Business ideas
8 min read

How to Start a Profitable Board Game Business [11 Steps]

Learn how to start a profitable board game business with these 11+ steps. From market research to manufacturing, we cover it all. Start your game empire today! #boardgamebusiness #entrepreneurship #profitablebusiness

By Nick Cotter
Updated Feb 05, 2024

image of a board game business
This page may feature products from our affiliate partners, which could influence the products we discuss due to potential compensation. Despite this, our evaluations are impartial, based solely on our independent analysis. The content here is intended for informational purposes and should not be seen as legal advice. For professional guidance, consulting with a legal expert is recommended.
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1. Perform market analysis.

To begin a board game business, performing a comprehensive market analysis is crucial. This step will help you understand the competitive landscape, identify your target audience, and uncover trends that can inform your business strategy. Here's how to approach this vital first step:

  • Research the industry: Look at market size, growth trends, and industry reports to grasp the health of the board game sector.
  • Identify your competitors: Analyze existing board game companies, focusing on their product offerings, pricing, marketing strategies, and customer reviews.
  • Understand your customers: Determine who your potential customers are, what they value in board games, and where they can be reached.
  • Spot market trends: Stay informed about emerging themes, technologies, and design innovations that are shaping board games today.
  • Assess the retail landscape: Explore how board games are sold, whether through brick-and-mortar stores, online platforms, or both, and consider the implications for your distribution strategy.
  • Regulatory considerations: Investigate any regulations or standards relevant to board game production and sales in your target markets.
image of a board game business

Are board game businesses profitable?

Yes, board game businesses can be highly profitable depending on the individual business’s model. Board game businesses can generate revenue from sales of the games, as well as from related merchandise such as expansions, cards, and other accessories. Additionally, many successful board game businesses also offer gaming events and other organized activities that can generate additional revenue.

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2. Draft a board game business plan.

Creating a board game business plan is a crucial step toward turning your passion into a profitable venture. It serves as a roadmap, detailing your vision, strategies, and the practical steps needed to make your business a success. Below are key elements to consider when drafting your business plan.

  • Executive Summary: Summarize your business concept, target market, and unique selling points.
  • Business Description: Outline the scope of your business, types of board games offered, and your mission statement.
  • Market Analysis: Research the board game industry, identify your target audience, and analyze competitors.
  • Marketing Plan: Develop strategies for branding, promotion, and distribution channels.
  • Operations Plan: Describe your creation process, manufacturing, and logistics.
  • Management Team: Highlight the expertise and roles of your team members.
  • Financial Projections: Provide detailed revenue forecasts, budget estimates, and funding requirements.
  • Risk Assessment: Identify potential challenges and outline mitigation strategies.

How does a board game business make money?

Board game businesses make money by selling physical copies of their products to customers. They also make money from selling digital copies of their games through online stores such as Steam or the App Store. Additionally, these businesses can make money from merchandise related to their games such as t-shirts and posters. Finally, board game businesses often sell licenses allowing others to make derivative works or use their games in a different context. For example, a board game business may target gamers aged 15-30 as their target market for a business like air duct cleaning.

3. Develop a board game brand.

Creating a strong brand for your board game is crucial to distinguish it in a competitive market and build a loyal customer base. Your brand should reflect the unique personality of your games and resonate with your target audience. Here are some key points to consider when developing your board game brand:

  • Identify your niche: Understand the specific segment of the market your games appeal to, whether it's strategy enthusiasts, families, or party gamers.
  • Define your brand personality: Decide on the voice and tone of your brand. Will it be whimsical, serious, educational, or adventurous?
  • Create a memorable name and logo: Your brand name and logo should be distinctive and memorable, making it easy for customers to recall and recognize your products.
  • Develop a visual identity: Choose colors, fonts, and imagery that consistently convey your brand’s personality across all marketing materials and product packaging.
  • Build a brand story: Craft a compelling narrative about the origins of your company, the inspiration behind your games, and what sets you apart from the competition.
  • Engage with your community: Foster a community around your brand through social media, events, and conventions to create a loyal customer base and receive valuable feedback.

How to come up with a name for your board game business?

Coming up with a name for your board game business can be a fun and creative process! First, take some time to brainstorm words that represent the types of games you sell and the values you want your business to embody. Make sure to keep it simple – shorter names are easier to remember and pass along. Once you have a few ideas in mind, try them out on friends and family to see what resonates with people. Finally, make sure the name is available by doing an online search to make sure no one else has already claimed it. With these steps, you should be able to come up with a great name for your board game business!

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4. Formalize your business registration.

Once you've laid the groundwork for your board game business, formalizing your business registration is a crucial step to legitimizing your endeavor and ensuring legal compliance. This process differs by country and region, but here are some general steps you can follow to get your business up and running.

