The world of board game publishing might be having a curious day in court very soon.
It all begins with Reiner Knizia, a highly prolific and critically acclaimed board game designer. On June 22, he tweeted out that his games would no longer be sold through the Australia-based board game publisher Grail Games. The reason stated for this termination was that the publisher had committed several breaches of contract.
Earlier in April this year, Grail Games had announced on their official website, that they would no longer be printing Reiner Knizia's games, and that the games would be leaving their library at the end of the year. This was part of a now-deleted post titled "Grail Games Grows Up", which said that the games had not sold well. In fact, according to Grail Games they had sold poorly enough that despite being almost finished, the Medici Reformation project was being cancelled. The post was removed sometime after April, but we do not know when.
It appears based on his June 22nd tweet, that beyond the breach of contract, Knizia was also annoyed with the way they discussed this, given his tweet's reference to "misleading information from Grail Games".
We reached out to both Knizia and Grail Games for clarity on the matter. While Grail Games has yet to respond, one of Knizia's representatives gave us some illuminating answers. According to them, the breaches of contract that Grail Games had caused was regarding sales into markets that had not been licensed by Grail Games. This is major since it interfered with region exclusivity deals that Knizia had established with business partners in Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Brazil, Portugal, Japan, China, and Taiwan.
In other words, against express wishes by Knizia and allegedly their contract, Grail Games sold his products in the countries listed above. No further details were given by Knizia's representative, although they did state that these breaches were the most major. They also mentioned that "these matters will be brought before the courts to put an end to the ongoing infringements."
While there have been no formal declarations of pending litigation or court dates made public, it appears that Reiner Knizia has a compelling reason to take legal action against Grail Games. As for how Grail Games will respond, that remains to be seen.