Wing It Board Game - What Do Board Game Retailers Want?

What Do Board Game Retailers Care About the Most?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Start to Finish

When you’re making your first board game, retail distribution is probably not top of mind. Many creators choose to focus on making a brilliant game, well play-tested, with great art, and good Kickstarter potential. And that’s fine! It just means the question of “what do board game retailers care about the most” goes unanswered for a long time.

Molly's latest game, The Million Dollar Doodle, is live on Kickstarter!
Use the hive-mind to design brands. Pitch your ridiculous companies.
Win a million dollar investment or crack up trying.

No longer will it go unanswered! In my game development experience, I’ve never sought out retail distribution. My business model has been one of eCommerce and passive revenue. But even still, I feel that not talking about what board game retailers want is a glaring omission in Start to Finish.

Then Molly Zeff cold emailed me. Her board game, Wing It, is in an estimated 300-330 stores across the world. I don’t normally answer cold emails, but her story is just too good to leave untold. And that’s how we wound up on an enjoyable video call for over 2 hours!

Below, you will find an edited transcript of our video call, transcribed by Scribie. The original call was over 30,000 words in length but was so information-rich that I’ve split it into three posts. What follows has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Who is Molly Zeff?

Before this transcript begins, Molly and I were chatting about anything and everything. For simplicity, the earliest text posted here from the transcript starts about 30 minutes into the call.

Molly Zeff, left

Brandon: How did you get into the board game business?

Molly: I was 26. Your age, so it’s kind of funny that you mentioned that. I was literally turning 26 when I somehow got the idea in mind that  I needed to either write a book or invent something to help pay for business school.

I knew I was planning to go back to business school in three to five years and I needed a way to pay for it. So I started writing a book on how to fail well.

I like to think that I’m really good at failure. I’m really good at finding ways to move past it. I’m the kind of person who might say like, “Okay, if I’m gonna have to pay $300 per month for the next few months [because of a car accident], I wanna try to figure out how I can make $300 more or spend a little less.”

Anyway, I started writing a book on how to fail well and then I thought… having barely gotten into the book, “I need to fail more. I need to wait ’til I’m in my 50s and I’ve failed a lot more.”

So I stopped writing the book.

First a book, then a board game

Molly: I’d always liked board games, having played them growing up, especially throughout my teenage years and then into my early 20s.

I’d always liked board games, having played them growing up, especially throughout my teenage years and then into my early 20s. So I thought I would invent a board game based on the book Would You Rather.

No idea what reminded me of it, maybe a move, ’cause I was moving to Boston for a new job. I remembered the book or came across my book, “Would You Rather?” And I realized “Would You Rather?”, which asks ridiculous questions like, “Would you rather have a ketchup dispensing navel or a pencil-sharpening nostril?” is all made up by adults just sitting around.

I pictured a bunch of adults just sitting around a room and being weird. And I thought, “I could be weird for a living, and I’m not really using that.”

The questions from the book posing these ridiculous situations that could happen, made me realize, what if there was a game that involved these ridiculous situations and ways to get out of them? And I thought of using objects to get out of them. So I called my friend Jon, whom I apparently hadn’t seen his entire first year in Boston,  – and I said, “Jon, do you wanna invent a board game together?” We had no experience in the game industry.

We spent 3.5 years working on it as a hibby, meeting occasionally. We finally got to a point in 2014 when he said, “I think we’ve done enough, we can start playtesting it.” So we both brought a lot of our friends over for a big meetup at my place, and we started testing it.People were laughing. You could say it tested well ’cause we obviously ended up creating it.

Brandon: So eventually people started playing it, you saw them smiling and you saw them having fun and you’re like, “okay, we might actually be onto something here, maybe we can market this.”

A note at this point: Wing It is now in 300-330 stores worldwide.

What do board game retailers care about the most?

Brandon: I have a different question, somewhat related.

