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TradeWorlds: The End of an Era

Well I guess I wanted to post this thread to share with all the other Game Designers about the pitfalls and problems that one may encounter AFTER a successful KS. It was about 2 Years ago, in 2017 when we launched our KS for "TradeWorlds" (at the time it was called "Tradewars — Homeworld").

We got more funds than expected with over 250% the original Funding Goal... We were all happy about the results and the accomplishment. But unfortunately that was 2 years ago...

Fast-forward to present day (May 2019) and we can paint a different picture which is not so impressive. Namely after all is said and done, we will be about $7,500 USD in the RED. That's right we earned 250% the original Funding Goal and are landing up with a negative balance...

This has got to do with Trump's Tariffication on Board Games (25% tariff from games made in China) and obviously some poor planning from my Publisher's side with some too "tight" margins and of course a bunch of FREE shipping which has killed whatever margins we were looking to make.

From my Publisher's side, they have clearly stated they don't want to KS again... It's a complete loss of time, effort and as you can see money too. Obviously they are sticking to their guns to try to deliver the game within reasonable time even if we are about 10 months late (according to our original timeline).

I don't know what will happen with OLG's other games... But for TradeWorlds, we will be printing the minimum in order to satisfy the KS backers and have some overstock in case of defectives or damages (10%). But for the most part, the dream is "dead". The game will be temporal and those who backed it will get to play it, but it will not see a 2nd reprint by sheer numbers.

Yesterday I did an analysis of the numbers to see what would be possible if we considered a 2nd KS for producing enough copies for a 2nd reprint... And the numbers are terrible. It amounts to $5,000 USD in the optimistic scenario for all four (4) partners in the venture. Wooopie! $5,000 USD is all we could each get for months of work and time.

KS for me, is not over YET. As most of you know, I have been working on a new game called "Monster Keep" (MK). I have already begun outsourcing the illustrations to a young and talented artist. And she has already produced a couple stunning images... For me this is one last "hurrah" because if this KS does not succeed, I can't imagine anything else working on the KS "crowdfunding" platform. I have realistic expectations and have done extensive analysis ... even then, the outcome is not guaranteed.

So it is with a sad revelation that I announce to all you "aspiring" Game Designers that... "crowdfunding" is not the dream anymore, at least not for this Game Designer. It is disappointing but the reality and truth of our present situation... We are obviously HOPING that we can shave some pennies off the cost of manufacturing (like $0.50) and bring our costs below $9.00 USD for the "core" product. There are still quotes that we are waiting on (namely BangWee and Whatz Games)... We are seriously hoping ...

Even if Trump's 25% tariffication had not occurred, we would have been in the RED for about $2,500 USD. Not too much ... but in the hole never the less. So even with 250%+ funding, we still have not managed to make it into the black and turn a small profit from a 5 year project.

Sad but true. Regards my friends... Be very mindful about HOW you KS.

Some pieces of GOOD advice are:

1. Ensure your cost quotes are accurate and that you use a 5x multiplier ALWAYS. So if it cost $9 USD to make, you should charge $45 USD for the game.

2. Do NOT offer FREE shipping to anyone. Minimum US shipping is $15.00 USD. This is a HUGE chunk of money that if you gave it away FREE, it will be eating into your profitability. Don't do it, charge for shipping ALWAYS.

3. Another point to SHIPPING: charge it AFTER in the surveys for the Pledge Managers. Why? Because you are BLOATING your KS with costs that are not profit. It's break even money which seems like it's ADDING to your Funding Goal but does NOT help to pay for expenses like art, illustrations, graphic design, creative writing, marketing, prototypes, reviews, etc. It doesn't get ADDED to your BOTTOM-LINE. It's a COST.

4. Be very careful with Stretch Goals. While you may attract more BACKERS will it delay your timeline from fulfilling your game to the backers? Be responsible and choose a fixed Funding Goal and then repeat success if it happens.

5. Be mindful of KS ventures with too many parties. My suggestion on this front is do 2 Person KS: Game Designer and Artist/Illustrator. Pay a Graphic Artist and Creative Writer for their contributions but never go into a KS with too many people. The margins are not there. Like I said, IF you earn $100k from a KS, remember that $20k profit divided by 4 is only $5k for all your time, investment and effort... Do you want to work for LESS than minimum wage???

6. Game Design for small/medium Publishers is coming to an END. Why? Because everyone is figuring out that there is not enough PROFITABILITY from KS "crowdfunding" and secondly the fact of losing money on each game being "published" is not the general direction any business wants to go in.

And to wrap up, I'm not saying don't pursue your "dreams". Just realize on how you are going to FUND them... And try to learn from all the pitfalls I've just presented. If you heed this advice, it may help you from not making a mistake. The TRUTH is, we are not alone ... There are many campaign with even HIGHER successes that have had the same issues.

Last thing I want to ADD, IF you do KS... Be certain to be very SMART about it. Don't accept a "4x multiplier" and say "It's close enough to 5x..." Don't create so much content that it takes you another year or 6 months added to your original timeline, etc. Be wary about all the 6 points I have presented and ... then maybe you can succeed where many others have failed.

My best and regards to all "Game Designers".

Comments

im sorry you made such a

im sorry you made such a loss. but its good to see it hasn't put you off making games. its also a useful cautionary tale for the rest of us.
fortunately there are other ways to get your game out ( but each has its own cautionary tales).
however you decide to publish you need a) lots of luck.
b) good planning and a lot of work c) lots of luck.
and if your games half decent thats also good.

Not Luck ... GREAT planning!

As you yourself indicated... What is most important is "GREAT planning". How you choose to publish your game is each Game Designer's decision. BUT I offer only one perspective (and from a Kickstarter Point-Of-View).

