So, you want to publish a board game?

To some, the idea of publishing can sound daunting, while others might be excited to explore a new realm of experiences. Whichever side you find yourself on, you may not fully understand the extents you must go to in order to achieve your goal. There are multiple paths to choose from, so knowing your options is a great first step in the right direction.

A few (but not all) of your options are:

  1. Short-run self-publish
  2. Mass-market self-publish
  3. Licensing
  4. Digital
  5. Print & Play
  6. A mix of these choices

Many factors come in to play when first trying to decide between these options, but some of the most important are:

  1. Financing
  2. Motivation
  3. End goal

But before you ever reach these choices, you need a game!

Now, a quick Google search will bring you to a smorgasbord of articles heavily dedicated to the subject of “How to make a board game,” so I’ll save you the redundancy. However, if you have not yet familiarized yourself with the development process of designing your own board game, then use this article for future planning, and save it to review once you’ve reached the point of deciding how you wish to publish.

Now, let’s review your options and how they correlate to your factors.

Financing: This is one of the most, if not “the” most, important factor in deciding to publish your own game. Without financing, your board game can never transition from thought to print. Whether that financing comes from your own pocket, investors, crowdfunding backers, gifts from family and friends, or robbing a bank (I do not condone this method) it is impossible to move forward without it.

Motivation: No, I don’t mean your desire to publish. I mean the reason you want to publish. Are you just looking to get a few of your game concepts out into the field and build a name for yourself as a designer, or are you looking to start your own product line to sell through retail and wholesale channels? You have a few different paths you can take, depending on your answer.

End Goal: While this may overlap with motivation, it’s still important enough to address on its own. Some designers prefer to stay out of the business side of publishing, while others dive right in. You should address your end goal from the very start, because it will define the blueprint you need to get started.

Now let’s look at our options:

Short-run self-publishing: This is potentially the simplest of the self-publishing options. Companies like The Game Crafter, Board Games Maker, and Print & Play Games cater to short-run self-publishing here in the United States, offering excellent quality and the expense of… well, expense. They are not as cost effective as mass-producing your game in a dedicated overseas facility, but they can help you avoid many of the large upfront costs needed to publish your first game.

Let’s say your expendable cash is non-existent, but you’ve managed to scrounge together enough money to pay a generous artist to produce the artwork for your game. Or, perhaps you are blessed with artistic talent and your game is now print-ready. Congrats! A company like The Game Crafter provides you an option to begin selling your game without stocking or storing large quantities of it in your spare closet. Simply upload your art, order a printed proof, and within a couple of weeks you’re ready to start promoting your game for sale. Hurray! The largest caveat to using this method is that the cost of printing (aka: your overhead) is high, so your profit per item will be low, despite charging a premium when compared to similar size games produced using Mass-market self-publishing. That’s a segway!

Mass-market self-publishing: This method involves contracting with a manufacturer (typically overseas) that specializes in board games. Companies like Panda and Admagic have representatives in the United States who help facilitate the process, breaking down language barriers, but they charge a much higher rate due to their involvement. Speaking directly to companies like Whatz Games and Mojang can save you quite a bit of money, but it does involve some careful communication and a bit of acceptance for minor mistakes. In full disclosure, I often print with Whatz Games, and their final product is always top-notch.

You’ll need to be a registered business, but a simple DBA (doing business as) will do just fine. This method will have you wearing the hat of not just a board game designer, but of a quote negotiator as well as an international importer. You will be requesting quotes from manufacturers to find the best deal. Then, you’ll be requesting freight quotes to have your game shipped by sea or air. Unless your game is smaller than a standard deck of cards, the cost of air shipment is many times what you will pay by sea. The benefit to air is how quick it will arrive, since most freight by sea can take 30–60 days or more depending on circumstances.

Falling back to the subject of financing, this method requires a lot. Most manufacturers have a minimum of 1,000 units to be produced, although you might find some of the more competitive newer manufacturers willing to allow 500 to earn your business. I find it hard to recommend less than 1,000 units, since that is where you really start to benefit from quantity discounts. This cost will be a quarter of what companies like The Game Crafter can offer for similar quantities. But even if your game only costs $4.00 per unit to produce, that adds up to $4,000 for 1,000 units, plus additional fees for boxing, securing to a pallet, and delivering to the docks to prepare for freight.

Speaking of freight, it is definitely a major contributor to overhead. When I produced my first game in 2019, the cost to move 1,000 units set me back nearly a grand, plus customs fees. Today, that same quote is over double! The sea freight industry has been a mess for some time. From cargo ship backups, dock delays, and issues due to Covid-19, we’ve been experiencing some of the highest shipping rates in decades, with little sign of costs returning to normal. I know, normal is subjective, but it is difficult to swallow paying double, or in some instances triple, the cost of your initial production. Ranting aside, these items all add up to what you will eventually call the real “cost” of your game.

