that my goal is to give comprehensive advice in a single place, this is
going to be lengthy. Every bulleted item from Article 7.0 will be
Your Main Game quote (from manufacturer)
varies DRASTICALLY by game and quantity. Ask for quotes.
is pivotal. I've heard of many games that "guessed" at the cost
of making their game based on another's game. Don't do
that. You were smart enough to make a game, follow that through
to the end.
get a quote, visit pandaGM.com, LudoFact.de, and a few other companies
(some will surprise you with their quality), and ask them to quote your
game based on an actual component list. (Always price
compare!) As a courtesy to all, please don't guess at
These companies very busy,
and you'll wait a long time (and so will everyone else) to get a quote
that you can't even use because you "played around on the site".
Have a very solid idea based on a homemade prototype before you
ask. Then you can start strong and save time!
to be quoted at: 1,500 copies (MOQ-"Minimum Order Quantity" for many
companies), 2,000, and 2,500. If this is your first go at this,
unless you've got some big hook-ups like the Robot Turtles and
Exploding Kittens guys did, you're not going to manufacture more than
this on your first print.
Your Add Ons
varies drastically $0 to several thousand.
Ons are totally optional. I won't discuss whether you should have
them or not, only how to budget for them...
-quote (from manufacturer) (optional)
your Main Game quote, you'll ask for a separate quote for your Add
Ons. Having a separate quote is good because you can order a
smaller quantity than the number of games. If you make 2,000
games, you can order only 1,500 sets of add ons. This is good
because only about 1/3rd of your backers will go for the Add Ons.
-uniquely ordered (for self-fulfillment) (optional)
you're fullfilling your game (or even just the add ons) yourself, you
might be able to order some items yourself from suppliers/warehouses
directly. This will be cheaper than going through your
manufactuer. Don't pay them to pay the other guy. Call your
custom dice supplier yourself. Again, this is ONLY if you're
fulfilling these items yourself. Otherwise, you might just wanna
let them do it all; though you can outsource and ship to your
manufacturer at times. Do this ONLY if they can't make the item
"Overbilling" (be prepared for this sneaky game changer)
at 5%, though formulas to get there may vary
I refer to as "the sneaky little bastard" in my budget
spreadsheet. Overbilling is what happens when your manufacturer,
for quality control purposes, prints x% more games than you asked for,
and then charges you for them AFTER the quoting process. Quotes
from certain manufacturers do NOT include this. Be sure to
Overbilling for TKA was estimated at +2% +$900. That's well over
$1500 extra dollars on our quote.) Be aware.
$5 per Game.
from the Manufacturer to your Fulfillment Center (Amazon, Shipwire, or
your Garage). For full box games, you can expect roughly $5
+/- per game. Much less for card decks only, a bit more for
bigger heavier games. Note: Nobody will promise you anything on
these prices until the game is made and weighed though, so guess high
to be safe.
Fulfillment-Self or 3rd Party
drastically by game size, weight, shipping location, & shipping
is the actual cost of sending your game from you storage place
(Garage/Amazon/etc.) to the backer. It includes: The box, the
filler, the tape, the man-hours, and the postage.
you are in the USA fulfilling yourself using the USPS, the Flat Rate
Boxes are going to be your best friend (they're free, and your
game's weight is now inconsequential). Visit USPS.com and calculate
prices to every major shipping destination on the
globe in the box you know your game will fit in (design it to fit in a
Small or Medium Flat Rate Box).
you are anywhere in the world and plan on fulfilling with FBA
(Fullfillment by Amazon, your "EU Friendly Shipping" partner) then read this and this,
then to get really solid pricing estimates visit these: USA, Germany, UK, Canada.
