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My Review of The Game Crafter

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bluebright
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Click below to see the full post with photos...
http://www.mothership-game.com/my-experience-with-the-game-crafter/

But if you can't be stuffed reading it here's verdict:

Overall, I recommend The Game Crafter wholeheartedly for a great prototype. The main areas where they fall short is the box folding and gluing. I also hold back from recommending it for commercial sales and actually making a profit as the price per component is a little on the high side (they gotta make a buck too). But hey! You don’t care about money do you?

Pros:
Cards look great,
Colour matching is great
Quad fold game board is good
Card drift was better than expected

Cons:
Box folding can use some more attention
Some cutting could be improved to reduce fraying
Prices are a little high if you want to make a profit (so only use for prototypes).

Soulfinger
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In terms of components, they

In terms of components, they do offer bulk pricing, although their rates are steeper than other wholesalers. Mostly, it's that their bulk pricing hits the ceiling at 1k, whereas other vendors have a better economy of scale with further breaks at 10k, 50k, 100k, and such. Breaking it down with 7/8" bingo chips (the larger kind), for example:

Game Crafter charges $0.0634 ea for 1-9 and $0.0098 ea for 1k or more.

They cost 0.0264 each just buying a pack of 150 off the shelf at Walmart. Buying from an online retailer like us-bingo.com runs $0.017 ea.

Domestic wholesalers sell them for about 0.0085 ea for 1k, 0.00645 ea for 10k, or 0.00585 ea for 100k. I'm sure that you can get a lower price ordering direct from China.

All-in-all, in terms of price, even on small volume prototyping components, I can get a lot of Gamecrafter's components at around the same price out of the bins at our local educational supply store without the need for paying S&H. For value though, I typically hit up the big chain craft stores that offer 40+% off coupons . . . or I just steal my bingo tokens from the local nursing home while I'm looting their bottles of Ziprasidone and Olanzapine.

bluebright
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Yeah look I know they can't

Yeah look I know they can't compete with overseas wholesalers. I had a quote of $13 USD for all printed components vs GC's $40 USD but I guess those are the breaks.

questccg
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You may be able to negotiate even better...

$13 USD for a game seems rather HIGH. I would CAP it at $10.00. Using traditional sales/distribution, your MSRP should be 5x your cost to produce.

5x $13.00 = $65.00. That's quite expensive for a retail game.

But again it depends on the game itself... and the components.

Just a FYI - you may not even be considering traditional channels for sales/distribution and so that price might be okay.

But just remember the more you produce (runs), the odds are the price will go UP from $13.00 to $14 - 15... As the manufacturer will tell you the price of paper has gone up, parts are costing more because of fluctuating plastic, etc.

Note: About the fluctuating prices that's Hamish (HPS74) that told me that his price per game always seems in flux. The manufacturer always has some cost increase when he places orders... So you should be aware of this also...

firstcultural
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I've used TGC for a few games

I've used TGC for a few games and I'm very satisfied with their quality. The price is high but pretty good for Made in USA and the turnaround time is good, typically 2-3 weeks. They've recently added a "rush order" option as well where for double the price you can get it right away.

One thing the pricing does is it makes me think strategically about how to minimize the number of components a game needs - which I find helps make it more elegant and easier to learn as well.

designbomb
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I've only ever ordered

I've only ever ordered components, game pieces, bags, etc. from The Game Crafter. Love their service and prices are decent.

I hope to use their direct print service soon on a card game I'm working on.

Soulfinger
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bluebright wrote:Yeah look I

bluebright wrote:
Yeah look I know they can't compete with overseas wholesalers. I had a quote of $13 USD for all printed components vs GC's $40 USD but I guess those are the breaks.

You are also going to get a better price sourcing from a domestic wholesaler, but really, it's apples and oranges. GC is for one-off prototyping and vanity publication. Wholesalers are for commercial production.

The ones in the best position are the people with the expertise and resources to do all of this at home, often because the tools of the trade are part of their day job. The gold standard for home prototyping is something like this:

http://opinionatedgamers.com/2012/08/02/professional-looking-prototype-c...

That guy's printer is worth several thousand dollars, but quality work can still be accomplished at home with much more modest resources.

The Game Crafter
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Thanks for the review!

Hi Bluebright,

Thanks for taking the time to provide a detailed and honest review of our service. We know there are lots of other things you could be spending your time on so we greatly appreciate it you doing this.

We follow lots of different websites/forums and we do actively listen to feedback/comments from our community members. Thanks for letting us know where you think we can improve. I'll definitely share this with my partners.

There are several people in the community that are able to generate a healthy profit using our print on demand service. The trick (for them) is that they purchase in bulk and are able to sell units at game conventions, their websites, etc... That helps to bring down the price point some and allows them to make a better margin. POD is certainly more expensive per unit vs traditional print runs but those have tremendous upfront risk and their own set of issues. POD is not for everyone but it does have it's place for some designers.

