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Print and Play publishing: Stats and advices

Page: DesignArticle.Article-PnPStatAdvice - Last Modified : Sun, 20 Oct 13 - 1829 Visits

Author : Eric Pietrocupo

This article tries to give stats and advice for people who want to publish their game as print and play. In June 2011, my game Fallen Kingdoms has published for a whole year. So it game me a certain amount of data that I could start analyzing. As year passes, I will change the statistics of this article. I will also list a series of problem I have encountered during the publishing process that you could try to avoid.

Statistics for Fallen Kingdoms

Fallen Kingdoms is my first board game that has been published as a print and play game. I will use the stat from this game to illustrate some concepts. Stats will be updated as the time pass. These stats are there to give you an overview of the sales though print and play. It does not means that you game will sell as many copies. It depends on many factors including the quality of the game and the marketing.

Fallen Kingdoms: Sales according to the price for each year

Price SoldVersion2010-20112011-20122012-2013
4.50$Electronic  4
5.40$Electronic 5 
5.50$Electronic  2
6.75$Electronic 31

Number of copies sold by website for each year

Store Name2010-20112011-20122012-2013
DriveThru RPG1465
Wargames download322
Print and play Productions10 
Games in print00 


  • Free copies has been given for review and math trades.
  • In November 2011, the game was revised and the rules were released to the public.
  • Sales are counted from June to May.
  • In October 2013, the 2nd revision was released as a free game.

Problem I have encountered with the release of my game.

My website was not visible: It might be a bit weird to say, but my website was only visible in Ontario and Quebec. It took me a lot of time before realizing that. My game was released in June, and I did not had a website open to the world until November. So it sure did not help increasing the visibility of my game. It was also much harder for people to be aware of the existence of my game before it was released.

The release sale was not low enough: People don't buy games blindly, even if they are only sold 10$. So the idea of a release sale is to reduce the risk that the player is taking in buying your game blindly. When I released the game, it was sold at 20% off (8$). Unfortunately, that was not enough, I would have needed to release the game at least at 50% off and if possible below the 5$ psychological limit (See later).

50% off might seem like a lot, but think that these people will be the first to play your game and they might actually rate or comment the game which will convince other players to buy it. Unless you have a large amount of people which are desperately waiting for your game to come out, I suggest a strong sale for the release of the game. When I released the game at 5$ (as a "better late then never" release sale), from black Friday to the 1st of January, there were a lot of sale during this period.

The game was released on Board Game Geek too late: I decide to submit my game on BGG the day I released the game. Because one of the thing that frustrate me the most if having games in the database that will be never released. So my idea was to add it to the database only when it's ready and sure to get published. The problem is that the game does not get know before it's released which does not generate any hype for the game.

So it's all a matter of not submitting your game too soon or too late. I suggest that people should submit their game on BGG when they have an almost working game and they are starting the production of the game. At this stage, little changes can be made to the game and the game should be pretty solid to reach this point.

Other advices

Beware of price anchoring: Drivethru RPG has released an information e-ail that asked for publisher not to release any product at 1$. The primary reason was that each transaction had administration and PayPal fees which made 1$ product almost not profitable. The second reason was price anchoring.

If everybody sell their game 3$, then people will assume that the value of a print and play game is 3$. So any other game that will exceed this price will be considered expensive. As a comparison, if you build an expensive house in a poor neighborhood, it will drop in value. So if people are selling their games at a very low price, it forces me to drop the price on my game.

So the idea is to sell the game at a reasonable amount. Right now (2011), there seems to be a psychological price limit around 5$. It seems that players right now expect to pay 5$ for a print and play game.

Price fluctuation: After some chat on Board game geek about economy, we have concluded that the main element that should dictate the price is the demand. Watch the amount of sales you make each month, if the demand raise, raise your price, if the demand drops, lower your price. In theory, if you game becomes more popular while time pass, the demand for the game might increase, so in the end the price will raise. Be patient, it can take years before a print and play game get known. Still, at some point, you might reach a roof when your target audience all have your game. Hooking price with demand is what I am going to try for the next year.

Give Free copies for review: 1 PnP sale is not equal to 1 comment on BGG. So it will take a lot of time before you get comments and review. A good idea is to offer to give the game for free in exchange for a review. Some sites like drivethru RPG allows you to send complimentary copies. You send a code by e-mail which allow them to download your game for free.

Reviews are important for other players who are interested in buying your game. If you can have your reviews before the release, it can be even better because you could link your reviews in your game description. So even if nobody gave any comment or review on the website you are selling the game, you still have these external reviews you can link to.

Always participate to sales: Some web site have special sale that runs at certain dates and that groups many products on the site. These sales normally reduce all participating products at a fixed discount ranging between 20%-25%. You should really participate to all these sales, first because it will increase the number sales since people could buy it at a lower price. Second it increase the visibility of your game, because it is going to be placed in a special list with all other products in sale. That list viewed by much more people.

Use micro-badge to target players: If you make a game about a specific theme or for a specific kind of players, you could use micro-badge to find players that could become possible play testers, customers or reviewers. For example, you are making a board game of the Castlevania video game. Check if there is any micro-badge about Castlevania, and contact the people who own these micro-badges.

Contact Print and Play Productions: There is somebody on the net which runs something called "Print and play Production". You can find his geeklist on BGG. If you are the designer of a PnP game, you can ask him if he can assemble and sell the game for you. You will have to supply the print outs and negotiate which components you want in the game. This way, it gives the option to people who do not want to assemble the game to buy a physical game. PnP production can also ship games in some online stores, so it will increase the visibility of your game.

Write Summary Text: You should first write a sentence or a quote that summarize your game. That quote can be placed on the title of the box, but it will could be used in many other placed. For example, if you are doing advertisement with Soogle ad word, you are limited to 1 sentence, so you could use that sentence for your ad. Here are some examples from popular games:

  • Dungeonquest: Dare you face the dragon's challenge?
  • Louis XIV: Strategy game in the court of the Sun King
  • Settlers of catan: A game of Discovery, Settlement and trade
  • Munchkin Fu: Kill the monsters - Steal the treasure - Karate chop your buddy

You see it's short and it summarize the game pretty well. The second thing you need is a 1 or 2 paragraphs that will describe the theme and the main mechanics of the game. This text will be placed into the introduction of the rule book, but it can also be reused in the product description on the web store.

This is why these 2 pieces of text must be thought carefully, because they are going to be reused in many different places.

This is it for now. If I gain new information or experiences, I'll simply update this article.

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