Getting into stores is one of the most mysterious parts of the industry to first-time board game creators. And even myself personally, I have never actually made a play for physical distribution. I’ve always kept it e-commerce, simple, and passive.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to write about “how you actually get your game in a real physical board game store.” And that’s what you’ve done with Wing It. My first question on that note is: what have retailers told you they want in a game?

Molly: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, I’m gonna change a little…

Brandon: Go for it. That’s the beauty of the written word, we can always tweak it.

Cards in Wing It
What do board game retailers want to see in a company?

Molly: Yeah, you said “in a game” and I’m gonna say more like, “in your games or in your company.” [Retailers want to know] when you create a game, even if you’re just selling one game, that you are going to be able to keep the game in print if it’s successful. They often want to be able to get your game from distributors and know that it won’t be a one-and-done print run, ideally. A lot of small indie companies only have one printing of a game, and then they start to have another print run of another game. The problem is that, as one retailer explained to me, if your game sells well at my store and people keep wanting it, but then you print it once and don’t print it again, I just found a popular game that I can’t get back in stock.

Brandon: Mm-hmm.

Molly: A few retailers have expressed that they don’t wanna bring on a game that’s done really well on Kickstarter because then it feels like anyone who wants it already has it. Sure, you can break it down for them and show them that people didn’t buy your game in their city, or only a few did. So that it’s clearly not an issue. But that would mean getting them into an individual, in-depth discussion in the first place.

So I had a retailer really early on say that I shouldn’t mention that I did a Kickstarter because they didn’t necessarily want games from Kickstarter. So I’m going to say it’s better if you haven’t been really successful on Kickstarter. Isn’t that funny? Like my friends, one of my friends, has made a game that did really well on Kickstarter.

He blew it out of the water. Over $100,000 with what, I believe, was his first game. And that is important to mention only because if his second one  doesn’t do as well, I think his chances in retail are better. It’s okay to have had a Kickstarter, but you just actually don’t wanna have done super well. This is just my opinion for designers and indie publishers who ALSO want to get into retail.

Brandon: You want to make it look like your game is already validated by the market, like people really care, but you don’t wanna make it look like you’ve already sold every copy you ever could.

Molly: Right, that’s a good way to frame that, value in the market, proving that there IS a market is a good initial point.

Molly's latest game, The Million Dollar Doodle, is live on Kickstarter!
Use the hive-mind to design brands. Pitch your ridiculous companies.
Win a million dollar investment or crack up trying.

What do board game retailers expect in terms of genre?

Brandon: I’m also wondering, are there certain genres that they tend to prefer, or certain box sizes and art styles that they tend to like?

Molly: I think that most of the bigger indie retailers I’m seeing, specifically indie retailers, want a broad variety, a really broad variety of games in their stores.

Some of the smaller shops are the ones that may feel big but they’re mostly a Magic shop or mostly Magic and RPGs. Those stores have a crowd that comes every week and plays Dungeons and Dragons or people who come in and trade Magic cards every week or play Magic. Those shops probably won’t want as many or need as many party games, just because that’s not their crowd.

Those stores will not be as much of your market [if you make party games or even if you make board games. They often have pretty small board game sections]. I think also at this point, I feel like games that are inappropriate, people used to call them Cards Against Humanity clones, and also things like Telestrations After Dark or Adult Taboo…they’ve become so common that I think adult games are kind of saturated It doesn’t mean you can’t sell your adult party game, but it may be an uphill battle because it’s such a crowded field.

One of the comments, the really positive comments I hear from retailers about Wing It is that it is for all ages, that people can take it wherever they want [as far as being inappropriate], and they do, but it is a family-friendly party game. And some shops, some stores just want to be more focused on family-friendly games with a broad appeal. So there are definitely stores… I’m not going to say this is common among retailers, but there are stores that don’t want to stock games that aren’t family-friendly ’cause of the image they want to keep.

Brandon: Mm-hmm.