Our game is "Fantastic"... You can take a look FREE on "TableTopia". Here is the link: https://tabletopia.com/games/tradeworlds-exterra-edition

You can see the "core" artwork for the game. It's only a 2 Player "Trial Version"... Most players enjoy 4 Mulitplayer games which this edition does not offer. It's more of a PERMANENT marker as it was one of our Social Goals.

Getting back to some REAL advice. Point #1 about the 5x multiplier... Is VERY important. Who cares if KS is direct-to-consumer. You need to earn profits if you expect to be able to PAY for a 2nd reprint. Point #2 is PARAMOUNT!!! If you don't charge for SHIPPING during surveys (and please make sure to charge shipping AFTER in the Pledge Manager), you will lose most of all your profits. It is not VIABLE to have shipping subsidies any longer.

The 25% Tariff soon to be imposed by the Trump Government ... will also be a factor towards COSTS. Remember that 5x factor... Well here is where you need to make sure your ducks are "inline". If it's $9.00 USD + 25% = $11.25 USD (not $9.00 USD anymore). 5x factor = $56.25... So $57 USD for the game PLUS "shipping" (which starts at $15 USD). So your game is going to cost $72 USD... Expensive YES. But REALISTIC = 100%.

So NOT LUCK... GREAT PLANNING. And revisit the RULES of KS-ing. US Tariffs, no FREE shipping and no subsidies, 5x cost factors, Limited Stretch Goals, Smaller teams make more profit, etc.

I would call it Kickstarter 2.0!

Better, smarter, focused, leaner...

Sorry to hear that! Maybe if

Sorry to hear that!

Maybe if I'd been working on my new title all through my latest Kickstarter (which was clearly going to fail, until it didn't), I'd've been able to get in ahead of the tariffs, but.. no.

Good luck in bringing it all to the finish line.

Whoa

What a heart-breaker for you, quest. But a -huge- lesson learned, all the same.

Thanks for sharing all your insights on the reality of KS campaigns.

And it's NOT all about MONEY...

The main problem with Game Design ... is THIS:

If you have a real super-duper game and you find yourself with an amazing team of member to bring the project to completion. The problem you will have if you did not make ENOUGH "profit" is that your game will be "DEAD".

What I mean by this is simple: if you have not made sufficient "profit", you will be unable to PAY for a 2nd Print Run. Assuming 1,000 units a first run and 1,000 units for a 2nd run.

No 2nd Print Run = no more sales = no more new players

And that's what I mean by "DEAD". The lifespan of your game will be restricted and your game will NEVER become "Evergreen". "Evergreen" games are the well known game you see on all store shelves around the world. If your game makes it to store shelves... It needs MONEY to pay for reprints. Bad KS (in terms of monetization) results in not having the capacity to pay for MORE inventory to continue selling.

If you got 500 backers during your first try, what makes you think that you will get MORE the second try. Maybe you'll get HALF, like 250 backers. And will that help you PAY for a 2nd Print Run??? Probably NOT.

So I don't want you all to think: "He's a greedy guy." or "He's in it for the money.", etc. I LOVE "Designing Games". And will continue this as a hobby for sure. But I don't plan on having it my primary source of income if at the end of 5 years (I could) say that I made $5,000...! Or that my Publisher doesn't have sufficient profit to make a 2nd Print Run...!

Another aspect is to THINK about "Evergreen" games and designing with the intent of having games that stay on store shelves around the world. This to me is a "GENUINE" Goal... But remember it costs money to print all those games... And you DEFINITELY NEED sufficient profits if you are going to produce that much amount of games (20,000+ units).

Kind of a bit less exciting when you think we produced 1,000 units! And someone else produced over 20,000+ units of another game.

The point I am trying to make is: "Will people even REMEMBER your game in the end???" And that's why we design: So people can have MEMORABLE experiences having FUN and enjoying our games...

Because I am not egotistical...

The "End of an Era" was not quoted by myself but my PUBLISHER. They are the ones who told us that:

It seems we’ve caught the tail end of the board game era.

Hence where I came up with "the end of an era"... So I'm thinking it, my publisher is thinking it, people online are talking about it... Publisher group forums have been recently talking about how "digital versions" of board games might become a "future priority" for the large publishers...

Everyone seems to be feeling a "bit negative" when it comes to the outlook of the state of affairs in the Board Game Industry. Of course, the bigger players have enough money to do whatever they please... Companies like Asmodee who have acquired Z-Man Games, Plaid Hat Games, Mayfair Games and Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) and countless others, will be the large survivors who will have 50% (at least) of all "Evergreen" games...

It feels like Kickstarter which is still around... May see less of a boom from "independent productions" (indie scene of the Board Game Industry). Especially if there are no small to medium Publishers willing to KS more games in the hopes of making a "windfall"...

The Future

@quest: So do you think a game designer's solution (if they expect to see their games on any shelf, anywhere, for an "evergreen" title) is to cater exclusively to the larger companies, and gear their design goals towards creating A-list, big-budget games?

Do you feel like targeting small- to medium-sized publishers with your design projects is a short-sighted strategy?

Good questions...

So let me explain why I chose to do business with "Outer Limit Games, LLC".

1. They were specialized in Sci-Fi games which made my product a good match.

2. They did not have a Deck-Builder in their catalog only a 4x game at the time.

3. They were smaller publisher and promised a better return on investment (25% of profits).

4. They (at the time) had just finished with Tau Ceti and looking to publish something else.

5. My Game Developer had a working relationship with OLG because he also did some development work on Tau Ceti.

6. They were a part of the Indie Game Alliance and had business connections which I did not have.

7. They had a pre-established list of backers to pitch the game to (over 1,500 backers).

8. They had a 3D modeler and designer who was able to design the models for the Tactician reward level.

9. Mike had experience in Graphic Design and Video Editing to bring more "polish" to the overall LOOK of the game (box, rulebook too).

