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The impact of Covid-19 has caused this board game publisher to close its doors

Holy Grail Games is no more.

Holy Grail Games, a publisher known for releasing board games such as Rallyman: GT and Museum, has announced that it will be closing down due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The studio shared the news via a blog published earlier this week, revealing that – after six years – the company would be ceasing all operations immediately. Within the blog, Holy Grail Games commented that it felt that it “owed” the studio’s community and Kickstarter backers an explanation as to why the decision had been made.

Holy Grail Games has cited the impact caused by Covid-19 pandemic as being the main reason for the company’s decision to close its doors. The blog outlined the various events that led to the decision, citing the lockdowns through 2020 leading to “huge delays”. Due to the delays, the company’s production schedule was pushed back – blocking projects that Holy Grail had planned and “wreaking havoc” on the company’s editorial calendar.

Museum: Pictura's front cover.

The delays experienced by Holy Grail meant that it was unable to produce and distribute board games at its usual rate, leading to a loss of retail revenue for “almost two years.” This loss of revenue made the situation surrounding increased shipping costs for tabletop publishers – which affected many other publishers as well – even worse for Holy Grail: with the company citing a 400% increase on the shipping costs for some of its projects. Rather than put the costs onto the backers for its Kickstarter campaigns, Holy Grail chose to take on the costs in the hope that it could “weather the storm.”

Despite an improvement in 2021 – with the studio successfully managing to get five board games into production that year – the company struggled after the Euro experienced a sharp decrease against the US dollar in 2022. The drop in value on the Euro caused Holy Grail to lose around 200,000 euros over last year. By the end of 2022, the company was faced with the challenge of distributing four titles at around the same time due to the various bottlenecks caused by previous production and shipping delays.

Holy Grail confirms that it had hired a fulfillment partner, Bolloré Logistics, that it believed would be able to successfully deliver all the board games it had lined up. However, because of various issues caused by Bolloré Logistics – from distribution delays to backers receiving the wrong games – the fulfillment of the various Kickstarter campaigns was a disaster. Though Holy Grail attempted to rectify the situation itself by sending out copies from its spare parts stock and hiring freelancers to help with replying to backers’ queries, the delays and mistakes piled up.

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After the Kickstarter campaign for Copan: Dying City “didn’t do anywhere near as well” as the company had hoped it would, Holy Grail was in a “financially fragile” state by the beginning of 2023. Receiving the invoices from Bolloré Logistics – despite the company’s mishandling of Holy Grail’s board game distribution – did not improve the situation, with the fulfillment company refusing to pay compensation for the costs its mistakes had caused the board game publisher. Bolloré Logistics also refused to release Holy Grail’s stock until it had gotten its payment, with another distribution delay causing the publisher’s bank to back out of supporting it.

With the lack of finances needed to continue operations, Holy Grail has now entered the bankruptcy process – with the entire team at the studio being laid off this week. In regard to any backers waiting for their pledge rewards, Holy Grail has commented:

“Please know that we are deeply, deeply sorry, and that we did everything in our power to deliver your pledge to you. Even as the company goes into bankruptcy, we’re trying to find a way to make it right.”

The company hopes that the rights to its various series are picked up by other publishers in the future and has offered the “deepest thanks” to its players and supporters.

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Alex Meehan avatar
Alex Meehan: After writing for Kotaku UK, Waypoint and Official Xbox Magazine, Alex became a member of the Dicebreaker editorial family. Having been producing news, features, previews and opinion pieces for Dicebreaker for the past three years, Alex has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in her love of meaty strategy board games and gothic RPGS. Besides writing, Alex appears in Dicebreaker’s D&D actual play series Storybreakers and haunts the occasional stream on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel.
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