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How to Make Money by Licensing to Board Game Publishers

Updated on May 19, 2011

Cashing in On Your Board Game Designs

Congratulations!

You're here because you created a board or card game and you believe it has commercial value. Now you're wondering what it it'd be like for a publisher to handle the production, marketing, and distribution of your game while you sit back and cash the royalty checks...

Okay, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. There's a big gap between you designing a prototype and the game hitting the marketplace. Let's make sure you haven't skipped any big steps, shall we?

Is Your Game Ready for Review?

First, make sure your prototype has been thoroughly play-tested and gameplay is tight and the rules are clear. Publishers aren't interested in conceptual ideas nor half-finished designs. Your game needs to play cleanly.

Second, your game needs to be clearly different than anything else out there. This will take some research and perhaps asking around, but this is an important step. Publishers are not looking for copycats! BoardGameGeek is a great resource, since it has a huge database of existing board games as well as a community of game fanatics that can provide you with valuable feedback.

Third, is your game fun? And I don't mean fun for you to play, or just your friends and family. The game needs to be fun for a target audience. Once you've identified that audience, you'll be looking for a publisher with a game line that matches it.

The Key: Be Ready to Pitch Your Product!

If you want to maximize the chance of getting your game accepted by a publisher, you'll want to understand their product line and what your game can add to it. Respect their game submission guidelines. View your submission the same way you would as if you're applying for a job at a company. You're trying to differentiate yourself from other applicants, demonstrate your value, and interest them enough to start a dialogue.

Lastly, be patient! Communication between you and a publisher takes time, as does playtesting and production if you get that far.

Best of luck to you!

Books on Licensing Your Board Game Designs

These are best books I've found on the subject, and is far more comprehensive than I can be on this Squidoo lens.

If you find additional useful links, please let me know!

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      noodlesome 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Honestly, if you're new to the industry you'll probably have very little leverage unless they absolutely love your idea. The going rate will vary among publishers but I've heard under 10% most of the time. The rates will tend to be lower for the larger/more powerful publishing companies.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am wondering if you do go to a publisher for your board game how much do you want to ask for.. I ask because everyone thinks their idea is gold but what is the "going rate" for publishing your game that way?

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Don't forget that self-publishing is a viable option these days. The Game Crafter (http://www.thegamecrafter.com) is a print-on-demand game publisher that allows game designers to self-publish their own games. Designers have the option to make private prototypes for their own use or they can publish games on the online shop and sell them to a worldwide audience.

      This does not require the game designer to pay any money upfront and they only have to split the profit with The Game Crafter each time the game sells. Almost 3000 orders have already been processed since July of 2009!

      Want more proof this is a viable option? Matt Worden (from Matt Worden Games) recently won the Traditional "Game of the Year Award" from Games Magazine. This is published in the December 2010 copy of Games Magazine. A single amateur designer like Matt was able to use a board game publisher like The Game Crafter to win such an amazing award!

      The Game Crafter doesn't offer every service that a traditional game publisher offers but each month there are new products and features that are added to the service.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Very useful thanks

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Very interesting. Nice lens. I just want to share something that you might be interested, somewhat like a board game also. Bridge, is a card game fun to play, but the better you play, the more fun it is. As you improve, you will be fascinated at discovering how much there is to the game. Despite popular opinion to the contrary, bridge is not difficult to learn. Learn how to play bridge contract card game and improve your bridge game in less than five minutes a day. Keep on posting interesting stuff, more power to your lens.

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      bobsmith1952 8 years ago

      Thanks for the information, it was enlightening.

      Armis is the board game that we are promoting. Many see Armis as the new Chess; primarily because it kinda has the look of chess from a distance, and it requires a strategic mind to win. However, Armis has 17 unique pieces, water spaces ... best of all lasts about 30 minutes.

      My associates researched 'board game brokers', we only found about 20 of them. 10% of those listed were out of business, 89.95% required a fee between $100 - $200 to look at the game, and only 1 company accepted and reviewed the submission without charging a fee.

      When the designed received the submission results letter (which was 5 pages long), he was clearly very happy at the beginning, but as he read on he seemed confused/perplexed, then towards the end he was disappointed. Essentially, the game was accepted, but the broker required a retainer too large to move the project forward with them.

      We will keep trying.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      Wow, thanks for the great information.

      We are aggressively seeking an agent for Armis, we want to introduce the game to the online community as well as the physical world, hopefully we can find an agent that can facilitate those goals.

      Here are a few parts of our marketing plan that may be of interest to your readers:

      1) Place video of the game in play on YouTube and other vid sites

      2) Give 10 flyers (email, business card, or letters) to different people every day about your game

      3) Write an article at least once a month to submit to print media.

      4) Have the game featured at a community event at least once a week.

      5) Inform media via Press Release of all upcoming events so they could cover it or include your message in their publication

      6) Sponsor a tournament around your game ...

      Seems like I ran out of space, I'll supply more info to anyone on request.

      Thanks again

      Becky

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      anonymous 9 years ago

      Thanks for the info. I've been finding ways to release my ideas in many ways and this is a new, exciting venue for me!

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      tderscheid 9 years ago

      Excellent introduction to a complex subject - your recent interview with Pope was excellent and I've added you to my feed reader. I'm developing a train game about Iowa at the moment, see https://hubpages.com/entertainment/18IA for more. At the moment, I'm planning to self-publish, but depending on how my printing quotes shake out, I may decide to submit to Z-Man or JKLM, as they've printed similar games in the past.

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      anonymous 9 years ago

      Hi there , I like to say that you have done great work ! i like your website and it has been very helpful ! Well i have found a Publisher that takes new inventions and its Hasbro.com who will send the inventors to they official broker .

      Thanks