This text will be quite different. It will be not about one game, or the 18xx games hobby, but about the whole board game market and the prices which have been quite crazy recently.
As you know I decided to add to our shop empty boxes to your PnP games. And the boxes would be in production were it not for the fact that the company I found increased production prices by 14% to 33% in one month. Now I’m waiting for a quote from another producer, but that’s a different story.
Last week I visited a paper warehouse where I buy cardboard. This cardboard is dedicated to the inside of our game board with revenue per share and you probably have it on your shelf. Unfortunately, in the warehouse, I found out that cardboard had been unavailable for 3 months! In the end, I bought it online at a price 50% higher than in June. Such a very high price was the lowest I found and it was unavailable in many online stores.
Where do these increases come from and why are cardboard and paper so expensive? Should I order the production of boxes now or will prices fall? Maybe it’s a price surge now and it’s better to wait? The problem is interesting enough because it does not concern the global turmoil and the supply chain. Cardboard is produced in Poland, mainly from waste paper. So why is the price so crazy? I decided to do some research and find out what the thing is.
At the same time, paper becomes more expensive. The more luxurious it is, the faster its price increases. Some types of luxury paper have become more expensive by up to 70 percent!
Paper becomes more expensive, as well as glues, chemicals, and paints. Some printing houses only tell you the price of the print when they start printing. It is similar to printing board games. When I got the quote now, the printing house stipulates that this is an indicative price only. We can book printing for spring 2022, but we will not know the final price until printing starts.
The producers of the paper are big global companies. When the pandemic began, the demand for books and newspapers began to decline, and manufacturers began to switch to the production of packaging paper. The market needs more and more of it. When the pandemic broke out, paper for publishers ceased to be as profitable as before, because its sales dropped. Meanwhile, e-commerce is growing very dynamically and during the pandemic, it literally exploded. All goods had to be packed. The major paper producers have shifted to more profitable packaging production. When the world returned to work after lockdown, it turned out that the demand for paper and cardboard returned to normal, but their production is much lower, which causes huge problems.
Right now the market is able to absorb any amount of packaging, even though the price goes up along with the rest. This is the case not only in Poland, but the whole of Europe also is not keeping up with the production of packaging. Waste paper is needed for production. Two years ago, no one wanted it. Now it is being bought in any amount.
There is a lot of talk about the semiconductor industry, meanwhile, as you can see, the pandemic has confused other branches of the economy. I don’t know when the situation on the paper market will stabilize a bit. I think at the time of writing this text (December 19), we are on the top. The whole world is ordering gift packages and packaging materials are worth their weight in gold.
Last week, the first reusable cardboard packaging program was launched in Poland. When you get the package, you can return the empty box to the point. It will be returned to the store and will be used up to 5-6 times before it is recycled. Such solutions will definitely help.
The peak of the package season will be over in a few weeks and maybe we will be better prepared for the next one.
In this story, I haven’t mentioned one other piece of the puzzle, which is the shift in country-of-production preferences. Some publishing houses are moving their production from China to Europe. Only in Poland, there are three very large producers of board games. I don’t know how big is the share of board games in the total paper and cardboard market, but this information is definitely important.
As a future publisher, I was terrified of looking for this information for you. I already know that we need to prepare well for our first game. The first plan was that we would raise money and only then finish the project, polish some of its elements and edit the rulebook. In this way, several months will pass, during which we will be at a standstill, unsure what will happen.
The current plan is as follows: first, we prepare everything for printing, then we will start to raise money and immediately print as soon as possible. Only in this way can we be sure that no surprises will happen. The advantage of this solution is the time in which you will get the game from the moment of money raise. The downside is that you still have to be patient.