Choose JOY, Choosing Production Partner(s)

image of tin and contentsInspired by a friend repurposing an empty breath mint tin, in September 2019 I created a deck of 32 meditation prompt cards in a portable metal altar. Custom printable tins at The GameCrafter allowed me to make Choose JOY: Sister Flirt’s Meditation Tin for my own use; that same technology means you may get your own copy.

More recently The GameCrafter added holographic foil cards in Poker card and standard Tarot card sizes; I was immediately interested in designing something for them; but nothing as intense as a 78 card Tarot deck.

I’m researching as a secondary Print On Demand site (perhaps better situated for non-North American customers). They also offer holographic foil stock, so I decided to modify the Choose JOY cards and test each company’s holo production.

Production files for the TGC mini deck (1.75″x2.5″ trim) are 600×825 pixels (full bleed). Poker size cards (2.5″x3.5″ trim) are 825×1125 pixels (full bleed) with standard diameter corners. A large enough difference that I wasn’t going to just re-size production files and hope the pixelation wasn’t too noticeable.

Redoing artwork for the size difference allowed me to increase the amount white space, which maximizes the visible holo effect. The master sheet for the Mini cards holds 16, while the Poker cards are printed 18 up- cards then die-cut for perfect corners. This allowed me to add a few cards. (MPC)

05/10/2022 – Files uploaded to MPC and a sample pack (just the cards, no box or insert) ordered at 2:43pm;
05/14/2022 – USPS tracking # assigned;
05/16/2022 – MPC confirmed shipment dispatched;
05/24/2022 – Package entered the USPS system;
05/26/2022 – Package received; youTube walk through.

05/12/2022 the deck became available to purchase at this web page at MPC. TGC requires designers to order a copy before publishing it to their marketplace (or ‘buy’ a waiver with Designer Rewards) while MPC has no such policy.

Once the card order was placed I created production files for the custom tuck box and the insert sheet. I’d ordered the cards without them as MPC’s production cost (see more info, below) is significantly higher than at The Gamecrafter.

I discovered that I had to re-create the Project File at MPC to make Holographic Printing available on the Marketplace version. When ordering my own design I could change the card stock or add blank boxes to my order as I went; but certain options have to be made at the beginning of designs offered for sale. I do find their Help Section very limited, and email assistance is both slow (12 hour time difference from here) and has some language challenges.

Pricing and Profit
As your project is designed the MPC site shows you the production cost as you’ve customized it- card stock, custom (or blank) packaging, inserts or other upgrades. Their system automatically generates and displays volume pricing from 1 to 15,000 copies. I’ve screen-capped a few examples (click on image for a larger version).

To add your design to their Marketplace the system prompts you as to what percentage mark-up to add; showing you the resulting sales price. MPC will take 5.0% of the resulting profit as their processing fee, and send via PayPal once you’ve reached a US$100.00 minimum payout. (TGC)

05/16/2022 – Production files for the deck, tuck box, and insert uploaded to TGC;
05/20/2022 – Placed order for a sample (see Shipping notes below);
06/12/2022 – USPS tracking # assigned;
06/16/2022 – Package received;
06/12/2022 the deck became available to purchase at the TGC website.

Pricing and Profit
The GameCrafter has all their production costs per item displayed on their website; anyone can, if they wish, calculate the standard production cost for a game, or deck. I’ve expanded my thoughts, including figures for adding the Tarot of Sister Who at each site on this page.

Comparing and Contrasting

Quality of Product
I’ve posted this vid on youTube showing both MPC and TGC versions. The MPC has a slightly lighter card stock, about 2-4mm smaller in each dimension. The cards from Gamecrafter have the optional (but highly recommended) UV coating for protection. It does seem to add a very slight friction which reduces slippage without impeding shuffle-ability.

The deck from MPC has a small single-fold insert, with about half the space of the ‘Folio’ insert from TGC.

Pricing and Profit
MPC and TGC approach pricing differently. MPC covers most of their company-wide costs in the Production Cost, with a small additional fee to pay out designers’ profits. TGC charges a larger percentage for offering a game (deck) in their on-line marketplace. I’ve expanded my thoughts, including figures for adding the Tarot of Sister Who at each site on this page.

Delivery and Presentation
As of May 2022 the production time for regular orders (ie without the 100% Rush Surcharge) at TGC is estimated at 5 weeks- about double my average delivery time. This appears to mostly be the impact of many orders for Protospiels– sort of ‘game designer conventions’ that had been cancelled over the past few years. I expect that the production times will return to normal in the near future.

The TGC samples arrived 28 days after the order was placed. This is much longer than my average experience, but less than their system estimate. Both companies shipped their items with adequate, but not excessive, packaging. Neither one had any damage to the packaging or the contents.

My Designer’s Page at MPC.
My Designer’s Page at TGC.