I mentioned writing something like this, and now I’m finally doing it. This will be rough, but it doesn’t require much polish to be good reading, I think.
NOTE: Numbers used were from the first wave of price quotes, which changed a few times during the Kickstarter campaign as I tried to find optimal prices for cool add-ons/expansions. This is a terrible idea. Finalize literally every single thing BEFORE you consider asking for quotes, just be sure the quotes last the duration of your campaign. Anyway, the numbers only indicate getting the games to my house, and don’t take into consideration art, warehousing fees that some may have, or the most important piece: shipping to backers.
Influence is 72 small cards, and 21 large cards (they really should be square). I started with PandaGM to get an idea of sizing, and they said that 100 cards, shrink wrapped, is 32mm thick. 60 cards is nearly 20mm thick. The card sizes I looked at initially were 51mm x 51mm and 70mm x 70mm. Lots of squares. You can see that in the gameplay video ( ).
China or US-based?
Every company that I talked to manufactures in China. The two US-only manufacturers were either too expensive ($16,000 vs a quote from China for $9,000), or had a minimum order way too high (10,000). I’d pass out with excitement if I could sell 10,000 games, when the game is abstract/strategy. Yeah… Anyway, beware February. Chinese New Year hit mid-quote-cycle for me, so it was VERY easy to find out who manufactured in China (“our factories are on holiday for the New Year”). That said…
Panda’s quotes are the best. First off, they come in PDF format, and include instructions for all of the rest of the steps. They do NOT include shipping, but they’ll get a quote if you ask. Their reps are responsive most of the time (busy schedules around Chinese New Year really skewed this, but typically they are very fast), and based in Vancouver, so they speak native English. The rep I spoke to would often suggest things like, “If you can get rid of one card, you won’t go onto a second sheet, and you’ll save a bunch of money,” which doesn’t sound like much, but he was the only rep to suggest that out of any company I talked to.
Their minimum order is 1500, and their quote for 1500 games was $4.53 each, plus $1800 in shipping and their standard overage (2.5% + 100), so 1,638 games at $4.38 plus $1800 in shipping is a total cost of $9,485 to get the games to me, plus the “hidden” wire transfer fees totaling somewhere between $100-$200. At 2000, 2500, and 3000 games, the price per unit dropped to $3.65, $3.25, and $2.89, respectively, for a total of $9,915, $11,021, and $11,473 respectively. Set-up fees are part of the pricing per component and are not disclosed individually.
My POC was Chris Matthew, and I will request him by name every time. They also have, hands down, the absolute best quote request system. LOVE IT.
Another Chinese company, WinGo was very quick to reply to emails, but their quotes came in an Excel spreadsheet. The nice thing was that they price each component individually, so you can say “oh, look, if I drop three cards, it will save X.” Their estimated shipping cost was roughly $2000, but their prices were great. 1000 units for $3.14 per unit, up to 3000 units for $2.68 per unit. $660 in setup fees.
My POC was Leon Lau.
I found their link on BGG and, frankly, was very impressed with their first quote. It was even less expensive than WinGo, with 1000 units at $2.94 per unit, and $800 in setup fees. They also never got me a shipping quote. I thought that was weird. And then I posted on LinkedIn.
I’ve received, via reply or direct message on LinkedIn, at least 3 cold-solicitations asking to produce my game. They were almost identically worded, with different Standard US White Person Names at signature block (David, Melissa, Steven).
I had no negative experience with the company, aside from the offers to produce my game. But that was more ‘weird’ than ‘negative.’ I can’t fault them too much for looking for business.
Update: I have been warned that Ningbo-Lijia has a track record of not properly sealing games, meaning that they retain moisture. Moldy games are a bad thing. I have no personal experience with this company’s product, but I wanted to mention this part anyway.
I tried Ludo Fact, but frankly, their website is (was?) terrible. After two minutes of looking (AFTER switching to English– I don’t fault a website for its native tongue), I still didn’t see a link to request a quote, or any way to find contact info.
Chicago Game and Card
Their minimum order was 10,000. Did not talk further.
Their POC took about four weeks to get a quote to me, and it was at least double the best price I’d seen at the time. I’m all for supporting US manufacturers, but I’m neither made of money nor a charity.
To put this into perspective, the MSRP of Influence would have to have been nearly $35-40 for this quote to have been affordable if I were going to sell to a distributor of any kind.
