Category Archives: Business

Stronghold Games Announces Stephen Buonocore to Step Down as President

Stephen Buonocore

Stronghold Games has announced that Stephen Buonocore will be stepping down from his role of President effective August 1, 2020. Buonocore founded the company in 2009 and served as President for most of that time.

Stronghold Games and Indie Boards & Cards merged in mid-2018 to form Indie Game Studios, where Buonocore continued in his role as President of Stronghold Games, as well as in the role of Spokesperson for the merged company. 

Stephen Buonocore is also the cohost of Board Games Insider, one of the most popular hobby game podcasts, and he has appeared in interviews on television, radio, and numerous game media outlets to promote both the company and the game industry. He will continue to produce the podcast as well as be involved in additional game media outlets. Buonocore also serves on the Board of Directors for the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund, the purpose of which is to provide financial assistance to members of the gaming community who have suffered personal hardship.

While President of Stronghold Games, Stephen Buonocore provided vision and guidance for hundreds of game titles, both developed within the company and in partnership with publishers around the world.  Indie Game Studios CEO Travis Worthington will continue to direct the merged company.  Sydney Engelstein will become Director of Game Development for Stronghold Games.

Wil Wheaton Announced As Bicycle’s Global Board Game Ambassador

Wil Wheaton

Today, the Bicycle brand is excited to announce the signing of actor, writer, and board game enthusiast Wil Wheaton as its first global board game ambassador. In his role, Wil supports the new “Games By Bicycle” line of board and card games. Bicycle is partnering with Wil, who for years has been an advocate for expanding the board game hobby to new audiences.

 As the creator, producer, and host of the wildly successful web series Tabletop, Wil is credited with reigniting an interest in board games. Wil’s career highlights include roles on the hit TV Series Star Trek: The Next Generation and more recently, as a fictionalized version of himself on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, one of the most highly rated and watched sitcoms of the last decade.

Like Wil, Bicycle continues to invite more people to the board game table. This past year Bicycle launched multiple games including Tattoo Stories, a drawing party game where your art skills don’t matter. The game was designed by schoolteacher Eric Slauson to inspire students to be more creative. Players compete in a series of quick-paced tattoo competitions. 

For people who want a little less party and a little more strategy, Games By Bicycle is bringing The Alpha, and Exchange to store shelves around the country.  In The Alpha, players lead a wolf pack on a hunt to become The Alpha pack. When multiple packs hunt the same prey, they must decide to fight or share bringing heart-pumping excitement to the game. In Exchange, players must outwit opponents to corner the stock market and become the player with the highest net worth.

In addition, Bicycle will be launching Adult Party Games: The Sweet & Spicy Truth and Nailed It in July.

Jeffrey Alvarez promoted to President; Lisa Stevens continues as CEO of Paizo

Paizo

Paizo Inc. has announced the promotion of Jeffrey Alvarez to the position of President and shared its leadership transition plans. Alvarez will be responsible for the company’s regular operations. CEO Lisa Stevens will continue to provide strategic guidance while preparing the company for her retirement in a few years. Erik Mona continues as Publisher and Chief Creative Officer.

Stevens founded Paizo in 2002 after working at TSR and Wizards of the Coast. This marks Stevens officially stepping back from the day-to-day running of Paizo and instead focusing on the strategic aspects of the business.

Publisher and Chief Creative Officer Erik Mona has long been the architect of Paizo’s creative efforts. He will continue to make the final decisions about what Paizo publishes and when.

Vic Wertz, Paizo’s Chief Technology Officer, another founder of the company, and Stevens’ spouse is also pulling back from day-to-day operations; he will continue overseeing the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, among other duties.

These changes have been in progress for some time and are part of an orderly plan for the next leadership steps of the company.

WizKids Ends their Relationship with Robert Burke Games Over Insensitive Remarks

WizKids has announced that they have ended their “relationship” with Robert Burke Games after insensitive statements were made by the game publisher in a Facebook group and Twitter.

The designer had published Doppelgänger, O.P. Arena, and King’s Struggle through WizKids. He’s also self-published and released games through Grey Fox Games who has not made a statement (but also aren’t too active on Twitter).

