Board game news website Dicebreaker is being lined up for a sale by its owner ReedPop, as the US-based events major investigates getting out of the digital journalism space it entered just five years ago.
Dicebreaker was launched in 2019, a year after ReedPop picked up UK-based Gamer Network in an attempt to expand into digital news and video. That deal also saw it take control of EGX, the UK’s biggest games event, and its indie games-focused companion EGX Rezzed.
But the company is now looking to sell on Gamer Network – which also includes websites such as Eurogamer, RockPaperShotgun and GamesIndustry.biz – while holding on to MCM ComicCon, EGX and Popverse, the pop culture news website it launched last year.
One senior source at Gamer Network told BoardGameWire the situation was “honestly not as bad as people assume”, adding that the group’s websites were doing “really well”. A separate source from within the industry said Eurogamer and RockPaper Shotgun were doing especially well in terms of readership, compared to their competitors.
Dicebreaker is one of the vanishingly few board game journalism outlets whose reporting goes beyond new game announcements and reviews – something BoardGameWire believes is hugely important for an industry which has quickly grown from a relatively small niche hobby into a multibillion-dollar sector.
Articles published on the site over the last year that otherwise may not have seen the light of day include an exposé of alleged toxic workplace culture at Pandasaurus Games (which the firm has denied), an investigation into the impact of Twitter’s decline on tabletop creators and the reporting of a wave of redundancies at Dark Souls and Elden Ring board game maker Steamforged.
Despite a strong pedigree of stories from reporters including Matt Jarvis and Chase Carter, the potential sale creates an enormous amount of uncertainty for Dicebreaker and its sister titles in the group – primarily due to a dearth of natural candidates who might be interested in buying up the stable of sites.
Future, a UK-based media company which owns magazines and websites including PC Gamer, Edge and GamesRadar, seems a natural target for ReedPop to approach – but with year-on-year revenues at the business flat in H1 of this year, and an earnings call being told Future expects more of the same in H2, there is a large question mark over whether they would be in a position to shell out for the websites.
Network N, which runs sites including PCGamesN, PocketTactics and WarGamer, and Valnet, which controls GameRant, TheGamer and DualShockers among others, could also be potential targets for ReedPop.
Rather than a trade sale, another option could be the private equity route, in which an investment firm takes control of a business in an attempt to increase profitability, before selling on again several years down the line.
That route has proved disastrous for digital media group G/O Media, however, which was bought by private equity firm Great Hill Partners in a $18.9m deal in 2019.
G/O’s executives have since been involved in a string of conflicts with editors and reporters at its websites, which include Kotaku, Gizmodo, The Onion and Deadspin, among others. It has suffered a mass exodus of staff since the takeover, with reporters citing issues including a lack of protection for editorial independence and complaints of a hostile work environment. G/O recently received widespread scorn for using AI rather than journalists to write some articles for the sites, which were riddled with errors.
Dicebreaker editor Matt Jarvis said in a news report on the site detailing the potential sale, “That’s all we know for now; for now, Dicebreaker’s output, the team and our plans won’t change.
“Nor will Dicebreaker’s own events, such as the Tabletop Awards (the winners of which will be announced this weekend) and Tabletop Creators Summit. As for what happens if and when we’re sold, we’ll let you know when we do.”
A statement from ReedPop said, “ReedPop, part of RX, has reviewed its UK business and decided to investigate the potential sale of its Gamer Network and associated editorial Digital properties. We believe that new ownership offers the best conditions for the growth of the business.”