Lacy and I strive to sell quality products to our customers. If it’s stationery from Zazzle, if it’s a published book on Amazon, if it’s a card or board game sold on our manufacturer’s website; we only invest in quality products that is worth our customer’s money.

How true is it that people want a fun experience for a low price?  If you’re a responsible spender, then busting your wallet will compromise the pleasure you’ll have in making that purchase that we sellers want you to make.  To deliver an experience that’s in budget and fun to play again and again; this is a meaningful ambition that Lacy and I try to live by.

To sell quality products, it takes money to make money, especially at a cheap cost.  That’s a lesson we’ve learned after years of research. In our searching, we’ve looked into local companies like Yaquinto (now Cartamundi), other USA-based companies like Board Game Design and 360 Manufacturing, and even non-USA companies like the Canadian Panda Game Manufacturing and the Chinese Wafai Printing (which used to offer the printing of board and card games.)

A few years ago, Lacy and I discovered a print on demand game company: The Game Crafter (also known as TGC). It seemed promising, so we decided to invest our time; we weren’t disappointed. The company is very effective in its work, and they deliver just what they promise: allowing game designers to actually make and sell games.  The templates that are given are easy to understand and the website is convenient to use.  They’ve even improved their equipment and services over the years we’ve been following them.

TGC has a shop that sells many designers’ works, and many original games are for sale there, including the Kickstarter success “Village in a Box” by Peter Jackson and the game that I’m personally interested in, “Melusine” by Artemic Games.

Although we’ve been impressed by their improvements, Lacy and I are dissatisfied for 2 main reasons.  First of all, there are limits to the components that are available to put into a game.  Designers can only choose from set shapes and pieces that TGC offers.  If they don’t have what you need, then you’re out of luck.  Are you wanting to put aluminum doubloons into your trading game?  Do you see a vintage piece in the shop that represents the game you’re designing?  You’d better hope they don’t decide to discontinue your featured piece, or you’ll lose a valuable part of your game.  Personally, we were happy to see when the company added doubloons to the list of available components, but were then disappointed when they stopped selling the coins before we could even begin developing a game for it.

It’s understandable why they do that, and I’m sure one day the limits of possibilities will be lifted and TGC will offer the ability to make your customers pay extra for custom components.  But… that leads into our second concern.

Our goal is to be a gaming business that offers the best quality for less than a wallet-buster price.  We want to settle on a fair price: fair enough for our manufacturer to get paid, for us to earn a living, for retail stores to get a good deal, and still save money for our customers.  As we work with TGC, we must raise prices to numbers that we don’t agree with.  Games that we see as a $15 value have to be priced at $39.99.  A game worth $35 is priced at $84.99 or more to make a decent profit.

So this past month, I was browsing Amazon.com. I wanted to observe the typical game prices and quality compared to the games we can make at TGC. I like to do that: browse shops to check prices of products.  So I checked Catan: 5th edition and Ticket to Ride, because they’re very popular games.  Both were about $40.  As I was looking through the games, Mice and Mystics caught my eye, mainly because it was a more costly game, the price falling at just under $65.  It was full of tiny plastic figurines and cards and little wedges of cheese.  I also checked on another great game, Pandemic, because Lacy and I have played it before and know the quality of the game; it was cheaper than the others, priced right at $25.

This discouraged me. After trying to come up with a way to downgrade our projects to be more affordable, I decided to reconsider our manufacturing options all together.  I called an executive meeting, Lacy and I brainstormed the possibilities, and we decided that it would be best for our customers if we decided to focus our more expensive projects with another company, Panda GM.  After looking over the showcase games featured on their site, Lacy and I were surprised to find Mice and Mystics and Pandemic were  both products of PandaGM.

Using Panda Game Manufacturing instead of TGC will cause us to make changes in file types, card designs, etc. We’ll also need to invest in Adobe InDesign to work with Panda GM, and raise the money we need for production, possibly with Kickstarter or another way; but Lacy and I are eager to do whatever we can to offer the better quality and lower prices to our customer, because low prices really are that important to us.

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