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5 years as a publisher – The full report with revenue, sales, and statistics

12th April 2022 by Frank West8

In March 2017 I was preparing to launch my first Kickstarter for The City of Kings and I made a decision that would change my life. Until now making board games had been a hobby, but for that to change I decided I needed to quit my job and dedicate every waking moment to the campaign.

5 years later and inspired by the annual reports from Steve Jackson Games and Stonemaier Games, I wanted to share my own data with you.

Revenue

Note. All these figures are total revenue and are not representative of profit which is substantially lower.

My total revenue has been £5,648,209.36 which can be broken down into 4 key sources:

  1. Crowdfunding: £2,280,307.66
  2. Distribution (English): £1,498,773.88
  3. Translations: £1,054.067.49
  4. Direct sales: £815,060.33

Revenue has increased year on year with the exception of the 2021 tax year due to my decision to pause releases because of the pandemic. This has helped accelerate the current tax year (2022) which will make up for the pause.

  • 2018: £300,000
  • 2019: £650,000 (116% increase)
  • 2020: £1,400,000 (115% increase)
  • 2021: £1,000,000 (29% decrease)
  • 2022 (current year): £2,100,000 (110% increase so far)

To date the total expenditure on advertising has been £53,285.27. This keeps within my goals of spending less than 1% of revenue on advertising as I am not a fan of adverts and prefer organic marketing.

The company has zero debt and has never taken a loan.

Staff

I am the only employee of The City of Games and to-date have only published my own designs.

Over the past 5 years I have worked with 3 artists, 1 3d sculptor, and 2 editors who have done a fantastic job helping me bring my games to life.

Additionally, Sara (my partner) has played a critical role in the company’s success and regularly touches on all parts of the business.

While I will continue to work with contracted artists and editors as needed, I am not currently looking to expand the team.

Games and expansions

I have released 4 games and 9 expansions and in total produced 530,786 products which have been released over 15 languages.

The City of Kings launched on Kickstarter in 2017 and released in retail in 2018.

  • Games: 14,750
  • Expansions: 22,000

Vadoran Gardens launched on Kickstarter in 2018 and released in retail in 2019.

  • Games: 5,500

The Isle of Cats launched on Kickstarter in 2019 and released in retail in 2020.

  • Games: 189,638
  • Expansions: 187,541

Explore & Draw launched on Kickstarter in 2021 and released in retail in 2022 (just 3 weeks ago).

  • Games: 30,020

The remaining 90,000 products are made up of accessories such as art books, pins, and big boxes.

All of my games have been manufactured by Whatz Games and I continue to be very happy with them being my partner.

Replacements

In total I have received 1,167 replacement requests of which 172 were non-valid requests (typically due to a misunderstanding), leaving 995 valid requests.

  • 177 were due to lost, damaged, or mispacked shipments.
  • 818 were valid replacement parts due to missing or damaged components.

While I continue to work on quality control to reduce replacement part requests I am happy the total number of issues is currently at 0.15% and constantly decreasing.

Social media

I do not actively look to grow my social media platforms as much as I could, but I am happy with the continued organic growth on all of these platforms.

Lessons learned

I think the most important lesson from the years has been how much of a community this industry is. I started as an unknown designer and publisher and over the years I have built up a successful company. I’ve learned by reading freely available content online and chatting with other people in the industry.

This isn’t a competitive industry, everyone wants to grow together, I’ve made hundreds of friends over the years and look forward to every new encounter. If you’re just starting on your own journey then I recommend you reach out to people, start conversations on social media, say hello at conventions, and become an active member of the community.

Alongside this I still learn new things every day and that’s one of the reasons I started this blog so I could share my journey with others.

Looking ahead

I don’t plan to change much over the next 5 years:

  • I want to continue to optimise my time, focus on my efficiency, and learn more skills to help people get to the fun faster.
  • I plan to continue releasing a new game every 12 – 18 months while alternating between larger and smaller games.
  • I will be focussing on sharing my experiences and helping upcoming publishers achieve their goals.

I am sure there will be countless small tweaks and adjustments but for the most part these won’t be noticeable.

Thank you

The last 5 years have only been possible because of you, thank you for being part of my journey and allowing me to create games. I will continue to do my best to bring you great games with a puzzly heart.

If you have any questions or observations feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Frank West

Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!


8 comments

  • Chris Renshall

    13th April 2022 at 4:30 am

    Truly impressive Frank. Congrats on your success and I hope you have many years more success in the industry

    Reply

    • Frank West

      13th April 2022 at 11:51 am

      Thank you Chris, it’s amazing to think how much has happened since we first spoke!

      Reply

    • Roland Li

      22nd April 2022 at 4:45 am

      Truly inspired by you and your stories. Thank you for the passion and dedication. Hopefully, I can replicate a fraction of your success in my upcoming first project.

      Reply

      • Frank West

        6th May 2022 at 11:46 am

        I’m really glad to hear that Roland and wish you the best of luck with your own project!

        Reply

  • Dave Wetherall

    17th April 2022 at 5:30 pm

    Well done Frank. Really impressive. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    • Frank West

      6th May 2022 at 11:47 am

      My pleasure Dave, thank you for taking the time to read the article!

      Reply

  • Some Newb

    5th May 2022 at 11:53 pm

    Hello Frank,

    I appreciate the details. I am six months into playing board games which aren’t the stereotypical monopoly/Hasbro type games. I very much appreciate your openness. I thought I wasn’t familiar with your company, but I have certainly heard of Isle of Cats!
    All the best to you. I wish you many more years of success.

    Reply

    • Frank West

      6th May 2022 at 11:48 am

      Hey there, I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to enjoy the modern side of board games recently and hope it continues for many years. I’m really happy to know you’ve heard of The Isle of Cats and will continue to do what I can to make sure you know about my future games as well! Thanks for dropping by.

      Reply

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