Now, let’s once again say your expendable cash is non-existent, but you’ve managed to put together a complete game. If you don’t have the financial standing to support the costs involved with producing a game, then you are exactly in my shoes. When I released my first game, Beasts: Edge of Extinction, I was barely supporting myself, let alone a game production. Despite this, I somehow scrounged together the money to pay Alisha Volkman to produce some fantastic art, while I used my own graphic design skills to put it all together into a neat little package.

But how did I afford to go from barely supporting myself to having a pallet of games delivered to my doorstep? Crowdfunding! I took a chance and created a campaign on Kickstarter that, thankfully, funded successfully on the first try. This was not without effort, however, as I had spent the last year and a half wearing yet another hat in marketing and advertising. I placed ads on social media, printed dozens of pre-production copies through The Game Crafter to send to game previewers to produce videos, and I showed off my game at popular gaming conventions. However, I did not properly plan for all of these expenses, and set myself back nearly $7,000 in credit card debt before I ever even started my campaign.

Unless you’re in a great financial state (which I was not,) you’re probably saying to yourself “wait, that’s a lot of money!” and you’re right, it is. Had I known then what I know now, I would have been more meticulous with my finances. Thankfully, in the years since that first campaign, sales of Beasts: Edge of Extinction have provided a fair amount of profit. Failing to create a proper financial plan from the start became a hard pill to swallow. I learned my lesson for you, so hopefully you don’t need to experience the same shock.

This story wasn’t an attempt to persuade you away from crowdfunding, as I’ve had two additional successful campaigns since and will continue to use it for upcoming projects. However, it was a warning that unless you’re ready, willing, and most importantly “capable” of wearing the hats of multiple job positions on your own, then things can easily get away from you.

Let’s review all those hats again:

  1. Game designer
  2. Print buyer
  3. Quote negotiator
  4. International importer
  5. Marketing / Advertiser
  6. Accountant
  7. Crowdfunder

That’s a lot of hats! Honestly, I probably could have broken this down further, as some jobs sit in-between the lines of these categories. But you get the picture, I hope.

Licensing: In contrast to mass-market or even short-run self-publishing, this is certainly the simplest, but not the easiest option. Confused? Let me explain. Licensing is essentially leasing your game concept to another company to produce, and they pay you a percentage based on the number of items produced. This usually involves little-to-no additional work on your behalf, other than hiring a lawyer to review your contract and ensure you regain your rights to the intellectual property when the terms conclude. Better yet, most publishers prefer to use (and maintain the rights to) their own art, so you can typically get away with using concept art in your pitches instead of paying an artist.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “this sounds great!” and it is, in a way. You can spend your time focusing on designing games, and not on wearing 6+ other hats. So what’s the catch? Well, you’ll only be paid an average of 5% of the MSRP they sell your game at, and typically only when they sell. That means that unless your game is the next Wingspan, you’ll get small checks (or likely bank transfers) every month. Of course, this varies based on the publisher, but it is a good starting point to understand what financial gains you can expect from your intellectual property.

In addition, publishers hear pitches from aspiring game designers on a daily basis. I personally know more designers who have never received a licensing offer, despite countless pitches for really innovative games (Bloodrunes comes to mind) than the contrary. Even though the board game industry is small, it is very competitive, and unless you still have a bit of emphasis on wearing a marketing hat to make your pitch stand out, it may get overlooked.

Digital: This is a realm I am personally yet to dive into. Not for lack of desire, but yet again, lack of financing. The thought of bringing Beasts: Edge of Extinction to the app marketplace is very enticing. But so far, my inquiries into companies offering to facilitate such a development have quoted in 5-figures. Something my little indie publishing company, Riftway Games, just cannot afford.

Does this mean you shouldn’t go this route? Of course not! If you have the financing to support the development and advertising needed to keep it going, then you’re 90% closer to succeeding than most (including myself) reading this article. Keep in mind, these expenses are continuous, and as seen with the defunct RWBY deck building app, when it is no longer profitable, it will disappear, unlike a physical card game.

Print & Play: Last but certainly not least, print & play games are extremely popular, especially for gamers on a budget or in remote locations with limited access to games. Your main overhead is the cost of artwork (unless you do it yourself) and marketing if you plan to sell it.

If you just want to get your game out there and don’t care about making money from it, sites like PnP Paradise offer you a built-in community of print & play gamers who are dedicated to the craft. If you are hoping to monetize on your creation (and I fully support this route) then PnP Arcade is a popular site that will display your print & play game alongside numerous others for a reasonable profit share.

Some very popular games started as print & plays: Secret Hitler, Sprawlopolis, and Black Sonata, to name a few. Some designers use the success of their print & plays to justify a traditional short-run or mass-market print production.

Conclusion: It’s up to you to decide which route is best for your project, but I hope these brief incites mixed with my own personal experiences can help guide you on your journey to game publishing.

The views and opinions expressed within this article are that of my own, and only that, views and opinions. I do not guarantee any information to be accurate or factual at the time of reading.

See us at Aggiecon 52 – College Station, TX

Tickets on sale NOW

Click here to view schedule

AggieCon is the oldest, largest student-run fan convention in the world! We like to call ourselves a “congloma-con.” We cater to all fandoms, including Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Gaming, Horror, Anime, and many more.

