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Oy, this is tough to get your head around. I'm using Quartermaster for my fulfillment, and they have a nice shipping cost chart that makes some unstated assumptions, so I needed to keep bugging them for clarification. Fortunately they're very responsive.

So I can ship to some places (Canada, EU, Australia) "customs friendly" by shipping to a warehouse there, paying the VAT, and then reshipping. What it costs to get a big crate of games to those warehouses is unspecified, but the rest is known.

Some other places are similar, but without paying the VAT. Still a two-leg journey for the boxes.

Then other places ship directly from the USA.

I created several price tiers to encapsulate this as best I could.. estimating a sort of average price for the final shipment, guessing randomly for the bulk-to-warehouse shipment, and adding VAT, then subtracting out the "US shipping included" subsidy of about $11.

Hope I got it right. I suspect this is about the simplest way to break the world down into shipping zones for me. A different price for every country would be nuts (and I'd have to re-enter them for every single reward level!), and leaving out countries isn't necessary.

I just talked to another KS creator, who has $19 as his "everywhere else in the world" shipping cost. I think he might be in trouble, but he thinks it'll average out. I see costs of $50+ to ship even something small to, say, Russia.


I did make a nice infographic

I did make a nice infographic for it, though :). Mostly info, not that much graphic, but apparently everything on a Kickstarter page needs to be in image form.

Yeah I think you are right...

$19 USD World-Wide is not enough... We did $35 USD and given a $12 subsidy. So $23 USD elsewhere. But we're being overly generous with a large subsidy. It also depends of your fulfillment houses... I believe the goal was to have Happy Shops in Germany to get product out to Europe and beyond.

But my publisher's goal was to try to sell as many games possible.

And so the shipping subsidy was high, the entry version of the game was very inexpensive ($29 USD), all kinds of social and stretch goals.

We we're practically "giving" the game away... Our goal was to get the game into as many hands as possible. And believe me the "core" game is very FUN even for kids aged 9+... When kids learn more about strategy and how to play more carefully to "outwit" their opponent(s).

Anyhow $19 USD is definitely not enough...

Shipping is a nightmare.

Shipping is the bane of my publishing existence.

It has taken me YEARS to get shipping rates right for our regular products. Now that we've got a game being published things got insane in the shipping department.

I spent, no word of a lie, no less than 60 hours pouring over shipping information to try and figure out what a reasonable rate to charge would be after taking off a small subsidy to make shipping feel more reasonable to backers/customers. And even with all that I'm pretty sure I underestimated the costs!

Freight from Factory to Port
Freight from Port to Fulfillment Center(s) and/or your place of business
Fulfillment from centers to backers/customers

Add in Taxes, duty/customs fees, packaging (boxes, kraft paper/bubble wrap/peanuts, tape), labels.

It's a nightmare I wouldn't wish on my enemies.

Well, getting it to the

Well, getting it to the fulfillment center is your problem :). That’s part of the cost basis.


Stonemaier games has a great section about this. I included a link. I hope this helps.

Jamey has a great section on

Jamey has a great section on everything :)

One thing for certain...

Jamey is a "Beast" at designing. With that volume of amazing game hits, it's no surprise he is a "leading" designer. All that has allowed him to gain more experience due to the fact that he has designed several games people enjoy. The very essence of a True "Game Designer".

Aside from Bloging, Vloging (On YouTube) and sharing his experiences, he really has lived what most of us do maybe once or twice in a lifetime...

Many of us will be just a "one-time" designer. Designing and producing one game title that proves to be a hit. Obviously being a one-time designer is not a bad thing, there are many successful designers who have done this too.

But putting out that kind of variety of games is — something that makes Jamey unique... And that's why he is so very successful.

My Solution

I've been looking into this recently and talking to a couple of different fulfilment centres and freight forwarders.

My game is small, both physically and weight wise. 1000 copies won't fill a pallet - 2000 copies might just fill a pallet. This basically means I hit shipping MOQs (pay for more than I'm shipping). I therefore have been looking at 'local' manufacture within the EU. This increases the unit cost, but significantly reduces shipping (and risk when dealing with Far East manufacturers and as a bonus most supply EN71 declarations so no extra testing costs plus proofs are included within the unit cost).

Next I've been looking into VAT registration as this will save me a fair chunk on manufacture (even if I have to give the tax man a portion of my profits after registration - but I can reclaim the last 4 years of business expense VAT which will offset this for the foreseeable future!)

So basically my solution is manufacture in EU, VAT register and ship from a single fulfilment centre in the EU (not in the same country as manufacture as the VAT may not be reclaimable!) plus fulfil UK orders myself as they are just too expensive through a fulfilment centre (and I'm betting on the campaign not being massive - I may have to rethink this if we somehow do amazingly on our first campaign).

The customs threshold is pretty high for most places in the world and as the goods are in the EU are EU friendly too. The only problems then arise with Canada ($20CAD limit), Russia (for larger parcels) and Brazil (charges = retail cost of game). The base game manufacture cost is under the $20CAD limit so technically are Canada friendly - although if they buy add-ons they won't be so then it's a gamble as to whether it gets caught in Canadian customs or not.

If you haven't already, I suggest you contact GamesQuest and Spiral Galaxy Games as fulfilment centres. Both are in the UK so will mean goods are EU friendly. The also have very clear shipping rates which they send to you. For me, its works out cheaper to ship packages individually from the UK via them than sending a load to the US for distribution - this may not be true for large/heavy games! (This is probably true for games up to 2kg at which point additional distribution centres may be cheaper). Spiral Galaxy will also assist with reclaiming VAT.

Then there's also the gamble of tracked vs untracked. Given the 1% that will get lost - is the extra cost of tracking really worth it? Or will the saving of using untracked (more than) cover the cost to resend 1% of your games? It's a risk, but one seriously worth looking at.

As for Russia, a 2kg untacked parcel costs c. £20 to ship from the UK - over 2kg and then there are interesting challenges!

For larger/heavier games this assessment will be completely different but for <2kg this certainly has worked out to be the cheapest route for me.

I’m charging $50 shipping to

I’m charging $50 shipping to “everywhere else”. Not absorbing all the costs of that craziness :). My game is about 2.5 lbs without packing materials, so..

My fulfillment house has their own centers in the EU and elsewhere, which simplifies things for me..

I was told to add about 300g

I was told to add about 300g for packing which means that you will still be under the 2kg mark if I've done my maths right.

Might be worth checking out a single fulfilment centre in EU? It may save you some monnies.

Well, having my fulfillment

Well, having my fulfillment house ship to their warehouse in the EU is already the big cost savings and “customs friendly” thing.

The fulfillment people estimated the packaging weight for me already. I’ll be at just over a kilo to start, and hopefully just under 2 when boxed up.

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blog | by Dr. Radut