Look for "Standard Size Non-Media" and "Multi-Channel Fulfillment".
you're fulfilling yourself from the USA, know that EU backers will have
to pay VAT (a type of EU-style sales tax on imports that can be
crippling). Therefore you'll have a lower percentage of backers
in the EU, and thus a lower total number of backers. (And a bunch of
people outright yelling at you for not offering EU friendly shipping,
all because somebody *ahemJameyahem* ; ) made it look easy. But
it's not, it is lot of work. Be prepared to take the insults with
a grain of salt if you choose this. But you MUST choose one or
the other BEFORE you
If you're fulfilling with EU friendly shipping by freighting to EU,
prepaying VAT yourself on the discounts you'll save, know that you'll
have a larger percentage of EU backers, and thus a larger number of
backers period. (It's hard, but financially it is worth the
encourage you to take my shipping advice with a grain of salt as we
haven't shipped yet, but I have done a ton of research worthy of
Direct shipping for self-fulfilled items/add ons
above, only with strict regard to Add Ons and USPS (or your countries'
post). Visit the price calculator and, knowing your net add
ons size, pick a shipping method, and then multiply by 1/3 to 1/2 of
Thin add ons (cards, etc.) will ship cheap in envelopes. Thick
add ons (dice, etc.) will ship Flat Rate in a small box. Do NOT
make your add ons larger than the small flat rate box unless they're
pricey enough to pay for a medium one (which will result in less sold
prices vary drastically by type, size, usage usage rights, and
artist. See my post on that here.
Set a budget for art (how much am I willing to pay per piece, by type?)
and then put it in your spread sheet as a goal price per piece. I
give a rough range for each, but know they are exactly that: rough.
Sculpts for minis (3d or physical)
These are a fortune. If you want good
ones, don't pay less than $200 for 3d sculpts. We paid more than
that. Make sure your artist knows the final medium and casting
type so he/she can make them printable. Plastic is more easily
printed than metals, but metals are far cooler. Make sure you
discuss design needs with your mini molder/caster, and relay them to
the 3d artist. Details here in
our "How to get Miniatures" column.
items listed below are what we call "painted" art.
cover and sides of your box, the single most expensive piece of
art. It's big, it's complex, it needs to be excellent.
You're looking at $200 to $500.
box bottom may be the same, or it may be put together by your Graphic
Designer (#12 below).
your game has a board, it's going to be the 2nd most expensive.
It might even surpass the box lid. $200-700. Don't chince
out. Good artists with good personalities that get your project
are rare. Work with them. Our
TKA board is modular and consists of 16+ Map tiles and an
interconnecting border. We had to price our board as 16 + 12
separate pieces of art. Some of which we duplicated ourselves to
save costs. Even with our duplications, the total was high in the above
People, Fantasy Races, Monsters, Aliens, or Superheroes, in your
game? Characters are more expensive than items, because drawing
people (faces & hands & poses) is hard. Price it out per
piece $50-$120 depending on size and level of detail (bust, waist up,
full body, full body with scenic background). It's possible to
pay $250+ per piece... but it's also not necessary.
5 Card art
fun little pictures that grace the inside of your cards giving them
flavor. These are usually painted MUCH MUCH larger than they are
printed, so they are not necessarily cheap. Decide if they're
scenes, characters, items, or other, then price them in those
categories. If they're items $25-50 each. If they're "small
scenes" $40-$90 each. If they're characters, as above.
Graphic frames & backgrounds
you have art, but you can't just leave it that way. You gotta
spice it up with text frames, card borders, and shiny
backgrounds. These are all costs. Prices vary from $20 for
simple textures to $120 for nice frames. (Reminder: These are
ROUGH estimates based on innumerable factors).
now you have art, and nice frames, but your text won't fit in the
boxes. Use symbols. These can (and should) be cheap and bought
in bulk. We paid about $100 for all the many TKA symbols all
at once. But again... it's a cost, don't miss it.
8 Text & Numerics
fonts are boring, and you need a game logo that isn't made by a $50
graphic designer. Pay for it. You can also get graphic #s
and symbols while you're at it, and if you're patient, you can spell
your own words.
want to give out "Desktop & iPhone Wallpaper with a $5
pledge"? Or maybe be able to print a flippin' sweet promotional
Poster/Banner? Ok, that's bigger art. Budget for it.
