View Full Version : Stubborn GW business practices and why I think they are burning the bridge

18-01-2014, 17:41
Following the recent rumours on Faeit, the White Dwarf changes, the rumours that GW is closing some HQ units outside UK, that some armies may no longer be supported and that even more changes are underway is a good chance to recap some of the thoughts I have as a GW playing veteran.

I have been around since Rogue Trader. I haven't played all those years and not all systems, but I have always been around following what goes on intensely even though I skipped certain editions and often get to buy stuff and theorize a lot more than I play.

For me the good times were Epic Space Marine 2nd ed. and all the other games back then. Space Crusade, Space Hulk, Gothic / Space Fleet, Man O War, Warmaster. I tried them all. I always played more Warhammer than 40k but did pop up in in most editions. I love 40k but often have I found the power creep daunting. I owned lots of different armies and bought and sold them over the years. Presently I am getting back into 40k with Tau and SM, I just sold of a large Lizardmen army but is growing a huge Empire. I have 5 huge Epic, 3 Gothic fleet, 4 Warmaster armies of 3000 pts just to mention that.

GW went from being hobbyists creating fun games for hobbyists. As a company they try to gain more profit for their stockholders. But herein lies the problem. While most companies are profitdriven they don't all have the same strategy. GW has been particularly aggressive in their business practice and considering this is partly a kids game (they even said they target the kids) I feel their practice is reprehensible at best.

GWs answer to every crisis is to cut costs and raise prices every chance they got. It has gotten to the point where their margins on their plastic models must be huge. Over the years I have seen them removing quality paint to paint that dries up quickly in lower quality pots and increasingly less in the paint pots. I have seen excuses of how changes to white metal, then plastic and resin actually raised prices rather than giving good value. Their books are thinner and have hard cover so they can force even higher prices on us. The last couple of years have seen barrages of limited editions and buy now or never deals, army boxes have disappeared for large on click deal with no savings, not even a standard bearer or limited model.

GW has changed their shops to one man shops and limited their fan events.

A great company cares about their customers. Yet GW closed their forum many years ago, they didn't even care to have one or two guys hired there to follow up there, they closed their Facebook page to avoid customer feedback. On every turn they alienate and have an almost aggressive stance on their customers as if they were a problem some how. For a gaming company that is all about creating miniatures and fun games, they sure know how to take the fun away the last few years.
GW could easily have engaged with customers. They should have used their retail chain as a strength to get new players in. Instead they think that cost focus and rising prices will save them. But they forget to grow their hobby with the enthusiasm of old.
GW can cost cut and price rise their customers to death or they can once again grow the hobby, which means cheaper (entry and otherwise) prices, friendlier attitude, inform your players what is going on, include players in playtests, release proper rules and generally just expand rather than tighten the ship.

The end result is that many players have run off, we all have anecdotal stories, but I for one know a few. New players must laugh at the prices and run away. Existing players as well. I earn a pretty penny in my analyst job and I still have to stop myself from getting the things I want. I can hardly afford the flurry of rulebooks and I for one can't blame people for pirating their rules.
Stronghold Assault and Escalation books should have been in the main rules. Or at least one small tome together with a decent prices. Instead they are small books with insane prices for just a few actual rules.

This day and age see many kickstarters and small companies sprouting up. Complete game systems as Dropzone Commander challenges GW Epic in quality of rules and models. Mantic has released a cool Dreadball game as opposed to Blood Bowl. Etc. Over time I think GW will have to find ways to counter this or face the doom that every one is speaking about. The competition is growing really fast.

I would like to address the comments that Warhammer is not earning them money. Sure it may not fly off the shelves. And sure some ranges may be less popular. But knowing how small kickstarters can create big plastic sets for decent amounts of money, how come they can't complete all their armies and just update the rules for the lesser popular ones. Sure it makes sense not to have shelf space for less popular armies but they should do well as mail order. It just doesn't make sense.

I think GW is beginning to feel the breaking point. How many players can keep on paying the current prices and updating all the rules? How many affort every supplement and apocalypse rules and Forge World books and can keep up with the supplements? I used to buy most books in some editions but know I can't buy four or five of them as I can't justify the costs. Oh and I have NO interest in digital versions.

If I was an executive head of GW I would go back and looks at GWs history and find a way to find out what is the corporate values are. If they value is just to bleed your customers dry then I think that is a strategy that will sink the company.
On the other hand I think GW could have been a really household name that most people would play or have a positive relationship with.

Here are some of the things I would do as head of GW in an attempt to find back to the core values and turn a good profit:

1. Cut prices. I think they should understand that high prices work against them as this is a hobby that usually attracts young kids and keep them playing until old age if lucky. Cut prices and don't rely on huge margin but instead on (again) becoming so broad that they make up the smaller margins by high volumes.

2. Engage with the customers. GW acts like we are the enemy. We are not. Nor are we cows to be milked. Open a forum, open a few blogs, hire a social media team to engage, hire a rules team to answer questions and FAQ things needed. GW has a ROTTEN reputation and they need to turn this around.

3. Create two tiers for every major game system: Competitive core rules that are fairly balanced and expanded rules with all the more fluffy stuff.

4. Playtest their things so that broken things like D-weapons for core 40k games don't see the light of day and playtest with the open community. DON'T BE SCARED OF YOUR CUSTOMERS. They are your best ressource, your champions, not your enemy.

5. Release more free rules on the web. Live of your miniatures but create freebies.

6. Make better starter sets and starter armies so that newbies can get in more easily. Grow your hobby to have twice or thrice as many people playing.

7. Revive Specialist Games. Make sure to have new releases and new games systems every so often. This is integral to keeping customers in the GW ecosphere. I for one (and I know many agree) have been kept in the GW ecosphere due to specialist games. These are part of the GW hobby. GW sees these games as competition not because they don't earn enough money but because it allows player to have fun games for less money than say Fantasy or 40k. This is again an antogonistic business approach. GW should understand that players just find these on kickstarters and in other companies. It is better to keep players in the GW ecosphere with quality games than to push them away.

8. Use your retail chain to grow the hobby, not just to create one man shops where employees can't go to the bathroom.

9. Introduce deals, sales and specials that give the players the feeling that you actually got a good deal. Don't rape them at every turn.

I could go on and on. There are so many misconceptions to write about, to counter. That Specialist Games didn't make money for example. It is possible to put a whole Space Marine army on one large (assault on black reach or tau broadside size) sprue. Literally a whole Epic army with assault, tacticals, rhinos, land raider variants, thunderhawks, tanks of all sorts. All could be on ONE sprue. One sprue could be made for like 25000$. This is not about these babies not selling or not making a ROI. This is about a company who strongly believe it is better to force players on their 28mm systems as they can charge tons more to play the game.

GW is at an cross road where I think their player base is shrinking to a smaller set of die hards. Once we veterans dwindle and churn, what will be left? Will newbies flood the (web and retail) stores to shell out 300-1000 for rulebooks and 400-2000 for models for ONE ******* army? I think not.

I fell in love with RTB01 and Rogue Trader and then Fantasy 3rd. I will still be around for a long while. But I wonder if GW will.

18-01-2014, 17:47
They should make a cartoon.

18-01-2014, 17:53
We already have threads discussing the you have points raised eg the official GW Price discussion thread and the thread about their recently published half year financial report therefore we don't need them being duplicated.

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