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Our Decision to Manufacture in America

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Creating Proliferation: The Game of Nuclear Strategy was a true labor of love. From the hundreds of hours we put into the rulebook to the dozens of things that had to be learned on the fly, our team had to persevere to get the project done, discovering quite the learning curve to publishing a tabletop game in the process.

One of the most important decisions we had to make was choosing a country to manufacture our debut game in. Picking mid-2021 to launch a Kickstarter exposed us to an ever-changing international climate, increased shipping rates, and unprecedented material shortages. Because of this rising instability, coupled with our desire to support American workers, we chose to manufacture here.

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year, we wanted to take a moment to talk about our decision to manufacture Proliferation in the USA, and what that means to us as a company. Our decision to manufacture in America also led to the trip of a lifetime when we went to visit our manufacturer in Battle Creek, Michigan.

As we recant the reasons for manufacturing American, we hope your Fourth of July is filled with joy and celebration! And if your Fourth of July happens to be a game night, we hope you make yours nuclear by choosing Proliferation.

Rising instability in the last few years has led to higher international shipping rates.

It’s no secret that it costs more to manufacture in America.

When our team first shopped around for manufacturing quotes after our Kickstarter finished, we were initially greeted with low estimates from China and Singapore, especially when compared with our American and European candidates. However, it’s also no secret that 2021 and 2022 were years that will go on to be historically defined by rising instability on the world stage, with major events such as Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine unfolding rapidly and in succession. This ultimately translated to one thing for us: While the cost to produce in Asia would be low, the true price of getting it here would be unpredictable at best.

Kickstarter campaigns that fulfilled orders for their tabletop games in 2022 constantly reported runaway delays in shipping from China into the United States, with cargo ships literally sitting on the coast of California for months at a time. The cost to get games here slowly doubled, then tripled by the time we were ready to submit final design files.

The cost to get games from one state to another within the United States would conceptually be much more stable, and only involve the cost of domestic freight shipping. A significant amount of time would be saved as well during the process.

With this in mind, our team started to look more closely at our American options.

Choosing an American manufacturer would mean supporting American workers.

Even though our company is small, we felt blessed to be handed the opportunity to support American jobs through our decision. It’s not an everyday thing to manufacture a new product from scratch, especially for a young group of friends that met through an Honors College and started playing games together after class.

Choosing an American manufacturer would also mean that language barriers would not get in the way of steady and helpful communication. As we would end up doing last August, we could also physically visit our manufacturer without traveling out of the country. The lack of language barriers, coupled with physical proximity, made for two stark advantages to manufacturing in America.

As the deadline to make a decision last year approached, we felt especially good about choosing to make our product in the USA. At a time when both sides of the political aisle were pushing for manufacturers to come back to America (and still are), we knew it would make the most sense to produce at home.

Our team got to go on the adventure of a lifetime.

Finally, our decision to manufacture domestically led to us flying out to Battle Creek, Michigan, to meet our manufacturer. We ended up choosing Delano Games, one of the only truly turnkey tabletop game manufacturers in the country, to produce Proliferation. They have manufactured games like Fluxx, Stardew Valley, Codenames, and even Settlers of Catan!

While you can read about most of the details from that trip in one of our previous blog posts, it is important to reiterate what an amazing experience it was to be able to see the facility floor where manufacturing our debut game would take place. While our vendetta against Frontier Airlines persists to this day, our team fondly remembers our electricity-robbed, sleep-deprived, storm-marred time in Battle Creek. And the trip wouldn’t have happened if we had decided to manufacture in China or Singapore.

It was a very humbling experience to actually meet some of the American workers that helped turn our dreams into a reality. The relationship we were able to develop between our two companies helped Proliferation to be able to be manufactured without a hitch, and we believe the situation would have unfolded much differently had we not been given the opportunity to meet our production team in person. Taking our Delano representative out for drinks and playing a round of our game was an especially awesome experience.

All in all, we couldn’t be prouder of our decision to manufacture here in America. The only thing not produced in America were the plastic dice, which apparently we just don’t manufacture anymore. By doing so, we got to literally touch more aspects of the project, dodge the consequences of rising international instability, support American jobs, and meet our manufacturers in person. We also get to brag about it all during the process!


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