My suggestion: Pay the same artist to add a simple background to the
character, you'll save money because it's the same character (not
paying for it again) and backgrounds are cheaper.
turn markers, symbol references, hit point counters, etc. They
can be cheap, and if you've had enough of the above already made, you
can probably make some yourself, but don't forget these little
guys. It all depends on your time, talent, and treasure.
run into a person and recognize them, but not remember their name?
Humans are visual. We remember what we see better than what we
a snappy logo that
is themed after your company name. $150-250. Some
"logo-making" websites will charge you $2000+. Don't you
dare. Have your favorite artist on your team make your logo, and
pay him like it's any other piece of art, but offer a touch more so he
makes it perfect; you're going to be stuck with it once you publish
your first game. Don't accept anything other than what you think
is perfect here. Spare no expense.... err... up to $250 anyway.
In the long run nobody really cares but you. Look at your game
shelf... some of those company logos are... well... not interesting at
all. Do you care? No. But you will about your own.
Lastly-Graphic Design (arranging all this into final products)
is a huge expense. If you don't have skill points spent in
"Graphic Design", already have an eye for what artistic beauty is, have
a detailed vision for the end product, AND have the time and resources
to do it yourself... this is going to cost you anywhere from $500 to
$5000. Every card with it's text; the box back with it's layouts;
every player board with stats/rules/etc, and the manual...
...are all in need
of graphic design. Don't hire your cousin. Pay somebody you
can respectfully but impersonally tell what to do to. Get your vision,
not their "Sure, buddy, I'll do it for free" vision. You
get what you pay for.
Most costs in this category are called "Sunk Costs". They are
irrecoverable, even if your Kickstarter fails. If you fail, you
can tell your artists to stop, cancel the skype date with your graphic
designer, and email your manufacturing account manager a very
depressing email.... BUT you can't email the following list and ask for
your money back. This WILL be paid out of pocket up front, but
may be REIMBURSED (to self) when you succeed.
to $800 per site.
I don't know if we can afford those." You can't NOT afford
Banner ads start at $800 (they have lesser
amounts, but you get a bonus if you do $800, a worthy deal). Kicktraq starts
at $280 for a month. The Dice Tower is surprisingly reasonable
and effective. Start with those 3. Then every other gaming
site in the world would be happy to run your ad for only a couple bucks
a month. Most gave us 2 weeks to a month for less than $100 each.
you have industry contacts, schmooze. Arrange a meeting months
before your launch date, pay for their meal, ask about their spouse and
other projects! Then do it some more. $1 for the ones you don't
want to own (cause you can't afford to), and full backing for projects
that you want to be able to say "Hey, can I pick your brain?".
Nice guys like Jamey and I will be happy to answer some Q's without you
first buttering us up, but some do it professionally, others you might
need a little oil to get em dancing. Either way, this will let
you study their campaign, read the updates, post comments, etc.
Don't use people. At least pay them a dollar for their time and
help their #s look better.
to $400 each.
are free. Some are paid. Some are print (text only), some
a video review. Period. If your game doesn't suck, you have
nothing to fear. If you're scared, maybe your game sucks.
If you're prudently nervous, well, it's a 50/50 chance. But
people like to see professional video reviews. The cost is
anywhere from Free (pay them with a free game or 2 if you succeed), to
$400. It depends on the reviewer.
reviews should be cheaper, but they're not all that way. I avoid
the $200 print reviews. That's up to you. Regardless, seek
lower prices with high readership.
more information on how to get reviewed, read our KSAC on
to conventions to demo your game? Getting space in the demo
hall? Most local conventions let you demo for free; the big guys
charge $150+ per ran game. You can always panhandle in the "Open
Gaming Room" for new players. Regardless, budget in your
cost for travel, badges, and event hosting costs. Don't make
backers pay for your dinner, you would have eaten that anyway.
Some don't budget this in and do it out of pocket.
greatly by region. In California I'm only responsible to pay
sales tax to games I ship to backers ALSO in California. If I
ship to another state, i'm not responsible. If I ship to the EU,
they have to pay VAT. In YOUR state/country/province/region, it
IS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT. You can only look into this
yourself. For me, I estimated (total guess) the # of backers in
my state, and applied the local tax rate to it. Do the same,
are cheap. I got mine here.