10.They had KS and experience with dealing with China too (quotes/manufacturing).

So dealing with a smaller or medium publisher seemed like a GOOD fit. There were some points which just encouraged a reason to do business together. And we've had a good partnership, even today.

To continue to answer (I know this is not a direct response... but a bit of a discussion to answer your questions)...

OLG was the RIGHT "Partner" at that time. And even today, I don't regret the decision. Unfortunately there were some bad planning in terms of what we offered (we offered TOO MUCH) and we gave away TOO MUCH. Our free shipping to US backers = $15 USD each backer. And that was FREE...

I think the estimates by OLG were that they were expecting over 2,000 backers. Double the volume for the "tight" margins.

The advice I gave above is SOUND...

It's VERY HARD to get a BIG "Publisher" to notice and Indie Designer.

Maybe if you worked in the VG industry and have published a bunch of games that your resume could have that experience as well as some board or card game design experience... Maybe you have a chance to land a Game Designer JOB in some company.

For someone who is UNKNOWN... Well finding a smaller partner is probably the BEST way to go... Just not so obvious. What I could say is BETTER is doing "smaller" projects requiring less people, is probably better too. However that's easier said than done!

I always admired Jason Glover who designed "Plague" the card game. Jason does it ALL including his own ARTWORK. He's a one-stop Game Design machine. He KS-es alone and has built a following over the years. Do as much as you can... and expect "repeatable" success.

But WORKING with a Publisher who has a customer base DEFINITELY HELPS too.

So if you do it alone, it's like 250-500 KS backers on your first try. Do it with a Publisher and then it's like double the KS backers... There are no MIRACLES unfortunately.

Okay now that I've explained myself, I can answer your questions.

Was it short-sighted? I don't think so. It was the BEST decision at that time and I am overall pleased with the effort put in by the members in the project.

Would I deal with a small/medium publisher? Yes... That's your best odds for getting some kind of agreement to make your game. BUT realize that there will be LESS publishers as we move forwards BECAUSE the margins are small and most people don't want to work for free.

I wouldn't submit my game to LARGE publishers... because they have their own teams and staff (salaried employees) who are there to bang out more games and game ideas... You probably won't get picked up. Like I said the BIG companies are not looking for game ideas. Look at Wizards of the Coast... They are owner by Hasbro and don't look for OUTSIDE ideas. Fantasy Flight Games (another known company) is now owned by Asmodee. Again not looking for outside input. They are in their OWN "eco-systems" and you need to be a part of the company to offer input.

So don't expect to design an A-rated game to TRY to get picked up by one of the corporate GIANTS.

The PROBLEM is that I see it as a lot of people ABANDONING the "Game Design" industry. Because of the lack of success and all of the projects that fall into the RED. The good news is, A LOT of people are TRYING to break INTO the "Game Design" industry (at least nowadays...) Just because our outlook is bleak doesn't mean you CAN'T sign a game.

I see it as "business as usual"... But be wary that it's like a revolving door: people going in and people going out.

My OWN personal journey looks like this:

1. Paid for all the artwork of the "core" and release the "Early Access" Version on The Game Crafter (TGC).

2. Got an Art score of 90% Accolade for the game (on TGC).

3. Used TGC sanity tests several times to optimize my rulebook.

4. Had a TGC Crowdsale and sold 34 copies of the game.

5. Searched for a Publisher to re-brand and re-package my game.

6. With Outer Limit Games (OLG) launched a Kickstarter (KS).

So this game has been around for a while and people still like it. I don't think it's the END of "TradeWorlds" (TW)... It's just a matter of figuring out the NEXT STEPS for the game.

I would not GIVE UP on any game design that has POTENTIAL. And there are at least four (4) MORE expansion ideas for the game plus several scenarios to be explored too.

My journey is only one path... There are many paths that can be followed.

MY REAL ADVICE (based on my experience and what I see):

Self-Publish with The Game Crafter (TGC). Hire an artist and get it done. From there you have a GAME you can pitch. Not a "Game Idea"... Small Publishers are looking for GOOD "Games" not just ideas. You'll have better luck to pitch a game 90% complete and looking for Publisher Development rather than trying to "sell an idea".

It has worked for me... Even if the results are "relative".

Personally I have never SOLD an "idea". I had a game which was 90%. Sure a lot of work was put in during the last 2 years and we re-invested in more art and expansion ideas. But that's what the Publisher is FOR! IMHO.

That's the way I see it. Some people are going to say "they can license game ideas", I have never been able to do this and have not known anyone who did this...

TBH I think it's best if you have a fully developed game that a Publisher can SEE and TRY (if they want to see a prototype). The ART might be relative... in that maybe they could do their own artwork... Having a GAME ... might be EASIER to pickup and re-brand/polish. That's MY opinion. Pitch a GAME, not an idea.

Cheers!

Could you elaborate on point 3?

Do you mind elaborating on this point?

questccg wrote:
Another point to SHIPPING: charge it AFTER in the surveys for the Pledge Managers. Why? Because you are BLOATING your KS with costs that are not profit. It's break even money which seems like it's ADDING to your Funding Goal but does NOT help to pay for expenses like art, illustrations, graphic design, creative writing, marketing, prototypes, reviews, etc. It doesn't get ADDED to your BOTTOM-LINE. It's a COST.

I ask because I'm considering the Kickstarter route, but I'm not really aware about what 'Pledge Managers' are, how they operate, what they offer you, what they charge (presumably?).

I vaguely get Kickstarter - people pledge cash, particular amounts to get a project off the ground, which people have 'hacked' into a sort-of 'store' - pay X, get a copy of the game, pay X+Y get a copy of the game and signed artwork etc...

I understand Kickstarter charges 5% of the raised funds, and then takes another 3-5% thanks to their payment processor? So I need to write-off 10% to KS. But after that it gets fuzzy for me? Surveys? Pledge Managers? Can people change what they've pledged?

