The Difference Between a Game and a Product

One of the most interesting parts of making my own product has been learning the difference between what you make and what people will buy.

The game I'm making, Fry Thief, is essentially:

  • 16 poker sized cards
  • 12 tokens
Fry Thief Cards

All of the components for Fry Thief in the players hands or on the table.

And that's it. It's a very small game. So small in fact the original version fits inside this very cute packaging called a hookbox.

Fry Thief Hookbox

All 16 cards & 12 tokens fit in this hookbox

And when people played the game they definitely had fun. But this is a competitive landscape. There are over 4,000 new board & card games added to BoardGameGeek (the IMDB of the board game world) every year. So you can't have a good game. You have to have a great game.

A few months ago I started experimenting with a more premium version of the game. I started adding extra things to the game and people really started to come alive while playing. They went from “cool game” to “this is an awesome game when can I get it?”

Adding Nicer Components

Fry Thief Components

I added plate cards to hold your resources, little fries, and ketchup splats.

I added a few things to the game. The cards are exactly the same so those didn't change. But I added plate cards to hold your fries. And people love these! They love arranging the fries on the plate. And what I find most fascinating is that the game plays exactly the same with or without the plate cards. If you don't have these plate cards you just place the fries in front of you.

Catan Roads

The components in Catan
Photo credit Matt Walsh

If you're familiar with Catan (formerly Settler's of Catan) you'll likely recognize the little yellow pieces. They're actually roads in Catan. And because Catan is such a popular game these pieces are dirt cheap. Only a little more than card board tokens.

And they really bring that fry stealing theme to life since you're stealing something that looks & feels (a bit) like a fry.

The ketchup plops are little red discs. Also a very common component in games so they're also cheap.

Adding Nicer Artwork

In addition to getting nicer components I hired an illustrator to make the cards look more beautiful and to bring the theme to life.

Adding Illustrations to Fry Thief Cards

Adding illustrations to the cards

There's 16 cards and I've hired the illustrator to do half of the illustrations up front and the 2nd half when the Kickstarter campaign successfully funds. This will reduce my upfront costs and still give backers a pretty good idea of the final product.

Pricing

All together the new plate cards, a bigger box (not pictured), fry & ketchup pieces adds $1 to my cost of goods. Meaning the game is $1 more expensive for me to produce. And since the game is bigger & nicer that means I can charge more for it.

Getting artwork from my illustrator is a big upfront cost. I won't share their exact rate since that's not fair to my illustrator but it costs several hundred dollars to get custom illustrators made. And if you have more than 16 cards it can very easily turn into thousands of dollars. Luckily it's a one time fee. I pay upfront for the illustrations and I can use them any where I want moving forward.

I was originally thinking about charging $10 for the smaller hookbox. Now that I have nicer components, beautiful artwork, & a bigger box I think I can charge $15. And from my play tests I know gamers will appreciate the difference.

Productize your Product

The game I have today is very similar to the game I had ~10 months ago. Lots of little balances & tweaks but it's the same game.

What's changed is all of the things around the game. I added more icons, illustrations, components, and a nicer box. Most creators think they're done when they're created the best thing. You still have to make your creation appealing. And that means spending time on the details, the packaging, and the marketing around the product.

One thought on “The Difference Between a Game and a Product

  1. Nice progress, Patrick! Another distinction, of course, is the difference between a successful product and a successful (sustainable) business. The challenge never ends 🙂

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