Molly: So, I wouldn’t say that’s one thing that retailers want, but it’s something that a segment of retailers want for that kind of store.

Brandon: Yeah actually, I have a story about that… I know a company called Grandpa Beck’s Games and they’ve got some really big stuff on Amazon. And their whole model is basically just “make a game that the whole family can play” – something light, something that’s got some strategy to it, but isn’t like a mass-market game. That’s their whole plan.

And I feel like that is just the… One of the less-served markets out there. Your hobby gamer stuff, there are so many games for that. Mass market, it’s really hard to break into. And like you said, adult games, party games, those tend to be pretty saturated; but a family game, you don’t see as many people trying to make them.

Molly: Oh, interesting. Yeah, you do see a pretty good-sized party section, but it is often a section of the store, it’s like, here’s the party game shelves…

What do board game retailers expect from the box?

Molly: Retailers also like you to have a pretty good box size. Box size actually really matters in retail. Have you heard this too from people, about box size?

Brandon: I’ve kind of inferred it because… Just by looking at shelves and noticing the relative similarity of things that are on there.

Molly: Bigger boxes add to perceived value and people feel like they’re getting more. And in fact, if we create a non-exclusive, mass-market version of Wing It for this deal that I’m in process of making, it’ll be a bigger box.

Brandon: That is really interesting. I’m gonna insert something in here because, as publishers, you are incentivized to make a bigger box because that’s the kind of thing that catches somebody’s eye on the shelf… ’cause you’re walking by, it has to catch your attention. And it also adds to perceived value. They pick it up, it feels heavy, it feels like there’s something in there. “Wow, this is only $25?” That kind of thing.

Now, if you were an eCommerce company, you would wanna do the exact opposite. You would want to make the lightest, smallest game that you possibly could so you could put it in a tiny package and put the lowest amount of postage on it and get it in the mail cheaply. And so I just think that’s interesting, because traditional retail and eCommerce have different incentives as far as box weight and size.

Molly: That’s a good point. The retailer wants the box to stand out on the shelf. But the people paying to send the games from the warehouse obviously are going to pay more for a bigger box. Also bear in mind, when we sell direct [to retail], we cover their shipping.

We will pay shipping even with a minimum order of two. People are surprised at our minimum order.

Brandon: So that’s interesting. I imagine for small quantities, you’d probably send these by just mail, right? For the big shipments, do you have to coordinate freight for that?

Molly: Usually FedEx or USPS. Normal shipping methods.

Brandon: Okay, so nothing complicated, no wooden pallets, no less than truckload shipments, nothing like that?

Thank goodness, you’re saving yourself a big headache.

What else do board game retailers want?

Molly: Now that I’ve told you some of my answers, I wanna scroll up and just see what Mark Carter, who is a retailer at Guf Games in Australia, says. He is the one who got us into Australian distribution last year. He sent me a whole list of things he looks for – let me find it.

Okay, there we go.

He wants to know what other sales channels you’re using. If you’re selling to Amazon and that’s dropping the price, retailers won’t want to do business.

Brandon: Yeah, that’s a really good point. That would make retailers nervous.

Molly: Yeah, he said, and I quote, “If you are selling directly on Amazon, this is a big turnoff.”

I would say the demo copy is extremely important. If they want to be able to promote it at the store level.

He asks if you’re going to cons and raising awareness, if you’re marketing…

Oh here,’s a good one: are you putting money behind your game? Are you supporting your game? One complaint I’ve heard from a retailer about a publisher who does pretty well, I mean it’s a pretty big publisher, is that they don’t really put the work in behind their games.

Mark also mentioned a way to reorder… so I’ll say that stability of supply is his word for the reality that they want to make sure you’re not going to run out really soon. If your game is really popular but they can never get it again then they’re disappointed.

Brandon: Yeah, of course, that would be a turnoff for a retailer as well. There’s nothing worse than something sells like hotcakes and you have no more of it in stock.

