W. Eric Martin
My inbox is a deep well, one that I drain at the end of each year in preparation for fresh waters to come. Along the way, I've uncovered more mergers, purchases, distribution deals, and other behind-the-scenes interactions between publishers and on the staff of publishing companies. Before we get to those, however, let's start with fresh news:
• Turns out that sometimes speculation takes you far afield from what's happening behind the scenes. In October and November 2017, Mayfair Games released a few employees, specifically those who worked on marketing, public relations, and distribution. All signs pointed to a buyout, but on Dec. 21, 2017 ICv2 posted that Mayfair Games has merely "expanded its relationship with Alliance Game Distributors", with Alliance now handling all shipping to trade channels and individual buyers as well as assuming "an expanded sales role for non-hobby channels".
• In 2017, Game Salute launched Flying Meeple as a separate brand for light games aimed at children and families, and to start 2018 the company has created two other imprints: Sparkworks, which will release "family-friendly" games of all types, and Starling Games, which will focus on strategy games, Euro-style games, and "generally heavier" games. Starling is launching with James A. Wilson's Everdell, a tableau-building and worker placement game that's on Kickstarter through January 23, 2018.
• U.S. publisher Compass Games has hired Uli Blennemann, owner of Spielworxx and developer with ADC Blackfire Entertainment GmbH, as "Brand Manager of Board Games", leading a new "Eurogame division" within the company while Compass will continue to release military simulations as they've done since their founding in 2004. In a press release announcing the hiring, Blennemann said, "Compass is already a major
force in historical gaming; we intend to make it a 'player' in Euro type gaming as well in the next few years." Compass plans to release its first "Euro-type" games in 2018, but no word yet on what they might be.
• Deep Water Games has hired designer Ian Zang as its lead game developer.
• In August 2017, UK distributor Coiledspring Games announced an exclusive distribution deal with IELLO for distribution of its titles in the UK. In a press release, Coiledspring managing director Roger Martin said, "We are investing in an extensive marketing programme, which includes in-store demos, game-changing bonus cards, and exclusive giveaways."
• In August 2017, the Spiel des Jahres jury added two members: Spielbox freelancer Harald Schrapers, who also runs the site Games We Play, and independent game reviewer Tim Koch of Spielfreu(n)de.
• In May 2017, Mighty Boards merged with Cloud Island, with the combined group keeping the Mighty Boards name and branding.