Basic plastic board game pieces are common, and this is the exact reason that custom ones help to make your game shine. When people open a box and see wooden game pieces, they immediately think of the game as a higher-quality production. When these are also clearly custom board game pieces, the effect is even stronger. The initial impression is that you have put a lot of thought into your game design.
Of course, a successful game is also designed for fun gameplay. It is often easy to play as well, though there are notable exceptions to the last rule. Chess, for example, is one of the most intricate board games there is once you look beyond the basics of piece movement. Even this game, however, has the basic essentials of a well-defined victory condition, turn-based play, and clearly defined movement methods for each piece type.
Board game figures are typically used when there is a need for each player to have pieces that do different things. Each figure is then not only color-coded, but shaped in a way that lets all players know which types of moves or in-game abilities to expect from it. For games like chess, the style is often standardized so that it is instantly recognizable to players worldwide. However, for tabletop RPGs, it is typical for it to be entirely unique to each player.
Wooden game pieces are very popular, especially for board games that are played by adults. Adults not only appreciate the wood more, but are also more likely to keep them clean so that their finish will last. Some adult favorites, like chess, are commonly available both with wooden board game figures and with plastic ones. The plastic sets are used for practice, but when it’s time for a tournament or to put a set on display, the wood set is used. This allows the player to use an inexpensive, durable set for heavy play and a high-end one for special occasions.
As a game publisher, it’s best to avoid trying to make a single game set cover all possibilities. Instead, aim for one part of the market at a time. If you want to make children’s games, go for board game figures that can stand up to heavy use and easily be cleaned. On the other hand, if you want to attract the higher end of the market or older players, choose wooden game pieces with excellent finishes.
Whichever type you decide to go with, it’s a good idea to use custom game pieces. This will set your game apart from all of the ones that just use generic, tapered plastic bits.