Board Game Publishers Are Struggling With Increased Shipping Costs for Their Crowdfunded Games

Two high profile tabletop crowdfunding campaigns have turned to backers to request additional funds to cover increased shipping and logistic costs. Over the past month, both Mythic Games and Blacklist Games have requested additional funds from backers to help fulfill already funded games. Mythic Games has asked backers of the Darkest Dungeons: The Board Game to help cover a $1.75 million shortfall caused primarily from the increased cost of shipping. Likewise, Blacklist Games requested help from its backers to cover a $360,000 bill from Quartermaster Logistics so that Quartermaster would release Fantasy Series 1 miniatures held at its warehouse. Mythic Games initially raised $5.5 million in funds on Kickstarter for Darkest Dungeons (and collected another $1.4 million in shipping fees after the campaign was complete), while Blacklist Games raised $1.1 million for its Fantasy Series 1 miniatures.

Both companies pointed to the global shipping issues as the reason for the increased costs. Mythic Games sent out a lengthy explanation to backers of its Darkest Dungeons: The Board Game project earlier this month, explaining that shipping costs had increased dramatically since the game was funded in late 2020. "When we ended the Kickstarter campaign on November 6, 2020, the situation was nothing like it is today," Mythic Games wrote in a post explaining the situation. "COVID and then the war in Ukraine, led to a significant increase in costs not only of manufacturing but also, and especially, of shipping and delivery: The shipping costs have increased by an average of 600%. The costs of raw materials (paper, cardboard, plastic) have increased by at least 30%." 

While Mythic Games and Darkest Dungeon IP owner Red Hook were able to contribute $875,000 to offset the increased shipping costs, Mythic Games told backers they would have to pay additional shipping fees (ranging from $18 to $69 depending on the pledge level) to receive their product. Backers who paid by early August would receive their first products later this year, while those who declined to pay would have their product stored in China "for as long as possible" with Mythic Games covering the storage fees. 

Blacklist Games attempted to launch a GoFundMe campaign to cover their $360,000 bill, but it was pulled down by GoFundMe as Blacklist was offering rewards as an incentive to contribute. Meanwhile, Quartermaster Logistics posted a statement stating it was in "internal discussions with the goal of a finding a solution" and asked for patience as it tried to determine next steps. 

Both Mythic Games and Blacklist Games also have multiple other crowdfunding campaigns with unfulfilled products. Mythic Games increased shipping costs for its most recent game Anastyr while Blacklist Games admitted that some of its projects have higher than expected shipping costs, but not to the same extent as Fantasy Series 1. 

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While shipping logistics have somewhat stabilized in recent months, the increased costs appear to be a longterm issue for the tabletop industry. As most game publishers rely on Chinese manufacturers to actually produce games, those publishers will have to continue to grapple with increased shipping fees and how to pay for them for the foreseeable future.