  • Choose a business structure: Decide whether your business will be a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. Each structure has different legal and tax implications.
  • Register your business name: Select a unique name for your business and make sure it's not already in use. Register it with the appropriate state or local agency.
  • Obtain necessary licenses and permits: Depending on your location and business type, you may need specific licenses or permits to operate legally.
  • Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN): If applicable, get an EIN from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax purposes.
  • Register for state and local taxes: Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers' compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance.
  • File the necessary paperwork: Submit all required documents to your local, state, or federal government to officially register your business.

Resources to help get you started:

Explore crucial resources designed specifically for board game entrepreneurs, offering deep dives into market trends, operational excellence, and strategies for successful business expansion:

  • BoardGameGeek (BGG): A comprehensive database and community for board game enthusiasts, providing insights into trends, popular mechanics, and consumer preferences. Website.
  • ICv2: Offers industry reports and news covering the business side of board games, including sales data and market analysis. Website.
  • The Dice Tower: A media network providing reviews, interviews, and advice that can help understand what makes a board game successful. Website.
  • Cardboard Edison: Aims at assisting board game designers with advice, resources, and community support, beneficial for understanding the design process and industry standards. Website.
  • GAMA (The Game Manufacturers Association): Provides resources for publishers, including trade shows, industry reports, and networking opportunities, crucial for market entry and expansion. Website.

5. Acquire necessary licenses and permits for board game.

Securing the appropriate licenses and permits is a critical step in setting up a board game business to ensure legal compliance. The specifics can vary based on your location, the nature of your business, and other factors. Below is a general guide to help you get started:

  • Business License: Register for a general business license with your local city or county government to operate legally.
  • Sales Tax Permit: If you're selling products, a sales tax permit from your state's department of revenue might be required.
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): Obtain an EIN from the IRS for tax purposes, especially if you plan to hire employees.
  • Certificate of Occupancy: If operating from a physical location, you need a certificate of occupancy from your local government to confirm the space meets building codes and zoning laws.
  • Trademark: Consider applying for a trademark for your board game's name and logo to protect your brand identity.
  • Product Safety Testing: Ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for safety standards if your game is intended for children.

It's essential to consult with a legal professional or your local business bureau to ensure you meet all regulatory requirements for your specific board game business.

What licenses and permits are needed to run a board game business?

The exact license and permits required to run a board game business can vary greatly by location, so it's important to do research and find out the laws specific to your area. Depending on the type of board game business you will be running, you may need a special sales tax permit, food or liquor license, or a license issued by your city or township. Additionally, you may have to register your business with the department of revenue in your state.

6. Open a business bank account and secure funding as needed.

Starting a board game business requires careful financial management, and one of the key steps is to establish a separate business bank account to keep your company's finances organized. Additionally, securing adequate funding is crucial to ensure a smooth launch and operation of your business. Here's how you can accomplish these essential tasks:

  • Research local banks and credit unions that offer business banking services. Look for accounts with low fees, easy access, and good customer support.
  • Gather the necessary documentation to open a business bank account, such as your business license, EIN (Employer Identification Number), and articles of incorporation or organization.
  • Consider different funding options, including business loans, lines of credit, investors, crowdfunding platforms, or personal savings to finance your initial inventory and operating expenses.
  • Develop a solid business plan to present to potential lenders or investors, showcasing market research, financial projections, and a clear strategy for your board game business.
  • Keep track of all your business transactions through your new account to maintain a clear financial record, which will be helpful for budgeting, tax purposes, and future funding needs.

7. Set pricing for board game services.

Setting the right pricing for your board game services is crucial to attract customers while ensuring your business remains profitable. Consider the value you're providing, your target market's budget, and the prices of your competitors. Here are some tips to guide you in pricing your board games:

  • Cost-Plus Pricing: Calculate the total cost of providing your service, including production, overhead, and labor, then add a markup to ensure a profit margin.
  • Competitive Analysis: Research what similar businesses are charging and position your prices in a way that offers value while staying competitive.
  • Value-Based Pricing: Set prices based on the perceived value to the customer, not just the cost of production. Offer premium services at higher rates if they provide a unique experience or superior quality.
  • Discounts and Packages: Create pricing structures that encourage bulk purchases or longer-term engagements, such as memberships, to increase customer loyalty and upfront revenue.
  • Dynamic Pricing: Consider flexible pricing models that can change based on demand, special events, or promotions to maximize earnings and market interest.
  • Customer Feedback: Gather feedback from initial customers to understand how they perceive your pricing and adjust accordingly to meet market expectations.

What does it cost to start a board game business?

Initiating a board game business can involve substantial financial commitment, the scale of which is significantly influenced by factors such as geographical location, market dynamics, and operational expenses, among others. Nonetheless, our extensive research and hands-on experience have revealed an estimated starting cost of approximately $42000 for launching such an business. Please note, not all of these costs may be necessary to start up your board game business.

