Publishing lessons

Board games & crowdfunding

Do I need a team?

6th April 2023 0

Designing and publishing a board game is a huge undertaking, not only do you need to do all the things that you may consider fun, but there is a long list of other tasks that you may find less enjoyable.

Here are some of the things you’ll need to do.

  • Choose/Design the game
  • Writing
  • Artwork
  • Graphic design
  • Manufacturing
  • Logistics
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Support
  • Accounting

Each of these tasks can be considered a fulltime job which someone can specialise in, and this is only the beginning. There are also other factors such as registering your company, understanding legal requirements, taxes, safety regulations for different countries, and so on – It’s not easy, but it can be done!

The key thing to remember is most of these tasks don’t need to happen all day every day and contractors can be your key resource. For instance, if you’re working on a game then you may just hire an artist for that game, you’ll likely agree an amount of work that needs to be done and once it is done, they will move on to other projects.

The City of Games has one employee, myself. I design the games, write the rulebooks, art direct the projects, and manage manufacturing, logistics, marketing, sales, support, and the accounts myself.

However, I still rely on other people for a great number of tasks and work with them to fill my weak spots. I hire contract artists to do artwork, writers to proofread my print materials, playtesters to help test my games, accountants to look over my accounts, and volunteers to work with me on my booths at conventions. These people are all critical to the success of The City of Games and I am lucky to have built such a great team of people around me.

Identifying which tasks you are capable of doing, which you are willing to learn, and which you need help with is critical when it comes to deciding whether you need a team. Perhaps more specifically you should ask whether you need a full-time team or an ad hoc team.

The next step comes down to what is realistic for you in your situation. You don’t have to go it alone and it is possible to take the leap into publishing with a partner. My recommendation would be to find someone who fills your weak spots, but also make sure they are capable of doing many things. Early on, having someone who just specialises in marketing, or manufacturing, or writing isn’t going to be as beneficial as having someone who can do each of those tasks reasonably well.

A lot of the early days of publishing are about doing a lot of things reasonably well, rather than a few things very well.

When it comes to board game publishing there are many examples of companies that have grown to a considerable size with just 1 person behind the wheel, and there are others that have gone ahead as a team. There’s no right or wrong, it’s up to you to fully understand everything that needs to be done in order to be successful, and to decide whether you are capable of doing everything on that list alone.

It’s a tough journey but a rewarding one for those who get it right, good luck with your decision!

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!

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