Now this is a great idea. The Game Crafter is a new company that lets you build your own, fully customized, table-top games. Board games, card games — you name it, there’s a good chance these guys can put it together for you, with fully customized art assets and text.
Building a game is fairly straightforward — you upload the art assets you’d like to have printed on your game board and cards, pick out which accessories should be included in the box (dice, pawns, etc.) and write out the game’s documentation laying down the rules. Of course, that’s all a bit easier said than done if you don’t have a bunch of art assets sitting around. Still, once you have your images and text in hand, actually putting the game together is painless. Unsurprisingly there are still some limitations (you can’t currently design custom pawns), but the company is planning to add more customization options shortly.
As you put your game together, the site will give you an idea of how much it will cost to build based on how many cards, pieces, and boards it requires. From there, you can either order it at cost for yourself or set a sale price and sell it on the site’s integrated store. The store is pretty empty at this point with only a handful of games available, but it’s a start.
The best part of this for novice game builders is that there’s no up-front cost to get started — the site handles all distribution and printing costs, taking a 50% cut of the profits from each sale. A 50% cut sounds like a lot, but the company defends the price-point by explaining out how much you’d get if you managed to get your game in stores — according to the site, you’d typically have to give the game’s distributor 30% of the the proceeds, with the retailer taking another 40%, leaving you with only 30% of the sale price. You also retain all rights to the game, so you’re free to take it off and sell it elsewhere should a better opportunity come along.
It sounds great, but there are still a few caveats. The site’s production page notes that while cards are full color and printed on hefty card stock, they’re printed with wax instead of ink, which is less exact. Likewise, card printing isn’t exactly perfect, and there’s a chance some parts of the card’s far edges will be cut off. Still, it sounds easy to compensate for these issues, and the technology is only going to get better.
We think this is such a cool idea that we’ve currently got an intern hard at work at creating a TechCrunch board game. It’s still early in the planning stages (feel free to leave ideas in the comments), and we’ll let you know once it’s ready.