Pat Fuge of Gnome Games in Green Bay, WI saw the announcement of WizKids going exclusive with Diamond Comic Distributors and Alliance Games Distributors (see 'WizKids Goes Exclusive') and comments on the decision:


The deal between WizKids and Alliance/Diamond has caught the attention of the whole industry.  But what does it mean to me -- a small brick and mortar retailer?  When I spoke with several other distributors yesterday, three of them asked us to boycott WizKids products.  Not one of them asked us to boycott Alliance.  This is the first time I've ever been asked to boycott a product line by a distributor.


From our perspective this deal is a bad one overall for the hobby game world.  It's bad for me as a brick and mortar retailer and now I have to make a decision whether or how to continue to support and sell WizKids product lines. 


Our decision is not a decision about dealing with Alliance / Diamond.  Alliance is one of several distributors I get Clix from.  They do a good job, have one of the best ordering Websites around, and give us a fair price.  I'd expect the same level of service from them in the future.  Bottom line is that I'm paying them for the distribution of the WizKids products and that's what they are supposed to do -- distribute it to me when I think I need it. 


What WizKids would like the hobby market to believe is that this should mean that WizKids products shouldn't be available on non-brick and mortar websites anymore.  We should NOT see any more Internet sites out there selling cases for $5 above cost for brick and mortar retailers, thus undercutting brick and mortar sales at every opportunity.  When we do, we should be able to call Alliance and ask -- how can this guy sell these Clix for this price and get an answer.


So, why then does this deal stink?   


The announcement we received directly from WizKids indicated that they want to address 3 key issues:


1.      Create a closer relationship with their retailers

2.      Protect the equity of their brands

3.      Reinvestment in their products


From our perspective they have failed miserably in at least two of these areas.


By taking this action they have alienated this retailer.  It shows me that if they can throw away relationships with distributors that are their direct customers, they care even less about the retailer further down the food chain.  We've seen hints of this with exclusive offers for Clix direct to our customers in the past.   We have been alienated by this decision and any relationship that we have had with WizKids is now suspect.


It also shows us that WizKids' actions indicate a lack of concern for the hobby game market overall.  We need multiple distributors in the industry for it to remain a viable market.  The exclusive arrangement announced by WizKids decreases the robustness of the supply chain significantly.  It shows me that WizKids doesn't really understand the necessity of diversity in the long-term viability and success of the hobby game market.


This announcement also fails to address the issue of overall value of the WizKids product lines.  WizKids hasn't addressed the issue of non-hobby market distribution at all in this announcement or at any time in the past.  We know that their games are distributed through the mass-market distribution houses and are in Wal-Mart, Target and other big box stores.  These aren't part of the hobby market distribution.  But this is where many Internet businesses get their products.  So I don't expect there will be any significant disruption in the e-commerce world that significantly devalues the WizKids game line.  In the end these guys will continue to gain from our efforts as hobby retailers and now we have one more reason to stop supporting and selling their products. 


So from our perspective, based on yesterday's announcement WizKids has lost our trust and the industry has become much less robust.  We must plan for the future, and that may be a store with no Clix.  For other manufacturers this could be a good thing?  It would mean more shelf space for your product lines that are available from several places. 


The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of