January 8, 2019

The Simple Truth of Manufacturing Board Games in China

The tabletop gaming industry is on track to hit $12 billion in 2023. If you're looking to grab a piece of that cake with your own board game – don't mess one thing up: Manufacturing, and taking it to China is the best thing you can do - but there's a catch.


By the end of this 3-minute read, you'll know exactly what separates a successful board game manufacturer from a disastrous one – no matter how good or bad your game concept is!


If you haven't picked a board game manufacturer in China yet, GOOD. Do your future a favor and read the following:

For those who prefer video content, here’s a video summary of what you’re about to read below.

Board Game Manufacturers in China: Your Personal Recipe for Disaster

You pour hundreds of hours into preparing to turn your board game vision into reality, and you're ready for manufacturing. 

Here's the promised simple truth:


The average manufacturer will take your whole project and outsource everything to one smaller company. Right here, your manufacturer loses all control (not that they care much) over the quality and requirements you gave them.


They lose control, you lose control, and who knows what the company they outsourced to is doing. With so many fingers in the pot, you're all set for the perfect recipe for disaster. 


That's the simple truth without hassling you with all the nasty details of how painful it is to even try and communicate regularly with your manufacturer when you jump into this rabbit hole. 


And the worst part is:


Even if you find a solid board game manufacturer, one you're sure won't outsource, the issue you're facing here is having a single factory produce all the components of your board game. 


And that's a huge mistake in itself. 




Because to get manufacturing for a board game in China exactly the way you specified (and higher quality regardless) each piece needs to be made by a factory that specializes in tooling and material for that piece. 


Production lines, machinery, worker's experience, and many other factors combined result in how well your board game will turn out.


Important note: You NEED to avoid these traps no matter the size of your project! 

Whether you’re allocating $30k or $1.3M for manufacturing - everything in this guide applies!  


These few facts alone should be enough to help you avoid the common traps. Here's how to get your board game manufacturing in China right - plus the catch I mentioned.

Manufacturing Board Games in China: Your Recipe for Success in the Tabletop Industry 

You want a board game manufacturer who's going to take every piece of your board game, and - provided they have the required experience - outsource to factories they work with regularly, based on their specialty. 


This means that if your board game contains a piece that's best made from a specific type of hardened plastic, they'll forward that order, for that piece alone, to a factory that specializes in that kind of work. 


They will do this for everything, from your dice set, to your figurines, and every other piece and the box your board game comes in. 


And the best part: 


They will be fully responsible for combining everything perfectly as pieces are produced by all these factories. They must check everything in detail, else things won't fit, and they can't deliver your order. 


These kinds of manufacturers get 7-figure deals, and you can bet they're not going to spare on quality control because their pay date literally depends on it. 


But here's the catch:


To get it right, you must know what to look for to hire the right Chinese board game manufacturer. This will help you filter out who you should work with.

How to Find the Right Board Game Manufacturer in China

1. Proven Track Record & Success Rate   

Getting things right with all of the back and forth that comes when you work with 13 factories on a single board game is far from easy. But, with a manufacturer that’s been HQ-ed in mainland China for a decade, it’s possible.

That’s our experience anyways. MorphoMFG boasts a network of 200+ validated factories that we use for our clients.

Whoever your chosen manufacturer is, make sure they have a proven track record, ideally with the same product type you're after, in this case - producing board games in China. 

If you find one that boasts big names on their portfolio - don’t stop there. Call them, ask them what they did for that brand, and how the whole project turned out. Better yet, just ask did they use their services the second time around.

2. Reputation, Testimonials, Experience  

Go to their website - find case studies they published and look for reviews from those clients. You could even call the reviewer and double-check.


See our homepage for an example. You’ll see we’ve listed big names like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. 

A rule of thumb – work with a manufacturer that has experience dealing with 7-figure orders. Even if your order is smaller, this is a huge benefit knowing they can handle much more than what you're after.

Otherwise, how will you know that they are capable of meeting the demands as your business grows?

3. Consultation Calls & Their Process       

Most companies that thrive in any given industry will have their own process, a proven way of doing things.

This should also be apparent on their website, but the number one thing you can use to gauge their expertise is to take them up on their free call offer (if they have one). 


Call them up, ask specific questions about the manufacturing process they use and brands they worked with, how they handled x, y, and z, etc.

4. Communication & Customer Service   

When our CEO used to visit and validate hundreds of factories every year, him speaking native Mandarin made a huge difference in how they looked at him. It helped him realize what he’s dealing with a lot quicker. 

After 7 years of this, you can imagine how many factories we had to take for a “pilot run” to build our network of validated suppliers & factories that we use for our clients’ board game projects.

It's important your manufacturer can provide an easy way, typically an account manager or a business development person, to handle your worries and concerns and keep you updated at all times. 

We’ve realized that communication is often the biggest pain point. Many great ideas fail and the investor’s money disappears into thin air due to inevitable complexities that come from misunderstandings, language, and even cultural differences.

And that's not even considering that many factories will intentionally mislead clients and try taking them for a ride.

How to Know Your Chinese Board Game Manufacturer is Taking You for a Ride

30% of MorphoMFG's manufacturing contracts come from people who've tried having one factory produce their board game and failed.