Molly: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And here’s one last one, I just feel like it’s really important, just to be nice, just to be a good pleasant person to work with.

Like some days I’m making calls to 20 stores. You just wanna be sarcastic, or like, not have to be 100% on and upbeat and friendly even at those times when, say, a store has had a demo copy they wanted and it’s been 8 months and they found it unopened while on the phone with you.  But as one retailer said, he doesn’t have to work with you if you’re a jerk. There are 10 games coming out every day. So, he doesn’t have to work with you if he doesn’t want to.

Brandon: Pretty much, kindness and patience go a long way. Especially when you’re talking about retailers who can choose to buy whatever they like.

Final Thoughts

Molly has a lot to teach us about the way board game retailers think. Show proof that people want your game but the market isn’t saturated, put in a big box, and find the right store (for your game’s audience). Back your own ideas, make sure you can reprint the game if needed, and – last but not least – be nice!

Stay tuned for parts two and three of this interview over the coming weeks. We’ll be talking about how you can get your board game into your very first store and how conventions can help you do it.

Molly's latest game, The Million Dollar Doodle, is live on Kickstarter!
Use the hive-mind to design brands. Pitch your ridiculous companies.
Win a million dollar investment or crack up trying.

How to Make a Beautiful Board Game Box

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Start to Finish

Box art is incredibly important in the board game industry. Not only are board game boxes beautiful, they are also iconic. People love looking at board game boxes – just check out Instagram sometime. There are whole accounts dedicated to showing off board game boxes!

Need help on your board game?
Join my community of over 2,000 game developers, artists, and passionate creators.

People judge books by their covers. This is true for board games, too. The naive designer may lament that board gamers are only looking at the surface, not seeing the mechanics or the potential for incredible gameplay. It’s a valid complaint, but the simple fact is that board game boxes are a huge part of board gamers’ decision-making process when it comes to making purchases. Your board game box is the most important art you’ve got – make it count!

board game box - gloomhaven

(If you’re looking for regulatory or legal requirements for packaging, check this article instead: How to Create Board Game Specs and Files for Your Printer.)

The Board Game Box as a Marketing Tool

Board game boxes serve not just as beautiful objects for their own sake, but also as critical means of communication between you and your potential customers. That includes the obvious stuff you normally see on boxes – the name of the game, the designer(s) and publisher, the age range, play time, and player count. But that also includes the messages you send about your game through your art. Through symbolism, you need to communicate most or all of the following information:

  • The complexity of your game
  • The “weight” of your game
  • The amount of components your game has
  • How long it takes to play
  • The theme of your game
  • The “hooks” that make people want to buy the game

Your box communicates not just through its cover, but also its size, and the information you provide on the back. People associate light games with small boxes and heavy games with big boxes. When gamers see a thick box, they expect a lot of components. If the art is whimsical, they expect it to be light-hearted. If the art is gritty and detailed, they expect it to be complex or dark.

Board Game Boxes & Perfection

The perfect game doesn’t exist. Games are only perfect for specific gamers. You need to attract the right kind of gamers by giving them all the information they need to know whether your game is right for them. Many gamers – wittingly or unwittingly – use their intuitive sense of what a game is or isn’t based on how it looks. That means you need to imply the essence of your game with your packaging. You have to send the right signals.

This is a really complicated concept. There is a field of study called semiotics, which is dedicated to understanding how people interpret signs, symbols, and metaphors. You don’t have to be studied in what they call the Saussurean tradition to understand how this works in board gaming. All you have to do is look at similar board games that sell well.

Look at the boxes of games similar to the one you’re making. You want it to be as similar as possible in the six qualities I listed a few paragraphs ago. Use Kickstarter and Amazon to look at some board game boxes. Look at them until you get a sense of what your own game box should look like. Copy the style you see, but still express your own personality.