I'm sure this is very basic stuff, but I'm not having a lot of luck finding a 'high level' guide to Kickstarting a Board Game. A lot of stuff out there assumes you know what everything already is ...

Thanks for your time.

Let me explain point #3: Charging shipping after the KS is over

So the first step is to do the actual Kickstarter (KS) and you've pretty much summed it up with very few words. So it's about 8%-10% KS + fees. Next what happens after a campaign is successful, you get a ZIP file with all your backers, their information and what they pledged for. Now you can fulfill it yourself... Or you can use a 3rd Party tool called a Pledge Manager to upload all the information and manage the handling of what are essentially "extras".

The advice is simple: "Charge shipping during the Pledge Manager." That will cost you an additional 3% on average for using the 3rd party tool. All the Shipping should NOT be a part of your Funding Goal. It is not profit. And as such it should not be a part of the monies you want to collect.

The Pledge Managers allow you to customize the check-out process to ensure that your backers fill-in sufficient information and choose from the options available to them.

So let's say your shipping is $15 USD to a backer in the USA. Not unrealistic... If you have 500 backers in that category, that's $7,500. If your Funding Goal was $15,000 USD, that's 50% going to SHIPPING and you make $0.00 on it. Now if your Funding Goal was $15,000 + Shipping afterwards, that means you earn $13,500 towards making your game. Shipping is charged AFTERWARDS and you would get another $7,500 USD. So your total take would be $21,000 USD of which only $13,500 could be used to pay for artwork, marketing, prototypes, reviews, videos, writing, etc.

We're Capitalists. There is nothing WRONG with trying to make some money. Moreover IF you don't make any profit, you will NOT be able to pay for a 2nd Print Run. And then your game disappears! What I mean the audience who may like playing your game will never get the opportunity to play it if they can't go out "somewhere" to buy it.

That's the whole "Evergreen" philosophy about games that keep getting printed over-and-over again, year-after-year. And stores stock them on the shelves because they are known and are good-to-great games.

So I hope I have clarified point #3... This should explain better with some figures and numbers to help simplify the math and accounting.

Cheers!

And to give you more answers...

You could simply ADD $7,500 to $15,000 to make your Funding Goal $22,500 USD. Right? Well in that case you pay $2,250 KS + Fees rather than $1,500... So an additional $750 USD!

And you risk losing Backers when they see the HIGHER Funding Goal...

$7,500 USD + 3% = $7,725 USD (or $225 extra). PLUS you can INCREASE the Shipping costs to COVER the additional 3% also. So instead of $15 USD/unit, it would be like $15.75 USD/unit (+5%).

This means $7,875 USD which covers the (3%) and some buffer to break even "nicely"... So $7,500 + 3% (of $7,875) = $7,736.25... You have $138.75 USD left over (just to ensure you don't LOSE monies for collecting the shipping via a Pledge Manager)!

The End of an Era

Quest, thanks for sharing. We really appreciate your story and helpful information. Definitely a downer, if you will, but an important read. I hope you will be able to get you game out there, and glad you're not giving up all together. Hopefully you won't abandon us on here either :) We like having you around. I will say, your post does increase my nervousness about our own kickstarter that will start in about 28 days or so, but again, this was helpful for us to look over our numbers and strategy again.

Thanks!

-Austin

Quote: If you have 500

Quote:
If you have 500 backers in that category, that's $7,500. If your Funding Goal was $15,000 USD, that's 50% going to SHIPPING and you make $0.00 on it.

Well, if your game sold for $30 (of which $15 was shipping), sure. Not a surprise that 50% is going to shipping, because 50% of your price was shipping.

However, if you have 500 backers and a funding goal of $15k, that doesn't mean you got $15k. You got 500 times whatever the price was. If your price was $60, then you got $30k (of which 25% was shipping)

Still a big waste of monies...

If your reward price was $60 USD and you got 500 Backers, yes indeed that is $30,000 USD. Of which, $3,000 will be KS + Fees and $7,500 USD would be shipping! So 25% is accurate in this "example". This example assumes that the shipping is part of the "reward" (also).

But if your goal was $20,000 USD ($40 USD/unit) and you got 500 Backers (again), your KS + Fees will be $2,000 USD. And if you ADD the shipping AFTERWARDS in the Pledge Manager, $7,500 USD would make it $15.00 USD/unit in terms of shipping. Next you need to add +5% to cover the 3% charge...

So $15.75 USD/Unit = $7,875 x 3% = $236.25. So it's $7,500 + $236.25 = $7,736.25 USD...

The results is $20,000 USD of funding + $7,736.25 USD for shipping.

Grand total = $27,736.25 USD for 500 backers of which $18,000 is profit.

In your example $30,000 USD for 500 backers results in $19,500 of profit but your FUNDING GOAL is $10,000 USD HIGHER... And you risk, not funding because of the too lofty goal.

I know you are going to say: "Potatoes. Potatoes." But you know yourself, how HARD it can be to REACH your Funding Goal. $20,000 USD vs. $30,000 USD is a significant difference. As a first time KS creator, I would rather TRY to obtain $20,000 USD because my impressions are that $30,000 USD might be too difficult because it is 33.3% higher (a third).

Sorry to hear, man.

Sorry to hear, man. Kickstarter is a difficult beast to tame.

Tariffs

Quest, I emailed GameLand who will likely be printing my game and got this response. It doesn't seem like the tariffs on board games is for sure yet. What other countries can we Print from?????????????????????????????????

Yes, the policy has not issued, there will be hearings on the proposal on June 17th if they pass then 25% tariffs could be in force by June 24th.
There is no effect on the price of printing and delivery, but the USA import charge would increase for you.

Our some forwarders have started to reduce the shipping charge to help client.

