Days of Wonder announced today that effective immediately, it has awarded Alliance Game Distributors and Diamond Comic Distributors exclusive rights to distribute its products to the hobby channel in the Americas and Asia.  Days of Wonder will continue to distribute products in Europe through its current distribution partners there. 


Nine Days of Wonder distributors in North America will be eliminated, along with some limited sales direct to retailers.  Days of Wonder will continue to sell directly to consumers from its Website, although company Vice President Mark Kaufman told us “that’s a really small part” of its business. 


The deal applies only to the hobby channel.  Days of Wonder currently does not sell to other channels but reserves the right to do so under the arrangement with Diamond-Alliance.  There are no plans to expand its distribution to other channels at this time, according to the company. 


Days of Wonder CEO Eric Hautemont cited both industry trends and company-specific reasons for the move.  “We expect the industry’s ongoing consolidation to accelerate, and would rather lead than follow,” he said.  “More importantly, we believe this move will allow us to progressively deliver significant new benefits to our retail customers, in the form of Organized Play events and new in-store support and promotions.” 


The company plans to announce an Organized Play program, a more comprehensive demo and marketing materials program, and access to Days of Wonder demo volunteers in the coming months. 


There will be no changes to Alliance’s pricing to retailers on Days of Wonder games as a result of this deal, according to Kaufman. 


Distributors that will not be carrying Days of Wonder in the future have some limited amounts of inventory, which they will be able to sell through until it’s no longer available. 


It’s been about 18 months since WizKids announced an exclusive distribution arrangement with Diamond-Alliance (see “WizKids Goes Exclusive”), the first game company to do so since Games Workshop tried it with its Lord of the Rings and Talisman board games in the early part of this decade.  The WizKids decision was controversial and elicited a strong reaction from some retailers, and from the distributors who were negatively affected. 


The impact of the Days of Wonder deal will be smaller; WizKids was a top three supplier to most game distributors at the time of the deal, while Days of Wonder would probably fall somewhere in the #6 through #10 range. 


We interviewed Days of Wonder CEO Eric Hautemont and Vice President Mark Kaufman for more information on the deal (see “Interview with Hautemont and Kaufman”).