How We Made A Successful Retail Ready Card Game

If you are looking to make a retail ready card game which you can sell to large retailers this article covers the stages and strategies we used (in my former role) to design and create a successful game!

More on my game design >

Steps To Creating a Successful Game

Simplified stages to creating the game.

  • 1 ) Research ideas.
  • 2 ) Research trends, add a unique spin.
  • 3 ) Use inspiration, don’t make cheap or low quality copy.
  • 4 ) Get your game out there for businesses to see.
  • 5 ) Create something worthwhile.
  • 6 ) Keep the production cost down.
  • 7 ) Test and polish the game.
  • 8 ) My part(s) in creating the card game
retail ready game design
First edition of the game

Why did we create this game?

After doing some initial research and looking into product ideas, a colleague mentioned to me that he had seen a game where the players have to say silly tongue twisting phrases whilst wearing a dental mouth restraint – I know, it sounds strange to me now as it did then.

My colleague mentioned how he had seen a game on a television program the night before. He proceeded to open a tab in his browser and play a clip of the television program. Without paying too much attention to the idea, I dismissed it at first. Thinking it was game only people like me and him would play but he persisted with the idea.

I was half right, but little did I or the company realise how popular it would be.

After seeing James Corden trying to speak with one of these dental mouth restraints in his mouth we came to the conclusion it could be a funny if it was boxed and ‘gamifyied!’

Further to this, we couldn’t find any of these mouth restraint games in the UK. It existed in one form in the USA but this is where we spotted a gap in the market and considered creating a game for the UK audience.

We created something that was following a trend but different enough to stand out from what would become a busier crowd.

We went forward to create a successful card game! And what a blast we had creating it!

Step 1

We did some home work to see if there was an audience ready for the game. Make sure you have a target customer in mind and create your game for them!
Who will play it? How much will they spend? Why would they play it? Do you need to educate the customer on how the product works? These are just some of the questions if you are considering taking your game to a high-street retailer.


Take these things into account when you start plan your game.

We created trend game… a different one

The game we created wasn’t revolutionary, but took some lessons from other successes.

It is wise to do your home work before committing to big decisions, and creating a game is a BIG decision. After looking at competitor websites, products online and reviews we started to collect our data and based our design and content decisions around the information we had collected. This often fell in line with a process the company called NPD – (New Product Development)

NSFN this is the game draft
Concept and draft for adult edition – this edition was filled with crude phrases

We wanted to know who would buy this product and how we could be different.

Retailers don’t want to take stupid risks, especially with the state of retail as it is. Proving that your product follows a trend market can carry you in good stead but be prepared to fight in a market that will saturate quickly.

Remember, why should a retailer select your product?

Step 2

Look at existing games, see what they are doing right see what you can do better!

Do it different – don’t make a bad copy

Assuming you have gone with an existing product that has an established community and marketing buzz, creating an out-and-out copy won’t get you very far. Setting aside legal issues, market saturation and being a grubby business practice you will want to create something good and call it your own.

You have used the trend product as inspiration – a mannequin, a skeleton, which you’ll need to dress, position and potentially change it’s structure to create a game which is appealing and different.

We brain stormed various ideas how we could have different modes of play, extra dynamics of the game but keep it low cost.

You should create something that will please. The creativity is down to you.

Step 3

Create a game that plays well, looks good and is affordable. Avoid ‘copying’ a success. Use it as a guide rail only! For this game, we created Forfeits, this added a new dynamic to the game using most of the same components just different rules and modes of play. Funnily enough, which other makers of similar games also started to use later on.

We must have been onto something…

Access To Gaming Retail Channels

If you want to create a game which is successful in the retail market, you will need to have access to companies that can sell your game on your behalf. You may already have access to shops and stores which can sell your game or you may aspire to sell the game yourself. But if you want to scale quickly, you will need to ‘wholesale’ your game.

Finding retail channels for new business can be a tricky… more so if you are trying to pitch an new and unproven game.

