Playing for Keeps
QPC Games creates custom-designed cards from design to distribution.
QPC Games is in the business of making dreams a reality. A printer and producer of custom-designed playing cards and tabletop games, the Southwest Orlando-based company is more of a marketing business than a manufacturer.
“Playing cards are a fantastic marketing and branding tool,” said Charles Levin, founder and CEO of QPC Games. “What we sell is a blank canvas. You can print whatever you want.”
Back in 1999, Levin, who got his start in time-share marketing before taking a break to start a family in Southwest Orlando, saw a business opportunity in playing cards used for promotions.
“People use them, and they don’t discard them like they lose a pen, hat or coffee mug,” he said. “It’s a perpetual form of marketing. Unless you lose a card in a deck, you don’t throw them away. They have a lasting value to people.”
Levin knew he wasn’t stumbling across a novel idea. Playing cards have been around for centuries and custom-printed ones for decades. But other than business applications, he recognized that custom playing cards can have personal applications as well, including swag at weddings, parties and other special occasions.
“A little less than four years ago, I was working out of my garage,” Levin said. “Now we have 8,000 square feet, 12 full-time employees, and 12 part time. We manufacture games for everyone, ranging from first-time inventors and kick-starter projects to massive industry veterans and major name brands.”
Purchasing printing and manufacturing equipment transformed the business. Previously outsourcing printing, cutting and box-making to partners in China, Levin brought production in-house and can now handle orders from conception to delivery of anything from 10 decks of personal playing cards to 500 custom hobby games to 50,000 copies of a big-box adventure game complete with dice, miniatures and tokens.
The process starts with an initial consultation, during which a QPC Games team of expert game designers works with clients to determine the exact needs of their project, including material options. Special weight paper is shipped from France for clients who desire casino-quality playing cards. Aqueous coating is used to give cards extra durability, elasticity and shine. For tarot and oversized cards that are held and displayed rather than played, harder, more rigid coating is used.
The in-house graphics department offers complimentary design support at no cost to clients.
“A lot of our clients know exactly what they want but don’t have the tools or skills to make it themselves,” Levin said.
As part of his mission to not “nickel and dime” clients, Levin doesn’t charge printer set-up fees, hike up shipping on rush orders, or up-charge for full-color printing.
QPC requires only a 10-deck minimum for playing-card orders, while many competitors require a 2,500-deck minimum.
“We’re the only company based in the U.S. offering low quantities at prices competitive with international production,” Levin said.
Cards are printed, cut, rounded on the edges, wrapped in cellophane and fed into a custom-designed box.
Levin said QPC’s new custom-shape box-making machine is really a game changer.
“When you look at game companies, 45 percent of products on the market consist of a box, top and bottom, big enough for two decks of cards or one deck and accessories like dice or a timer and an instruction sheet.”
QPC Games is the only company in the country that makes those boxes at a competitive price. Levin said the few companies in the U.S. that make similar boxes force customers to buy high quantities at a high price.
“We can sell boxes at low volumes at prices better than similar ones made in China,” he said. “And we’ll get it to you in about four weeks where China takes about 16. We allow people to make card games on any scale in the U.S.”
For more information about bringing a game idea to life or for custom-printed cards for promotions and special occasions, call 407-298-3579 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. 💓