When in doubt, follow the “Instagram rule” when designing board game boxes. Put a clear object in focus, use lots of detail, and make sure there is a sharp contrast between the foreground and background. That way, people will stop scrolling and look at your box online. In the store, it’ll catch their eye.

Real Examples of Board Game Boxes

As you can see, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to designing board game boxes. For that reason, I’ll be looking at the board game boxes of the five games highest up on the Board Game Geek hotness list. I’ll be analyzing each one and explaining what I think it works. By sharing my methods, I hope you’ll be able to develop your own 🙂

Board Game Box 1: Gloomhaven
board game box - gloomhaven

Good grief, look at this monster of a box! It’s wide, it’s deep, and it’s tall. Just seeing this on the shelf, you know you’re getting in for a heavy experience. With a weight of 3.77, this is definitely considered a heavy game on Board Game Geek. It’s usually priced at $150 or more, but you get a lot of parts.

The box art itself communicates a massive, complex world. It’s not a happy one, though. The name and color palette suggest otherwise. There is something to look at it in practically every corner of this box. There’s somebody hiding with a dagger in the bottom left, a creature playing cards near the bottom right, and decorative ribbons in the upper right.

Then when you look at the back, it shows off the minis and explains how the game works. This is really important because showing off components has shown to be one of the best ways to get and hold the attention of gamers.

Board Game Box 2: Root
board game box - root
Photo by W Eric Martin, posted to Board Game Geek under the CC BY 2.0 license. (Source)

Root is a different kind of game than Gloomhaven, and the box art immediately makes it clear. Like Gloomhaven, it’s a fairly heavy game and it comes chock full of a lot of components. The box is fairly large, but not nearly the size of Gloomhaven. It’s a slightly shorter game.

Root has a veneer of whimsy – little woodland creatures. Underneath that, though, there’s a complex game with mechanics such as engine building and area control. The game openly displays its darkness, intrigue, and complexity by arming the woodland creatures with dangerous weapons on the box. The size of the box and the price point also help establish the true weight of the game, so no one is surprised by it being too long or complex.

I juxtapose this with Gloomhaven to make a point – you have two complex games with two different tones. There are ways you can communicate the different tones without burying the true complexity of the game in the process.

Board Game Box 3: Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig
board game box - between two castles of mad king ludwig
Photo by W Eric Martin, posted to Board Game Geek under the CC BY 2.0 license. (Source)

This game is fairly light and the price point hasn’t been released yet. It takes a bit under an hour to play and Board Game Geek gives it a 2/5 on the weight rating. The art painterly and peaceful, unlike the more conflict-driven games that we’ve shown above. You get the sense that you’re in for a more relaxing experience.

Board Game Box 4: Vampire: The Masquerade – Heritage
board game box - vampire heritage
Photo by W Eric Martin, posted to Board Game Geek under the CC BY 3.0 license. (Source)

Little is known about this game at the time that I’m writing it. The art is minimalistic, showing a symbol, the name, and decorative framing. That’s pretty much all you have to go on. Yet even from this information alone, I suspect the game is going to be set in a dark, gloomy, conflict-driven world. That’s pretty amazing when you realize there’s essentially no art to go off of. That’s the power of symbolism.

Ask yourself: if you saw this in the store, what would you expect the game to be like?

Board Game Box 5: Terraforming Mars
board game box - terraforming mars

Terraforming Mars is a new sci-fi classic. The name, the font, the picture in the center of the frame…all of these imply the sci-fi theme. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice the art doesn’t depict conflict, but you still get a vague sense of unease. I think it’s because of the prevalence of hard lines throughout the art, which give you a sense that you’re getting into a complex game. It’s subtle, but you can feel it long before you can recognize it.

Board Game Box 6: Tapestry

The second Stonemaier game on our list, Tapestry falls within the same basic category of Between Two Castles. However, Tapestry is a heavier, more complex game than Between Two Castles. It’s a strategy game in the subcategory of civilization game, which appeals to a specific audience.

