Iello, the publishing company responsible for family board games such as King of Tokyo, has cut ties with its US and Canadian distributor.
Announced via a press release, Iello - which is based in Heillecourt, France - will no longer be distributing its tabletop titles through Iello USA. The reasons behind the decision will apparently be communicated by Iello “at a later date”, with the company deciding to “rethink the distribution of its products” in the meantime. The distribution agreement which allowed Iello USA to distribute the French company’s games will be terminated on December 31st 2021, ensuring that there will be no more collaboration between the two studios.
Stephen Brissaud, COO for Iello USA and member of the board of directors for GAMA - or the Game Manufacturers Association - which is best known for hosting the GAMA Expo, was removed from Gen Con in 2018 for assaulting a security guard after refusing to show his badge. The incident led to multiple board members resigning in protest of Brissaud’s continued presidency. Iello has not confirmed whether Brissaud’s actions have anything to do with its decision to cut ties with Iello USA.
Besides publishing King of Tokyo, Iello is best known for releasing the quick board game Diamant - which was originally released as Incan Gold - Welcome to the Dungeon, a board game that has players attempting to make their way through a dungeon by having the right gear and abilities to hand, and the historical themed board game Biblios.
The news follows the continued shipping struggles currently faced by tabletop gaming publishers. Throughout 2021, the cost of shipping has steadily risen, with some studios - such as Leder Games - bidding almost $20,000 for containers, with the price increase stemming from the logical issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a shortage of raw materials needed for production. Iello has not confirmed whether shipping costs or issues have contributed to the company’s decision to terminate its contract with Iello USA.
Dicebreaker has reached out to Iello for comment on whether the past actions of Brissaud or the shipping costs faced by publishers has had any impact on the company's decision.
Update: An Iello representative has since responded to Dicebreaker's request for comment with the following statement regarding Iello USA COO Stephen Brissaud's past actions:
"It contributed but it is not the only reason. Many other elements comforted our decision and recent Mr Brissaud’s actions forced us to make a quicker public announcement than expected. Legal adviser dressed a list of inquiries to protect IELLO and IELLO shareholders’ interests, and are now requiring full compliance from Mr Brissaud in best delays."
The representative had this to say regarding whether Iello's decision was in response to the current shipping crisis:
"This decision has no link with the freight crisis. As our fellow publishing companies we are facing difficulties due to transport cost raises. Still, IELLO keeps on growing on both their local and international markets."