Do The Math

Running a campaign is like running a business. You’ll need to figure out your overhead, your cost of goods, your cost of fulfillment, and of course eek out a profit. There are so many factors involved that you can easily go crazy or even bankrupt yourself if you’re not careful. 


The cost of your product will vary with the quantity you get manufactured, and where you get it manufactured. 

You’ll get quotes from lots of places to manufacture your game, with The Game Crafter being among them. You’ll want to base your campaign around the minimum amount you’re manufacturing to be successful. For example, if you go to a vendor in China and get a quote of $5 each for 2500 copies, or $7 each for 1500 copies or $11 each for 500 copies then you’ll want to plan your campaign around your funding goal. Do you want to consider yourself successful at 1500 copies? Then you’ll need to raise $10,500 just to cover the cost of the games and nothing else. 

If The Game Crafter can produce 100 copies for $15 per copy, and you choose that as your funding goal then you’d only need to raise $1,500 to be successful. Which is easier? We think it’s pretty obvious which makes more sense.  The cost per copy is way higher, but you need to sell less to be successful. In addition, if you happen to hit one of the higher levels quoted by another manufacturer you can always use them, because your budget was built around $15 per copy, but you’ll have some extra profit by going to larger quantities. 

Import Duties and Freight

If you’re getting your games manufactured overseas, make sure you find out what the shipping costs will be as well as any taxes or import duties you’ll need to pay. As long as you include them in your budget this won’t be a big deal, but if you forget to include them it could destroy your hope of profit. 

Stretch Goals

Figure out your stretch goals well in advance of your campaign, and price them into your project. If possible, include them in the base cost of the product. For example, if your game will cost $15 per copy to manufacture, and you have 3 stretch goals that will cost you $1 each, then the cost of your total product is $18. 

Some stretch goals may not work in that model. They’ll increase the cost of the product too much, so you’ll need to rely upon volume pricing to be able to afford those stretch goals. Let’s say you don’t want to include the stretch goals in the cost of the base game. The stretch goals still cost $1 each, and the game costs $15. You can determine on The Game Crafter’s site that you’ll get an extra $3.75 off the cost of your game if you reach 250 copies. That would cover the cost of your stretch goals and give you an extra $0.75 profit. 


Shipping is easily the trickiest part of any campaign. You need to figure out what the cost of shipping your game will be no matter where in the world you’ll be shipping it. 

The Game Crafter’s BOF system makes this easy. The default orders.csv file provided by the BOF system will give you sample addresses around the world so you can see what it might cost to ship your game to many locations.

Once you know what the most expensive shipping cost is in the United States, build that into the cost of your game. Let’s say the most expensive shipping is $7.45, so we’ll say that the cost per copy of our game is now $23 ($7.45 + $15 rounded up). It’s very important that you build the cost of shipping into your backer pledge levels. Consumers have come to expect “Free Shipping,” which is of course a myth. Free shipping just means shipping has been built into the cost of the product. This is one of the primary reasons that shipping gets super complicated.

When we’re calculating the shipping to other countries, we can subtract $8 from the cost of shipping. Therefore if it costs $30 to ship to Germany, then the cost of shipping the game for Germans will $22 (because we can subtract the $8 we’ve got built into the game). You’ll likely need to create a table of shipping prices to other countries and tell your backers to add extra to their pledge for international shipping.

Another big thing that people forget to calculate into their pledge levels is the change of the weight of shipping for their added stretch goals. This can dramatically affect the cost of shipping, especially internationally. So if you add any stretch goals, you need to recalculate your shipping costs to account for that weight difference. 


A lot of fledgling designers make deals with artists to get all the art they need. They’ll promise $1 per copy to those designers or something like that. So you need to include the price of any royalties in your budget. This will bring our cost per copy to $24 per game.


No matter how strong your urge is to price your game as cheap as possible, DO NOT DO ALL THIS WORK FOR FREE.  At the very least you need to build in a buffer in case you make any mistakes along the way, or if anything unexpected comes up. We recommend adding a minimum of $1 to $2 per game profit, and more than that if you can force yourself to do it. Let’s proceed with the idea you’ll add $2 profit, so your cost per copy is now $26.

Kickstarter & Credit Card Fees

Kickstarter takes 5%, and credit card processors like Amazon take another 5%. Therefore you’ll need to build in an extra 10% to your pledge levels to cover these costs. However, you can’t simply add 10%, here’s why.

$26 + 10% ($2.60) = $28.60

However, Kickstarter takes 10% of your pledge level, they don’t add 10% to your pledge level. So if you take 10% of $28.60 it looks like this:

$28.60 - 10% ($2.86) = $25.74 

You’ll note that $25.74 is cheaper than your $26 cost. So when you generate your pledge levels, make sure you’re using the following formula to add your Kickstarter fees to your costs.

price = cost / 0.9  = $26 / 0.9 = $28.89

That will ensure you’ve covered your cost. From there round up to the nearest dollar or $5 interval to set your price ($29 or $30 will be the pledge level). 

