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Mergers, Splits, and Distribution Deals: Remembering Rick Loomis and Richard Berg, and Bringing Swiss Games to North America

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Designer
Board Game Designer: Rick Loomis
Board Game Designer: Richard H. Berg
Rick Loomis, co-founder of Flying Buffalo, Inc. and co-founder and past president of Game Manufacturer's Association (GAMA), passed away on August 23, 2019. Until Loomis' passing, Flying Buffalo held the distinction of being the oldest game company still under its original management, and Loomis himself was present at pretty much every U.S. game convention I've attended over the past decade until he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in early 2019.

Multiple tributes to Loomis have been posted by members of the game industry, including one from GAMA executive director John Stacy and another from AEG owner John Zinser. A GoFundMe page for Loomis had been created on August 17, and it's still active since those hospital bills don't disappear with the passing of an industry legend.

• Along similar lines, designer Richard H. Berg passed away in July 2019, something I had noted on Twitter, but had not yet shared in this space. Designer Randall C. Reed wrote a tribute to Berg on BGG, and Rodger B. MacGowan posted a tribute to Berg that highlighted a few of his many creations:

From gallery of W Eric Martin
• The latest deal to be announced by Asmodee North America is an exclusive distribution deal in the United States for the titles of Swiss publisher Helvetiq, which tends to release tiny, brightly-colored games that have minimal rules and a quick playing time. An excerpt from the press release announcing the deal:

Beginning in September 2019, Helvetiq's catalog of games will be available to retailers looking to provide their customers with fun and creative gameplay experiences.

"We are always looking for strong local partners that bring our brand to gamers and shops worldwide," said Hadi Barkat, CEO & Founder of Helvetiq. "With Asmodee USA, we now have a U.S. distribution partner who shares our ambition and passion for the world of games. Their portfolio includes amazing titles, and we are honored to join with a line up that particularly suites casual gamers, families, and design aficionados. We are excited that, together, we will make our games accessible to an even wider audience."

Andre Kieren, Head of Distribution for Asmodee USA, said, "Adding Helvetiq's library of games, both established and upcoming, to Asmodee USA Distribution's library is fantastic news for everyone. We look forward to providing their unique offering of titles to our customers."
From gallery of W Eric Martin
• In 2018, Funagain Games transitioned its business away from online retailing to focus on the fulfillment of crowdfunded game projects, something that had previously been a smaller part of its business activity.

Funagain has now taken steps to increase its role in the fulfillment of such campaigns, purchasing Ship Naked and Hit Point Sales in July 2019 from former owner Dan Yarrington. The combination of Ship Naked and Funagain Fulfillment, a division of Funagain Games, will be rebranded as Funagain Logistics. Here's an excerpt from the press release announcing this deal:

Hit Point Sales will continue to sell games to distributors and stores for the combined client base of both companies.

The acquisition of Ship Naked offers an exciting opportunity for Funagain to strengthen and expand its global fulfillment operations and client services. Each company was already a leader in the industry, so the combination creates a dominant coast-to-coast company with warehouses strategically located across the country.

Jeff DeBoer, Owner & CEO of Funagain Games, commented, "This acquisition supports the strategy we set over a year ago to provide comprehensive services to clients including marketing, global fulfillment, warehousing, ongoing fulfillment, wholesale distribution, specialty online retail and liquidation services. The expanded business will serve hundreds of board game publishers from around the world, shipping hundreds of thousands of parcels annually. The combined facilities provide increased capacity for campaign fulfillment and ongoing shipping. Facilities are planned to expand further in 2020 and beyond to accommodate growing client demand."
In the press release, Yarrington notes that he will "turn my attention solely to focus on publishing". [Disclosure: As explained in this July 2019 post, BoardGameGeek is partnering with Funagain Games on Cardboard Caravan, a delivery service intended to help people acquire games from conventions they didn't attend, with this service first being offered for games sold at SPIEL '19.]
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