Great Post

Quest, appreciate the time you took to put this post together. You've got my Respect for sharing your skeletons, and as you know I will be buying your game when you get them!! I want to do my part to help you out of your bad deal....For all the help you've given us all here on BGDF. I hope others on BGDF will join with me to buy TradeWorlds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I still think you can eventually make this game profitable...over the long run.

How can you get the IP or TM back for your game, disassociate with OLG and bring the game back to life? How much will that cost? If you funded 250% and you deliver to those who backed your game...even at a loss, you have a compelling back story and you can use that your advantage. Once they get your game, ask each of those backers to please review your game, post on social media, and tell a friend. Keep at it.....and perhaps as you find success with Monsters Keep you can slowly revive Tradeworlds with your ever expanding FANS!! YOU NEED TO OWN THE IP!!!

Not many options TBH.

evansmind244 wrote:
...What other countries can we Print from?

Well future projects seem to indicate manufacturing in the USA. Services like "The Game Crafter" (TGC) which handle most of the manufacturing and fulfillment details will definitely see a RISE in business. There is also Board Games Maker (https://www.boardgamesmaker.com) another POD service based in the USA.

There are US Broker services too like AdMagic and Shuffled Ink which both have US-based operations in addition to International (China). They may have ways of circumventing the tarification because they are domestic businesses dealing with off-shoring. IDK ... gray area ...

evansmind244 wrote:
Yes, the policy has not issued, there will be hearings on the proposal on June 17th if they pass then 25% tariffs could be in force by June 24th. There is no effect on the price of printing and delivery, but the USA import charge would increase for you.

Well I expect that the minute the boat docks on US territory, a custom's tariff will occur once they asses what is in the container and see that it is games from China. 25% Tariffs. Ding!

We'll see ... what happens. It's sad if these people (US Government) think they are actually HELPING people in the USA. They're making it worst: people in the USA are paying the tariffs not China, people in the USA will be paying HIGHER prices for their games (again not the Chinese)...

This is the stupidest form of insult to American Entrepreneurship.

I used to be a mild Trump supporter (even if I am not a US citizen) ... but this is ridiculous. When one of their IDIOTIC policies will DIRECTLY affect my own pocket-book... Well I've got to say: "Fnck off @-holes. This is not helping the people in America. Pure BS!" It's just a form of useless taxation so that the greedy government can earn extra dollars by taking it away from working-class people...

Sharing on these forums is how I help out people!

evansmind244 wrote:
...You've got my Respect for sharing your skeletons...

That's what people who help other people DO. Maybe if I was in my twenties (20s), I'd be less interested and more laser focused on my own issues/troubles/goals/etc. But I'm in my forties (40s). I've seen a lot of sh!t during my 20+ years in the workplace, dealing with people, etc.

If any of you can learn from my mistakes... Great on you!

The problem Evan ... Is that I'm not sure there will be any games to BUY! We're producing about 1,100 units to cover 1,000 backers +10% overstock to handle defectives (missing parts or cards).

evansmind244 wrote:
I still think you can eventually make this game profitable...over the long run.

I'm weighing all options. But right now is not the time. First we MUST choose a manufacturer and this means all the delays in quotes need to be resolved ASAP. We said we would CHOOSE a manufacturer by the 15 May. It's the 24 May (9 days late) and we are still waiting on quote information...

evansmind244 wrote:
... bring the game back to life?

Don't worry, I'm an honest guy. #1: I would never "screw-over" my Publisher (Outer Limit Games). #2: I would ensure that their losses are covered before engaging into some form of other Publishing relationship. They're not stupid and they know I'm not either.

But the fact of the matter is... We'll need to see what they will want to agree upon. Obviously covering losses is definitely ONE (1) point. Another point is future Kickstarting. And the last point is future re-prints. All of that needs to be factored into a "reasonable" agreement.

There is no way I'm simply going to "bail" on my Publisher... That would be a very poor business choice and I would be totally fncked when it comes to doing business... Nobody has "screwed me over"... Bad planning even with a 250%+ KS and US Tarification are not what we planned for.

First, we need to confirm the manufacturer and they need to start MAKING the game. Once the game has been made, sent via boat to the US mainland, then we'll know what the tariffs look like. We can do our fulfillment and in the end come up with some FIGURE! That figure will no doubt be a part of future negotiations...

Don't worry... Baby-steps. "One thing at a time..." I applaud your zest for wanting things to move forwards positively. We're not there yet.

So this happened in my absence

Sorry to hear that your project is semi failed.

Why semi failed? You still can get your supporters their game, right? Which is still an awesome feat from my point of view. You can be proud with what you achieved. And I hope you don't loose hope.

Cheers.

Sorry to hear, but thank you

Sorry to hear, but thank you for sharing. Most only share their success, and don't talk about their failures. This post is full of info that is good for learning.

$15 for USA shipping seems high. Does this include pick and pack, or something like that?

It depends on weight and dimensions

But I believe the USPS Flat Rate Boxes are $15.00 USD (or close to that mark)... So depending on your game, you could get a less expensive shipping charge if it weights less or is a smaller box (in terms of dimensions).

I saw one Kickstarter (KS) campaign where there was ONE (1) RATE for everyone: $15.00 USD. Some cost more, most cost less and then it averages out in the end...

I also just used it as an example: $45.00 USD for a game including shipping is not too expensive either.

TBH I need to attempt to determine the shipping rate too!

I really like the approach "one rate for everyone". And like I said the USPS Flat Rate Boxes are about $15.00 USD. But I need to price it too... And see what the margins look like. If the spread is 50% USA and 50% Europe ... Well that is something to think about. I'm sure with my size and weight I could well get a lower domestic price ... but for Europe I have no clue!

And so I will price this some time soon. And then I will be in a position to better provide more accurate advice for this aspect of "crowdfunding fulfillment" ...

