Not all board games are made in China. You will find companies that design and manufacture games almost anywhere in the world, but China is attractive due to its low manufacturing costs.
It’s also become easier to produce games in China through companies specializing in coordinating the business with overseas manufacturers.
After reading this article, you’ll notice you have more games made in China than you imagined. That’s because more and more companies find that they can save a lot of money by moving their production to the Asiatic Continent.
Why Are Board Games Made in China?
Board and card game designers seek manufacturers in China because of the low-cost production they provide. Panda Game Manufacturing, a world-renowned manufacturer of tabletop games with headquarters in Vancouver, Canada, has many well-known titles under its belt. They produce games in Shenzhen, China, which is their main base of operations. To ensure high-quality finishes for their games, they follow a set of specifications and guidelines.
They said they decided to move their game printing business to China to provide high-quality and competitively priced board game manufacturing.
China is big on economies of scale, which provides significant cost savings due to an increased production level. It lowers the cost per unit and grows the business profit. China’s supply chain labor market also allows game designers to receive input at all stages of production.
How Much Does It Cost to Manufacture Board Games in China?
Although it may cost more to ship from China, it will cost far less to manufacture. TwoMonkeyStudios published an article comparing the costs of U.S., China, and Germany-based manufacturers. The author, Matt Cocuzzi, said that the two U.S.-based companies he talked to would charge him $16,000 or had a minimum order of 10,000 units. A Chinese manufacturer charged him $9,000 for the same order.
Panda Game Manufacturing
- Minimum order: 1,500
- Price per game: $4.53 at 1,500 / $3.65 at 2,000 / $3.25 at 2,500 / $2.89 at 3,000
- Shipping: $1,800
- “Hidden costs”: $100-$200 in wire transfer fees
- Minimum order: 1,000
- Price per game: $3.14 at 1,000 / $2.68 at 3,000
- Shipping: approximately $2,000
- “Hidden costs”: $660 in setup fees
- Minimum order: 1,000
- Price per game: $2.94 at 1,000
- Shipping: the company didn’t provide
- “Hidden costs”: $800 in setup fees
Several factors affect the final price of a game, like the type of card stock, the size of the box, the inside packaging, the boards, and cards, plus dice and any other pieces needed. There will probably be a need for printing, laser cutting, painting, and engraving. Each of these options has different implications and costs.
It’s also good to know that the manufacturing process with mass-production companies is complex. The design process starts with describing your concept, followed by choosing materials, looking at samples, and translating artwork before seeing the final product.
If you have already quoted production with Western-based companies, you now have a rough idea of the difference in cost. It definitely won’t hurt to send Asian companies an email to determine how much they would charge to produce a game. James Mathe keeps an updated list of manufacturers from around the world.
What Popular Board Games Are Made in China?
Some people don’t even care where their games are made, so long as the materials are high-quality, the game is fun, and the price is reasonable. But if you’re curious, check out our list below.
There’s a high chance that most of the tabletop games in your collection are made in China. Some popular games include:
Settlers of Catan
Mechs vs. Minions
Are any of these names familiar to you? Did you know they were made in China? The examples above dispel the stereotype that Chinese goods are inferior to those made in the U.S and Germany. In fact, these games are well known for their top-quality pieces, cards, and boards.
Are Board Games Made in China Good Quality?
Many claim that China’s game production standards are inferior to those of the United States or Germany. Others will not support the less-than-stellar working conditions that some manufacturers in China offer to their employees. Yet more companies choose to make the most of low labor costs by operating overseas.
When a board warps, cards tear easily, and pieces aren’t practical, it’s likely that people won’t enjoy the game and that it won’t be successful.
Billy Sheng from Liminal Games said game creators should not assume Chinese manufacturers are aware that they want to make high-quality products. According to him, if designers don’t specify what kind of materials they want, manufacturers will use whatever is most cost-efficient for them, hence the cheap materials.
“Sometimes, you don’t know what you want. In those cases, ask the manufacturer for the available options and choose from them. The greater the precision with which you communicate, the more the final product will be what you want,” he wrote in a blog post for Stonemaier Games.
The first board games made in China had a lot of printing inconsistencies. It made game creators wary of dealing with Chinese manufacturers. However, now that many Chinese printers will send you proofs of their work before rolling the presses, quality control should not be an issue.
The industry has risen to higher standards as it grew over the past decade. Today, players can enjoy affordable and high-quality games made in China.
Manufacturing In China Comes With Downsides — But Someone’s Got Your Back
While manufacturing in China has its benefits, it also comes with a few challenges. Panda Game Manufacturing, Hero Time, Wingo Games, and Board Game Manufacturing are just a few names among dozens that offer game designers an affordable way to bring their products to life. These companies work to coordinate and vet factories from China to ensure the quality of the products. With their help, you can eliminate much of the hassle of dealing with Chinese manufacturers.
James Mathe commented that “Companies that successfully deal with Chinese manufacturing have a representative located in the actual plant; someone who can maintain standards and understands the business.”
You will, however, have to factor that into your budget. Watch out for overenthusiastic manufacturers and those who don’t seem to care, communicate via video conferencing, and minimize changes to your design.
Many game designers say the main challenge when doing business in China is the language barrier. Employees of different companies speak different levels of English.
The good news is that today many manufacturers have U.S.-based representatives or English-speaking employees on staff who can facilitate the process for you. You should, however, be extremely specific in your messages and repeat them as necessary to make sure they are understood and that you achieve the results you desire.
If you have a game idea that you want to explore, now that you know the advantages of working with overseas manufacturers, you are set up to make an informed decision.
Contacting Chinese companies that can execute your vision is the best step for those without a lot of money to invest, especially a startup company.
The quality of your game may not be up to par due to the low manufacturing costs, but can easily be remade or remanufactured with higher quality pieces when your budget does allow.