How much do board game designers make? If they make anything at all, that is. You might have thought that board game designers make a lot of money because board games are expensive. But this is not always the case. Most often, only a small percentage of the money from board games goes to the designers.
How much do board game designers make, really?
There is no fixed salary for a designer unless you are an employee of a successful board game company like Hasbro. The average salary for a board game designer in the United States is about $70,524 a year. It can go up to $88,508 or lower, depending on the state in which you live and the company you work for.
But most often, board game designers are not employed by companies. They work freelance designing board games and selling their designs to board game companies, who will pay them for the work if they accept it. Apart from the initial sum for which a company buys the designs, board game designers also get a small percentage of profit from overall sales. The percentage we are talking about is very small, though.
Of course, as with any job, how much you really make is dependent on many factors like your skill, the quality of your designs, and how successful they are.
How much do board game designers make, and how come they make so little?
If you want to make a significant amount of money from designing board games, then you will have to design quite a lot of them. Or you will have to create a design that manages to sell a good amount of copies.
And trust me; board games don’t sell out very fast. They are slow-moving products. Board games are becoming increasingly less popular due to many reasons. This is not due to any fault with board games. But it is the advances in technology and the rising popularity for video games and movies that is to blame.
There is quite a lot of time and process that goes in between your board game design and the board game manufacturing. Firstly, you need to have created quite a strong design that you feel would be worthwhile and successful. You can’t sell people a design that they wouldn’t like playing. Keep in mind that board games are generally expensive. So if people are to spend so much for a game, they will expect a lot of interesting strategy and entertainment in the game.
After you have come up with a good design, your board game must be tested. Playtesters can be in the form of friends and family. But they are, most likely, not experts in game playing. It’s always best to have it tested by professional playtesters who will be able to tell you about any loopholes in the game or give you unbiased and valuable feedback. And, of course, they wouldn’t do it for free.
And that’s not all. You would also have to pay for an artist to draw your game design well and make it look somewhat presentable for potential producers. Artists don’t charge cheap, and you also have to spend some amount for the materials for the board.
Once your board game is ready, you can choose to sell the design to a board game company or to self-publish your game.
If you choose to sell your design to a company, you will get a tiny percentage of the profits from retail, which is only about 2-3%. If your game is not exceptional, then chances are that you will not be selling more than 10,000 copies. Then the profit you get from the sale is very small. But of course, if your design is very successful, you can manage to gain a significant profit. But it still wouldn’t be enough to live by.
You could try your hand at publishing the board games yourself. True, this way, you will be able to earn more money than by selling the design. But it comes with a lot of strings attached. It needs a significant amount of capital, even for small runs. Companies that help small endeavors like this, like Kickstarter, will help, but they will also ask for a significant cut from the profits.
Self-publishing your board games is a lot to take by a single person. There is the manufacturing, barcoding, packaging, and shipping to take care of. If you are not cut out for business, it’s very probable it might fall flat on the face.
But there are those who have taken all the risks and done it successfully too. That’s one reason why we have so many good board game options around.
How much do board game designers make, and how to survive?
Board game designers make so little or nothing at all. How are they to survive, then?
Most often, board game designer design is a hobby and out of a passion for games. Nothing more. You can’t expect to make a living out of it. And you need another regular job or business to support yourself.
But at the same time, low pay does not mean you should give up on your dreams. You must still pursue them with passion because, who knows, you could create the next monopoly in the market, which would explode in blockbuster sales worldwide and make you a millionaire in the process!
Can you recycle board games? Click here to read all about recycling board games.
*All pics are taken from Unsplash.com