Check It Twice

Once you’ve done all the match, check everything again, and again, and again. You can never check things too many times, or have too many people look over your numbers. Remember, if you get one little thing wrong, it can go from being success to failure. So do the work up-front and enjoy the experience later.

This article is part of our ongoing series on How To Run A Kickstarter. Next time we talk about planning stretch goals.

JT @ Protospiel

JT will be at Protospiel this weekend. For those who are unfamiliar, Protospiel is pretty much the biggest event in the board game design world.  So if you like playing new games, getting your game tested, or just hanging out in a world filled with ideas, you should be there. As always, we’ll be sending a bunch of TGC SWAG with JT. Stop by and say hello.

Am I ready to run a campaign?

After you’re sure your game is a good one to kickstart, but before you start down this path, you should ask yourself if you’re really ready for it. You need to be able to answer ‘yes’ to every one of these questions:

Am I willing to commit a minimum of 30 hours per week for the next 3 months to this? - You’ll need a month before the campaign to prepare, a month of the campaign, and at least a month after the campaign to handle surveys and start the fulfillment process. 30 hours per week is the minimum you’ll need. In many cases you’ll need 40 or 50 hours per week.

Am I good in high stress situations? - You’ll have the stress of people asking questions. You’ll have naysayers and trolls telling you how they would change your campaign, your artwork, and your game. You’ll have the stress of “will I make it?” And you’ll have the stress of doing a lot of extra work while still keeping up with all the normal activities of your daily life.

Am I good at customer service? - You’ll have lots of people asking all kinds of questions and making all kinds of demands. Some people won’t receive their game due to shipping problems. Some people won’t like your game after they get it. Some people may receive a defective copy. How will you handle all these situations and more?

NOTE: If you use The Game Crafter’s Bulk Order Fulfillment (BOF) service many of these customer service problems will be easily resolved. For example, if a customer has a shipping problem or receives a defective copy, then The Game Crafter will help you figure out what happened and will bend over backwards to help make it right with your customer. 

Am I good at managing a budget? - A campaign can go from sheer joy to sheer terror if you make a mistake in your budget and have to come up with money out of pocket to fulfill the rewards.

Do I like my house being taken over by piles of games and shipping materials? - At the end of the campaign you’ll need to fulfill the orders, and that can take a month of long nights in your basement packing up boxes, and generating shipping labels. Not to mention that your house will be overrun by a bunch of extra stuff until you are done (unless you have a big empty space in your house). 

NOTE: If you use The Game Crafter’s Bulk Order Fulfillment (BOF) service then fulfillment is completely transparent to you. TGC will do all the work at no extra cost to you (other than shipping fees charged by USPS).

This is part of our ongoing series on How To Run A Kickstarter. Next time we’ll talk about the math behind a successful campaign.

Chevee says: “I want to take print and play to the next level: print and give away. Yep, coming this fall, my next game, Me Booty! will be given away 100% free! Keep on reading to find out how you can score yourself a copy of this game.

The Game Crafter community has created over 50,000 games!

We’re pleased to announce that The Game Crafter community has created over 50,000 different game projects on its servers! This is an amazing accomplishment because the community is only 5 years old! In that brief time frame, we’ve watched dozens of games receive publishing deals and designers successfully raise over a million dollars on Kickstarter. It’s been a fun ride so far!

When launched in July 2009, it was tough to predict what the demand would be for such a service/community. But, there are now over 53,000 users around the world that use The Game Crafter to turn their ideas into games.

The Game Crafter is many things. It’s an incubator for new game ideas, a printing/fulfillment partner, a supportive and experienced community of game designers, a collection of helpful game design resources, and an international marketplace of indie board games.

We’d like to thank YOU, our awesome community, for supporting us over the years and helping us create something really special here. Can you imagine where we will be in another 5 years?  :)

New Auction Available - Be A Featured Designer at Gen Con


You can hang out at The Game Crafter community booth and pitch your games to all walkers by at Gen Con 2014. We’ll also push people your way. If you want to get your name out there or promote an upcoming Kickstarter, this is amazing opportunity.

If you win this auction we’ll give you a table and four chairs at our booth from 10am to 2pm on Friday at Gen Con 2014. We’ll also push passers by to your table, and you’ll be mentioned in many of our Gen Con blog posts. The auction ends Friday, June 26 at noon.

Click here to visit the auction and place your bid!

NOTE: Badge to enter the convention is sold separately, this is just to be a guest exhibitor at our booth.

Race to Earth 2: The Strategic Space Board Game

by Popcorn Sunshine Games

Blast off on the race to reach Earth 2 in this easy to learn and strategic space themed board game for 2-6 players.
Race to earth 2 is on kickstarter puppet clip by - Crazy Joe

Key Design Features:
- Engaging space theme, Race to the finish objective, Simple roll and move gameplay, (Take That) Card play mechanics, Strategic decision making, Unique gravitational pull feature, and an Opportunity to learn some astronomy and use simple mathematics.

