Board and Card Game Design Submissions
Even though we are not taking board and card game submissions right now, the details of our process — when it’s open — appear below for your reference.
No Thank You
We are not usually interested in:
- Games that already had a Kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaign
- Abstract games
- Classic game variants (e.g., “chess but with powers”)
- Collectible games of any type
- Drinking games
- Educational games (that is, games that put education before entertainment)
- Trick-taking games
- Trivia games
- Roll-and-move games
- Religious games
Although they are outside the realm of board and card games, to be clear, we are also not usually interested in:
- Roleplaying games (that is, new core games)
- Roleplaying supplements (see instead our gigs page for information about how to express your interest in writing for our existing RPGs)
Designs We Tend to Love
The game submissions we tend to love often have these features.
Fun! We want to publish games that are fun to play.
Immediacy of Play. Minimal set-up and light rules, so players can get into the game quickly. Limited downtime.
Player Interaction. Players can affect each other, rather than interacting primarily with their own pieces. Designs should encourage table talk.
Meaningful Strategy. Players make meaningful decisions that determine whether they win or lose. Diverse strategies are viable paths to victory.
Interesting Themes. Themes must grab gamers’ attention and help sell the experience. We're partial to humor and edginess.
Immersive Experiences. Players should be able to imagine that they're part of a story as well as a game, and feel invested in it.
Elegantly Related Theme and Gameplay. Theme and gameplay should complement one another.
Solid Mechanics and Rules. Designs feature months or years of testing and revision, with clearly written and well-edited rules.
Innovative Gameplay. Original concepts rather than thin variants of what's been done before. We're looking for exceptional games.
Innovative Components. For example, the transparent playing cards that make Gloom unique.
Targets Our Customers. We primarily sell games to gamers, and new design must target that demographic first and foremost. Having the potential for mainstream break-out is great, but not at our core's expense. (Once Upon a Time is a good example of a gamer's game with breakout appeal.)
Not every design can shine in all of these areas, but without a series of strong matches to these preferences, your design will probably be best served by another publisher.
Submitting Your Design
To submit your game, first get your design to the point where you could mail us a playable prototype the day after we (theoretically) request it, and you are confident we could accurately teach ourselves the game by reading your rules. If you’re not there yet, please hold off until you are. We also highly recommend reading the essays in The White Box, especially "Writing Effective Rules" and "Playtesting," before submitting your design to us.
If your design is at that point, follow these steps.
Send a Proposal
First, email a proposal describing your design to our submissions address at email@example.com.
Your proposal email must include the following four attachments. If any are missing, we will delete your proposal unread.
- Release Form: A signed product release form in PDF format. Read the form before you sign it. DOWNLOAD THE RELEASE FORM HERE.
- Overview / Sell Sheet: A one-page PDF that describes your game and why it’s great. If this doesn’t grab us, we’re not likely to read further. Also, include all the relevant details of your game here: player count, ages, time to play, components required, etc.
- Prototype Photo: A single photo of your prototype arrayed on a table for play. Please, no digital mock-ups. This serves two purposes. First, it helps us understand your design’s table presence. Second, it provides evidence that this is an actual design rather than a theoretical idea.
- Complete Rules: A PDF or Google doc comprising the complete rules of play.
If all of these elements are present, we’ll review your proposal.
Our Review and Next Steps
Once we receive your proposal, we'll do our best to review it within one month. If you don't hear from us four weeks after sending a proposal, please send a follow-up email to the submission address. If you're worried our submissions address isn’t working, you can copy our general email address at firstname.lastname@example.org on your message.
After our review, we’ll email you with our thoughts. If we think your proposal isn't for us, we'll do our best to tell you why, though we don't always have the time to do that.
If we're interested in playing a prototype, we'll ask you for one and tell you where to mail it. It must be playable out of the box; do not email us a "print-and-play" version. If you'd like your prototype back when we're done, please include return postage. Do not mail a prototype unless we've specifically requested it, especially not to our office address where none of our production staff actually works.
If we're interested in publishing your game after we review your prototype, we'll offer you a contract to license the design for publication. Our design licenses almost always involve paying an advance against ongoing royalties, plus complimentary copies.
We generally develop designs further after licensing them, usually with the designer’s input and active participation.
We love games, and we want to publish exceptional ones. We love to find new designs that delight and surprise us. We hope the next one we get is yours!