Cheers!

What's the weight and

What's the weight and dimensions of your game box?

Not 100% sure about the weight

I think the weight is 2.5 lbs and its size is 11" x 11". Must be less than 12" x 12" to fit store shelves... (From what my Publisher is telling me).

Cheers!

Fulfillrite Prices

Quest, if you use Fulfillrite in the USA their prices are $8.05USD east coast to $11.95 west coast for shipping in the USA. They are $2.45 for Pick and Pack and its $0.65 more if a customer ordered 2-5 games to the same address. I think for USPS flat rate it was something like $8.80 but I don't have the sheet in front of me.
They have a few other charges that for me equated to be about $2.65 per game assuming I move at least 81 units per month. They have a monthly charge of $199.00 which is only charged if your orders equal less than the monthly charge. So if you sent out $100 in games for the month, you would pay $99 to Fulfillrite for your monthly....So $199/2.45=81 units needed to be sent out per month!!
I do not know what the charge is for Europe but I think its close to $30 USD. I've checked with some West Coast fulfillment companies and so far Fulfillrite is the best price, and also very good customer service. The question I still need to answer is Which Coast is cheaper to ship my bulk game order to...East or West?

Hmm... That to me sounds ludicrous!

Hello Evan,

Not because I want to "insult" you... But Fulfillrite seem to have the most "jacked-up" pricing I have seen. I would look into QuarterMaster Logistics (http://www.qmlogistics.com) ... James Mathe told me to contact them and figure out their fulfillment pricing.

As for Fulfillrite, you need to be a US company if you want to deal with them... That is a "show-stopper" for me since I am Canadian. Aside from that I find that they have very "high" pricing ... Compare to some other fulfillment companies...

Here is Jamey Stegmaier's take on Fulfillment:

https://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/lessons/shipping-and-fulfillment/

From that page, the first link/URL is one to a Google Spreadsheet with a bunch of companies compared one next to the other.

My recent plans have sort of fallen through since I dealt with someone who insisted on quoting me "for what I don't want", instead of "what I was asking for"... Anyhow what this has done is forced me to re-evaluate the project and go with "The Game Crafter" (TGC). I may not get a custom box, but who cares. TGC would also direct ship to customers and avoid the need of having a fulfillment company!

Cheers...

Quartermaster charges by the

Quartermaster charges by the pallet per month (storage fee), but otherwise no minimums. Which is good for those of us not doing $199 in shipping per month :/

Funagain look to be good too...

But I'm not sure if they have a "east-coast" warehouse. According to Jamey's spreadsheet, they planned to have operations on the East too... But from Funagain's fulfillment page ... there is not too much information.

Here is the link/URL to Funagain (it's not obvious where to find the link):

https://www.funagain.com/fulfillment/control/main

They also seem good like QM...

You've really got to watch...

Jay103 wrote:
Quartermaster charges by the pallet per month (storage fee), but otherwise no minimums. Which is good for those of us not doing $199 in shipping per month :/

And also $15/month per "Pallet" is not $199/month... Clearly there is a difference... Why do you seem to always be getting "screwed up" pricing @Evan???

It seems like you either have A> Too much money or B> The worst luck ever. It's obviously not A> because you can NEVER have too much money. I'm sure we'd find ways to put more money to good use (if we had it...) So you've got to be landing on the wrong type of person.

Granted my quoting over the last week did not go as "planned". I dealt with the owner and as I said "He was hell bent on quoting me what I did NOT want". For what I "wanted", he didn't even bother to try. For example: the first quote came in a $14.50 USD per game. Granted it's in the USA and a custom game... I knew something was wrong with the quote: it said Poker or Bridge cards. I ASKED for SQUARE cards (2.5" x 2.5"). Then I realized that was wrong and ASKED about it. The owner then told me it was $+1,200 ADDITIONAL FEES for making the die. He then told me they had a 3.5" x 3.5" die and asked if I wanted to switch sizes... Again not what I wanted. So it was a pointless quoting process since I never got a straight forward quote for what I was wanting to produce...

So I know how people feel when they get the "run-around". But seriously @Evan you need to challenge people and NOT take their quotes for straight value.

I wanted "Made in the USA" pricing and what do I get "Overseas quotes" which probably include $3.00 USD/unit in Freight and probably another +25% in tariffs too... Complete waste of time...

Update concerning Fulfillment

I confirmed with my OWN Publisher and indeed Fulfillrite requires a minimum monthly volume of $199/mth. So what this means is that given a successful KS, they will probably move and ship a percentage each month giving the creators the flexibility to MEET the minimums.

BUT this is definitely not a place to "drop off stock" and "see if it sells".

They REQUIRE a minimum volume which means it's good for KS fulfillment and then it stops there.

IF you plan to "warehouse" and sell gradually online, I would find another solution. Because they're not very friendly with "smaller" companies just trying to sell stock... I told @Mike to take a look at "Fun Again" and "QM" ... because they may have better pricing and no minimums. But then again I'm sure that because of our KS, we could maintain a minimum for several months until most if not all the stock gets liquidated.

So that's the difference in Business Models: one wants to only do KS fulfillment while there is inventory and customers, the other wants to help you warehouse your goods as you get customers.

Two very different goals... Cheers!

Take er easy

I’ve emailed QM and Funagain for quotes. I’m in a different situation with my game being a Holidays theme. I expect to sell more that 81 units per month for the short season.
I looked at the google doc from Stonemaire and I really cannot tell where he’s getting his numbers for fulfillrite. For my game 10 x 10 x 3” estimated 2.5 lb I would pay fulfillrite $2.65 per game including all other fees. Yes if I didn’t get 81 units month that would go up but even at half there still better than. Amazon or Shipbob.. This quote is challenged and questioned. That is not bad considering quotes from Amazon and ShipBob. Once I get exact quotes from QM and Fun I’ll let you know know how they compare!

questccg wrote:The "End of an

questccg wrote:
The "End of an Era" was not quoted by myself but my PUBLISHER. They are the ones who told us that:

> It seems we’ve caught the tail end of the board game era.