8. Acquire board game equipment and supplies.

Starting a board game business requires careful selection of equipment and supplies to ensure that the final product is of high quality and appealing to customers. Here's a guide to help you acquire the necessary items for your venture:

  • Game Components: Source materials like dice, pawns, tokens, and miniatures, ensuring they are durable and well-crafted. Consider custom designs for a unique touch.
  • Printed Materials: Find a reliable printer for game boards, cards, and instructions. Choose high-quality paper and finishes for a professional look.
  • Boxes and Packaging: Invest in sturdy boxes for your games. Custom branding can make your product stand out on the shelf.
  • Prototyping Supplies: Get blank cards, boards, and pieces for testing game mechanics before final production.
  • Art Supplies: If creating original artwork, purchase quality art supplies or software for digital designs.
  • Manufacturing Partners: Research and partner with a board game manufacturer that aligns with your quality expectations and budget.
  • Storage Solutions: Secure a clean, dry space for storing inventory to maintain product quality.

List of software, tools and supplies needed to start a board game business:

  • Board Game Manufacturing Software – $800-$1,000
  • Gaming Website Builder – $50-$300
  • Graphic Design Software – $99-$299
  • Inventory Management Software – Starting at $1,000
  • Business Plan Template – $25-$99
  • Bookkeeping Software – Starting at $9 per month
  • Marketing Materials – Starting at $500 for initial set up cost
  • Tables for Retail Sales – Around $100 each
  • Shelving Units for Storage of Board Games - Around $80 each
  • Insurance Coverage - Starting at around $600 a year

9. Obtain business insurance for board game, if required.

Securing the right business insurance is a crucial step when starting a board game business, as it helps protect your investment from potential risks. Depending on the nature of your business, different types of insurance may be required or recommended. Below are key points to consider when obtaining business insurance:

  • General Liability Insurance: Protects against financial loss due to bodily injury, property damage, or advertising injury claims made by third parties.
  • Product Liability Insurance: Covers legal and court costs in case your board games cause harm or injury to users.
  • Commercial Property Insurance: Provides coverage for your physical assets, including inventory, equipment, and facilities, against damage or loss.
  • Business Interruption Insurance: Helps compensate for lost income and covers operating expenses if your business is temporarily unable to operate.
  • Intellectual Property Insurance: Shields your board game designs and content from infringement or theft.
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Mandatory in many places, it covers medical costs and lost wages for employees injured on the job.
  • Consult with an insurance broker or agent who specializes in small businesses or the gaming industry to tailor an insurance package that fits your specific needs.

10. Begin marketing your board game services.

Marketing is critical in creating buzz and attracting customers to your board game services. A strategic approach will help you reach your target audience effectively and establish your brand in the market. Consider these tips as you embark on promoting your business:

  • Identify Your Audience: Tailor your marketing efforts to appeal to your specific demographic, whether they are families, hardcore gamers, or casual players.
  • Utilize Social Media: Leverage platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to showcase your games, share news, and engage with the community.
  • Build a Website: Create a professional website with an online store, game tutorials, and customer reviews to give your business credibility and accessibility.
  • Engage with Communities: Participate in board game forums, attend conventions, and host events to network and spread the word about your services.
  • Collaborate with Influencers: Partner with board game influencers and reviewers to reach a wider audience and gain trust through their endorsements.
  • Offer Promotions: Incentivize first-time purchases with discounts, bundle deals, or loyalty programs to encourage players to try your services.
  • Utilize Paid Advertising: Invest in targeted ads on Google, social media, and relevant gaming sites to drive traffic and conversions.
  • Collect Feedback: Use customer feedback to improve your offerings and show potential customers that you value their input and are always improving.

What licenses and permits are needed to run a board game business?

  • Board Game Manufacturing Software – $800-$1,000
  • Gaming Website Builder – $50-$300
  • Graphic Design Software – $99-$299
  • Inventory Management Software – Starting at $1,000
  • Business Plan Template – $25-$99
  • Bookkeeping Software – Starting at $9 per month
  • Marketing Materials – Starting at $500 for initial set up cost
  • Tables for Retail Sales – Around $100 each
  • Shelving Units for Storage of Board Games - Around $80 each
  • Insurance Coverage - Starting at around $600 a year

11. Expand your board game business.

As you reach Step 11 in your journey to expand your board game business, it's critical to focus on scaling up while maintaining the quality and uniqueness that brought your company success. Strategic expansion can take many forms, from broadening your product line to reaching new markets. Consider these key tactics to effectively grow your business:

  • Explore partnerships with established brands or designers to create co-branded games, tapping into their existing customer bases.
  • Diversify your product range by introducing expansions for existing games, or developing new game genres that appeal to a wider audience.
  • Invest in online marketing, using targeted ads and social media campaigns to reach a global audience and drive traffic to your online store.
  • Participate in international board game fairs and conventions to showcase your products and network with industry professionals.
  • Consider crowdfunding for new projects to gauge interest and secure funding while creating a buzz around upcoming releases.
  • Expand your retail presence by working with distributors to get your games into more brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Engage with your community through events, tournaments, or playtesting sessions to build a loyal fanbase and receive valuable feedback.