Rummikub maker Goliath continues push into hobby gaming with Lucky Duck Games buyout

Goliath, the veteran game company behind Rummikub and other child and family-weight games, is making a further push into the hobby games market by buying tabletop publisher Lucky Duck Games.

Netherlands-headquartered Goliath is already a global toy and games heavyweight, although most of its designs are focused on kids and light family games including Sequence and Wheel of Fortune, as well as classics such as backgammon and checkers.

But the 44-year-old company has been spreading itself from mass market into hobby gaming this year. Three months ago Goliath bought the board game assets of pop culture and collectibles giant Funko, including games from the Prospero Hall team responsible for design such as Disney Villainous, Horrified and Pan Am.

The vast majority of Prospero Hall’s 30-plus strong team were let go as part of that deal, but Goliath said Lucky Duck will remain an “independent” studio within the company, and will continue to be run by founder Vincent Vergonjeanne and his team.

Goliath CEO Jochanan Golad saying, “As a global games business, we see there are two major growth areas in games; (adult) party games and strategy games.

“Consumers and kidults particularly are playing boardgames like never before; this trend was already there, but the pandemic had greatly accelerated it.”

Lucky Duck has been on a strong growth trajectory since it was launched by Vergonjeanne in 2016, expanding into the US two years later, France in 2019, Poland in 2020 and Italy in 2022.

The company now employs more than 60 people in addition to contractors, and had revenues of €50m last year, Vergonjeanne said in an interview this week with Board Games Insider.

Lucky Duck has found success with Kickstarters including Chronicles of Crime, a digital hybrid board game which raised almost $800,000, and its follow-up Millennium Series bundle which pulled in more than $1m.

The company picked up almost $2m for its Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time crowdfunding campaign in 2019, and has also made a name of itself as a publisher of games such as Flamecraft and localised European versions of big name games such as Dune Imperium, Too Many Bones and Cascadia.

The company’s use of digital elements in its games is no surprise given Vergonjeanne’s background running a pair of video game developers prior to creating Lucky Duck – and he told Board Games Insider the buyout would most likely see them building “Goliath Digital”.

Scott Morris, chief sales and marketing officer at Lucky Duck, told Board Games Insider, “I’ve been through a lot of personal acquisitions in my past in other companies – I worked for a tech company that went through 13 different acquisitions of software and hardware companies, and there’s generally two types of acquisitions.

“There’s one where you’re acquiring someone for their IP, which is generally a tougher one because it usually means loss of people and it usually means they’re just buying the actual intellectual property of a piece of software of an item or something like that.

“And then there’s an acquisition of people and of knowledge and capabilities, and that’s what this really is. When you look at Goliath as a company they have Goliath Games, which is the games that they’re known for from a family and kids perspective, they have a party games division, and they have a company called Pressman they bought a couple of years ago – traditional games, backgammon etc.”

“..but they haven’t been able to break into strategy games… it’s not the same thing, it’s not easy. The strategy board games market, the hobby retail market is very, very different.”

Vergonjeanne said in a press statement, “Goliath’s entrepreneurial spirit perfectly aligns with ours. This partnership empowers us to continue investing in cutting-edge strategy games while leveraging Goliath’s expansive global distribution network to reach an even broader audience of tabletop gamers.”

He added in a Facebook post, “A family owned toy-focused worldwide publisher, with who we found a deep complementary partnership, from our people’s skills to the type of products we have learn to find and publish.

“Not only is it the best possible next move for Lucky Duck Games, but on a more personal note this is a meaningful moment for me too. Looking forward to the many opportunities this new chapter will bring.”

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