Board Game Manufacturing in China
Despite all the entertainment options available in today’s digital era, there has been a resurgence in sales of more traditional choices like physical books, vinyl and board games driven by rising interest among the Millennials.
The tabletop gaming industry alone is estimated to be worth over $12 billion in 2023! Alongside the increasing demand for board and card-based games, we have seen a significant increase in inquiries about manufacturing board games from our clients at MorphoMFG. Many of these inquiries come from first-time makers, a sure sign of rising innovation in this space. We decided to put together this snapshot guide to manufacturing board games in China to answer some of the most frequent queries.
Board Game Manufacturing is More Complex Than You Think!
We often find that creators underestimate the complexity of the manufacturing process required to bring their designs to life. This is understandable because there is nothing inherently high-tech about a board game. The difficulty often arises from the precise specifications needed for game pieces, dice, printing and so on.
These details reflect the love and care that went into crafting the game and deviations often affect gameplay. However, executing these specific requirements can make the manufacturing process more complicated, and this gets trickier the more components and pieces there are in the game.
Know Your Components
Taking a game from concept to reality requires some understanding of the various manufacturing processes that would be required to translate artwork and design into physical mass-produced components. Understanding these processes and incorporating them at the design stage can save a LOT of back-and-forths when it comes to finally manufacture the game.
Here are some of the most common game components and processes to keep an eye out for.
The humble cardboard box is the mainstay of the tabletop gaming industry, but box designs have come a long way from the days when every game was made in a Monopoly-sized box. Today’s games come in a variety of packaging styles depending on each game’s requirements, ranging from telescopic game boxes and tuck-style card boxes to tin boxes, book-style boxes, magnetic-closing boxes, and Deck boxes.
Since the packaging is your chance to grab the buyer’s attention, game publishers often choose to treat the boxes with special finishes that help make the boxes more eye-catching. These include spot UV treatment for a glossy finish, linen texture for a matte finish, gold/silver foil stamping and embossing. It is important to keep in mind how the design will be rendered while working on the artwork and branding for them.
And it’s not just the exterior of the box you should worry about. Arranging the game components inside the box can become quite the challenge if there are many pieces to organize, especially if you are using trays to hold each piece separately. Remember that each decision about component design will lead to knock-on effects when it comes to packaging – as the creator of the game Mothership learned to his cost.
Boards and Cards
Game boards an integral component of most (but not all!) tabletop games. Boards can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and number of folds based on the board design and packaging requirements. You should keep in mind how your board will be collapsed to fit into the packaging and design reinforced edges to reduce wear and tear.
Cards are available in any shape and size that you can cut paper into, so there is a wide world of choices out there. When making your choice, the two most important parameters will be Card Stock – the weight of the paper measured in grams per square meter, or GSM – and Card Cores – usually blue/black/coreless, referring to the color of the card core used to prevent the card from being transparent when held up to light.
Generally, a higher card stock weight will give a more premium feel to the playing cards. Also, remember that both boards and cards are available in a variety of finishes just like the boxes, so keep in mind how your artwork will be rendered when designing it.
Miniatures, Dice and Other Pieces
These kinds of game pieces are usually made out of resin, wood, plastic or acrylic and can be finished via different processes like painting, printing, laser cutting, and engraving. Each of these choices has different implications when it comes to manufacturing and material costs, so do your research and choose wisely!
You’ll find that manufacturers often keep common shapes and materials in stock since they are in high demand across different categories of games. Incorporating some of these stock pieces into your game design will help keep the costs down since they won’t require custom tooling and dies.
Why You Should Manufacture in China
Manufacturing in China lets you benefit from the massive economies of scale that exist in China’s manufacturing sector and provides access to unrivaled supply chains that provide access to every input possible for your board games.
Manufacturing board games require a lot of customization and sometimes these processes can only be carried out by a handful of manufacturers. It is important to select the right manufacturing partner who has the capabilities you are looking for and can be trusted to secure your interests on the ground in China. This may require extensive research on their background, expertise and track record. After all, you’re looking to build a long-term business relationship – it is well worth the effort to find someone who you can see eye-to-eye with.
MorphoMFG has spent years developing a network of over 4000 suppliers and factories in China so that we can provide our clients with customized services for their every need. Reach out to us today to learn how we can help you bring your dream product to life!