For instance, apparently there must be a much higher demand for normal playing cards with custom backs (getting your own picture printed on the other side of the king of hearts and the 4 of clubs.) rather than fully customized cards.
Then there is quantity. Some of the sites would not print custom cards unless you ordered 10,000 decks or more. Which would mean we would need to get 40,000 decks (one for each of the parts of speech). While we would love Düdle to be a smash hit and sell 10,000 copies, we are realistic!
So with those factors in place we were able to narrow it down to a handful of possible companies.
1. The Printer’s Studio (www.printerstudio.com)
2. Make Playing Cards (www.makeplayingcards.com)
3. Superior POD (www.superiorpod.com)
4. The Game Crafter (www.thegamecrafter.com)
5. Ad Magic (www.admagic.com)
The Printer’s Studio and Make Playing Cards were very similar sites. Their card editing interface was so similar in fact that we suspect they may be owned by the same company, or at least hired the same company to create their websites. Their prices were very similar (with Printer’s Studio being slightly cheaper) and turn around was very quick (with Printer’s Studio being a bit faster). The finished cards were almost the exact same quality, which was very good! The big draw back though was that both of these printers were based out of China and the customer service was a little hit or miss. They always answered our emails, but didn’t always answer our questions. They also didn’t really have any options for boxes.
Superior POD wasn’t really designed for what we were looking for. The info that was on their website led us to believe that while they did have options for custom boxes, they didn’t offer bulk printing discounts. Their prices were also much steeper than the first two companies (almost 7 times more expensive for a prototype). So they were out of the running pretty quick.
The Game Crafter is an awesome website and community of independent game designers. While they had all the options we needed (smaller runs at affordable prices and options for custom boxes) they are also game hosting site. If we wanted to use them it would be in our best interest to sell the game through their site’s shop. If that were the case they would take a cut. At 70% to us and 30% to the Game Crafter for every game sold we weren’t sure that was the way we wanted to go.
Ad Magic is a custom printing company based out of Netcong, NJ. What caught our attention was how prominently they featured print work they had done for Kickstarter projects on their website. After several emails back and forth with their reps we think they will be the best company for the job. They had competitive card printing prices, plus affordable options for a custom sized and printed box. The cost to prototype is a little steep (about $150), but it looks like the over all project will be totally affordable (around $15-$25 per game depended on the size of the run).
Now that most of the research is done, time to get prototyping! Once we’ve got a finished prototype we can start putting together photos and videos to use in a Kickstarter campaign! Whoo hoo! Things are getting serious now!
Also, feel free to leave us any advice or insights you may have on printing custom cards in the comments!