Investigating Boxed Sets

Just for giggles, after a quick conversation with an interested party on Facebook, I decided to see how much it would take – cost and price wise – if Gaming Ballistic were to produce a boxed set similar to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

I used an online quote generator to look at the cost of standard boxes. One thing about this: there’s usually a good correlation between availability of an online quote generator and not being the best pricing you can find. Even so, upper bound.

I looked at custom-sized boxes. No. Don’t go there. Wow. So we look at 10.5 x 10.5 x 2″ box, and find that in quantities worthy of making a boxed set (1,000-1,999) we’re dealing with about $4 each for the box itself.

Hrm. OK. Looking at prior quotes of mine, and assuming either a 96-page book or a 128-page book, with good production values in 8×10 size. Hrm. The actual production cost is about $2 per book (slightly less at 96 pages, and slightly more at $128), but the place where you get bit is shipping the books to the publisher, which itself is about a dollar per copy pretty much regardless of size.

Let’s say we need four books, averaging about 112 pages each (so right in the middle). A characters book, an action book, a technology book (let’s say we’re doing a modern action game), and a foes book (a hypothetical Bug Hunt-ish game similar to my Alien Menace campaign would need information on worlds and aliens; alien tech would have to be squeezed in somewhere too). Four books at $3 production cost each. That’s $12 for books, $4 for the box. $16 total cost. Scope creep might push that higher if the books get thicker. An extra dollar per book would say $20 total cost.

So to survive a distribution model, that means a price tag of $80-100 for a “complete setting and rules set in a box” that would be a slimmer, books-only thing comparable to the DFRPG. No dice, nothing that can’t itself be sold as a book with an ISBN on it for Reasons (taxes, inventory, etc; “books” or “collections of books” are exempt from VAT in many places, but throw not-books in there and you make things more challenging).

Interesting. If the fan base would groove on it ($80-100 is still less than the three comparable books at full retail for DnD5e, and about what you can get the three books for at Amazon – $88 all told) it seems like a viable option.

The costs to produce it would be high. To get component prices in the right ballpark, you’re dropping about $16-20 x 1500 sets: $24,000-30,000 right there. You’re also notionally making about 400-500 pages of material, and PDF development costs as I’ve noted are $100-150 per page. So $40,000 to as high as $75,000 to make the thing. Total spread of production costs: $65,000-105,000.

Even at $100 per box, that’s 650-1050 backers required to get there.

That’s still a big lift. Not insane, but not yet proven: my best-ever crowdfunding has drawn about 550 paying customers. I’d need to double that, which means a very large interested mailing list. Probably double or triple what I have now.

Still . . . not out of possibility. But not right now.

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