Wednesday, August 30

A Treatise, On Box Size

Ok, so the rhyming title is not up to Yehuda's poetic standards, but it amused me.

When it comes to board games, the bigger the box the more the game is worth. Apparently. With the exception of card games (which usually come in very snug little packets), most games try to boost their apparent value by shipping in a box that is bigger than necessary. We've all seen them. The box that is 80% air, with a nice plastic insert keeping the handful of components safe in their own little trays.

Why do I care? Well I guess the reasons I'm interested are because I recently had to design a box for Border Reivers and I live in a tiny flat. When I was designing the Border Reivers box I had one thing in mind - minimising the raw materials required. I wanted to do this for two reasons:

  • To reduce the burden on the environment - I'm a bit of an Eco-nut and I'm very keen to recycle as much as possible and to avoid unnecessary packaging - especially plastic packaging.
  • To minimise my costs - the box size I used was only just small enough for the labels to fit on A3 paper, and for a full box to be made from one sheet of 60cm x 45cm greyboard.

I ended up with a box that was 20cm x 26cm x 4cm - the same size as the Fantasy Flight Citadels. However, Border Reivers completely fills it's box, unlike Citadels which is just some cards, some chits and a handful of plastic counters. The downside of this is that when people first see the box they are expecting a cheaper game, so when they hear its price they're surprised and immediately thinking 'That's expensive for a game of that size', which makes converting them into customers more difficult. The contents are roughly in line with the price when you see them but that is too late for a first impression.

Is there anything we can do to reduce the sizes of boxes? Do you even want them smaller? I'd appreciate smaller boxes, I'd be able to fit more games in my flat and I'd feel better about the packaging situation. I don't think any publisher would voluntarily do it, as they will be making their games look expensive, since we judge value by box size.

Will the move to Internet retailers make a difference? Games aren't judged by their boxes when bought over the Internet, and one of the reasons Internet retailers are cheaper is they can cram games into cheap real estate.

In other news, I took the day off work, and spent most of it making boxes again. I'm trying to get to the point where I have finished games that aren't already claimed, but at the moment I'm selling them as fast as I'm making them. I also popped into the bank to give the manager his copy and he seemed very pleased with it. He paid me £5 over the asking price too, which was a nice surprise.


Yehuda said...

A very real problem.

I can't stand buying large boxes with minimal components. I think that counts. On the other hand, I can see may people will be reluctant to pay more for a smaller box game.

It depends on whether you want more buyers who are dissatisfied, or less buyers who are.


Jack said...

I think the production costs are tightly coupled to the number (and complexity and quality) of the components. The more components the more you pay.

Sadly publishers tend to use oversize boxes to fool FLGS browsers into thinking a game needs such a huge box to fit the thousands of components it must have - hence it warrants the high price they're charging.

Perhaps I should lead a one-man revolt and see how small I can make my boxes. Until I have a game that sells at FLGS it probably won't hurt my sales...