Support Race to Earth 2 on Kickstarter Today! 

Is my game good to kickstart?

Before you do anything else, understand that not every game is a good project for a Kickstarter. And if this is your first or second campaign, even less games are a good fit. 

Appeal and Audience

In order to be successful on a crowd funding campaign, your game must either have broad appeal, or niche appeal. For example, games with pretty art and a Tolkien-ish fantasy theme will appeal to a great many people. 

However, it can work just as well if it targets a niche as long as that niche is large enough. For example, if you design a game about teaching people Japanese, like Bernhard Hamaker did with Japanese: The Game, then you’re targeting a very small subset of the population that want to learn Japanese. However, that subset is quite motivated to learn, which means they’re willing to put some money behind that effort. 

Despite the success of Japanese: The Game, educational games are generally a quite tough sell in any market, and Kickstarter is no exception. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is that educational games are almost never any fun. In order to entertain you often have to tread far away from the detail and minutia involved in learning. This is why educational television is filled with reality shows and historical dramas that are only tangentially related to education. 

Costs vs Potential Backers

If a game is very large, or needs a lot of custom miniatures, or tons of expensive artwork then those things can very easily push it out of the realm of possibility. Backers don’t just flock to your game just because you happen to run a Kickstarter. Your initial backers will come from your friends, family, and social networks (both online and offline). If you need $30,000 worth of art just to make the game work, then you’ve likely priced yourself out of what you can realistically achieve in your first campaign. The smaller funding goal you can make on your first campaign the better chance of success, because you will not have nearly as many backers on your first campaign as you do on subsequent campaigns in most situations.

Custom Plastic / Wood / Metal

If your game needs custom plastic, wood, or metal bits then that is almost always a death knell to a first-time campaign. The reason is that the cost of moulds and tooling for those pieces is relatively high. For example, one mould by a Chinese manufacturer will likely run you $5,000. That $5,000 doesn’t get you any components, it’s just the cost of the tool that is needed to make the component. So that means you’ll need to raise $5,500 worth of funding (due to Kickstarter / Credit Card fees) to NOT send your customers a single game. 

There are of course exceptions to this. Sometimes the bits are so cool that lots of people will back the project because they think the custom miniatures are ridiculously cool. The question you need to ask yourself is “Do I want to risk the success of my campaign on custom bits?”

Move Forward Criteria

Generally speaking smaller card, tile, or board games with fewer components are best for an initial campaign. You should do your best to have stellar artwork that appeals to people on a primal level. Your game should either appeal to a huge audience, or a niche audience that you already belong to and can motivate to purchase easily.

In our next article we’ll talk about whether you are ready to be a kickstarter campaigner. Stay tuned.

How To Run A Kickstarter

Starting today we’re going to start a new series on our blog called “How To Run A  Kickstarter”. This will eventually be the basis of a guide we publish for those of you who want to run a Kickstarter through The Game Crafter, but just aren’t quite sure how to go about it. Some of the topics we plan to cover are as follows:

  • Is my game good to kickstart? 
  • Am I ready to run a campaign?
  • Do The Math
  • Plan Your Stretch Goals
  • Set a Funding Goal
  • Pre-Promotion
  • Pledge Levels
  • Build Your Kickstarter Page
  • Do The Math Again
  • Prelaunch Checklist
  • Launching Your Campaign
  • The First 72 hours
  • Promoting Your Campaign
  • Dealing With Trolls (And Gollums) 
  • The Last 72 hours
  • Surveys
  • Fulfillment
  • Customer Service
  • Future Campaigns

We, by no means, have all the answers. Nor does anyone really. Our goal is to present you with the knowledge we have earned through running our past three crowd funding campaigns, and helping a few dozen other people fulfill theirs. Stay tuned for the first article in a few hours. This is going to be a wild ride. Oh, and feel free to ask questions along the way!

The Flux Capacity Challenge Winner

Hello Game Crafter Community!

First and foremost, I would like to take a moment to thank all of the participants in this contest.  It was a first for us and initially I was a bit nervous to see what would come of the submissions, but I was quickly surprised and impressed at how great the designs were, how nice a lot of the artwork was and of course appreciated the incredible amount of work that went into each and every game we got to check out.  Next I would like to offer a congratulations to Daniel Schroeder for coming in first place after the scoring.  His game design (Jotunn) was very well developed, had great artwork and presentation and had one of the clearest rulesets overall (something we certainly appreciated during the play tests). We are looking forward to continue the development and production of this game with Daniel.  To all of the other participants, keep up the great work and your involvement in The Game Crafter community and I’m looking forward to seeing some great designs in the future.

Looking forward to the next contest, 


Final Scoring Spreadsheet

We thought this was a very interesting article about board game design and we appreciated seeing several references to The Game Crafter! :)

Click here to read the full article