The NZ distributor for Nintendo and Activision products, SPI, went into receivership at the start of this month and so far no replacement license holders have been determined.
The original founder of SPI, Bruce Miller, left the company in April, before it fell over. Gameplanet has heard from unnamed sources that Mr Miller has formed a new company, rumoured to be called "Phoenix Distribution", which has bought SPI's stock from receivers KordaMentha. Phoenix is apparently chasing the rights to distribute Activision in New Zealand. It's unclear at this stage if Phoenix will be bidding for the Nintendo license as well.
A company with the name Phoenix Distribution Ltd was formed on 12th June by law firm Zeljan Unkovich, and the domain name phoenixdistribution.co.nz was registered on 9th June to an address in Albany, North Shore, the same area where SPI was located.
With top franchises including Call of Duty and Guitar Hero under the Activision banner, Phoenix will likely be up against stiff competition from other distribution companies vying for the rights. Activision and Nintendo products are temporarily being distributed and supported from across the Tasman by Australian company All Interactive Distribution (AID).
Any deal on the Activision license may be short lived, however, with Activision set to complete its merger with Vivendi Games to form Activision Blizzard by the start of next year. The merged entity would likely want to have a single distributor for the country, putting any new local distributor for Activision in conflict with Vivendi Games' local distribution agent, Total Interactive.
The story of what caused SPI to go under remains light on details, but insiders have advised Gameplanet that the company was mismanaged after recently changing hands. Agencies became hesistant to supply stock except on a cash basis, apparently due to rumours and "incorrect" information, which resulted in cash-flow problems, which led to banks and creditors getting cold feet. Mr Miller got out "just in time to salvage his well-deserved reputation" in the industry, according to one anonymous source.