The world of board game distribution is going through some changes. It seems that the French board game company IELLO will be severing ties with its North American branch.
First, a brief bit of history. IELLO was founded in 2004 and was known for distribution and eventually localization for games aimed at the French market. In 2009, the company began publishing its own games and established it's own own US LLC based in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2012. The studio is probably the most well known for publishing the kaiju-themed mayhem of King of Tokyo as well as the covert cypher-cracking competitive experience, Decrypto.
Now, according to a news article on ICv2, it appears that IELLO will be ending its distribution contract with IELLOUSA. According to the official statement cited in the piece, the reasons for this change were due to the company having "decided to rethink the distribution of its products." The termination of this contract will be effective on December 31 2021. Furthermore, at the time of writing IELLOUSA's website has been shut down, although e-mail notifications are available for when a new website will be available.
Why Has IELLO Done This?
There has been speculation as to why IELLO chose to sever ties with the US branch. The most prominent of these involves IELLOUSA's COO, Stephen Brissaud, who is also the current President of the Game Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) Board of Directors. Brissaud came under fire by the Board back in 2018 due to an incident with him attending GenCon where he pushed past security to enter the event without presenting his badge. This lead to him being expelled from the event, a police report being filed, and Brissaud being censured by the board. Incidentally, this action lead to a few members of the non-profit organization leaving it with some stern words aimed at the Board.
While this public incident didn't portray Brissaud in a positive light, the connection to IELLO's changing business model seems dubious at best. No official statements have been made from either Brissaud or IELLO about any such connection.
As for what this will mean for IELLO's products reaching North American players, things are uncertain at this time. Given the difficulties many publishers are facing due to supply chain difficulties, corporate restructuring was bound to happen in response. But given that North America is still one of the largest markets for board game players, chances are IELLO will find alternative means of distribution.