How to Market a New Board Game (The Ultimate Guide)

Do you have an idea for a board game and want to make it a reality? Do you want to know how to turn it into a hit at game nights and gaming conventions all over the world? This ultimate guide to marketing a new board game will help you do all that and more!

To market your new board game, spread the word about the game both in the development process and once the game has been finalized. The best ways to market your game are a Kickstarter campaign, social media, online gaming sites, and in-person gaming conventions. 

There are many other nuances involved with creating a game and marketing it effectively. This ultimate guide will walk you through all of the necessary steps to market your board game and get it in the hands of as many people as possible.

Table of contents


How to Market a New Board Game

Marketing a board game can be a complicated process, and there are many nuances to be aware of and requirements to follow if you want your game to be successful. But, if you pay close attention to the process below and work hard on improving your idea, you just might be able to design and develop the next great game!

How to Advertise Your Game

Now that you have a fully developed game idea, it is time to get your game in the hands of customers. If you have chosen to go with a licensing company or partner, chances are they are taking care of the marketing for you. However, if you are self-publishing your game, you’ll need a way to spread the word. Here is a guide to getting your game sold over and over again.

Marketing is Challenging - Be Patient

According to most game developers, marketing and selling a game can be more difficult than designing and developing the game in the first place. Patience is critical here. Don’t get discouraged if your game doesn’t take off right away. 

Keep trying to advertise your game in different places, with different age groups, and at different times of the year. Many developers will tell you that they thought they had a dud of a game at first when sales were slow in the beginning. Then, after a while, the sales took off and never looked back. Timing is everything, so don’t give up. 

Ideas for Promoting Your Game Before it Releases

There can be a lot of build-up and hype for a new game to come out. Sometimes there can even be so much demand that people will pre-order the game before it is even finished. Here are a few ideas that can help create buzz around your game and get people interested in buying it before it even gets released. Think of it as a movie trailer for your favorite film!

Considering Blogging about the Production Process

Another strategy is to blog about the production process of your game. This gives people a look at the details without giving too much of the critical information away about the game. It is also a great way to let people know what your game is about and how far along you are in the creation process, which gives them an indication of when the game might be finally ready.

Release Early Artwork from the Game

If you run a blog or Instagram page, consider taking some early pictures of the game pieces or game board. This is another way to give people a better idea of what they will be buying and playing. If you are using an illustrator, check to see if you can release some of their rough drawings on your blog or social media channels.

Use a Kickstarter Campaign

Kickstarter campaigns are another great way to market your game. You can post your game description on the site and allow supporters to help make your game a reality. A huge bonus of this marketing method is that once your game releases, there will already be a buzz built up about your game and you’ll have plenty of people ready to order their very own set!

After all, the mission of Kickstarter is to help creators bring their projects to life. Since their launch in 2009, Kickstarter has helped people back 196,270 projects by pledging $5.6 billion. Why not make your board game idea the next great Kickstarter campaign?

Ideas for Promotion Once the Game is Out

Once your game has been released, you’ll need to do ongoing marketing to keep up the buzz and keep people excited about your game. Here are a few ideas to do just that. 

Visit a Game Convention

Game conventions are great opportunities to get gamers together and have them try out your game in-person. Make your game available for gamers to play, and ask them to spread the word or consider buying it for themselves if they liked it. Many gamers want to try a game before they buy it, so this can be an excellent opportunity to sell lots of copies of the game. 

Apply for Awards

There are many different awards out there for the top games in all sorts of categories. Many of these awards accept applications. If you are fortunate enough to win one of these awards, your game will get tons of publicity and word about your game will spread like crazy. This can boost the sales of your game and even lead to increased sales of other games you have produced. 

Although the applications can be difficult and time-consuming, they are certainly worth it if you are fortunate enough to win! Additionally, if you are just nominated for an award but don’t win, this can be extremely helpful as well. Just because you don’t come in first place for the award doesn’t mean you shouldn’t advertise the nomination!

Developing a Game from Scratch

Now that you know how to market a game, you may want to get started building one of your own. The following sections will guide you through the process of creating your very own board game and getting it into the hands your your customers. Let’s get started!

Start with Creating the Game Idea

The very first step in creating and marketing your board game is to come up with an initial idea or concept. Usually, the best ideas come from experience, so try playing lots of other games first to see what types of games you like. 

Your game could involve any of the following concepts: 

  • Fantasy
  • Role-playing
  • Strategy

You may also want to ask yourself if you want your game to be something completely new or based on something that already exists. After all, many games are very similar but involve a few key improvements or tweaks from one another. 

Find Inspiration All Around You

If you are having a hard time coming up with a game idea, start with something you have experience with. After all, the best ideas tend to come from the things that we know best or are the most passionate about.

Follow Your Passion

For example, consider creating a game that involves a destination you love traveling to, or maybe just the process of traveling in general. How could you involve that destination? What are your favorite things about visiting there? Perhaps each of those things could be major components of the game. 