From our experience, here's one lesson for any aspiring board game creator:

If they don't press you for every detail, you're just a number, and your board game is just another board game. They'll throw in white label dice in there without even asking whether you prefer quality or price.

You will lose control (and your time & investment) before you realize what's happening.

And that's the simple answer. There are so many things that need to be done right if there's any chance for your board game to end up on high-grossing, eye-level shelves in retail stores – and stay there too.

What to do Right Now: Get Answers

If you're even slightly more concerned about board game manufacturing in China now than you were three minutes ago - good.

Heard enough? Feel free to schedule a free call with with one of the Business Development managers here at MorphoMFG. We love making new connections and that call is the best way to get to know each other - to see if our teams can collaborate on your project and bring your product idea to life.

There are many red flags to look out for in Chinese manufacturers, and a few particularly important details you'll want them to have.

MorphoMFG has 7 years of experience in handling board, tabletop, and card game manufacturing projects in China. Our valued clients know us for our meticulous attention to detail in handling every part of the process.

Over the years, the company has grown its own network of over 4,000 suppliers and 200 factories in China - and knows full well which ones specialize in what part of the process for board game manufacturing.

For example, we never manufacture a board game with a single supplier, as each supplier specializes in a different part of any board game.

Your Need: A High-Quality Board Game

The average board game will typically include these pieces:

  • the board 
  • playing pieces
  • various dice type components
  • playing cards
  • figurines
  • rule books
  • counters
  • markers
  • and the actual game box itself 

And Your Problem: A Single Board Game Manufacturer in China

What cardboard is used for the game board, how thick or thin, what print style, what kind of paint, can they even source all necessary material right away? If not, chances are they’re going to add weeks (if you’re lucky) and months (typically) to the time they need to get your pilot run out.

For playing pieces, if you have a custom design - there’s no tooling for that. The factory needs to have experts that can draw up & manufacture your exact design, and again - painting quality. The same amount of detail goes into playing cards, figurines, rule books, counters, markers, and the game box.

A single manufacturer can’t hire dozens of experts and keep them in line just in case your project comes along.

That’s why they throw in stock material and everything and anything they have handy. If they outsource, you bet they’re going to cut their costs as much as humanly possible.

This is the simple truth, and this is why so many of MorphoMFG clients come to us after they’ve already tried and failed to manufacture a board game in China.

So What’s the MorphoMFG Difference?

We become your eyes and ears in mainland China. We’ve been here 7 years, and we’ve built a network of 200+ factories.

We know your playing cards are going to turn out top-notch. No matter your expectations or specific requirements, they’ll turn out better than you hoped.

How do we know? 

Because we have been vetting factories we work with for years.

We scrape factories off of our network that:

  • Don’t follow instruction to the dot
  • That try to outsource and increase their bottom line (vast majority)
  • Try to pass lesser quality material because they can’t or won’t bother to do more
  • Don’t deliver consistent quality & on time
  • Say they can manufacture everything (an ‘open secret’ here is that there is no such thing, they’ll outsource, badly in most cases)

And we reward those that: 

  • Ask a lot of questions & follow instructions exactly 
  • Have low or decent costs 
  • Deliver consistent high quality & on or before time
  • Specialize in only one or a couple of parts of table top/board games components

We organize manufacturing & deliveries to our own factory where we do quality control & finalize assembly & packaging. 

Have more questions or want to manufacture your own board game?

Click here to pick a time & day and have a quick chat with one of our Business Development managers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best board game manufacturers in China?


Answer: Anyone can give you a list of ‘10 best board game manufacturers in China’ and act like they are helping you. The truth is: there is no “best”. There are only those that are most suited to fulfill your board game order.


Did you know? Almost 1 out of 3 MorphoMFG clients are companies who’ve tried investing in “the best” before they came to us and said: “Okay, here’s our detailed requirements, can you please use your connections to have this made exactly to specification, while keeping quality, at best possible prices?” 

And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for the past 7 years. That’s why our clients keep placing repeat orders with us. Click here now to book a call with one of the Business Development managers at MorphoMFG, to see if our dedicated teams can help bring your product idea to life. 

How to find the right Chinese board game manufacturer? 

Answer: You don’t want only one manufacturer, you want each part of your game to be made in a factory with the right tooling & expertise for that part. This also protects your IP because each factory only has one piece of the puzzle. 

Here’s how we do it: We use our list of verified suppliers and factories in China to fulfill your order. Verified means we’ve scouted, tested, and made pilot runs with a Chinese factory/supplier before we added them to our list.

This list is a holy grail at MorphoMFG, and it’s the number one resource that helped us grow by 50%, year over year, for the past 7 years. We organize every factory, supplier, delivery, packaging, and quality control. 

Learn more in our Component Control Method article.

About the author

Josh Fairbairn

CEO of MorphoMFG, fluent in Mandarin, Blogger, and Youtuber. Josh loves interesting materials and the craftsmanship that goes into creating innovative products - watches, tech, games, whisky, leather, wood, blockchain & electronics. Josh and his team in Guangzhou, China are striving to create (& consume) the world’s highest quality products. Partnering with entrepreneurs globally to help solve the world's problems - whether small or large.

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