How do we create a game?
At Jumbo we have a special department that deals with the search for new game ideas suited for publication. These game ideas come from ordinary people, professional inventors, companies across the world and of course Jumbo herself.
Jumbo receives over 300 game ideas a year from 'ordinary' people. This means 5 or 6 phone calls or letters a week from people who would like to invent a game. Out of all these ideas often just 1 a year will have what it takes to develop it into a real game. Usually Jumbo does not need a game or an idea is not original or interesting enough. Rejected ideas are always returned to the inventors.
These inventors generally have very useful ideas, because they know the games market well. Professional inventors often work through an agent. Such an agent represents a large number of inventors and that is very convenient for Jumbo. Jumbo meets the agents of the inventors during toy fairs where they present the latest game ideas. If this presentation includes a nice and original idea, Jumbo buys it and makes it into a game.
Jumbo is actively looking for games that already exist somewhere else in the world. It is quite possible that an American game company has games in its portfolio that are not available or known in other countries. During toy fairs our product developers will visit these companies and look for these unknown games that can be sold in "our" countries. These Jumbo Countries' are: the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Austria, England and Ireland. It's not just American companies. Also, European companies that do not sell games in the Jumbo countries are interesting, such as an idea of a Spanish or French game company. Similarly, Jumbo could also sell their own games to other countries.
Jumbo’s own concepts
These days our own product developers come up with great ideas for new games. Often they ask a professional game inventor to take such a concept to the next level. These games are made ‘from scratch’. For example 'The Allowance Game’ was thought up by Jumbo’s game developers and was then commissioned to a famous inventor to be developed further. This game teaches you to earn and save money. The one that saves enough money to buy a bike, is the winner.
When the new Harry Potter book was released, many children contacted us with an idea for a Harry Potter game. This is a very good idea, but to be able to create such a game Jumbo needs to have a license. A license is the right to use the name of something or someone (e.g. the names and pictures from Harry Potter). So you must first obtain the rights of the claimants, in case of Harry Potter it’s the author of the book. Such a license must be purchased and is often very expensive. By using such a familiar name you benefit from the reputation of someone else and that should not be possible without this person’s consent. Licenses are often sold to different companies well before a movie or book comes out.
Our product development department receives various types of ideas from 'regular' creative people. Beautifully put together designs but also sketches on the back of a piece of wallpaper. As a product developer you need to look through these designs and/or sketches to see the real potential of a game. It does not matter if the game already looks nice; it's about how the game works and whether there is a need for it within the market.
Sometimes the first idea of the inventor is far more extensive and nicer than what Jumbo is finally going to make. This is because the inventor does not need to pay attention to costs but Jumbo needs to. Otherwise a game would be too expensive in a store.
Each country has its own needs
When Jumbo buys a game in America and issues it in the Netherlands the game is actually almost finished. Only ‘Q & A 'games should be looked at critically. Chances are that some of the questions in the game are too focused on American people. A question like "What is the capital of the Netherlands?" might be very difficult for American people, but not for Dutch people. But there may also be some questions which you cannot use in another country. For example, questions about American television. And also the American taste in terms of shape and color of a game is also quite different from the Dutch taste. That's all adjusted to fit the country in which it is issued.
A new game must of course get a name. There are some things we must take into account.
If Jumbo issues a game simultaneously in several countries, it’s easiest if a title is the same in all countries, such as Stratego that is played in all countries under the same name. That way you can immediately arrange the domains www.stratego.com and all the local domains like www.stratego.nl. Also the name is easier to control and protect against abuse. Although the name Stratego doesn’t mean anything, you can infer the word strategy. With such a name you have to explain more about the kind of game in the beginning while the ‘Allowance Game’ is immediately clear.
Pim Pam Pet now has a great reputation and has become a well known brand over the years. It dates from the fifties and in all those years, the name never changed. It's actually a very strange name based on some syllables. But once a game title has become a strong brand, the meaning of the title does not matter anymore; everyone knows what the brand stands for.
Advertising or no advertising
If you want to create brand awareness for a new game, you must take the time for it or start a major advertising campaign in which the name of the new game is announced. It is also possible that a new game is linked to an existing and well-known TV program, which is good for creating brand awareness. If you do nothing with advertising, such as the ‘Allowance Game’, you have to have a clear title.
A game is nothing without game rules. Without these rules, most games are nothing more than a box with a mysterious content. That’s why a game always contains a booklet with the rules of the game. The game rules should be as clear as possible, so that after reading the rules once you understand the contents and progress of the game. Moreover, you have to be able to explain the game free of errors and, when in doubt, immediately find the explanation. At Jumbo they spend a lot of attention to the rules.
Download the game rules
If you have lost the game rules of a particular game, you can download a new version here.
New games are tested as early as possible and the best way to do that is to play it.
As a first test, Jumbo employees play the game, sometimes with some extra people on. If it survived that test, a game more extensively tested by a group of people what it meant. The ‘Allowance Game’ for instance is meant for children and so the game is tested by a group of children who come to play an entire afternoon. Test specialists sit beside them and watch the children playing to see if they understand the game, if they like it and if there are no errors in the game. When everything is approved, the game can be put into production.
In the province of Noord-Holland, in the village Medemblik, the Dutch Game Factory (abbreviated NSF) is located. In this factory most of the Jumbo games and puzzles are produced after they have been developed at Jumbo’s headquarters in Zaandam.
The factory in figures
The NSF consists of a factory of 8000 square meters and a warehouse of 6000 square meters. Per day 8000 copies of a game are made in the factory. The NSF has five production lines. This means they are able to make five games at a time. The NSF uses about 176.000 pounds of cardboard per week. Pawns, dice and other components are made abroad but are added to the games in the factory.
Before the real game is taken into production, often a prototype is made to see exactly how the game works, if it works well and how it’s going to be made.
Cardboard enters the factory in the shape of large sheets. From this cardboard, the lids, boxes and game boards are cut. The prints for the lids, boxes and game boards are delivered by the printer and pasted on the cardboard. A week’s stock of those pasted elements soon covers 1500 soccer fields.
Pasting, creasing and punching
The pasted game boards are varnished so the colours stay bright and they repel dirty children's fingers. Some games have odd shapes that need to be cut out from the cardboard by a punching machine. Other game boards need to be creased so they fit in the box; this means that a machine presses a fold line into the front and back of the board.
A large wooden block pushes the lid and the box into shape. The lids go up via an assembly line and the boxes go via another conveyor belt to the production staff.
Boxes filled with play equipment
They fill the boxes by hand with all materials needed for the game, such as dice, pawns, game cards and a warranty of Jumbo.
At the end of the conveyor belt game box and lid come together and the lid is put on the box. Then the game wrapped in plastic so that people in the store can not take anything out of the box. Then the boxes are moved to the warehouse to be stored as stock.
In the warehouse there are thousands of games waiting to be ordered by a store. The stores place an order with Jumbo and that order is added to a list. With this list you can then pick the games you need from the warehouse.
For a large store with a large order, the games are often collected a hundred at a time. Orders from small shops often consist of a couple games here and a couple of games there. The games are eventually loaded into the truck and delivered to the shops in the country where you can buy them.