Like the title of this week’s post suggests, I wanted to talk a bit about making room to expand your games. I mean this strictly in the physical sense (although making room for a game, thematically and mechanically may be the topic of another post in the future). If you’re serious about expanding the game you’re working on, it’s never too soon to think about what that means for your product design.
How many times have you purchased the expansion to a game you utterly love, only to realize that the expansion doesn’t fit into the original game box? Now you’re left with two completely different boxes to lug around to game night. Obviously, there’s worse problems to have in life… but this is one that could be easily solved with just a tiny bit of forethought.
So how do games handle the problem? Well, as a game dev, you’ve got a couple different options:
- Make your original game packaging big enough to include any forseeable expansions.
Now, this is a bit tricky for a number of reasons. First, you may not have any idea of how many expansions you want to develop for your game, and you may not have any idea of the content of said phantom expansions. It’s not normally practical to design a game alongside it’s expansions, simultaneously because the primary factor that drives the creation of expansions is demand. All that being said, maybe you have a massively planned-out game world that you know exactly how you want to explore. It’s entirely possible you have an expansion (or expansions) planned top-to-bottom at the same time as the development of your core game. If that’s the case, then go right ahead and create your game’s packaging to accommodate all of its expansions’ components as well! But, if you’re like most devs, then you’ll need a bit of wiggle room, since you may have an idea for your expansions, but you won’t have all the details worked out yet. In that case, here’s a few tips for how you can design your packaging to be inclusive:
- Avoid tuckboxes – Card games that use tuckboxes are difficult to expand, since tuckboxes can only hold a set number of cards. No one likes a tuckbox bursting at the seams, so if you’re planning on expanding your game, don’t use tuckboxes as the outermost packaging. On the other hand, tuckboxes are small and portable, so forcing players to carry around two tuckboxes (one for the core game and one for an expansion) isn’t that big of a deal.
- Box height – There are some standards when it comes to length and width dimensions; retailers prefer certain sizes for stocking their shelves. However, you have a bit more leeway where height is concerned. If you know you’re going to include more of the same types of components as your core game, then adding height to your box (and any molded inserts if you’ve got them) is an easy way to accommodate an expansion. Just be sure your measurements are accurate. Again, you may or may not know exactly what’s in your expansion. If you’re unsure, then an estimate for extra headspace is better than packing your core game to the ceiling.
2. Make your expansion packaging big enough to include the original game’s components.
This is essentially retrofitting your core game into the expansion’s box. One great example of this in effect is with Champions of Midgard fitting into The Dark Mountains & Valhalla expansion box (a phenomenal set of expansions by the way. You can check out my thoughts on the game here).
This method takes all the guesswork out of the packaging design for your core game, and instead, you give your expansion a much larger box so that it fits all of the core game’s components. There’s a couple downsides to this method, however:
- If you decide to develop further expansions, you’ll have to increase the box size yet again. One way around this is to do a “big box” or collector’s edition that includes the core game, with all expansions – and if your game is successful enough to get to this point, then packaging is probably the least of your concerns anyway!
- The expansion box is branded for the expansion, not the core game. The logo, the artwork, the design – it’ll all be geared toward the expansion, even though you’ve forced players to use that box as their main box for storing the entire game.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s all minor stuff. But it can go a long way to showing your customers and fans that you care about how they store and transport your game. Well, gang, that’s it for now. One of the truly amazing things about this journey is that I’m forced to spend more time thinking about things like packaging than I ever though I would! But I hope at least I can help someone else who might be thinking – or wondering – the same things.
Until next time, gang! Keep it plucky,