Hence where I came up with "the end of an era"... So I'm thinking it, my publisher is thinking it, people online are talking about it... Publisher group forums have been recently talking about how "digital versions" of board games might become a "future priority" for the large publishers...

Everyone seems to be feeling a "bit negative" when it comes to the outlook of the state of affairs in the Board Game Industry. Of course, the bigger players have enough money to do whatever they please... Companies like Asmodee who have acquired Z-Man Games, Plaid Hat Games, Mayfair Games and Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) and countless others, will be the large survivors who will have 50% (at least) of all "Evergreen" games...

It feels like Kickstarter which is still around... May see less of a boom from "independent productions" (indie scene of the Board Game Industry). Especially if there are no small to medium Publishers willing to KS more games in the hopes of making a "windfall"...

I don‘t think that the problem is the „era of board games“ coming to an end. When I look at the Spiel fair in Essen (Germany) each year there are more publishers, new Game releases and visitors. The problem is that there are a lot of just bad designed games on KS (and as I don‘t know Tradewars this is Not meant to be an offence!). It reminds me of the music industry and the emergence of casting shows where a lot of Bad singers think that it is enough to be able to hold a Mikrophone to become a star. And the really good projects on KS suffer under those that just want to make some cheap money. Good Lück to you and your future projects!

evansmind244 wrote:I’ve

evansmind244 wrote:
I’ve emailed QM and Funagain for quotes. I’m in a different situation with my game being a Holidays theme. I expect to sell more that 81 units per month for the short season.
I looked at the google doc from Stonemaire and I really cannot tell where he’s getting his numbers for fulfillrite. For my game 10 x 10 x 3” estimated 2.5 lb I would pay fulfillrite $2.65 per game including all other fees. Yes if I didn’t get 81 units month that would go up but even at half there still better than. Amazon or Shipbob.. This quote is challenged and questioned. That is not bad considering quotes from Amazon and ShipBob. Once I get exact quotes from QM and Fun I’ll let you know know how they compare!

I'm a little confused.

There's no way you're getting things shipped for $2.65 per game, TOTAL, if that's what you're saying. I can believe $2.65 for handling, plus actual shipping price (which is probably $8-11 in the US..). That seems pretty much in line with Jamey's spreadsheet, so I'm not sure what you're talking about..

As for the $199 minimum per month, sure, you may do more than $199 for November and December. Then in January there will be 260 (or 720, or 1532) units remaining in inventory AT THAT LOCATION. What will you do with them while you wait for the next holiday season? Pay $1000+ to have the pallets freighted to you?

Thanks for your input!

Git80 wrote:
I don‘t think that the problem is the "era of board games" coming to an end. When I look at the Spiel fair in Essen (Germany) each year there are more publishers, new Game releases and visitors.

The question is longevity in the Industry. You do understand that +25% tarification on Board Games made in China and imported to the USA will be a "hard pill to swallow"! Whatever your costs are to manufacture, you will need to add a +25% tariff above and beyond...

That's going to be a hard downer... Because it will SLOW the amount of KS in the USA if people (think Publishers) can't get their games made in China even if those margins are not the greatest either.

Git80 wrote:
The problem is that there are a lot of just bad designed games on KS (and as I don‘t know Tradewars this is Not meant to be an offence!).

It's TradeWorlds now (because of a Trademark)... You can check out our BGDF page. Most of the content is from 2017 when we kickstarted but our Rulebooks are from 2019 so... We've been continuing to work hard (even to date because we are still waiting for quotes!)

The bottom line is IF there will be a Tariff of +25% on Board Games... If it costs you $10 USD to make, that means another $2.50 USD. So $12.50 USD. If you factor in your margins, it means $50 MSRP now goes up to $62.50 MSRP. That's why my publisher said, and I quote: "The End of an Era". It's like a stop to free commerce and enterprise with tariffs and undue taxes...

They're still looking for ways to TAX the Internet... This is in a way to do so ... just because they don't want people doing business with China... And the USA is in no way or shape to compete and offer alternatives.

This is going to hurt a lot of Small Publishers looking to get a foothold in the market. The only REAL WINNERS are PODs like printNinja, Board Game Makers and The Game Crafter. But again none of those services offer custom making of games... You need to conform to one of their "molds" in order to offer one of their product(s).

There are other factors too... Control of smaller companies being bought over by larger ones likes Asmodee France which is now a Global Company with holdings in Canada and the USA. We're talking about Plaid Hat Games, Fantasy Flight Games, Z-Man Games, Mayfair Games, etc. And a bunch more... WotC is now owned by Hasbro... All those players are probably controlling over 50% of the market.

Think what you want... I'm just saying THEY are trying to kill this industry with tarification. We'll see if the tariffs pass or not and to what extent.

I'd personally like it IF "somebody" would let us know HOW high the tariffs will be... The talks are 25% ... And that they will be voted on 17 June and go into effect the 24 June... If people in the USA could monitor this and let us know... This is a BIG deal to all hobby designers who want their products in customer hands.

Cheers!

Jay103

Yes I mean $2.65 including all fees for Pick and Pack, maintenance fees etc.... divided by selling all 1000 units. I realize that's a long shot.
The shipping is $8.05 East coast area, and $11.95 for as far west as you can go USA.

1) Excess games. I fly out to NJ or find a friend out there and get them moved from Fulfillrite to a Storage unit within a few miles of their warehouse.

2) Use a service with cheaper warehousing and fees (QM or Fun waiting on quotes)

3) Possibly just use Game Crafter this year.

