This Week’s Roadtrip! #13

March 20, 2016 3 comments

A lot of people ask me, especially after they play, where or when can they buy the game. I thought I would take some time over the next few weeks to detail exactly what is going on behind the scenes as I move towards making manufacturing and publishing decisions. Here’s what I’ll be covering:

  • How do I get Roadtrip! Published? – this week
  • Getting Roadtrip! Made – 25 March
  • Getting Roadtrip! into your Hands (aka boring costs like shipping and taxes) – 1 April
  • When Will I Decide To Publish Roadtrip! (no matter the method)? – 15 May


New Prototype Pieces!
New Prototype Pieces!

So, exactly how do I get Roadtrip! published? There are two primary methods for publication of any game. First, a designer can sell the game to an established publisher. There are a lot of wonderful small publishers out there. Of course, this is the simplest method, though depending on the deal, not always the most rewarding both from monetary and ownership perspectives. However, it is certain cash in the bank and you become a published designer, which can be a major milestone in advancing a career. Second, a designer can bring her game to market herself. Crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter, exist to enable self-publication. However, this method involves a large time investment and steep learning curve, especially if the designer has never published before. All the details from art commission to editing, from CMYK color to component materials, and from PR to shipping and taxes (just to name a few details) must be handled by the designer herself. Yet, for many young designers self-publication is the only way to see a game published and thereby become recognized as a serious member of the community.

While I would not rule out Roadtrip! publication via an indie publisher, I recognize that it might not happen. So, though I have been out playtesting and networking, I have also been gathering a great deal of data on self-publication. For a designer in my financial position, I’ve two options: Print-On-Demand or Crowdfunding. To make the best decision, I need to understand about how many units I might sell:

Note that the cost/game presented below are estimated raw manufacturing costs only! It does not yet include such necessities as shipping, taxes, art, legal, etc… Those costs will be addressed in the article on April 1st.

< 150 games ($75/game). Print-On-Demand via a service like TheGameCrafter. The cost/unit will be a great deal higher, but at least I’ve got it out there, visible to potential buyers as a complete product. Plus, I don’t have to handle any of the manufacturing and shipping details. I just have to upload my files and set up an online shop. Of course, this also means that the components are restricted by what the print-on-demand service has to offer, so the game could take on a less boutique feeling. At GameCrafter for example, one difference would mean using standees (cardboard punchouts) instead of molded cars for player vehicles.

150 < & < 1000 ($30/game). Crowdfunding via a few smaller manufacturers. To manufacture at this level, I’d need to price out individual components through a couple manufacturers that are more local (e.g. USA vs China). With more control over components, I’d be able to produce the game with more unique pieces. A molded car for a player vehicle and meeple tents for destination markers become possible, and feasible. However, if you order from various manufacturers at this level, you are also going to have to personally assemble each game.

1,000 < games ($10-20/game). Crowdfunding via a single manufacturer like Panda. Once you need to manufacture more than 1,000 games, larger bulk orders become much more attractive. Really, most all-in-one manufacturers prefer orders in excess of 2,500 units to minimize production/unit costs. While many of these manufacturers can include a wide range of components to fit your need, sometimes, you may still be better off getting a couple components made elsewhere. If you really sell 2,500+, you should add a distributor to the equation then too. Overall, however, this number of games will cost you more bring to market, so your crowdfunding campaign has to have a higher funding goal. A higher funding goal means you need to be very confident that you’ll bring in the backers. Additionally, you may find yourself in a position to get stuck with an extra 500+ games in your garage!

All of this said, I think that my current demand rests in the middle level of between 200-500 games, which points towards a crowdfunding campaign for $20,000. Of course, by the time I need to make the decision, my PR efforts via VickieGames and ‘pavement-pounding’ may push that figure into a different category. In the meantime, you can see approximately what the raw manufacturing costs would be. Remember, however, that raw manufacturing cost does not yet include other fixed costs (like art) or other per unit costs (like taxes and shipping). But that is a different conversation for a different day.

Destination Card Redesign
Destination Card Redesign


  • A Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide – Jamie Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games recently put out a tremendous book on crowdfunding that I highly recommend. It was compiled from the incredible amount of information on the Stonemaier blog, which is worth a deep dive!
  • The GameCrafter – Thanks again for some great prototype pieces! It may have seemed from my figures above that I gave Print-on-Demand companies a bad rap. That is not my intention at all! For a complicated game like Roadtrip! ordering less than 100 units is usually cost prohibitive no matter where you order. Note that if I were to order 100+ games from them, the cost would be on target for $30/game.
  • The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire – My friends at Minion Games currently have a fantastic Kickstarter ongoing. I’ve seen this game played, and I highly recommend you give them your support. They’ve got a couple low pledge levels too for those of you with a tight budget.
  • Godsfall – In my ongoing quest to unearth great RPG podcasts out there, I’ve recently stumbled upon this crew out of DC. Episode 15!!! Need I say more?!

Coming soon on VickieGames…

  • Next week: Getting Roadtrip! Made – components decisions and their pricing.
  • More Tips & Tricks from a Female GM – have a few more ideas to share and an update of my last post
  • The First Fifty Playtests – thoughts about what I’ve learned after 50 playtests of Roadtrip!
  • Demographics?! What should a designer know about that marketing stuff?

3 Comments on “This Week’s Roadtrip! #13

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