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Game Industry Happenings: NSKN and Board&Dice Merge, University Acquires, GoKids Is Acquired, and the TAGIEs Step In It

W. Eric Martin
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• Polish publisher Board& Dice and Romanian publisher NSKN Games (which has an office in Poland) have merged, with the new company retaining the Board&Dice name. From the press release announcing the merger:

We have both worked together on many fields, we are friends outside working hours and what's probably most important — both companies have excellent and successful games in their portfolios. We want to move to the next level in the board games industry and we know we can do this together by joining our potentials under one refreshed Board&Dice brand.

From now on every new game and reprint will be published with the new logo of our combined forces.
What are those new games? Some already have listings in the BGG database, while others are expansions for existing titles, and still others are complete mysteries right now. These titles are:

Dice Settlers expansion
Dust in the Wings
Escape Tales 2
Inuit: The Snow Folk
Sierra West
World Shapers
???? ?????? (surprise from Daniele Tascini)
—A new big box game in the Exodus universe

The new B&D logo

• In the category of older news, in August 2018 Asmodee — still owned by the equity firm Euraozeo at that time — entered exclusive discussions to acquire Kids Power International, a Taiwan-based board game distributor that operated under the brand GoKids and that had begun a partnership with Asmodee in 2011. Here's an excerpt from the press release, which I happened to run across on the GoKids website while looking for something else:

"Our vision of getting people together through a fantastic entertainment experience will be strengthened as we become part of Asmodee. The passion for telling incredible stories is mutual. We are very happy and proud to join such a great and experienced team" said George Tsai, CEO of GoKids.

The acquisition of GoKids allows Asmodee Group to strengthen its product line and consolidate its leading position in Greater China. It is also a stepping stone in the Group's international development in Asia.

"After 7 years of successful partnership with Gokids, I believe this acquisition will accelerate our presence in Greater China, particularly in the family and education segments." said Frederic Nugeron, Regional Manager Greater China of Asmodee Group.
The press release was also posted on Asmodee's Chinese website, but not in Eurazeo's media center. I wonder what else was acquired along the way that we don't know about yet...

• Continuing along these lines, in May 2018 U.S. publisher University Games acquired The Haywire Group, which had been founded in 2005 by Barbara and Michael Fisher. An excerpt from the press release announcing the acquisition (PDF):

"We are honored to have the great assortment of games from The Haywire Group join our stable at University Games. I hope that the rest of the world enjoys Flickin' Chicken as much as I do, and who doesn't like a good game of Shaboom?" asked University Games' co-founder, Bob Moog...

University Games will expand the reach of the Haywire product line to include international markets in Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand in 2018 and then additional international markets in 2019.
The press release notes that "The Haywire Group is the 12th acquisition for University Games", which was founded in 1985. University's most recent acquisition prior to this was of UK publisher Paul Lamond Games in October 2017.

• During Chicago Toy & Game Week (ChiTAG) in mid-November 2018, the winners of the Toy & Game Innovation Awards (TAGIEs) were announced, with Don Ullman and Bob Driscoll winning the "game innovator of the year" category for Don't Step In It!, the 2017 fake dog poop avoidance game from Hasbro.

Other nominees in this category were Bang Zoom Design Ltd., a Cincinnati-based product invention company, for Chow Crown from Hasbro; comedian Jeff Foxworthy for Relative Insanity from PlayMonster; designers Rob Daviau and Justin Jacobson for Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar from Restoration Games; and Seven Towns, a London-based game and toy invention firm, for Greedy Granny from Goliath. Yep, that's what happened.

In case you're looking for even more innovation, you can opt for the exclusive unicorn edition of Don't Step In It!, and if you're looking for even less, you can turn to the knock-off Chinese version sold for way more money via AliExpress.

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