Step 4)

Take your game on the road and try to network with companies. Attend trade-shows, arrange meetings with your shiny retail ready prototype, talk to purchasers on linked in and be very proactive.

Customer Validation – Created By Demand

Our card game had become popular. We needed to create more content and quickly! We created additional expansion packs, card decks, different editions of the game ( I also dallied with a concept of creating an app but this never went beyond the visuals and testing prototype.)

These versions of the game offered different modes of play and more content for fans.

The game started to gain popularity and traction online from social media, to Amazon to smaller outlets. We looked at the reviews to see what we were doing well and what we weren’t.

Design by data.

End-users (customers on the street) were enjoying the game and sharing their joy and comments. This gave us a great sense of pride, we had created something that world enjoyed.

Our product was making people happy!

Mouth Trap Product review image
Happy customers!

Step 5 )

Create something people will enjoy. You want them to take away a good user-experience and feel happy with their purchase. No one wants to pay money for a game that is clearly a rip off and landfill.

Invest in creating a good thing.

Keep it affordable.

When we created the card game we wanted to create something that was good value for money in comparison to similar editions. Keeping the production cost down, we needed to offer value by making the best version of itself within the budget.

The game was between £15 – 20 for the first edition of the game. Also worth noting, with keeping the cost of the game down we wanted it to RRP and be accessible to a larger audience.

Step 6 )

Keep it affordable, does it need spot UV printing? No. will it impact the game play?
The more you add, the more price you will have either pass onto the customer or your business will have to absorb.

Use a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ – remembering not to insult the customer with your finished game
by going too ‘Minimum Viable Product’

Test Your Game!

Once the initial prototype of the card game was created. We tested the product and it’s phrases to see what worked and what needed improvement. You would be surprised by what you would discover.

I have played a couple of board games which looked fancy but were a drag to play. You shouldn’t create a game that looks good but is terrible to play – people will feel duped!

Retailers like a professional looking game, they will want a game that they can sell to their customers. They want an appealing product to place on the shelf, but to create a game or any product, that is just ‘shiny packaging’, is short-sighted.

A good example of a popular game is Chess. It has come in many guises over time ranging from drinking editions to Harry Potter but it still has the solid foundations of being a good game (open to opinion) which can be played over and over again.

If you removed all the artwork for your game, use featureless items – would your game still be fun to play?

Try to create something good from top to bottom.

Step 7 )

Test your game on your piers, colleagues and potentials for the target market. Testing the game ‘only on you’ – the creator is flawed as you know how you would like the game to be played and how it ‘should’ be played, not how strangers will play it in reality.

The Design Process –

This stage could also have been put at the first stage, especially as this is design blog but I wanted to acknowledge the ‘thought and planning‘ behind the game which I was heavily involved with before opening Photoshop or Illustrator.

This step covers some of the journey involved in creating the product. There was so much involved in the game! Creating cards, the logo, the box, the concept, the marketing material for the game… writing!

We wanted to create a game that players would want to talk about, laugh with and share with friends.

Logo and icons for mouthtrap game
Title, logo and vector created by me in a very rapid turn around

A rapid turn around for Logo and Title Design for the game. Created by me in Adobe Illustrator. The logo was created so that the it could stand out and be tailored here and there. E.G adding devil horns and fangs to it.

Box for drinking editions

Box art for game

The first box (edition 1) was created using a pizza box type Dieline. The later editions came as a top and bottom box with a lid.

(Card Art)

This was one of my favourite aspects of the game. Creating the cards. Later editions of the cards were changed so that phrases were on both sides. Visually a little less appealing but offered better value to the customer and extended the length of game play.

Piddle Pants Monk – Game Illustration

Vector of a monk that has wet himself!
Heavily changed stock graphic. only the face shape, and mouth are the original
Vectors of drinking bottles
Some of the vectors created by me and placed onto the artwork

All artwork for this game is Copyrighted – do not use!

Why not start building your successful retail ready card game!

Who said watching TV would be a waste of time?

If you would like help in designing your game be it designing, drawing or creating the marketing graphics I would be be more than happy to offer my skills and experience.