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monkeydrum
24-01-2014, 14:33
Over the past few month I have read more and more that GW is slowly dying, I have recently read the blog by zaphod over on masterminis. Net and he make some clear coherent points on why the business will slowly die but also how could it be saved/ rebuilt.
I believe the community could be the key to changing the direction and the only way I see that happening is if we the community legally take over GW.
The two possible options that could work would be either the community buys enough shares in the company to take control from the current investment companies who own the majority of shares or we form a separate company which buys the shares on are behalf which would ultimately buy enough shares to take GW of the stock market.
I have limited experience in this area although I have a lot of passion for the hobby and I believe that there is many more people with as much passion as me that have more business experience that could help comment on one weather it is possible and if we could as community actually do it.
I believe it is actually possible, and I know ultimately it is about getting enough money together, but is there enough will within the community for it to be achieved.

tristessa
24-01-2014, 14:42
Reset the clock.

frozenwastes
24-01-2014, 14:59
The basic answer is no. The shares are too tightly held by various investment funds and individuals and any attempt to buy them out would drive the price up into unreachable territory.

Ohman
24-01-2014, 15:30
You could try a kickstarter, GW is worth about £170 million going by the current share price. So you would need at least a million backers probaly a lot more. Perhaps pledge levels like "Get a GW-store in you hometown" and "Join the design studio" could get people to open their wallets. Stretch goals could include, "Return of the Squats!", "Rebooted Specialist Games", "End the embargo" and "Let's fire Kirby".

On a more serious note, you really have nothing to worry about. GW will out live us all, evil is not so easily vanquished...

Scaryscarymushroom
24-01-2014, 15:55
Even then, publicly traded companies are run like democracies. Which means they have all the benefits and pitfalls of a democracy. The board of directors is voted on by the shareholders every 1-3 years. If your representative does a bad job, your primary remedies are to vote him off the board, or sell your shares and just get out. In extreme cases of gross mismanagement shareholders can take the board of directors to court.

Unless the shareholders are already preparing to solicit proxies (essentially an election campaign), it'll take a while to shake up the board.

budman
24-01-2014, 16:00
The basic answer is no. The shares are too tightly held by various investment funds and individuals and any attempt to buy them out would drive the price up into unreachable territory.

I.e. we could but I don't got the lots and lots of millions it would take as we spent on gw products :D

stroller
24-01-2014, 18:50
I suspect that the "gaming community" - whatever that is - would kill GW a lot faster than the status quo.

zoggin-eck
25-01-2014, 03:52
Why would you think the "community" would necessarily have the same views as you do, be able to agree on something, or do a good job in the first place, even if you suggestion made sense?

rwphillipsstl
25-01-2014, 04:50
Actually, the basic thrust of the OP might have more merit than you think--because GW's shares are owned largely by a small group of hedge funds/individuals, if gamers got together a coherent petition for certain changes, signed by enough gamers, and gave that petition to these investors, then you never know what might happen. The investors only care about the viability and profit in GW's business, and if someone were to make a cogent case that the current management and its philosophy was wrecking matters, they would listen. Of course, that is far, far easier said than done.

i know, the idea of ten thousand or more signatures to a single and coherent anti-GW rant is pretty funny. But in theory it might work.

lorelorn
25-01-2014, 06:06
In general, investors don't buy into a company to run it - that's what employees are for.

To respond the the original question - yes. The legal way of taking ownership of Games Workshop is to get what is called a controlling interest. Basically own enough and have enough of the other owners on your side so that what you say goes. Good luck.

Karak Norn Clansman
25-01-2014, 07:14
The basic answer is no. The shares are too tightly held by various investment funds and individuals and any attempt to buy them out would drive the price up into unreachable territory.

Correct. Furthermore, even an unlikely succesful organized "community" attempt at taking over GW would have inherent problems of factionalism, lack of realism and disagreement on what course to take. To even have a shot at being succesful they'd have to agree on a skilled leadership which will represent their main revivalist interests in the company whilst still being ruthless enough to drive the business without gutting it.

One likeness to this would be to balance on a sharpened knife's edge.

Besides, I believe GW might be in decline, but however far that trend might go, the company will still survive in some size or another and continue to be an important market competitor for many years to come.

BigbyWolf
25-01-2014, 11:43
I suspect that the "gaming community" - whatever that is - would kill GW a lot faster than the status quo.

Agreed, a lot of people seem to think that because they've played the game for ages, and think they know what the community wants, they would be perfect at running a large business.