The box art for Tapestry is appealing for a couple of reasons. First, it contrasts the ancient and the modern in a way that makes you look twice. Second, and most importantly, it mirrors the box art of Sid Meier’s Civilization in color, structure, and content. Basically, this box art is a clear reference to other games played by this game’s intended audience. That’s a smart move.

Board Game Box 7: Paladins of the West Kingdom

I’ve spoken at length about Paladins of the West Kingdom, but some points bear repeating here. Let’s say you’re going for a hardcore fantasy audience. I’m talking about the sort of people who read medieval fantasy novels such as Lord of the Rings and who play games that resemble the style of that famous series of novels.

So what do you do to reach out to that audience? You use the word “Paladins” in big text on the box. Emphasize suits of armor and medieval weaponry. Do all of this with contrasting, highly focused colors that look great on the shelf and in your Instagram feed, and voila.

Board Game Box 8: Parks

Parks is an entirely different sort of board game than anything else we’ve mentioned in this article. They completely commit to their theme by mimicking the style of classic US postcards. It’s a deliberate way of bringing up people’s nostalgic memories of Americana.

But there is one crucial aspect that cannot be overlooked. It does this all, but still with contrasting colors and a lot of detail. The modern attention-grabbing requirements of board game boxes are still captured in this art style, even though it originates from the Golden Age of Travel.

Board Game Box 9: Nemesis
Photo by W Eric Martin, posted to Board Game Geek under the CC BY 3.0 license. (Source)

Where Tapestry imitates Sid Meier’s Civilization, Nemesis imitates the movie Alien. The structure of this box art is deliberately close to the movie poster for Alien while borrowing the color palette from its action-packed sequel Aliens.

In short, this box art works because it deliberately and very clearly references a major franchise in pop culture.

Board Game Box 10: Wayfinders

This last box art works for reasons very similar to Parks, but I think it’s worth including for a couple of reasons. First, the color palette is diverse, gorgeous, and eye-catching. Leave it to Pandasaurus to know how to use color to their advantage!

Second, this is a subtle detail that’s hard to see on the Internet, but very, very clear in real life. See how the plane’s bottom wheel and right wing overlap with the white area of the box? You can’t see it very well in this article, but on the shelf, that will make it look like the plane’s flying right at you like some kind of early 2010s movie that arbitrarily shoehorned in 3D. That is a really cool effect for a board game box!

Is there a board game out there with great box art that tells you what you’re getting into? Let me know in the comments below!

How to Sell Your Board Game Outside of Kickstarter

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Start to Finish

It’s been over a year in the making, and we’ve finally arrived: this is the last article in the Start to Finish: Publish and Sell Your First Board Game series. You’ve learned how to design and develop a game, build an audience, and market your game. You’ve learned how to run a Kickstarter campaign, fulfill your promises, and even recover from failure.

Need help on your board game?
Join my community of over 2,000 game developers, artists, and passionate creators.

After you have completely finished your game, settling all responsibilities associated with the Kickstarter campaign, that leaves one massive question: “what next?” With a successful project behind you and a head full of useful experiences, your options are wide open. You can make new games, start a business, or even simply make your game a one-off to bring in passive income.

Let’s talk about wrapping up your project. In this, I’ll briefly go over some ways you can sell your game outside of Kickstarter. This is no exhaustive guide. It’s just enough to get your wheels turning.

As I see it, there are ten broad ways you can sell your game outside of Kickstarter. There are probably a lot more that I’ve not even thought of, so I encourage you to chime in if you see something missing in the comments below!

1. Take pre-orders.

About a month ago, I published an article called How to Take Pre-Orders when Your Board Game Kickstarter Ends. That will give you an idea of how you implement a pre-order system. The benefit of taking pre-orders is pretty clear: you can continue earning money while your inventory is being manufactured and shipped to your warehouse. It helps keep the hype train going too.