It cost me $24 for 12 barcodes. I picked the number I liked the
most.-Just make sure you get yours from an accredited site.
come in two varieties: Homemade & Professional; $50 to $350
Get your art, lay it out in GIMP,
insert into Word or Excel documents, and then print it on cardstock
from a craft store (always bring a coupon from their website).
For your board, glue the printed art onto foamboard. Don't have
art yet?, then just leave those print areas blank or fill with card
title/text. Estimated cost: Depends
on your ink cartridge, but roughly $5-$30 + an ink cartridge or two.
A step for after you have your art, but before your manufacturer sends
you initial copies. Email this
guy. Print on Demand game items!
Brilliant. You can get a deck of 54 cards for under $20 bucks and
you only need to order 1. If you go to any other Print on Demand
publisher, they'll give you minimums of 20 to 100 copies. Andrew
is your new best friend. Save this step till you have your art
the site to get costs. Ours run $375-ish, but our game is very
big. Further, check FedExKinkos for
quick and dirty prints of player boards, etc, if you need them fast (decent
prices, local pickup,
and you can pre-arrange multiple items onto a single 8×10 size sheet to
cards are just a good idea, keep them simple and easy to find your
contact info on. VistaPrint.com is your friend here. Print
500. Keep em around for while.
you need them in a mega hurry you can use a local printer, and pick
them up the next day, but you'll pay double.)
Promotional Items (Flyers, Postcards, etc.)
to a con, you'll need business cards and flyers/postcards.
Postcards are heartier so they get more respect, flyers are bigger so
you can jam more pics and info on them. UPrinting.com
is good for flyers & brochures. Print 50-200. You'll
have to try really hard to give out more than that at your average con
and they'll be largely obsolete after the event they were made for.
Software Upgrades (Photoshop, Movie Editors, etc.)
by need: $0 to $30/month.
is free, but it'll crash if you're doing your own graphic design with
Photoshop is pricey, but you can get it monthly now. Plan for how
many months you actually need it. Should you use this toward
paying a graphic designer instead?
There are a lot of Movie Editors. We used CyberLink Power
Director. It worked plenty well.
Hardware Upgrades (optional)
on the software upgrades. I nearly burnt out my old computer
doing our layouts. So we had to upgrade to a "gaming
computer". Now the software can't keep up. That's a fun
Incorporation Fees & State Franchise Taxation
+ $800 per year
you incorporate, do so on Rocket Lawyer. $180.
Each year you'll have to pay the state franchise tax board a boat-load
of money, in Cali it's currently $800 per year, and they delay the
first year to help you start up.
If you can, incorporate early in a calendar year, do so as an S-Corp,
do NOT give any stock to ANYONE other than yourself, and set your
accounting as "Accrual". It'll save you a lot of fear and stress
later when you get funding, then hit the end of a tax year before
spending any of it!
you're not doing this alone are you? (fyi: you might be).
you pay your buddy to help layout art, or cut a prototype?
Did you buy your friends pizza when you forced another play test
revision on them?
Do you have so many add ons that you need an add-on party to box them
Do you plan on hiring a maid to save you time?
Do you need an economist because this Article has you terrified?
Will you need a lawyer because you plan on being sketchy with other
people's art? (don't do it!).
might you hire? Call them for rates. Put it in the budget.
for Graphic Designers and Artist are the inherent costs above.
based entirely on personal desire: $0-X,000
put in countless start up hours to make this thing happen. What's
it worth to you? Do you budget in a couple grand for your
effort? Do you set aside a vacation fund to treat your spouse
with when it's done? Or do you budget nothing, doing it for the
love of the game, and only take what's left over if you over fund?
us, we ran a VERY tight campaign, for a VERY expensive game. We
also did it for the love of the game. So we chose to put $0 in
the budget for ourselves, our sincere reward being the success &
new friends. Fortunately, a bit of over-funding left us a
pittance to take a small vacation with. Everybody won.
