Updated: Feb 6, 2021
What to put on a board game box is a question every game designer comes across when it's time to release their game. In this blog, discover what you need to put on your packaging, from the obvious details to the legal requirements.
You are here:
You've designed a great game, you've prototyped and play-tested it but now it's time to create the packaging and you have no clue what you have to put on the box. Some contents you will already know you need to have on your box for example: the title, a description and barcode etc...
However, a lot of indie designers can end up missing some of the legal aspects a product needs when it is sold to the general public. This blog is has been written to cover those bases. Let's take a look at what you need!
Feel free to hop around this blog to the parts you need and come back if you get stuck!
Informative items to put on the packaging:
Number of players
A list of contents
Picture of the contents/some of the contents
Social media handles
Important/legal items to have on the packaging:
Your business address
Where it's made
Continue reading for descriptions of each item below (plus links to resources):
Product Title - The title of your game. The most obvious place for your product title will be on the front and the back of the packaging but don't forget to place the title on the sides of the box too, so that it can be seen if it is stacked on a shelf on its side.
Product Description - The description for your game. The box is really about selling the idea and excitement that your game brings to your customers. It's not a place for a play by play of how the game works in its entirety, but an overview and highlight reel of what a player can expect to experience once they get the game out of the box and play it.
Run/Play Time - The duration your game takes to play. If it has varying play times, use a dash between the minimum and maximum time you can spend playing the game. For example: Plays in 15 - 30 mins.
Number of Players - Tell your customers how many people can play from minimum to maximum.
Age Range - What is the minimum and maximum age range that your game is intended for? If you don't have an upper range, just add a plus sign next to the number. For example: Ages 5+
A list of contents - The contents included inside the box. How many cards, dice,
meeples etc... include the entire contents of the box. If there's not enough room on the box for this, it's important to include it in the rule book. You can separate items in the list by their in-game name.
For example: Quirk! by Gibsons is a card game but we don't just write includes 112 cards, we've itemised the cards by their category, 78 character cards, 10 steal cards, 8 stop cards, 6 block cards and 10 mischief cards.
Picture of the contents/some of the contents - If you have a board game with a whole bunch of components, you're going to want to add a picture of what the game looks like on the board.
Other times you might want to show a selection of components on the box. This gives the customer an idea of what is included in the box, especially if the lovely box artwork doesn't give you a full idea of the game from its abstract.
Your Logo - This is not one you're likely to forget, it's one of the most defining elements for a designer to proudly show off their company on the packaging. It makes everything feel more official from the previous prototype stages you have already been through. Make sure your logo is visible on the packaging and on more than one side if you have the room.
Your Website - This lets people know where they can find more of your work. At this point you should probably have a dedicated domain name for your studio/company, as a dot wordpress or dot wix site won't look very professional.
Your Social Media Handles - Where can people find you online? So they can follow you or share your content with more friends. You can also write a call to action in your rulebook to drive engagement to your channels. Make it fun!
The Legal Stuff
Copyright - You get copyright on your work as soon as you make it. To use the copyright mark on your packaging put this copyright © symbol with your name afterwards with the year and sometimes all rights reserved, although it is not needed anymore because in copyright law, all rights are already reserved to the owner of the work.
Here's how it's written: © 'your name' 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Your Business Address - This one is to do with consumer protection and unfair trading regulations. You must include a name and physical address of the manufacturer. If this means your address is your home and you don't want to print it on a product, you can always use a P.O. Box address instead.
Warning Labels and CE marks/UKCA
The most common warning label for a board game will be the 0-3 choking hazard sign and CE marks. A CE Mark need to be applied for products intended for children under the age of 14 in Europe. The CE mark needs to be 5mm in height and all choking hazard labels need to be legible. Most small game boxes will show the choking hazard label as just the image but you should provide a warning description next to it for specific hazards or countries where your product is sold.
Toy Safety - You must comply with Toy Safety and have your products tested by a certification house or your manufacturer will use a third party to test the quality of the products made. Here is a link to Toy Safety Regulations in the UK and the EU Toy Safety Directive.
The top resource for everything Toy Safety can be found on the British Toy & Hobby Association.
Further reading for CE Marking.
US Toy Safety - Toys must meet the Toy safety requirements F963 which is equivalent to EN 71 tests in Europe and BS EN 71 in Britain.
Learn more about US Toy Safety on the Toy Associations website.
There's a new marking system being used in the UK as of the 1st January 2021 called UKCA. Read about the government guidelines here to sell products in Great Britain (Link also includes downloadable files). You must comply with the new marking rules by the 1st January 2022 to continue selling your products in Great Britain.
The CE mark still applies to places in Great Britain that share the same rules as the EU and you still need it to sell your products in Europe.
According to an update on the UK Gov's website from 2nd February 2021; the UKCA mark will only be required if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Barcode - Every product needs a barcode. There are plenty of sites that can give you a barcode, I choose to use GS1 Barcodes but it's your choice where you get yours from. It's worth doing your research.
SKU - SKU is a Store Keeping Unit. This is a representation of numbers or letters to uniquely identify a stock item in your warehouse. If you only have one item you won't particularly need to use it, however a distributor who has thousands of products may need it to identify your stock in their inventory or create their own for their warehouse uses.
Batch Number - A batch number is another line of numbers or letters which help identify a particular production run.
For example, if you're on your 3rd production run for your game and in your 2nd production run some of your games had faulty components, you would be able to make a call out to your customers addressing that batch number, this would allow you to fix the component issue by sending out replacements to anyone who had a product with that batch number.
Where it's made - Why do you need to put where your product is made on your packaging? This is a Customs requirement. Imported goods need to be marked with their country of origin. This is to do with being able to legally import products into certain countries from other countries.
For example, did you know 'toys, games and sports requisites; parts and accessories thereof' - are in the restricted category for sending to Italy and you must comply by the countries restrictions. So maybe you can't send your games to everyone around the world from your wonderful kickstarter campaign, better check those restrictions!
Now you're armed with a wealth of knowledge, you're ready to make packaging that stands out, is informative for your customers and follows all the legal guidelines if you want to sell around the world.
If you think anything has been missed that needs adding to this page please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the blog title and let us know what needs to be added!
For more information on starting a business in board games; hop over to Amazon and purchase your copy of Emmerse Yourself - How to go it alone and break the mould.