Need help getting started? Look into these pre-order systems:

2. Sell your game on your own site.

This is almost identical to taking pre-orders, except you sell your game after it’s being shipped to your warehouse. With a few quick edits, you can turn your pre-order system into an instant sales system. All you have to do is tweak the wording and connect your shopping site with your fulfillment company’s systems. The specific way you do that depends on your shopping site software and your fulfillment company’s software. The important thing is that you know you’re able to automate this process!

There are a lot of ways you can do this that don’t require you to be a tech wizard. Here are some apps that you can use to set up an eCommerce store easily:

3. Sell your game on Amazon and other online shopping sites.

You can sell your game on Amazon just about as easily as you can sell your game on your own website. Even though Amazon and other shopping sites take a significant chunk of your sales as part of their commission, they can bring you lots of customers.

Don’t just limit yourself to Amazon, though. There are other great online shopping sites that you can get your game listed on, such as:

4. Sell your game at conventions.

A lot of board game companies make substantial sales at conventions such as Gen Con and Essen. Even smaller conventions are a viable option. You’ll need to research each convention you plan to attend to ensure that they are appropriate forums for selling your game. If they are, a nice-looking booth can draw quite the crowd!

A few conventions to consider include:

  • Any local convention within 250 miles of you, regardless of size
  • Gen Con
  • Essen
  • PAX Unplugged
  • UK Games Expo
  • Dice Tower Con
  • Origins Game Fair
  • CMON Expo
  • BGG Con
5. Get on the shelves of your local game store.

Your friendly local game store can be another way to sell your game offline. You may be able to get management to pick up a few copies and carry it in their store. Many game stores are happy to help locals get their businesses started, provided you bring a quality game to the table!

Not sure how to have this conversation? Check out this Facebook group. It is incredibly insightful for those seeking a peek into the minds of gaming store owners.

6. Create events and sell your game there.

Building a community is a great way to build an audience. One especially effective way to build a community through scheduling events that excite or intrigue people. You can give away games, host game nights, or do live-streams. There are so many possibilities here. Whether you make events online or offline, it helps raise brand awareness. That can go a long way!

7. Get on the shelves of a mass-market retailer.

I’ll be honest. I do not yet know exactly what you need to do to get your game in Target, Barnes & Noble, or other large stores that sell board games. Getting stocked in a mass-market retailer is not something you do on a whim, so you’ll need to plan this out well in advance. Just be aware that mass-market sales are another avenue by which you can sell your game.

Here are a few mass-market retailers who carry hobby board games:

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Books-A-Million
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Best Buy
  • GameStop
8. Build a backlog of games.

Sometimes the best way to sell your game is start a new one. Building new games brings attention to you and keeps your name in people’s minds.

9. Release expansions to your game.

If your game has substantial brand power, you might be able to release expansions and make some good money that way! This isn’t for everyone – releasing expansions and making money doing so requires a pretty strong game in the first place. If you’ve got an engaged fanbase, ask them for their ideas and see if you can make something they’d like.

10. Sell merchandise.

You don’t have to stick to selling games. You can sell posters, art books, or even e-books/novels of lore (for more story-heavy games). Think about a world bigger than just a single game.

Once you’ve completed your first game, possibilities begin to open up. This article is not a detailed guide like many of my posts. Rather, my intention here is to make you think about how many directions you can go in after you publish your first game.

Don’t be singularly focused on a single game or even the board game industry at large. Step back, survey your accomplishments, and appreciate the bigger picture. Most of the skills covered in Start to Finish: Publish and Sell Your First Board Game are transferable to other industries, and even life in general.

Final Thoughts

Pursuit of passion doesn’t always lead to success, but it does lead to a better understanding of yourself and the world around you. After fully creating a game and managing the various processes that go into doing that, you’re equipped to take on bigger challenges than you’ve faced before.

Think about what comes next. How you choose to sell your game from here on out sets you up for your next adventure.

Good luck and stay tuned for an entirely new series of blog posts starting next week 🙂