12”) so 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, and only during production, they realize the error, which can potentially lead to defects in the final product.
Gluing and Cutting Costs: 0.15-0.7USD per sheet
Assembly and Packaging
Collating all the pieces, shrink wrapping them, and then putting them in a box and sealing them is mostly manual labor. Unlike the other steps that are done by a machine, this part is done by people and can come out quite expensive—it rangers between 0.25-0.55 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.
Total Costs: 0.25-0.6USD