This is a New Jersey based company (manufacturers are in China, US, etc) who makes custom monopoly games, but also made Evil Baby Orphanage. I skimmed the reviews on BGG and there are zero comments about the components. I figure, either your components are so amazing that they warrant quotes (like a miniatures game), or they’re bad enough to warrant complaint, or they fall in the middle zone of no comments.
My POC was Kellene “Kelly” Addison, and she is extremely quick to reply. It’s uncanny.
Their minimum order was 500, and their quote was $8.95 per unit for 500 units, plus about $320 in setup fees. Their final quote after I went a lot further in the Kickstarter was $8.55 per unit for 500 units, $320 setup, and $1100 shipping.
Customized Playing Cards / Quality Playing Cards
One company with two names: I call them QPC. They’re based in Orlando but use Chinese and US manufacturers, and typically took 1-3 days to reply to emails about quotes, which I don’t mind. It was slower than 521Promo, but still quite reasonable given the tasks I was presenting. Their minimum is 1000 for board games, or 750 for card games. 750 units was quoted at $5.29 per unit, with $960 in setup fees, and $880 shipping to my door. This was the best quote due to one major perk: the 2-piece box was included at that price, where other manufacturers had lowered their prices due to my interest in tuck boxes.
On the negative side, they use exactly one email address, which has been the email address associated with 3 contacts so far. The replies form a new email, so email history in gmail is lost between contacts, so asking for a quote with card size A changing to X and quantity of cards in deck B increasing to Y was lost at least three times. They’re very good about correcting that, and it’s really more of a personal annoyance to me than anything else.
On the VERY positive side, I requested a sample of their work, expecting either a stack of links or, at best, a few cards. They sent me two complete games (The games are… not good. But the quality is top-notch), and three decks of cards on different paper (280 GSM, 300 GSM, and 300 GSM with linen embossing). The 280 GSM — the lowest quality of the three — still felt quite nice. It probably wouldn’t be the best for shuffling, dealing, and holding a hand of cards, but Influence really doesn’t do any of those, so it doesn’t matter to me.
So, my contacts’ names were Charles, Doug, and Michael.
Oh, and if you list their name and website as your manufacturer, they offer a $200 discount on your order. This is about $120 shy of the amount needed to increase my order from 750 to 1000.
For Kickstarter, the formula to get the Goal is:
($/unit x units + fees + shipping_to_me + misc) / (0.9 x base_price – 5.80) = number of units that have to sell at the base price.
n_units_sold x base_price = KS goal
Using example numbers: ($7/unit x 1000 + 320 + 1250 + 1500*)/(22.50-5.80) = 603 sales at $25, or $15,000 K goal with no buffer/etc.
*misc fees depending on your project. art, distributor fees, etc, fill in to this category.
You can see a LOT more detail in my post about .
I was able to get two quotes to be around $7,250 Kickstarter goal, so I rounded up to $8,500 to have a buffer in case my math was wrong. Turns out, that was really handy, as I ended up hiring an artist to redo the entire game, and used that entire buffer to do it.
As it stands, I’m going to “make” about $50 after the Kickstarter, and I’ll have nearly 500 games fully paid for.
One more thing…
If you’re looking for promotional cards, 405Media does business cards of various sizes and types. One such card type is squares, and they do 2″ x 2″, 2.5″ x 2.5″, 2.75″ x 2.75″, and 3″ x 3″. The 2″ x 2″ cards are $15 for 200 identical cards, with like $9 shipping. Anyway, using all square cards, I could build my game entirely based on ordering multiple stacks from them. I won’t do that, but I could. It’d be a great place to add things like unique cards, etc.
I ordered a pack of 200 of the cards to see if they were good, and they’re GREAT. The corners are very sharp.
Kickstarters to Check Out
I wanted to throw this in here because, well, I like to share. In this case, it’s two Kickstarter campaigns that I like a lot.
Zombie House Blitz : 2-4 player, 20-ish minute card game. TONS of bonus stuff has been released this week. $18 for the game — only a few day left and they’re VERY close!
Torn Armor : squad tactics / skirmish wargame, gameplay videos show it being played in about a half hour. LOTS of miniatures (did you see the clockwork dragon?). $75 to get the game, but literally tons of options if you just want the game, or want just the minis, etc.