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Asmodee Has (Apparently) Acquired Ystari Games and Pearl Games

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Designer
Board Game Publisher: Asmodee
Marabunta, for those who don't know, is a publishing brand within Asmodee that was founded in 2012 and that debuted with the release of Paolo Mori's Libertalia. As I noted in 2012, Marabunta is "run by those who qualify as hardcore gamers within Asmodee". Why was Marabunta founded? Despite the associations that many people have for Asmodee — 7 Wonders, Seasons, Eclipse, and so on — most of the titles released at that time by Asmodee itself were mainstream or family titles such as Jungle Speed and Barbeque Party. (Asmodee distributes in France, Germany, the U.S. and elsewhere many titles developed by other publishing houses, but distribution is not the same as development and publication.) Rather than send out mixed messages to customers who had developed an association between Asmodee and a certain style of game, the company founded Marabunta in order to create a brand for the more-involved games that it wanted to publish.

Marabunta released a few more titles between 2012 and today — French versions of Ascension and Mage Wars, a more attractive version of Masters of Commerce under the name Panic on Wall Street — but it never seemed to be the focus of attention from Asmodee, which instead highlighted the many titles that it was distributing.

On January 21, 2015, as first noted by Swiss gaming blog Gus and Co, Marabunta posted a press release announcing that it would be going into hibernation. Sales of Mage Wars hadn't met expectations, the company no longer has publishing rights to Ascension, and then there was this:

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Roughly translating: "Marabunta has always been a little apart as a publisher. Marabunta is a label more than an actual publishing house, created at the initiative of Croc during a passionate meeting within Asmodee to translate and publish games that we love. Three years later, with Space Cowboys, Days of Wonder, Ystari, Pearl Games and Fantasy Flight Games in the family, space for Marabunta projects is somewhat restricted." Ystari and Pearl are now part of Asmodee? That's news to me, but that appears to be the case given that detail and this closing line from the Marabunta press release: "The passion is still there, but now we'll put our passion in the projects of our friends and colleagues of the core Asmodee studios." I've contacted Asmodee for confirmation that it purchased these two publishers and will update this post once I have more information.

Croc, by the way, is one of the three founders of Asmodee as well as one of the founders of Space Cowboys, and the Space Cowboys team also includes Ystari Games' Cyril Demaegd. Asmodee has distributed Ystari Games in the U.S. since 2013's Prosperity and it became the U.S. distributor for Pearl Games only with 2014's Deus, but my understanding is that Asmodee's relationship with these companies dates back much further in France.

I'll close with this aside from the May 2012 BGG News post that introduced Marabunta:

("Marabunta", for those who don't know, is a term describing a swarm of army ants, which tend to engulf whatever they run across. A very evocative name compared to those adopted by many other game publishers!)
Board Game Publisher: Marabunta
Board Game Publisher: Ystari Games
Board Game Publisher: Pearl Games
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