The Board Game Design Course

Where great games begin

Game Design

Getting your game manufactured (after locking in your orders)

Last week we discussed developing the digital and physical proofs of your game, along with evaluating them to ensure that everything is ready for manufacturing. In today’s article, we’ll look at making the order with your manufacturer and moving into mass production, ensuring you have everything you need for making this goes smoothly.

But before you make your order, you need to know exactly how many copies you need to order. These numbers will come from Kickstarter backers, late pledges and upgrades in your pledge manager, and retail orders (from retail stores that originally backed your campaign).

You’ll also want to ensure you have some extra copies in case of loss or damage, plus some extra copies for yourself. You may also plan to sell copies elsewhere after the campaign has been fulfilled.

So, let’s go through what you’ll want to keep in mind and finalize before making your order.

Lock in your pledges

After your Kickstarter or other crowdfunding platform campaign is over, you’ll likely set up a pledge manager to collect shipping, taxes, late pledges, and upgraded orders.

At some point, you’ll want to lock in these orders to ensure you know how many copies you need to have manufactured and where they need to be shipped. Some creators are most comfortable locking these in before making their order with their manufacturer. Others want to maximize sales and will leave their pledge manager open until a couple of weeks before the games arrive at their destinations.

The latter approach may result in more sales, as the pledge manager is open for a longer window, but it also makes the numbers more difficult to get accurate. Still, if you’re making additional copies anyhow, this may allow you to sell some of those copies earlier.

The decision is really up to you and what you are comfortable with.

Either way, let your backers know the cutoff date for making and upgrading pledges, send them multiple reminders leading up to this date, and then adjust your settings after the final day to disallow any additional orders or order changes.

Whatever the number of orders is you reach, this will make up the bulk of your order. However, if you included a retail pledge level, which I highly recommend, you will have to take these orders into account as well.

Finalize your retail orders

If you included a retail pledge level in your campaign, this will act as a deposit towards that store’s order.

Rather than try to figure out how to use your pledge manager to collect their reward, it is much easier to just send them an invoice. Using a pledge manager will inevitably be complicated due to the fact that they will have a specific number of copies they want to include and will likely be getting them at 50% off, plus special shipping rates and arrangements.

Save yourself some headaches and use a company such as Stripe. If you used a pledge manager like Gamefound, you will have already set up an account to collect payments, so make even more use of this service by creating and sending invoices here for your retail store orders.

You’ll want to collect these orders shortly after your crowdfunding campaign ends, as each store may order anywhere from 6 to 50 games or more, and this makes it hard to estimate your numbers until all the orders are in.

Follow up with these retail stores, asking them for their store and contact info, along with their order quantity. Then simply send them an invoice for their order, with whatever terms you choose (payment within 14 days or 30 days, for example).

Between your pledges and retail orders you should have a good idea of your order quantity, so let’s move on to the next step or preparing your order.

Prepare to make your order

One of the toughest questions I’ve had to face when deciding on my order quantity is how many additional copies I should order beyond those that are already paid for.

It’s not an easy question to answer and I know it’s one that many creators struggle with.

If you’ve sold 900 copies, should you order 1,000 and play it safe, or go for 1,500 (or more) and hope you can sell your remaining inventory through other means?

A lot depends on your post-crowdfunding strategy. For most new creators it is very difficult to get into distribution and wide release into retail. It usually takes a lot more time and having several titles you can offer a distributor.

Your numbers may rely on how many copies you feel you can sell through your website, at conventions, on Amazon, future crowdfunding campaigns (as add-ons or to go along with an expansion, for example) or through other means. Just remember, selling these games will rely on YOU marketing and promoting them. Every month they sit you will be paying storage fees, so you need a way to move inventory reasonably quickly.

At the same time, some retailers may come back to ask for more copies if they sell out. Reviewers may reach out to you for a copy of your game. Others may discover your project well after it has ended and they may ask you how they can buy your game.

So, make sure you have a plan for how to sell off everything you have remaining within a reasonable timeframe (say, within 6 months to a year).

Aside from additional future orders, you’ll want to account for lost and damaged copies, so it’s best to add some buffer to your numbers. I recommend around 5% extra, just to be on the safe side. This also leaves room for additional copies for reviewers and retailers once all other copies have been delivered. You’ll likely be rounding up to the nearest 500 copies anyhow.

Now, make sure your manufacturer has provided you with a finalized quote so that you know the exact cost for the quantities you are considering. There will likely be costs for the setup and physical sample as well.

Once you’re good with the numbers and details in the quote, you can sign off on this and send the manufacturer 50% of the payment, which they will need to receive before they can start work. The easiest method is wire transfer, which you will be able to do either online or in-person at your bank, depending on how they handle wire transfers. It will take a few days for the money to be transferred, so you will have to wait patiently. Note that there are fees associated with wire transfers as well.

Once the production has wrapped up, you will need to pay the remaining 50% of the amount owing.

Wrapping it up

It’s a good idea to finalize your retail orders shortly after your crowdfunding campaign ends and also give your backers and potential future customers a decent window to finalize orders. Then, it’s a matter of determining how many additional copies you think you can sell through whatever means you choose.

Finalize your numbers and your quote with your manufacturer, make your initial 50% payment, and they will begin production on the project. Once they begin, you’ll be eagerly anticipating getting your final copy to hold in your own hands.

Next week, we’ll talk about the testing process, which makes it easier to avoid any customs delays or issues.

How many extra copies would you produce and how would you go about selling them?

Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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