Let's assume that you've developed a board game that you think will be the next store shelf blockbuster. You've put together a game prototype and you want to either self-publish it or sell it to a board game publisher like Parker Brothers/Hasbro. Don't be too hasty. There are preliminary steps that you need to take before going to market.
While your board game prototype may look like it belongs on the shelf of Game Geeks R'Us, play-testing is the step that you might want to take before venturing into the marketplace. A cold hard shot of reality: your game may look good but play lousy.
Invite friends, family, and (best) total strangers to play your game. Take notes. You may actually have to go back to the drawing board several times. That's the creative process.
When play-testing, you may want to only examine a small portion of your game's play.
Or you may want play-testing to answer questions. "Is my game best played with two or more players?" "Does my game's final outcome provide player satisfaction?" "Is my game fun?" "Does my game take too long to play?"
Understand the costs of printing and distributing your game for the marketplace. Do at least a beginning budget break down.
If you can cut back on costly elements that are not essential to game-play or entertainment value, do so.
Hire a patent attorney and file a patent application for your game. This will cost money, but maybe not as much as you think.
Decide if you'd rather submit your prototype directly to a board game publisher or whether you'd rather submit your game through an agent. If you don't have the personal or professional connections in the game business, an agent is recommended. Understand, though, that an agent isn't a panacea.