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Where to Manufacture

7 replies [Last post]
Joined: 02/18/2010

We just returned from the Toy Fair and got our cord struck. We were told time and again that if we are going to be a successful business in the game industry, we MUST manufacture in China. Personally, I would regret sending more jobs to China when they are desperately needed here in the USA.

The root of the matter is: Does anyone really care if your game is made in the USA vs China?

Joined: 07/08/2009
There . . .

. . . have been some quality issues in China that I've read about. I'm sure some people here could go into plenty more detail :)

truekid games
truekid games's picture
Joined: 10/29/2008
manufacturing in china will

manufacturing in china will tend to give you a better profit margin for those large orders. if your goal is to be on the shelves of TRU and wal-mart, and you want to make as much profit as possible while doing so, china is probably your best bet. if your goal is to put a quality product on shelves, an american or german manufacturer will tend to be better for that (at least to begin with), but it will hurt your margins. as for your question- no, most consumers don't care where something is made.

if you're trying to take the high road, other goals could be "i want a game made entirely of recycled materials" or "i want to donate X% of profits to charity"... the more you try and do, the harder it will be. figure out what you want out of your game, and how much you're willing to risk to accomplish that, capital-wise.

Joined: 07/28/2008
China will most likely be

China will most likely be cheaper. But its not nearly as big a cost gap as it might otherwise seem. For instance, take the following into account.

1) liability. Send an order to a Chinese company and they cut and run with the money. What do you do? What recourse do you have? I just got done printing cards for someone who did an expensive job in China. The job was over budget on the production side in China, so the Chinese company opted to send the client their game, less all of the playing cards.

2) China is not as cheap as it once was. When I visited China back in 2005 the exchange rate was $1 = 8.19 yuan. Now $1 = 6.82 yuan. As the US dollar drops further and the Chinese economy continues to grow, expect that excgange range gap to close even further. So producing in China today is more expensive than it was in 2005. I expect it will be more expensive again by 2012 and beyond.

3) The busy factories in China can have long lead times. 4-8 week production windows.

4) Extending on #3, your product then gets to get on the slow boat from China. And understand that this cost of shipping is not typically included in the production quote given to you. This is an extra cost and it can add up. If asking for quotes from manufacturers there, require they include the shipping costs in the job bid and that they pay for and arrange shipping.

5) Further delays can be had a customs. And further costs are guaranteed. They need not be large costs if you know how to handle all of the paperwork (but that does take some studying) but will go up both in the event you need to hire a broker or if your shipment gets pegged for inspection.

So, for issues 3-5, think about all the smaller costs. Shipping, customs, longer production and delivery times. If you can get a run produced and turned around locally in 1 month but it takes you 3-4 months to get a run turned around from China, that is 3 months your money is tied up in production not working for you in other ways. That is a very real opportunity cost that you should attempt to peg a dollar figure to.

Lastly think about your future ordering needs. Lets say your game is successful. You're going to need to order more in the future. And you are going to work to produce more games too, most likely. If you configure everything spec and cost wise to come out of China, what happens in 2011 if the dollar drops and the Yuan rises and $1 is now equal to only $4 Yuan? Or $3?. What if your game is a hit and sells out fast and you need more fast to capitalize on your success? How many sales might be lost in those 3 extra months you are waiting on delivery from China?

The affordability of production out of China is a tempting draw, but if you are building a serious publishing company, you have to weigh all those other factors in as well. Maybe China will still be the better option, or maybe not, but take a step back from that raw production number and look at the broader picture before deciding.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group -
Guild of Blades Publishing Group -
1483 Online -

bluepantherllc's picture
Joined: 07/29/2008
Sourcing in China

We recently quoted several games with US, Chinese and German printers and compared them against our own in-house eosts. China starts looking reasonable at higher volumes, but the inability to completely identify or estimate shipping and/or customs placed a large question mark on the total cost.

In the end we went with a combination of outside suppliers and in-house capabilities. Ordering wood cubes from China was less expensive than Germany. Could not even find a US or Canadian source for these. The wood cubes were of fair quality - I have seen better in some German games, though. But the kicker was the fact that component cost ended up being perhaps 25% of the total cost - shipping and customs being the lion's share - Ryan's got a point there. If we ordered the entire game, shipping would not have been such a high percentage, though.

If you are self-publishing the real question is how much work are you willing to do on your own to save money? The same question that you could ask about any renovation project - want to install those floors yourself, or do you want to have it all done for you? Also, what about your design choices? Do you need Vegas casino quality cards, or are you willing to buy a die cutter and do some of the work yourself? Do you need the premium wood cubes - or can you get by with beads or plastic chips? There's one game whose name escapes me (by the same company that makes Indonesia), where they took square beads and made the hole in the bead part of the game. What's the difference between a cube-shaped bead and a wood cube with no hole in it? About 50% cheaper. Why? Probably because they make more beads than wood cubes. Maybe we should ask bead manufacturers for their "defective" beads - the ones with no holes? Do you need a custom box, or could you buy a stock box (like a candy box or a gift box) and use that?

These are all design tradeoffs, and everyone likes the feel and quality of the latest $60 Eurogame. But most of those $60 games had a few thousand copies printed so tooling and setup costs are nickels and quarters compared to the dollars per unit you would pay for self-publishing volumes.

Perhaps the best way to get great components for your game is to look at what other companies are using - perhaps you can leverage their volumes. Do you know someone at a game company? Are you a member of GAMA or the GPA? They can point you to good sources (or some of them can be good sources). And they're also great resources for finding out which manufacturers in the US, China or Europe are the ones that are good to do business with.

gameprinter's picture
Joined: 08/06/2008
bailoutgame wrote:We just

bailoutgame wrote:
We just returned from the Toy Fair and got our cord struck. We were told time and again that if we are going to be a successful business in the game industry, we MUST manufacture in China. Personally, I would regret sending more jobs to China when they are desperately needed here in the USA.

The root of the matter is: Does anyone really care if your game is made in the USA vs China?

In a nutshell: no.

The only market I've noticed where made in the USA seems to make a marketable difference is in war games. The rest of the time, I don't know that it makes an impact on sales at all. China will be cheaper, but harder to deal with for a first time publisher. US printing will be easier and faster, but more expensive. I've heard it said that everyone should get their first game made in the US and their subsequent games made in China, once they've learned some of the ins and outs.

Good luck!

melinda1970's picture
Joined: 12/12/2010
Ningbo Lijia Industry Co., Ltd.

try this company from China and need worry about quality and pricing:
contact: Melinda is one of their project managers.

Longpack's picture
Joined: 05/18/2011
Board Game Production

Yes, I agree. Most of the times, you can make your first batch in the states, and then subsequent game orders in China. Because normally your first batch will not be so much.

Ning Pan
Board Game Manufacturer from Shanghai, China.

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