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With the production period behind me, now is a good time to talk about my experience with getting Mothership manufactured by WinGO which should hopefully assist you with choosing a manufacturer yourself.
Selecting a manufacturer was tough. I waded through the massive list over at James Mathe’s blog and settled on six companies that looked good (EDIT: That blog post is gone now, here’s a new list of manufactures). I chose them based on their minimum print run, cost estimate, general feel of their websites and some quick Google searches. QPC Games, Longpack, MeiJia, WinGO and Ninox to name the ones I can remember.
Then I wrote up a large, detailed ‘quote sheet’ complete with pictures and specifications of all the parts I needed. That PDF was sent to those companies and I waited eagerly for their reply.
Mothership is a big game. I expected big costs but I was surprised at how much they varied. For 1000 copies, I was quoted $20,000 all the way up to $45,000 USD. That was a huge surprise to me. My cognitive bias’ started to kick in now as I considered “What’s wrong with the cheaper companies? Why is this other one so expensive? Why did that one take so long to reply?”
For 1000 copies, I was quoted $20,000 all the way up to $45,000 USD.
As a side note, over the course of this project I have emailed hundreds of people. If I wanted someone’s business and they never replied quickly enough, I dropped them. Service was a huge part of my selection process and anyone who didn’t seem to want my money was quickly passed over.
All of the companies listed above had fairly quick turn around times for their quotes, which was about 1 to 2 weeks.
Initially my decision was based on the following:
After that was out of the way, I gave the quote to my accountant along with a heap of data about predicted costs and waited for him to crunch the numbers (money is a huge topic for another post).
If your going to crowd fund a board game, please be more organised than me. I thought I knew every nook and cranny of Mothership, but as the realities of fitting a big game inside a box became evident, I soon learnt how quickly things can change.
My accountant’s estimate of the entire project was around the $28k mark. “Sweet,” I though. I then wrapped my campaign page in a neat little bow and launched. As I worked through all the components more thoroughly during the Kickstarter month I responded to backer feedback as planned…
…”oh this looks cool, let’s add this as a stretch goal, that won’t cost much.”
…”wow backers are really responding to this feature, let’s create a new render for that part and make it cooler!”
…”a few more cards? No problem? A few more space ships? Yeah okay! A space for each ship on the tray? How hard can it be!”
I’m dismissing the finer points of my thought processes here, but essentially that’s how it went down. Every new part, new card and tray change had a flow-on effect that increased weight, complexity and above all, cost. “Peter, you’re an idiot, I could have told you that,” you might bawk. Yes, that was obvious to me at the time, but I still underestimated the cost.
The tray was great example of this. I had the coolest tray rendered and ready to impress only to find out there were technical limitations to what I was asking based around the vacuum molding process. Once the tray was revised, the box needed to be bigger. Now that the box was bigger, the weight was higher. Now that the weight was higher, every package cost more to send. Now that the box had unusual dimensions, fulfillment teams had to order special packaging to post it, therefore costing me more.
See how it all fits together?
Are you going through this right now? Here’s my list of tips to consider:
I wish the advice I’ve written in this post was more insightful than it really is…most of it is common sense. If you’re going to follow through with a huge project, make sure you have the resources to finish it.
Don’t let the vocal minority dictate decisions for the silent majority.
But in the heat of the moment, during the campaign, you make rash promises with the intent of appeasing your supporters. Don’t let the vocal minority dictate decisions for the silent majority.
Stick to your plan. If your plan actually sucks though…well that’s a post for another day.