I would rather see Warhammer in the hands of GW than in the hands of the community.

Also, I am confused by this "GW is dying" mantra that seems to be going around. Personally, I've seen no evidence of this.

monkeydrum
25-01-2014, 17:09
In answer to the posts above I would like to say:
Do I believe that the gaming community could do a better job, answer quite simply is maybe? But I sort of believe that those with a not purely economic desire to squeeze money out of the customers for the sake of shareholders might do a better job at maintaining both a profitable company that is to able grow and innovate as well as provide an enjoyable hobby, That slowly takes over the world (insert evil laugh here)
Yes the company is worth a lot of money and yes is tightly controlled by those invested in it but how long will that stay if the figures/ bottom line starts to drop and the share price starts falling because the company is not making money then that situation is going to change rapidly.
Then next question is why do I feel that might happen, partially down to the closing of different headquarters around the world, the hikes in prices over the last few years, what seems the decline of games days across the world. And as I above the experienced view from Zaphod over on masterminis, yes it’s one person’s view but he argues some clear coherent points that GW need to address in my opinion.
Weather a petition is going to make any difference at all, I seriously doubt it. The companies that have invest are interested only making a return. You would have to create a very coherent business case that
1. A change direction would increase profits over both the long and short term,
2. That’s the current management is either incapable of the change or that there current direction won’t deliver those results.

But I suspect that they there to take the profits while they can, over the short term (next 5 years) and will then pick the carcasses clean.
The factionalism of the gaming community I was well aware of When I first wrote the post, but sort of believed/hoped that if GW was going to become a much smaller player or even disappear from this industry, then they might be a desire to preserve and create something better before it’s gone.

Verm1s
25-01-2014, 18:26
I would rather see Warhammer in the hands of GW than in the hands of the community.

The selling of minis intended for use with Warhammer? Maybe. But lest we forget, GW itself isn't doing such a stellar job of selling 'em anyway.

Looking at 'the community' picking up GW's OOP games and editions, I think Warhammer itself might not do so badly. If you could limit the influence of powergamers, WAACers and handkerchief-in-the-fourth-rank gamers.

Archaon
25-01-2014, 18:28
If GW would be disappearing at one point someone would take over the IP, maybe not wholesale but it would happen.

As much as it pains gamers sometimes companies do tend to fail and sometimes rightfully so.. GW is such an example as there is little evidence that those in charge understand their customers and are willing to adapt and change the game. So maybe it is time for a change and to let GW die because some time down the line something good may come from this.

Putting GW in charge of gamers? Absolutely a bad idea.. hobbyists should not be allowed to run such big companies because a) most of them don't even know economics 101 much less everything needed to run an actual bigger company and b) hobbyists have opinions and put 10 of them in a room and you'll get 20 different opinions. A company that has moved beyond the 2 people, garage sale size and is actually employing people and having assets to manage needs someone who knows this stuff and has actual experience.

Any company that fails to react to its customers, to listen to them and adapt is doomed to fail.. i fear we may see this happen with GW currently.

Reinholt
25-01-2014, 22:48
Also, I am confused by this "GW is dying" mantra that seems to be going around. Personally, I've seen no evidence of this.

You mean other than nearly ten years running of falling sales and a shrinking player base, as can be determined from the numbers GW publishes in their own publicly available annual reports?

MusingWarboss
25-01-2014, 23:16
To answer the OP.

Legally, yes. There are ways but as said by others above it'd be difficult and probably not worth it anyway.

What exactly would you want the community to run though, the whole thing? Unlikely. Are you after saving the games? The models?

There are some good community projects like the Necromunda Community Edition, the Blood Bowl people the NetEpic people etc. Heck look to Linux for examples as to what people can do. The downside is that there'd be practically no money in it. So lets assume GW is gone. All the IP is deemed worthless (very unlikely) well at that point the games pretty much become available for anyone to mess with. There'd be about 50 versions of 40k floating about alone as people kept spinning it off into different groups, you'd need a leadership but the 40k community would never agree to it like the Specialist Games people, there's just too many. Warhammer without GW? Worthless, just another fantasy game to compete with others which would be actively supported.

The models? You'd have to pay the sculpters. Those models better sell, though without the IP, they're just pretty miniatures. Why collect Space Marines without a 40k to justify their existance. Anything fantasy, compete with the millions of other fantasy models.

I mean technically you could write a version of 40k or WFB now, you just wouldn't be able to use any GW IP or any text direct from their existing books. Also given the complaints about fluff (now disallowed) vs balance - you may as well just write and produce a new game anyway. At which point you've just become the new Mantic.