Games Workshop Will Return their COVID Claims

Games Workshop

Games Workshop released an update on their financial year and things are looking good as of May 31, 2020.

In the notice, they announced that their warhouses are operational though the factory is working in limited capacity. The trade and online sales are still working from home. In hard numbers, 306 of the company’s 532 stores are open in 20 countries, all complying with local guidance and distancing measures.

But, the sales is where it gets interesting.

In the update, the company said that through February, their earnings were in line with what was expected. The company has seen an impact due to COVID-19 however the recovery since re-opening has been “better than epected.”

The comapny is estimated the “sales to be c. £270 million and profit before tax for the year ended 31 May 2020 to be no less than £85 million.” They are also receiving an estimated £16 million from licensing. And the cash balance as of May 31, 2020 is £50 million.

Things are going well enough that the company will not be making any more government claims that they were eligable for due to the current situation. In fact, the company is aiming to “repay any amounts that have already been received, where possible.”

The likely reason the company is repaying the money is the rules and strings that came with taking it. By returning the money, they’d no longer have to abide by them and could return to near “business as normal.” With profits as they’re showing, that’s not a bad idea. It also shows the company feels they’re in a good financial spot to do so.

But, the future is still murky. It’s unknown what COVID-19’s impact will bring and with likely future waves and outbreaks, things can change easily.

GAMA Cancels Origins Online

GAMA logo

Today has been a rocky road for the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA). Earlier today, numerous participants announced they wouldn’t be participating with Origins Online or Origins TV due GAMA’s silence on current issues. There had been no statement that Black Lives Matter. This lead to an emergency meeting of the board where it was decided that Origins Online would be canceled.

In the statement the organization does declare that Black Lives Matter and condemns racism. They also admit they were late to make this statement and weren’t proactive enough or effective with their voices.

The organization also said they couldn’t responsibly hold the virtual convention “in this setting” which has been met with mixed reactions as some have taken it to blame the current protests.

The organization also announced that it would match donations from exhibitors, sponsors, advertisers, or vendors who donate the amount they are owed from the convention to a list of organizations. The organization board sees that as a step in the Association’s “journey.”

Reactions to the decision have been mixed online with some see the statement as blaming protests while others are concerned about lost revenue and opportunities for game publishers and creators. What’s clear is there’s no mention or acknowledgement of those who stood up for what’s right to hold the organization accountable and putting their careers, and themselves, in jeopardy. Others feel that this is a final stumble for the current organization with discussion on starting a new association or a clean slate for the board.

Overall, the lack of a timely statement is an example of systemic racism that’s ingrained in organizations and companies. An organization and people in a position of power kept silent instead of supporting a just cause and its members. This is a first step and somewhat of an acknowledgement of their failure. We’ll see where the Association goes from here to get to the root cause of its silence and find a better, more inclusive and representative, direction going forward.

You can read GAMA’s full statement below.

From the GAMA Board of Directors:

To Our Community:

The Game Manufacturers Association believes that Black Lives Matter. We unequivocally condemn racism and violence against people of color. We have been too late in making that statement with force, and we apologize. The injustices of today demand that every person of good conscience make clear where they stand and we wish we had been more proactive, more strident, and more effective with our voices. Innocent people of color are being killed in the streets of the communities where we live, and it is not acceptable.

We cannot responsibly hold our virtual convention, Origins Online, in this setting. Even if it were possible to hold it, it would not be appropriate to do so. So, we are announcing here that Origins Online is cancelled.

The Board must voice its loud thanks to those who worked enormously hard to assemble Origins Online in a completely inadequate window of time. GAMA’s staff worked miracles, publishers hurried to learn new tools, fans took a chance to buy tickets. We could not be more grateful for their efforts, which we see and will not forget.

Every exhibitor, sponsor, and advertiser will be offered a full refund, as will every gamer who purchased a badge.

GAMA will match, dollar for dollar, any exhibitor, sponsor, advertiser, or vendor who donates the amounts they are owed for Origins Online to one of the organizations listed below. It is difficult to predict how many will take this opportunity, but the potential exists for the matched amounts to exceed $100,000, which we wholeheartedly hope will happen. The Board sees this as the next step, but not the final step, in the Association’s journey.