The convention is proudly run by Cepheid Variable, one of the oldest Texas A&M student organizations devoted to the support and promotion of all things geeky.

Ticket are currently on sale and can be purchased via the link above.

Join us at BGG Con 2022 in Dallas, TX

November 9-13, over five days and nights, BGG.Con attendees are going to venture in the unknown and explore the variety of flora and fauna of boardgames. As per usual, the joy of the journey is found in meeting new people through the “Open Gaming” format as we get together, and the treasure of the BGG Library has some unexplored interests that await you!

Located at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, contracted rates are $139/night plus taxes and fees (usually around 15% or so). Hotel Reservations can be made HERE, while rooms last!

These will also be some of the final days to back our Kickstarter campaign for Unluckables, so be sure to follow along with the campaign at:

Join us at Comic Conroe!

On August 26-28 Comic Conroe will be bringing the fun to comic, anime, gaming, and Sci-fi fans of Montgomery County.

Riftway Games will be on hand selling games and accessories, as well as running demos of Beasts: Edge of Extinction and our upcoming release, Unluckables!

Visit ttps:// for tickets and additional information.

Join us at Comicpalooza 2022!

Comicpalooza returns to the George R. Brown Convention Center July 15-17 for a weekend of anime, comics, gaming, literature, cosplay and more!

Get your tickets at:

Festivities will kick-off in style Friday night with the inaugural Comicpalooza Launch Night featuring the CP Friday Night Bash: A Pop Culture Spectacle, Texas All-Star Wrestling, Ultimate Werewolf, retro gaming, and loads of fun!

This year, artwork from our game Beasts: Edge of Extinction was chosen to be included on some attendee badges, so keep an eye out for these awesome collectables!

AggieCon 51

Join us March 25-27 at AggieCon 51 – The Con Strikes Back!

AggieCon is the oldest, largest student-run fan convention in the world! They like to call it a “congloma-con.” Catering to all fandoms, including Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Gaming, Horror, Anime, and many more.

The convention is proudly run by Cepheid Variable, the oldest Texas A&M student organization devoted to the support and promotion of all things geeky.

Held on Texas A&M Campus in Rudder Tower.

401 Joe Routt Blvd, College Station, TX 77840

Join the AggiCon Discord to learn more, ask questions, or make plans with other guests!

Join us July 17-18 at Comicpalooza in Houston, TX

Conventions are finally starting to come back and we can’t wait to play Beasts: Edge of Extinction with all of you once again!

We’ve teamed up with Comicpalooza to create a special Indie Game Creator section on the dealer room floor. There you will find ONLY independent game creators like us, and we couldn’t be happier for their support and cooperation!

Get your tickets now at

New expansion coming March 3!

Hello friends!

By this time, many of you have received your backer rewards. I hope you are truly enjoying playing Beasts: Edge of Extinction! If you have any questions about game play, please do not hesitate to reach out to Riftway Games on Facebook, Twitter, or here on Kickstarter. I am always happy to help answer your questions.

There are still a very small handful of backers who have not yet filled out our GameFound Pledge Manager to receive their rewards. Please check your email for the invitation link or your Kickstarter messages for instructions on how to access it. If you do not see either of these, or you already filled out your survey but have not received your reward, please message directly for help. I want to make sure everyone gets everything they are due!

Dodo Care

Be sure to prime, paint, and/or clear coat your 3D resin printed dodo first player marker if you plan to keep it out of the box for extended periods of time near sources of UV light. This includes natural sunlight. While it doesn’t happen very quickly, resin is UV reactive, so the longer it is exposed it could have an adverse reaction like shrinking, splitting, or melting. Please take precautions to ensure the longevity of your dodos!

Game Expansion

On March 3rd we will be launching our first game expansion: Revenge of the Dodos

If you are a backer of Beasts: Edge of Extinction who downloaded the print and play files made available last year, you may remember that an early version of Revenge of the Dodos was included for you to play-test. I really appreciate all who provided feedback to help us finalize the cards and rules!

If you are still unfamiliar with the expansion, here is our current marketing blurb:

In Revenge of the Dodos, eliminated players now control a bevy of dodo spirits, each imbued with a unique special ability. It’s all or nothing, as you seek vengeance on the vile beasts ravaging dodo kind!

This fun little expansion has been play-tested throughout the last year, while awaiting the final production of the base game. We now believe it is ready to hit the market! This is a great time for those who missed our first campaign or who wish to pick up another copy of the Beasts: Edge of Extinction base game along with the expansion.

As always, we will be adding some fun exclusive items to your pledge levels as well as some early bird discounts. We hope each of you will be able to join us for the campaign! 

 Follow the Revenge of the Dodos campaign:

A note to our visitors

This website has updated its privacy policy in compliance with changes to European Union data protection law, for all members globally. We’ve also updated our Privacy Policy to give you more information about your rights and responsibilities with respect to your privacy and personal information. Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our updated privacy policy.