There can be prudence in budgeting yourself in. A) It will likely
serve as a motivation to keep going when the going gets tough. B)
It's technical wiggle room in the budget, if you failed to budget well
in an area, you can take from your own potential coffers to make up the
short-fall and still manage to publish instead of making every backer
suffer by never getting a game.
& Amazon Fees
of your set Funding Goal
& Amazon take a combined total of 10% before you get to touch
it. Technically it's less than that, but you'll have pledges the
don't go through on invalid credit cards and possible requests for
refunds in first few hours after funding that you'll probably honor.
This will work out to 10%. When choosing a Funding Goal you DO
factor this in by multiplying your NEEDED amount by 1.12 (112%),
your Funding Goal at that amount.
If your total TOTAL EXPENSES are $25,000 you'll ask for $25,000 x 1.12 = $28,000;
because $28,000 x .90 = $25,200, your actual need.
Manager Fees (not really part
of the initial budget).
a side note: If you use a professional pledge manager such as
backerkit, they'll take another 1% off the top of your Kickstarter
Amount plus a fixed set-up fee to the tune of $200 +/-. They'll
also take this or more from monies raise in Pledge Management. No
service is free.
Never PLAN on Pledge Management funds to pay for the main
campaign. Each should be exclusive unto itself. Though
Pledge Managers (on campaigns with Add Ons) tend to pay for themselves
fairly easily (hence not needing to
put it in the initial budget).
should only budget this into your main budget if: A) You're sure you'll
use a Pledge Manager, B) You have complicated Add Ons that make a
Pledge Manager with your money, and C) You don't have the time or
energy to organize it yourself. - So long as you only have
a base game with only a couple add ons, I don't see PMs as
necessary. Though I welcome your thoughts on the matter.
have to risk some of this. This will pay for your "Sunk Costs"
(Marketing, Early Art, etc.)
You can reimburse yourself later. If you attempt to Kickstart
without any art or prototype or video... it's not going to happen.
a joke, but bumming around your family saying "Can I borrow $1,000 to
try to kickstart my business dream" isn't the worst idea ever.
You can also try this at your local bank. This is the solution to
a distinct lack of #1.
Asking your Father to sell half his property so you can have your
inheritance early so you can squander it on a life of debauchery and
wouldn't be the first. Remember, your family is more important
though. Strike the balance of "Let's do this together" with
"Don't want to drag you down". This usually only happens when the
Bank says no. Just hope dad takes you back when you fail and have
nothing to show for it. There's a parable in here somewhere. ; )
meat and potatoes. This comes from the campaign. You hope
you over fund, but you don't count on it. Know your expenses, set
your goal, run a brilliant campaign, and watch your dreams come true.
to build it!
that you know your EXPENSES, thus your needed ASSETS, building your
Budget Spreadsheet is easy. Here's mine. Feel free to use
it and adjust it as necessary.
necessary waiver: I, by downloading the budget spreadsheet on this page
declare that understand that it is only a tool, and will not hold the
creator, Gate Keeper Games, or any other entity responsible for any
negative effect of using it what-so-ever. (This keeps me from
needing a lawyer. ; )
Instructions for Use of Budget Spreadsheet
each Expense in the Blue
Fields as you find out how much it costs.
Fields as you please.
your art quantities and max cost per piece in the blue on the right.
from the Tan
Fields, answers from the drop down box.
all other misc expenses, adding ones unique to your game/campaign.
a marketing budget and stick to it.
TOTAL EXPENSES x 112% will become your KICKSTARTER
FUNDING GOAL (at 1500 copies). Use
the additional quantities' information to know costs when over-funding.
the Budget Spreadsheet by clicking the Link here...
when you click the link, you see symbols instead of a download option,
this is an error by your browser (Firefox). Try IE or Chrome, or Email
me and I'd be happy to send you the file directly.
#1 of Budgeting: Round all Expenses UP;
and never "hope it'll be less" thus putting a lower number.
you tried our budget? How did it work for you, or is there
anything we could add?