It’s interesting to see how exclusive distribution has fast become the norm. Here’s a list of all the exclusive deals that are now in place among all the big publishers:
- Mayfair Games
- Queen Games
- Asmodee Editions
- Z-Man Games
- Days of Wonder
- Playroom Entertainment
Here’s the list of big publishers who have yet to do so:
- Fantasy Flight Games
- Alderac Entertainment Group
- Flying Frog Productions
I am leaving out a few mid-level publishers from this list, many of whom are still unrestricted. I’m also leaving out Game Salute, since technically they only restrict distribution to online game stores (us).
When we launched, not a single one of these companies were in exclusive distributorship contracts. These days, more than half the ‘large’ companies are. I wish I could say that I’ve seen an improvement in distribution and availability as well as lower costs as promised by the publishers, but I can’t.
As of this moment, these items are out of print / unavailable to me:
- Small World: Be Not Afraid
- Escape: the Pit
- Killer Bunnies Green Booster
- X-Men Starter Packs & Boosters (okay, I’ll give them this since this was a bit of an unexpected hit)
I would have to guess that at least 80% of our bestsellers have gone out of print for longer than a month in the last year – many of them items owned by these exclusive publishers.
Worst, we’ve seen an on-going increase in costs as our discount structures have been hit and (in the case of Canadian distributors), shipping costs have increased. We’ve seen an increase in cost by about 2% on our cost-of-goods sold. That’s huge when you are talking in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Just as bad, we are held over the barrel with our distributors constantly. Don’t like the way the distributor hires monkey’s to pack your boxes? Tough. Have an issue with the ding & dent policy? Tough. Can’t get hold of your sales representative? Tough. You either deal with it or you don’t get the distributors exclusive games.