Alternatively, maybe you are passionate about sports or music. Finding a way to involve your favorite athletes or teams could be a great starting point for your game. The same could be true of the musical artists you love to listen to. They could be the main characters of your game, or perhaps just smaller auxiliary characters.

Base Your Game on an Existing Topic

Maybe you love to read books. Try thinking about a way you could turn your favorite book or book series into a game. Of course, if you are going to base your game on a popular book or tv show, you’ll need to check to make sure you are not breaking any copyright laws. Instead of using the exact characters and storyline, consider using something loosely based on the book. 

Similarly, you could base your board game on your favorite movie or TV show as long as you follow all of the proper licensing and copyright agreements. What do you love to watch? It may be worth checking out if a board game related to that movie or show already exists. If it doesn’t, this may be your chance!

Involve Your Friends and Family

Finally, this could also be an opportunity to involve your friends and family and make characters and storylines that involve your everyday life. Think about how cool it would be to have your inner circle featured in a game played by thousands of people! 

Additionally, if you are struggling to come up with an idea, ask your friends and family what kind of board game they would like to play and find out if it already exists. The people around you can be a great resource for ideas and inspiration.

Stick with What You Know

Overall, the best ideas for new board games involve things that the game creator is passionate about and knows well. This is generally the best way to come up with a new idea. For example, if you are knowledgeable about science fiction and fantasy, stick to themes, storylines, and characters that match that theme.

Time to Come up With the Rules

When it comes to setting up the rules of your game, it is usually best to keep things simple. A complex set of rules makes it more difficult for casual players to pick up and master. If there are only a few rules to remember, players can focus on the gameplay rather than having to constantly pause to read the rules and figure out what they can and cannot do. 

Another quick word of advice: don’t expect to get the rules perfect on the first try. You’ll need to adapt and simplify the rules over time as you develop the game. Consider making a working or rough draft of the rules that you can edit and change around as you go. Constructive criticism and helpful advice are a vital part of the development process. 

Create your Prototype and Test Frequently

Just as the rules should be a constant work in progress, the prototype of your game will change quite a bit over time. The finished product may look very different than the first version of your game. Be open to progress and improvements. Here are a few examples of improvements you might make through prototypes and testing.

Involve Plenty of Diverse Testers

One thing you will need to be aware of during the development process is your own bias towards your game idea. Chances are you will think your game is fun because you are the one who created it and of course you will like your idea. Your friends and family may also be reluctant to give you any negative feedback. 

This is why it is very important to involve a diverse group of testers and test it multiple times. Then, be sure to ask for honest feedback. You may not want to hear the negative feedback at first, or it may hurt your feelings to hear negative things about your game.

But, this is the most important aspect of feedback. Constructive criticism will allow you to get an honest assessment of what is working and what isn’t. By involving several rounds of constructive criticism, you’ll be able to produce the best version of your game, so stick with it!

How Publishing and Licensing Affect Marketing

Once you have tested your game and improved the rules, it is time to take your game to the public and begin to sell. However, before you can get there, you must decide if you want to publish your game yourself or license it to an existing company. In this section, we’ll discuss the biggest differences between the two options and discuss the advantages of each one. 

Advantages and Disadvantages to Self-Publishing

Self-publishing a game means that you plan to take care of the following aspects of production: 

  • Production of the parts and pieces of the game
  • Fulfillment and delivery to both stores and customers
  • Sales of the game online or in-person

Unfortunately, this is a lot more work than licensing your game to a company. You’ll be fully responsible for advertising for your game and managing its production. Additionally, you’ll have to make changes to the game yourself, which means more work down the road. If you aren’t willing to continue working on your game, this may not be the way to go. 

On the other hand, self-publishing has some advantages. First and foremost, all of the profits from the sale of the game stay in your pocket. Since there isn’t a company helping you, you don’t have to split the profits with anyone. This means if you are willing to take on the extra work, this can be a much more lucrative option. 

Advantages and Disadvantages to Licensing

The other option for game production is licensing your game to an existing game producer. This company will take over the rights to producing your game and share a percentage of the sales with you. 

A major disadvantage to licensing is that once you decide to license your game, the production company can decide to do almost anything they want with it. They can change any of the following aspects of your game: 

  • Characters
  • Theme
  • Rules
  • Artwork and illustrations

After all of these changes, the finished product may look nothing like your original idea. 

It would be best to avoid licensing your game if you are protective of your original idea and don’t want to see it changed. After all, you spent a lot of time and energy coming up with the idea for your game, and you may feel as though it would be a shame for someone to change all of your hard work

Another disadvantage is that you will be giving up a significant portion of the proceeds and profits from the sale of your game. For example, the game company that buys your idea may only pay you 3-5% of the overall sales of the game. That is a pretty small percentage for all of the work you did up front, and obviously, less than you would earn from self-publishing. 

On the other hand, licensing may appeal to some people, and it does have its advantages. The first advantage is that you are essentially done working on the game once you license it. That means no more testing, prototyping, or coming up with rules for the game. 

