In August 2018, ACD Distribution brought suit against Wizards of the Coast over their decision not to renew the parties’ distributor agreement from January 1, 2016. This case wound through the court for almost 2 years. On June 17, 2020, the key argument of the case, whether Wisconsin’s Fair Dealership Law applied or if Washington state law applied, was decided in favor of Wizards of the Coast. With this decision, Washington law applied. ACD’s argument had no bearing and Wizards of the Coast could, indeed, decline to renew their agreement.
The impact of this case is now bubbling down to the retailer level. Store owners with preorders for September, such as D&D Rime of the Frostmaiden and Magic the Gathering: Zendikar Rising, have been told they will not be fulfilled by ACD. Retailers are scrambling to find other distributors who will fill their preorders on short notice and deliver restocks of older product in a timely fashion. This also may cause large changes in pricing for them as they negotiate new terms. Retailers who have forged long working relationships with ACD will also lose those benefits.
On the consumer level, there is a month to go before the preorders arrive. Most retailers will find another distributor to work with, however, they may get the short end of any allocations that occur. Short term local shortages are a possibility. As a fan of D&D or Magic: the Gathering, please contact your local retailer. You’ll want to secure a place in line if this should occur.
Wizards of the Coast products were a major portion of ACD’s inventory, 2 million out of 5.5 million dollars, in 2018. Hopefully, ACD has planned for either outcome of their case. While we are not privy to ACD’s financials, they have had time to versify their inventory and secure other major distribution agreements, such as becoming Asmodee’s new distribution partner in March of 2020.
Game Talk Network wishes both ACD Distribution and Wizards of the Coast much success in all their future endeavors.