Wednesday, 20 March 2013

"We're GW. We don't have to care."

I was going to title this "GW shoot themselves in the foot again", 'till some more detailed research and thought reveals that, in fact, the above is more accurate.

And I quote:

"By way of illustration, but not limitation, North American Retailers are not permitted to sell GAMES WORKSHOP products on any website, web-portal, third-party web-portal or other Internet-based platform of any kind. This prohibition includes any form of online shopping cart that would enable a Consumer  to order or purchase GAMES WORKSHOP products on-line."

The referenced document goes on to give reasons, which boil down to 'we make more money this way'. If you go on and find GW's investor pages, you will find their one line business plan:
We make the best fantasy miniatures in the world and sell  them globally at a profit and we intend to do this forever.
If you're GW, it's kind of hard to argue against that, but you do start to wonder how many times they can piss off the people who aren't part of the Games Workshop Hobby before it'll all come crashing down. Sure, the Space Marine farce doesn't affect 40K and Fantasy players, nor does the whole 'we're just going to hang on to the Warhammer Historical properties and not countenance any offers to buy them' idiocy, because, after all, wargames is not the Games Workshop Hobby, so up yours.

This current one doesn't affect their core market - the people who buy stuff in GW stores - and I would assume that their belief is that the loss of those folks for whom the above is the last straw will be outweighed by those who just move to buying off a bricks and mortar store.

The key reason for this post, however: Wayland Games have asked that folks publicise their recent offer/statement on the subject, which I'm very happy to do.

13 comments:

  1. I'm glad I never got into GW. But I will say this. The consumer ultimately controls the market. Stop buying from them for a couple months-all of you stop buying at the same time. They will change.

    And as for their claim that they make the best fantasy miniatures on the globe-that's simply not true.

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  2. I'm sure that GW is at tipping point now. Competition is increasing and the price differentials vs the rest are so noticeable that it will impossible for them to maintain the business model for a long time. I have nothing particular against GW but I vote with my feet and my wallet and has not being lured by them for a long time. I also decided to introduce my son into the hobby by other means like X Wing and (hopefully in the future) with some historical rules of the TooFatLardies factory.

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  3. GW have been like this since inception, they are just taking it a step further each time. Their core customer is not into other parts of the hobby and this has worked to their advantage to date but with kids being more internet aware than previous generations and Flames of War eating into their customer base they are in danger of imploding. Will it happen? probably not but I do expect them to start to downscale at some point but they have the money to fight it and as they turn their core customer every 2-4 years they have every opportunity to keep at the top.

    WG's again though try to make themselves out to be the champions of the wargaming world but are the wholesale equivalent of GW. The irony is exquisite

    Ian

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    1. You will note that while I was happy to share Wayland's statement, I haven't commented :D

      Personally I think the jury's still out there.

      Delete
  4. I still have a pretty fresh set of GW stuff but I just can't imagine myself buying future editions of the rulesets and such. I feel a bit sorry having bought the latest CSM codex. While I do like Chaos Daemons (if it says chaos, I want to have it like a Pavlov dog on speed), I'm going to try and find a second-hand previous edition.

    I was so enthusiastic when I started in 2010. Even last year with the 40K 6th edition, the new box set and all. The first time that the shine felt less shiny was with the CSM codex, a strak contrast with the initial anticipation. The first time I felt like "what have I done" was when I bought a year subscription to WD (yes, you may laugh). Not half a year ago I planned to buy every new army book, every codex, a box and general to go with them, terrain, everything. I've said this all before but the speed at which I turned still has me baffled.

    The stuff I bought, it will be used. It may be expanded with second hand miniatures. They will be used with different systems, I found several unofficial Kings of War and Warpath lists for GW armies.

    My son will need slight nudging but my daughter is a fan of Malifaux Neverborns. I caught her right before the age at which the GW tries to hook potential customers. I may buy her Teddy or Baby Kade (her favorites) for her upcoming 9th birthday.

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  5. This move has caused a store here in Canada to start their going out of business sale. The majority of their business was selling GW products online.

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  6. GW still has an unusual business model - in that it relies on a small demographic (12 -16 year olds) and also on customer churn.

    Compare this to most other Wargames related business and they rely on a broader customer base and on retaining customers.

    I think GW have a hard job to stay on top, as the 12-16 year olds are a fickle bunch at the best of times and GW is now falling out of fashion, and customer churn is generally agreed to be a poor business model.

    With improved advertising of other Wargames systems - especially the likes of Malifaux, Warlord Games and Mantic, I think we will see a shift.

    I still play GW games and buy their models, as I like the rules and when I can get the models for less than list price, but for how long?

    We all look in our pockets and make our choices.

    I think recent activities from GW are typical for a large company where profits rule, as they loose customers (which they are surely doing) they are trying to improve the profitability of the remain customers, by increasing prices and protecting their direct sales (store and online).

    We will see if it works.

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    1. GW has nearly always - certainly since the 1991 management buyout - been about making money first. That's made it do some things that I find pretty questionable, but how many other wargames companies make it 38 years without being absorbed into something else or simply going bust?

      That's what the company is, though, and we shouldn't be surprised when it continues to act in the way it's always acted, same as we aren't surprised when Google continues to be evil.

      Delete
  7. GW make the best fantasy figures in the world? Nah, sorry to disillusion them, Reaper Miniatures are far superior. A friend of mine worked as a consultant at the heart of GW back in the 90's. What he told us made ugly listening. Vote with your wallet!

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  8. Good old GW, doing the same thing TSR and Airfix did, way back: alienate its market. Market churn is a dumbass business model (as a counter example, think of IBM - 70% of the world market with a fairly mediocre product, but what I have heard was a very strong after-sales service and support. Now that is a much better model if you're wanting repeat custom).

    But on the on-line thing - GW may have to watch its step, on several levels. If a retailer has bought stock wholesale from GW, then I do not see how GW can have any say at all how the retailer on-sells the stock it now owns. This retailer could claim 'restraint of trade' by GW. GW owns the trademarks, but once it has sold the figures, those figures are owned by the buyer. And the buyer can do anything he likes with them (short of shoving them up the fundamental orifices of GW executives and legal advisers.

    There used to be a bit of a constraint upon what was called 'parallel importing', but I belief one of the few benefits of soi-disant globalization was the lifting of such constraints and the price gouging that resulted from it.

    Further to that, if GW issues threats, then it really has to follow through on them. If it doesn't, the threatenee has the right to bring charges against the threatener for intimidation (I don't recall the proper terminology, but the sanction does exist).

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    1. I forgot to add: GW's strictures are flatly anti-competitive. True, the competition sound like that over the sale of its own product. Too bad.

      Delete
    2. No, parallel imports are still effectively able to be prohibited - see http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2002/1625.html for the key case.

      Churn may legitimately strike us as a nasty business model, but it's one that has worked well for the company, keeping it going when wargames firms run by more pleasant people went to the wall.

      The restraint of trade thing may be trumped by IP law. We shall see, I guess.

      Delete
  9. I understand the frustration with GW. I found this new game called Freeblades that is made with the express purpose that there will be no codex creep. Meaning... the pieces available now will be just as effective and meaningful years down the road. Isn't that a novel idea?

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