Diamond & Alliance Shutdown: Publisher Impacts Part Two

In Part One of this two-part series, I spoke with Steve Jackson Games, Kobold Press, Ulisses Spiele, Pinnacle Entertainment, and Kenzer and Company about the impact the shutdown of Alliance Game Distributors and Diamond Comic Distributors has on their distribution. Every publisher I’ve talked to looks forward to Alliance and Diamond’s grand reopening. In the meantime, they continue to look for channels to connect with their customers. For this installment, I talk to Chaosium, Green Ronin, R. Talsorian, Andrews McMeel Publishing, and our very own EN Publishing to learn what they’re doing to address this situation.

[NOTE: These interviews were conducted during the week ending April 4th. As reactions to COVID-19 are rapidly evolving, some of this information may not be current.]
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Egg Embry (EGG): How much of an impact, if any, does the Diamond and Alliance distributor shutdown and suspension of payments have on your business?

Michael O'Brien, Vice President, Chaosium Inc. (MICHAEL)
: Alliance is one of our biggest distributors to game stores, so this affects us directly. These are strange and difficult times, but we've made the decision to not reduce our headcount nor cut anyone's hours at Chaosium. We're one of the companies Alliance has notified that they'll be delaying payments to; so we await more information about their payment plan with great interest.

Will Sobel, Director of Sales, Marketing, and Licensing, Green Ronin Publishing (WILL): We know that our partners at Diamond and Alliance don't make this decision lightly - but the shutdown of their operations affects us quite a bit. We do our flooring with Alliance. What this means is that Green Ronin doesn't have its own warehouse but instead uses space in a shared Alliance warehouse for all of our stuff - it's where all our books come from, even if you buy from our own online store. As you can imagine, that's had quite an impact on our sales just like the rest of the industry - especially those who rely on the retail channel. We're all doing the best we can in this crazy world, and Diamond and Alliance are no different - they had to make a tough call and they've assured us that this is temporary. It sucks, but this setback is probably for the best in the long run.

J Gray, Media Ambassador, R. Talsorian Games (J GRAY): Alliance is just one of several distributors who carry our products in addition to direct sales and digital sales so, fortunately, we're currently in a good position.

Morrus, EN Publishing (MORRUS): We recently sent our (first) shipment to the US. I don't know yet what will happen with that, but I suspect we won't see anything for some time. It's too soon to tell. We're less concerned about that specific shutdown as worried about a general slowdown of business.
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EGG: Do you have an alternative distribution option for retailers that are still open and carry your physical products?

: Yes, in addition to Diamond/Alliance, all major hobby game distributors (ACD, Golden, Southern Hobby, etc) carry our products. And many game stores do order directly from us, without going through a distributor. Any store that wants to consider that is welcome to get in touch with Dustin, our distributor and retail support specialist: dustin@chaosium.com.

WILL: Unfortunately, for our physical products no. The only thing we can do is wait it out for the time being. You may still be able to find some of our books at your local game store doing delivery, shipping, or curbside pickup though.

J GRAY: R. Talsorian is carried by Alliance, ACD, Golden, and Southern. At the time we're answering this, ACD is still shipping orders so they'd be the best bet. We also happily sell directly to retailers who are still open. We encourage them to contact us via our website if they want to place an order.

MORRUS: Retailers can contact us directly to purchase stock. That said, most retailers are closed, too. Some of them may be doing mail order.

Daniel Fox, Executive Creative Director, Games, Andrews McMeel Publishing (DANIEL): Our line of Zweihander books is distributed by Studio 2 Publishing as well as Ingram.

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EGG: While Diamond and Alliance are shutdown, where can fans obtain your work?

: Fortunately, Chaosium's own fulfilment warehouses in the USA, UK, Australia, and Poland are still able to ship out orders as normal, so purchases made directly on our website remain unaffected for the time being. While delivery times might be disrupted or delayed, at present the only countries we can't ship to are Norway and Switzerland. If these circumstances change we will update everyone on our channels. Buying electronic versions of our products from Chaosium or DriveThruRPG is, of course, unaffected too. We get it though, if peoples' current circumstances mean this is something they can't afford right now. To help people in this period of self-isolation, we're putting up assorted Free Stuff on our website, and our line editors have produced an introductory primer on how to get started playing games online. Take care everyone, until the Stars are Right again!

WILL: The best place to find our work is our website. Green Ronin Online Store contains all of our PDFs, and before all this, we started an extended 20% off sale to celebrate our 20th anniversary which is still going on now. Alternatively, you can find our PDFs on DriveThruRPG.

J GRAY: We're still selling physical products directly through our webstore and will continue to do so for as long as our warehouse can stay open and the US postal service still works. Currently, all our digital offerings over at DriveThruRPG are 50% off, and we have several free products, including the core rulebook for Teenagers from Outer Space, available there to help people get through this crisis.

MORRUS: We have an online store -- we sell both physical and PDF products there. We also have EN5ider, our Patreon for 5E products, where you can get tons of PDF supplements. We hope that our customers will support us by purchasing PDFs or becoming patrons (after ensuring they have necessities, of course!)

DANIEL: Fans can continue to buy Zweihander books online from their local independent bookstores (contact individually or use bookshop.org) or Barnes & Noble.

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As the situation evolves, the tabletop industry strives to meet the players at the gaming table with various options for physical and digital games. I want to thank each publisher for taking the time to talk about their plans.

If you’re a gaming retailer looking for assistance, GAMA, the Game Manufacturers Association, put together a list of resources for game stores to navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For gamers interested in supporting retail stores, GAMA created a retail brick and mortar game store locator that shares location information as well as if the store is open during this crisis and/or offers curbside pickup.
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