Manufacturing shipping board games

Manufacturing & Shipping Board Games From China

Shipping is one of the complex issues with indie board game design. If printing only a test run of 10 copies or so, Boardgamesmaker.com, Gamecrafter.com, and a few others will be a great solution. However, getting more than 25 copies becomes extremely cost prohibitive as the cost per game will be $40-$60 or more for most games when you put it in a box, print rules, etc.

Managed Production & Shipping

The next option becomes a company like Delanogames.com or Longpackgames.com. Typically they like to work on games with quantities in the 2000 or more range, but they will come down to 1000 units or less at a cost. Delano is USA based while Longpack is in China, but both act as quality control, shipping and production managers for the indie game designer.

This will get games down into the $6 – $20 per unit cost depending on the game and quantity. These price can be really borderline for making any profit from the game as you should use about a 5x-6x multiplier to set retail price based on the cost of the game to make/ship(or COGS cost of good sold). So a game that has COGS of $10 should retail for at least $50.

Self Production & Shipping

The third and cheapest option is to get the game made in china by yourself. Here you are the Longpack or Delano working with a Chinese factory. You are quality control and the shipping agent. Basically besides making the physical game, you are the person in charge. This keeps cost per unit down but increase risk substantially. But the big bugaboo with manufacturing in China right now is shipping. So let’s take a look at shipping from China and how to do it cost effectively.

Theoretical shipment

500 boxes (9.25″ x 9.25″ x 1.5). Roughly 20 units per level(5 x 4) and 25 levels will fit on a 48″ x 40″ x 48″ pallet adding room between levels since this will actually be probably 10 boxes on a pallet and not a tower of 500 boxes. Prices shown are real shipping quotes gathered today.

Cost Factory in China to Amazon Warehouse in Bethlehem Pa USA (include customs certificates, insurance etc loading dock to loading dock). Estimate of 50 days transit.
(I chose this because inland east cost and center of USA are most expensive areas in USA to ship to from china. If you have an address in San Diego for example, the cost may be 20-25% cheaper)

500 lbs (1lb per game)
1 pallet (500 units) $1580 ($3.20/unit)
2 Pallets (1000 units) $1843 ($1.84/unit)
5 pallets (2500 units) $2644 ($1.06/unit)

1000 lbs (2lbs per game)
1 pallet (500 units) $1580
2 Pallets (1000 units) $1843
5 pallets (2500 units) $2728

Increasing Box Size

IF you made the box 10″ x 10″ x 2″, you can only fit 12 per level safely(4×3). 4×4 would be 40″ x40″ so with shipping boxes you would be over 40″ and risk of damage would go up significantly. You can also only go about 20 levels high, so with 10x10x2 boxes you can only fit about 250 per pallet meaning you need 2 pallets for the base 500 games. This isnt to say you could cram more on per pallet, but there is no chance you could fit them all on one pallet without hanging over the edge or building it 8 feet high.

Essentially the slightly larger game box would cost an extra $263 to ship $1843 – $1580), or an extra $0.50 per unit shipping. The cost of 500 custom boxes at 9.25 x 9.25 x 1.5 is $1.73, for 10 x 10 x 2 it is $2.15, or $0.42 more per box. Combined with the extra shipping costs, the slightly larger box with cost almost $1/unit more. Thus an 18″ x 18″ quad fold board costs around $1 less per unit to box and ship than a 20″ x 20″ board.

It’s the volume of the shipment that is the main component of shipping cost. It costs no more to ship a 1lb game as it does a 2lb game. In fact to ship 500 5lb games(2500lbs) on 1 pallet costs only $1831 compared to $1580 for a 1 or 2lb game. To ship two such pallets it cost $2582, so we are starting to see exponential increase as weight AND volume(or number of pallets) increases.


Keep box size as small as possible and dont worry about weight. Very few games will weigh 5lbs. There is a huge savings in simply shipping 1000 games vs 500, almost 40%+ savings in the shipping cost per unit. Essentially you are almost only paying the increase cost of production to go from 500 to 1000 when it comes to shipping.