4) A few other idea's but, I don't want to Steal Quests thread. I've been blamed for that before!!!

@Evan... get quotes from other fulfillment companies...

So the shipping fee is $10.70 to $14.60...? Remember you have to have a minium of $199/month too! (This is just freaken ridiculous)

Look into other options that DON'T have a monthly minimum...!

Yes I too am looking at "The Game Crafter" (TGC) simply because Made in the USA "custom" products are much too expensive.

And from the manufacturer I spoke with, they weren't interested in quoting me for what I was asking, instead they just quoted whatever they felt like quoting... Very frustrating and a total waste of time. I don't expect them to get my business any time soon. Quite the contrary, I feel like they have been very dishonest and have "hidden" fees from me. I'd be worried like they would arbitrarily add more fees and I would be stuck paying them.

And BTW storage units are not cheap either. They're like $100/month. That's why paying $15/pallet at QM is rather REASONABLE. And remember the 1st Month is free but you need to pay receiving $20 in month #1.

IDK what "other" ideas you may have... Don't worry about hijacking the thread, we are discussing Game Design not unrelated matters... That would belong in the "Water Cooler".

To recap:

#1: Is maybe HALF the price like $100/month.

#2: Sounds like the best option to me.

#3: Save a lot of headaches too. No need for warehousing. No MOQ for manufacturing... Lot of PLUS for this. But NOT "custom".

#4: Would like to hear more thoughts on the matter...!

Fulfillrite

Personally I would not recommend using Fulfillrite. They are ok if you are just using them to fulfill pledges on Kickstarter, but beyond that, they are not worth the risk.

I used them to fulfill Kickstarter orders, but once that was done they required you to have at least 40 orders a month, otherwise you got highly penalized. ($50-$100 extra a month.) For a small company who can't guarantee having 40 orders a month, that just wasn't feasible.

I switched over to using FBA and I'm so happy I did. Not only did my number of orders increase, but my storage and shipping costs dramatically decreased.

Hmm... Something to consider!

My ex-boss gave me a "freaken" AMAZING IDEA: "Send From China" (SFC). He said that items under $400 USD sent to INDIVIDUAL "customers" would NOT get "dinged" with the +25% tariffs!

And yeah, I was like: "Hmm... That is so freaken SMART!"

So to BY-PASS any and ALL "tariffs", you just need to ensure that the COG (Cost-of-goods) is less than $400 USD and that the shipment is DIRECT to consumers not some fulfillment warehouse.

DIRECT ONLY!

I've read some posts about "SFC" but not too sure what the feedback was. Anyhow I find this a GREAT way to say: "Fnck you Mr. ... you don't deserve our hard earned dollars!"

Here is the Link/URL: https://www.sendfromchina.com

Guys take a look... This *MIGHT* be an alternative to paying freaken tariffs!

SendFromChina is good for

SendFromChina is good for small games (under 1 kilogram) however once you break that threshold their prices and other issues rise.

They ship out in bubble envelopes. If you want boxes, it will cost significantly more.

Their interface is .. cumbersome at best. Their customer service is lacking.

It MAY be an alternative for some cases, but certainly not for the majority of cases. I know that Good Games Publishing used them for "Rest of World" fulfillment of a Kickstarter a few years back to good effect.

** (Quick edit here .. it looks like they've vastly improved since I last looked at them and DO offer better packaging and services specifically for board game fulfillment so certainly worth looking in to anyway) **

Didn't read through it yet,

Didn't read through it yet, but is that using the special postal rate that allows me to buy a $1 necklace shipped direct from China? They pay a few cents for small items from there to the US.

Wonder how much my new box will weigh.. probably under a kilo.

Mike is a smart guy!

He was looking into another service from Hong Kong (https://www.floship.com) which also sends DIRECT to customers. Avoiding the cost and time taken by Freight, avoiding the US Tariffs and offering competitive shipping costs with reliable fulfillment.

The ONLY down-side is that you REQUIRE 500+ Individual Backers. We've got almost 1,000 so it's feasible to use this service. They won't do it for KS which have less than 500 Backers.

But Send From China is still an option to be explored IF you want to save on Tariffs, have quicker delivery than boat (Freight) and maybe negotiate to have BOXES and not Bubble Enveloppes... TBH I doubt they'd send a 11" x 11" x 3" game in a Bubble Enveloppe. It just would not fit... But a custom box which is the same size (appx.) would seem realistic to me.

However this is just an assumption, I don't know about the costs...

For me personally, probably

For me personally, probably not an option for what I'm finishing up now. Nowhere near enough units to be worthwhile (certainly not 500). My next title is hopefully a card game, and hopefully will have more backers :)

Well whatever option Mike chooses...

I'll be sure to report the results here on BGDF. Our cost of shipping goods is about $20/unit. That's pretty high and is comprised of:

  • $3.50/unit for Freight.
  • $2.50/unit for Tariffs.
  • $14.00/unit for the actual Shipping (including Pick & Pack)

If you total these amount you get the $20/unit mentioned before. I just wanted to break it down to explain how we get that figure. It's pretty HIGH TBH! I think we could probably get something direct with a figure of around $15/unit... At least that is the goal.

How I get that figure???

Well we have about 1,000 units to ship. That's $20,000 in total and we'd look to reduce that cost to about $15,000 in total. It might be a pipe dream to think we can do this... But if we don't TRY, we will never know and of course neither will anyone else!

I'll be sure to post about the outcome and the decisions taken to reduce the overall cost of shipping.

Cheers.

Sounds about right, though

Sounds about right, though really you want your ship-to-customer cost separated from your ship-from-manufacturer-to-warehouse cost.

One is basically part of your COGS, and the other is postage you happen to be paying to get a unit to a particular customer.

I'm very curious to hear about the direct-from-China shipping, though.

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