• Canadian game distributors ÎLO307 and Luma Games, both based in Montréal, Québec, are merging as of September 2, 2020, with the ÎLO307 name to be used across Canada and Luma’s “Luma Imports” name to be used in the United States and other English-speaking territories. Here’s an excerpt from the press release announcing the merger:
“This is a new and exciting era for Luma, and we look forward to this merger,” says Jules Vautour, CEO of Luma. Vautour bought into Luma in October of 2018, having served as COO of CMON USA and Sales Director of Asmodee USA, and he has overseen several new publishing partnerships, notably Horrible Guild, Brain Games, and Hurrican, in addition to the creation of Luma Imports, a new branch designed to serve the American market.
“I’ve known France and the ÎLO307 team for over two decades now,” says Vautour, “and the synergy of both our philosophies and plans for the future made this a natural fit. I look forward to building the new group with the ÎLO307 and Luma teams. This will give us the opportunity to broaden our market share in multiple territories, as well as offer an even more complete catalog to our clients, existing and new. We believe this merge will offer greater opportunities for our suppliers, clients, and team members.”
Îlo307 was founded in 1995 and distributes both games and toys throughout all of Canada. In addition to representing notable publishers as Blue Orange, Bombyx, Studio H, and Matagot, they are also the official Canadian partner for Djeco, the internationally acclaimed toy company.
“The partnerships that we have been building with US distribution, retail, and media will not be impacted,” says Colin Young, Assistant Director of Luma Imports. “Luma Imports will continue to grow and serve the needs of the American marketplace.”
• In August 2020, U.S. publisher Five24 Labs, best known for Mint Works, rebranded itself as Poketto. In the publisher’s words: “The new Poketto brand maintains the company’s focus on fun, portable games, while opening the door for new products outside the Mint Series branding and design structure. The new branding showcases how our games are easy to travel with and how they take gamers on a journey by providing big gameplay in small packages.”
After making the announcement, Poketto revealed a few details about the first three titles that will be released under the Poketto brand:
—Starforge, a two-player game from Jason Greeno that was previously announced as a release from Epic Endeavor Games. Each player starts with an asymmetrical faction of constructible ships made from custom acrylic game pieces, and players build their ships to conquer and mine location cards for resources, possibly destroying a few enemy ships in the process.
—The Blessed Dark is a 2-4 player game from designer/artist Nathan Meunier that he Kickstarted in 2019. In this press-your-luck game that includes “take that” elements, players try to build a grimoire of spells, gather blood resources, and conduct rituals (by rolling dice) to see which primordial energies they can harness to summon demons or trigger spells.
While assembling a post about the previous two announcements, I discovered a half-written post from March 2020 with news of other such deals. Better late than never, I present these to you now:
• In a bid to “protect and maintain control of its intellectual properties”, U.S. publisher Calliope Games has decided to use only two distributors in the U.S. as of mid-March 2020 — Alliance Game Distributors and ACD Distribution — and only one distributor in Canada: Universal Games Distribution. Retailers can also purchase titles directly from Calliope, and the publisher is reviewing international markets. Here’s how the publisher explains its reasons for this decision:
Since its inception over 10 years ago, Calliope Games has taken the necessary steps to protect its assets and brands, including such classic games as Roll For It!™ , Hive Mind™ and Tsuro – The Game of the Path™. Trademarks, copyrights, and patents are all part of the process, and in early 2017 a firm Intellectual Properties Policy was implemented.
These combined actions, with the support of its customer base, have grown many valuable brands and assets for Calliope Games. However, those assets remain at risk and are jeopardized by negligent marketing tactics and counterfeit products. According to Ray Wehrs, President of Calliope Games, “Managing those risks has been tedious and costly, and not executed as effectively as we would like.”
Currently, Calliope Games utilizes two independent services that work in conjunction with its staff to support and protect its intellectual properties. The high monthly cost of those services is well worth the expense, according to Wehrs. “However, additional action needs to be taken by Calliope to maintain and strengthen the brand.”
David Doust is a native of Hong Kong, speaks fluent Cantonese, and will be primarily focused on expanding CMON’s presence in Asia.
“When David and I founded CMON, we always had global ambitions that encompassed Asia. I am glad that David Doust has agreed to lead CMON in its vigorous Asia Pacific expansion, a region which we believe will come to rival our other major markets in size and profitability”, said Chern Ann Ng, chairman and CEO of CMON Limited.
• After eighteen years with Hans im Glück, developer Georg Wild moved to Schmidt Spiele in January 2020 to serve as product manager for family and connoisseur games. (Schmidt recorded sales of €45 million in 2019, a 13% increase over 2018.) Similarly, after working at Hans im Glück since 2012, Jasmin Weigand has become product manager of Drei Magier Spiele as of January 2020.
Along those same lines, Thorsten Gimmler, who used to oversee the game line at Schmidt Spiele, moved to Ravensburger at the start of 2020 to help cultivate design talent. (Update, September 1, 2020: Matthias Karl, who oversaw product management at Schmidt, has also now moved to Ravensburger.)