Boy, don’t you love how I come here to talk to you about boxes every few months?
So there’s this German term I was told of once, of Kostspieligluft, a term that I have since learned is not a proper German term at all. The word translates – I think? – into ‘expensive air’ or ‘costly air.’ It’s a complaint of a word: the idea that when you buy a game, you’re also buying some of the air in the box – and the bigger a box is, the more air you’re buying if that space isn’t being otherwise used. This is no secret: Box covers are advertisements, right? They draw the eye. When I sell you a game and I can proudly say I’m respecting your space I can always, in my mind think about how Machi Koro has more support, but Cafe Romantica asks only $30 and a nice, small, tight box for you to play. That’s really nice.
Here’s the problem: There’s a reason companies make games in bigger boxes. Speaking with Aetherworks, one point that’s been brought up is how valuable the card fasure of larger boxes is, how many of our games once people notice them get people to buy them, but before that, they sit quietly on shelves underexamined. A big box gets your attention, and most interestingly, when a game comes in a larger box, it becomes evident to people that it’s worth money to buy it. This is extremely weird to me, but apparently, some of our $10 games would ‘sell better’ if they were in a bigger box – with empty air space! – and cost $15!
Now I’m not making changes on this front yet: I’m very proud of our cheaper games, including our Pay What You Want allstar Simon’s Schism, the Print-And-Play $5 games like Dragon’s Favour and The Botch, and our printed $10 games like Senpai Notice me.
Here’s the other problem: People keep wanting boxes.
It’s been pretty universal when I probe people on the topic: If it’s extra cost to get a box, people would rather a tuckbox. Right now, the smallest box we have access to is a 54-card folded tuck, which I really like, from DriveThruCards, and since we’ve started to use them I’ve become a huge fan. They’re nice, they’re robust, they’re pleasant to touch, they have a resistance in them that means weight on them doesn’t doom the structure, and they can scope down pretty nicely. LFG-Looking For Group, for example, is 46 cards in a 54 card box, and you don’t feel hurt for the missing space.
But what about 32 cards?
What about 20?
Our smallest games at the moment are about 24 cards: The Botch and The Botch Is Back are mainstays of our sales and one of our best games (one of? Whatever). But in a 54 card tuck, those cards look pretty spartan and we hit a new fear that transporting volume is a problem. What do we do about that? Do we start making 54-card boxes for our 20ish card games, and leave you with empty space? Do we start putting token cards in the box, or reference and rules cards to fill in space and give you more ‘something’ for your money? Or do we just start designing more games for the 30+ card bracket, knowing that 40ish cards is the point where we have to start charging $15 for a game?
These are not simple questions to answer and we’re still not sure.
Now, hopefully, going forwards, DTC will introduce a smaller box, like, 30ish cards? And that’ll make all these problems go away. But until then we’re left with this strange new problem of where we fall on the value of selling you air to give you a nice box.