Board games are usually published by one of a variety of different board game publishers - such as Fantasy Flight or Z-Man Games.

My question is - what do the publishers do - and what's the difference between them?

Do board game publishers act much the same way to book publishers do? - ie. selectively publishing games from creators they think will be successful in exchange for a commission - or are their games developed in-house?

For example, I am interested in board game publishers responsibility in:

  • Manufacturing components. Do board games publishers manufacture components themselves, or outsource them?
  • Designing games. Do board games publishers design games 'in house' or are they merely publishers for external designers?
  • Acquiring copyright rights, for example for any games based on franchises (eg Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings), do board game publishers negotiate with the copyright holders themselves, or is that up to the designer?

I appreciate that answers are likely to be different for each board game publisher, so a good answer will give a general overview of what the primary role of board game publishers do, and give some examples of what some of the larger/more popular board game publishers do in respect to these questions.

A good answer might include and example of the size of a larger board game publisher, and outline all the roles each of the staff play.

  • What do you mean 'what do the publishers do'? They publish games, what sort of things other than that are you looking for?
    – diego
    Feb 16, 2016 at 21:42
  • 1
    I'm guessing an analogy might be movie producers. They have many possible tasks: provide money, hire cast and crew, work with script writers, etc. But not all movie producers do all of the tasks movie producers can do. So are you asking what functions publishers can do, and then what publishers do which of these possible things?
    – SocioMatt
    Feb 16, 2016 at 22:42
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    This seems like a legitimate question. He wants to know what a game publisher is, what they do, and what is the difference between them. Saying "they publish games" is not illuminating. How do they publish games? Where do those games come from? How does the way in which one publisher publishes games, differ from another. What does 'publish' even entail: Development, testing, printing, distribution, promotion, etc.? I can read 100 articles on BGG on how to self publish and how to work with publishers; then work backwards from there, but it seems like some insider knowledge could help.
    – Solocutor
    Feb 19, 2016 at 2:42
  • @Solocutor That you even began to brainstorm the possible questions that the OP might want answers to is an indicator that the question is too broad or unclear. I voted to leave closed.
    – Rainbolt
    Feb 19, 2016 at 19:27
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    Well I mostly just repeated the exact questions stated by the OP. My brainstorming was all on possible answers. I would like to see an answer to this question, because my own understanding of how game publishing works is more nebulous than I'd like it to be (and I've actually done research on it in the past). I don't see how it is too broad. 'What does a <insert profession> do?' is a perfectly legitimate, clear, and common question. It normally has a concise answer. This is the opposite of broad.
    – Solocutor
    Feb 19, 2016 at 19:41


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