Thanks for your willingness to recommend us. We'll keep making improvements to the service/products based on the community's needs and feedback. Cheers!

Regards,

Tavis Parker
The Game Crafter

The Game Crafter
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An interesting video (and article) about making prototypes

Hey Soulfinger,

We actually watched a video on youtube of people making their own high end custom game prototypes and we were impressed. Our CEO, JT Smith, decided he would invest some time into analyzing what they did and what it cost them versus using The Game Crafter. I think you might find it an interesting video and article.

You can watch it at http://news.thegamecrafter.com/post/132609398966/this-is-a-fascinating-v...

Regards,

Tavis Parker
The Game Crafter

Soulfinger
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The Game Crafter wrote:We

The Game Crafter wrote:
We actually watched a video on youtube of people making their own high end custom game prototypes and we were impressed. Our CEO, JT Smith, decided he would invest some time into analyzing what they did and what it cost them versus using The Game Crafter. I think you might find it an interesting video and article.

I totally agree with you. Like I said, the people in the best position to do this already have the proper skill set and resources at home, typically because they are in a compatible line of work. The guy in my link has ridiculously expensive and specialized equipment worth thousands of dollars as part of his home office. He indicates that he hopes to get a light table, worth a couple thousand more, for his birthday. That's a far cry from someone using freeware art software and a $50 inkjet.

Don't get me wrong. If I call GC a "vanity press," that's not something I intend as an insult. I used to work for a vanity POD service, and I recognize the worth. You fill a very important niche when it comes to production options for aspiring designers. For prototyping at home though, I consider it an investment for people who are company-building, as opposed to prototyping a game to pitch it elsewhere or planning a one-shot campaign. That's just aspiring for an economy of scale that is serviced by a different segment of the industry. You want to ultimately have a certain degree of self-sufficiency for in-house work in that case.

More than that though, some people just enjoy all aspects of production. It can be more fun than the actual game design. I lay out game components and produce prototype materials at home for no other reason than to maintain my design skills. Even so, yeah, it would be exciting to get a box from you guys in the mail. It's just that the part of this sort of business I really, really miss the most is ordering a dozen bulk bags of 10k+ components each and sourcing locally where I sit down with the printer over a light table to go over mock-ups. The aspects of production that you guys handle for your customers are the best part of the hobby for me.

richdurham
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The worth of TGC to me

When I'm asking for blind-testing, it's a lot more to ask of the testers to have to assemble a complicated Print and Play. And since I live in New Zealand, it's very expensive to assemble and mail copies to the many US based reviewers and designers.

For this alone, i love TGC.

And professionally, TGC works well for it's very fast turnaround compared to an offset printer. Recently I had an order of 200 games to be shipped to a conference. A delay in the production process (outsourced due to bulk to provide, ironically, speed) was discovered after it would be too late for the games to make it to the conference in time.

TGC went above and beyond after consideration that it should have been communicated better. At their expense, TGC air-express shipped the games in time for the conference. It saved the day from failure.

With my upcoming client-related projects, it's often unwise to order 1000 copies of a game and have them stored in a client's warehouse. These aren't meant for consumer retail, so why keep them around?

TGC offers a very professional feeling product (especially to clients not used to kickstarter-stretchgoal funded quality), and the ability to produce relatively small quantities is perfect. The people I make games for only need 20-200 copies of a game at a time, for internal distribution or because they use them for small programmes.

I will continue to suggest TGC as a printer for titles printing less than 500 copies. I know they'll take care of me, which in turn helps me take care of the people I'm designing for.

questccg
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TGC is *fantastic* for prototypes

Soulfinger wrote:
It's just that the part of this sort of business I really, really miss the most is ordering a dozen bulk bags of 10k+ components each and sourcing locally where I sit down with the printer over a light table to go over mock-ups. The aspects of production that you guys handle for your customers are the best part of the hobby for me.

True Soulfinger you have a point. Del Laird got me plastic cubes he ordered from China. Anyhow I decided to buy the cubes for about $40.00 USD. Not too much but those cubes came in perfectly for when my game sets were made for reviewers.

Although I used TGC for the cards and the boxes, I bought my own parts (like the cubes and dice). It's not because TGC didn't offer a good deal on those parts, I just wanted different options (like Chessex dice - nice dice for the reviewers). And Del's ice cubes are nicer than the one from TGC (IMHO clearer - he had them all made custom).

Anyhow putting the reviewer sets was a lot of fun. I also had the game pad that was a separate print run from TGC also. So I had to wait for the cards, then the boxes and lastly the game pads. I also had to go to local game stores to buy my dice. Which fortunately worked out!

So I understand having to do this for a limited set of game - but I would never want to handle more than 50 boxes. Just too much effort and shipping costs would be disastrous. But definitely get what you mean about "putting it all together".

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