As the world continues to to turn inward in an attempt to blunt the potential damage of the Covid-19 (aka Coronavirus aka The Rona) pandemic, entire industries continue to feel the pressure caused by lockdowns, travel restrictions, and a need to keep their workers healthy. And it turns out not even us nerds are safe from the shutdowns, as the parent company of both Diamond Comics Distributors and Alliance Game Distributors announced yesterday afternoon that both would soon be shutting down for the duration of the crisis. The news has led to a great deal of uncertainty within the gaming and comics communities, as the shutdown would make it difficult for many companies to get their products into the hands of consumers.
The shutdown of Diamond has left creators, sellers, and readers scrambling as they find alternative ways to keep up with their favorite comics. Any products set to sell on April 1st or later would be on hold until further notice. While the “Big Two” companies, DC and Marvel, have their own digital platforms (Marvel Unlimited and DC Universe) where they can publish their titles, Dynamite’s near monopoly on distribution means smaller companies will have to rely on third party platforms like Comixology. In light of the news, IDW announced that it would be allowing full refund returns from their retail partners, a suspension of May publishing, and an overall slowdown in publishing through July as they take steps to keep sales up going forward. While other companies have not made such statements, it’s believed that most will take a similar tack as the pandemic continues on.
Alliance Game Distributors faced similar supply chain issues as Diamond, but also had to deal with local shutdown laws at their warehouses in Ft.Wayne, Indiana and Austin, Texas. While not as dominant as its sister company, Alliance still handled US distribution of some of the largest board game companies out there, including Asmodee (Fantasy Flight, Catan, Days of Wonder, and, ironically, Pandemic publisher Z-Man Games), WizKids, and dVGiochi. Other major companies affected by this shutdown include AEG, Pandasaurus, Bezier, and Looney Labs. Basically, if you like a game, Alliance probably got it to you. Luckily, many of these companies have alternate ways to distribute games and the industry as a whole won’t be as affected by the sudden (end of the day yesterday) shutdown.
We’ll continue to monitor this situation as companies in both industries react to it and as the worldwide crisis continues to change,