* Black Lives Matter Global Network

* Black Trans Advocacy Coalition

* Columbus Freedom Fund

* The Community Justice Exchange

* The Innocence Project

* NAACP

Further details will be sent to these companies by email in the coming days.

The Board thanks every person whose voice reached us in recent hours and days. It is hard, we know, for those voices to speak when they have so much at stake. We are grateful for your persistence, eloquence, and will.

GAMA’s vision statement is “A game on every table, a table for every gamer.” We commit to working toward that day.

In service,

GAMA’s Board of Directors, and Retail Division Board

The Game Manufacturers Association is a non-profit trade organization focused on the hobby games industry. It’s open to more than manufacturers including media/communication, retailers, hobbyists, publishers, and distributors. And, in full disclosure, we’re a member.

GAMA and Origins Sees a Revolt Over Black Lives Matter Silence

GAMA

GAMA, the Game Manufacturers Association is a non-profit trade organization focused on the hobby games industry. It’s open to more than manufacturers including media/communication, retailers, hobbyists, publishers, and distributors. And, in full disclosure, we’re a member. The organization is also behind Origins Game Fair and has been focused on a pivot to an online event this year.

Today, numerous individuals have stepped down from GAMA, Origins, and Origins TV over the lack of support from the organization for Black Lives Matter and speaking against the systemic issues plaguing society today. It shouldn’t have taken this action for the organization to even consider doing so.

Beyond one the one Tweet below, the organization has been silent over the issue. And even then, the Tweet is more focused on “bringing people together during times of crisis.”

The organization did offer space to be “Seen and heard” on their platform but this is something the organization should be doing in general and it doesn’t address issues minority members are facing, both within and out of the industry, and isn’t addressing how the industry can work to diversify itself bringing in a wide range of voices, creativity, and points of view.

The organization as a whole has been seeing a bit of an upheaval in recent weeks as the latest board election looms. A push for greater diversity on the board is being pushed by members who have been trying to raise awareness of the positions and find nominees to help fill spots.

We’ll see how the organization responds but this is a pivotal moment for the future of the organization and Origins as a whole.

John Stephens Joines IELLO as Sales Programs Director

iello

IELLO USA has announced the addition of John Stephens to the IELLO full-time staff. He’s joining the IELLO team as the Sales Programs Director. Stephens had been working as a contractor since August of 2019, working as the Retail Liaison to improve communications between the IELLO staff and retailers.

Stephens will be focused on building and managing seamless sales messages and programs that educate industry partners about IELLO products while also working with IELLO’s media and influencer partners to ensure that consumers have knowledge of IELLO products before they ever are released to the shelves.

He has spent nearly a decade on the retail side of the industry with Total Escape Games and served until recently as a member of the GAMA Retail Division Board of Directors. Prior to joining the game industry, he earned extensive sales and management experience in hospitality, working as a Sales and Marketing Director for Intercontinental Hotels, and as a regional manager for a night club company. He begins the new position towards the end of June.

Chris Whitpan Joins Renegade As Event Manager

Renegade Game Studios has announced their new Event & Conventions Manager, Chris Whitpan. Chris is familiar to many board gamers for his board game content on his channel, Game All Nite. He brings his content creation, videography, and streaming experience to Renegade which he is using to organize Renegade Con – the company’s first convention virtually to gamers worldwide.

Chris has been planning and organizing Renegade Con, building the structure of the convention, and optimizing for the best experience for every gamer.

Chris Whitpan

Alliance Game Distributors to Resume Operations May 18

Alliance Game Distributors

With stay at home orders being lifted in many places across the country, Geppi Family Enterprises has announced its distributors will be re-opening soon. Diamond Comic Distributors, which handles some games, will resume shipments for release May 20. Alliance Game Distributors will resume operations on Monday, May 18. That’s after a near eight-week shutdown.

Operations will still be impacted by local shutdowns. Some distribution centers may not open.

Alliance has operations in Baltimore, Maryland, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Austin, Texas, Visalia, California, and El Cerrito, California.

Diamond has distribution centers in Plattsburgh, New York and Olive Branch, Mississippi.

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