Additionally, you’ll get to sit back, relax, and watch the profits roll in. Larger game companies have tons of power when it comes to marketing and advertising, so they can get your game online or on store shelves much faster than you might be able to on your own. If coming up with game ideas is your specialty, and you don’t like the production and sales process, licensing might be the better option for you. 

What Companies are Accepting Game Submissions?

Now that you know about the possibility of licensing your game to an existing game company, you might be wondering what specific companies are accepting game submissions. You might also be wondering about the submission process and what it takes to get your game accepted. This section will answer all of those questions and more!

The Game Makers Guild has provided a list on their website of publishers who are currently accepting game submissions. Each entry includes a link to the publisher’s website, along with other FAQs and pertinent information. 

What’s Your Game Seeks New Ideas

What’s Your Game is consistently seeking developers and designers who want to submit their game ideas for licensing and production. According to their website, they seek new ideas for both families and expert players. 

They are also open to a variety of other ideas, as they say, they prefer not to limit the creativity of their designers. 

To submit your idea to What’s Your Game, you must email submissions to the following email address:

In your email, include the following information to be considered. The more specific you are, the better. 

  • A copy of game rules with images
  • Description of the game and its setting
  • Victory terms
  • Average playtime
  • Number of players
  • Recommended age
  • Target audience and degree of difficulty

The next step in the process is that if the evaluation team at What's Your Game likes your idea, they may request a demo. If the demo goes well, they will continue with the licensing process, and your game may be accepted!

How to Apply to University Games

University games openly evaluate games from inventors and developers regularly. To apply, you'll need to fill out a one-page concept sheet and email it to their contact team at the following email address:

In your application, you’ll need to include four main components to your game: 

  • The Story
  • The Market
  • The Game
  • The Components

The story includes a quick summary of what the game is about and what it involves. If you had to explain your game in only a sentence or two, using the most important details to give an overview of your game, this would be it. 

The market is an explanation of who your game is geared towards. Is your game designed to challenge the most advanced players? Is it better suited for kids to play because it involves popular characters and simple rules? How about a family game night? This where you get to tell the manufacturer who would most like to play your game. 

The game section is where you get to explain the rules and object of the game. For example, you might explain the key components of the strategy of your game and how one might try to win. More simply, you might also want to explain what each play does on their turn and how that fits into the larger structure of the game. Keep it simple, but be specific and clear. 

Finally, the component section allows you to explain what your game physically includes, like cards or game pieces. For example, monopoly includes a game board with 40 spaces, chance cards, dice, properties, and hotels. Here is where you will outline all of the parts and pieces of your game that would be needed for production and play.

Flatlined Games Prefers Games for Gamers

Flatlined games tend to prefer more complex games that involve player-to-player interaction throughout the game, although they are open to more possibilities and lighter options. 

What do they mean by “games for gamers"? According to their website, this generally means more complex games that involve multiple ways to interact and multiple layers of strategy. This is opposed to a game like scrabble, in which players simply compare scores to one another at the end of gameplay. 

This complex strategy might involve trade negotiations or table politics rather than simply taking turns rolling the dice. In other words, the best games, according to flatlined games, involve open-ended situations and limitless possibilities. 

Flatlined Games says they also prefer games with a strong theme involving fantasy or science fiction. While this may seem like a small niche, there are many variations within these categories, and they say they are technically open to any game that has a strong theme, regardless of the topic. 

StoneMaier Games Stays True to Your Idea

Stonemaier Games says they pride themselves on being honest and open, and staying true to your original game idea. They see themselves as a partner, not an employer. This means that they are just as invested in the success of your game as you are, and they want to be there with you every step of the way. 

Stonemaier has a very helpful page of in-depth suggestions for publishing your game. It is clear that they are passionate about games, and they are very knowledgeable about what works and what doesn't. Here are a few of the main items from their submissions page:

  • Watch their video on the twelve tenets of game design. This can help you focus your design efforts on the most important components of the game. 
  • Create a game that captures their imagination. Don’t just simply repeat an idea that already exists.
  • Your game should be the main course at game night and take 1-2 hours to play. 
  • A player’s turn should be short and simple. People should know exactly what choices they have on their turn and keep the game moving. 
  • Your game should be fully created and ready to play, not just a dream or a description. 

Think you’ve got an idea that works with the requirements above? Stonemaier may just be the partner you need to get your game on store shelves and help your idea become a reality. Here are a few more of the main reasons you should choose Stonemaier: 

  • They are an honest partner. They’ll give you constructive feedback to make your game the best it can be. 
  • They are focused on creating games. It is the main thing they do, and their experience helps them be one of the best. 
  • Their love of games and passion is tops in the industry. 
  • They are highly selective, which means if your game gets chosen, it will be the main one they promote for a long time. All of that attention can be very beneficial. 

How to Market a New Board Game

Now that you know how to create and market your new board game, it is time to start! If you follow the steps above, your game is sure to be a winner.

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