If GW goes it goes. Very sad and we'll all miss it in its own way and the games will live on either by being taken up by another company or by community efforts. But it'll never be the same.

Anyway, I doubt anyone wants to touch GW while its still got the New Line contract, as they may be liable to keep it in production until it expires. Apart from the prices that's probably the biggest millstone around GWs neck at the moment. Once that's gone, if GW is in a bad way I wouldn't be surprised if it was snapped up by another company or recovers itself quite quickly.

Kung Fu Hamster
25-01-2014, 23:37
I suspect that the "gaming community" - whatever that is - would kill GW a lot faster than the status quo.

THIS.

I seriously doubt in The 40K and Fantasy community's ability to run a bake sale, let alone a corporation. Half the community would bicker about the color of frosting, another portion would im plain about the lack of square cupcakes, about 10% would scream at the top of their lungs about how this was the worst bake sale ever and the food is horrible and the bakers are evil and incompetent, and one person would smash the lemon bars they bought with a hammer screaming " YOU MADE ME DO THIS!"


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Verm1s
26-01-2014, 01:09
and one person would smash the lemon bars they bought with a hammer screaming " YOU MADE ME DO THIS!"

Okay, that brought a chuckle. :p

Which section would you two fall into, anyway? ;)

Scaryscarymushroom
26-01-2014, 01:35
... and the bakers are evil and incompetent ...

hahaha.

Even though there are pretty sophisticated gamers out there, I think you're right. Your whole post, I mean.

Samsonov
26-01-2014, 03:06
The most realistic scenario would be waiting for GW to go bankrupt (hardly round the corner or even inevitable) then see if you could get together a kickstarter to buy the IP for rules and models on the cheap (I suspect a computer games company would spend substantial sums to get the IP for computer games). This would probably be more realistic if an established company, say Reaper, Warlord Games, Mongoose or Mantic lead kickstarter, promising to run GW democratically in return for the kickstarter funds. The only realistic option for a community run GW and would require some very specific circumstances to occur, so not likely.

Alternatively, we could see if GW go backrupt and then hope Warlord Games steps in, buys up and does a good job of running a new GW, given that people from the golden/silver/bronze age of GW currently run Warlord Games.

Abaraxas
26-01-2014, 06:45
I seriously doubt in The 40K and Fantasy community's ability to run a bake sale, let alone a corporation. Half the community would bicker about the color of frosting, another portion would im plain about the lack of square cupcakes, about 10% would scream at the top of their lungs about how this was the worst bake sale ever and the food is horrible and the bakers are evil and incompetent, and one person would smash the lemon bars they bought with a hammer screaming " YOU MADE ME DO THIS!"

:p
It would seem that way, yes.

Griefbringer
26-01-2014, 08:31
I seriously doubt in The 40K and Fantasy community's ability to run a bake sale, let alone a corporation. Half the community would bicker about the color of frosting, another portion would im plain about the lack of square cupcakes, about 10% would scream at the top of their lungs about how this was the worst bake sale ever and the food is horrible and the bakers are evil and incompetent, and one person would smash the lemon bars they bought with a hammer screaming " YOU MADE ME DO THIS!"


Some people would also start a petition to ban cheesecakes, because they are so ... cheesy.

In the meanwhile the hardcore cheesecake crowd would be loudly proclaimin that the cheesecake is the true cake, and that all the fluffy lemon bars and marchmallow brownies are totally useless.

And let's not get to the people who are disappointed with their new cookbooks...

Tarax
26-01-2014, 09:16
The problems people have with GW fall into a couple of catagories:

-Prices are too high. With increased price hikes, the game has become too expensive to start or maintain.
-Lack of balance in the game or between armies.
-Lack of coherent (or even readable) rules for the games (WFB and 40K).

I believe these are the biggest problems as we rarely see someone complain about the stories and the models.
Which brings me to the actual problem GW has: they do not listen to what we, the gamers, want. If only GW would listen to us, listen to feedback from the community, they would be more inclined to change things for the better.
However, the solution is not that simple. First, you have to make sure that you get enough revenue to cover all the costs the company makes. Therefore you have to make a real study into the accounts/balance books/etc to see where the costs really are and what impact they have on revenue (eg store costs). This will partly determine the price of the products. Second, there should be a rules/games development department where there are some good rules writers who make good rules and balanced armies, which most of the community agree upon (you will never receive 100% satisfaction). The community should never, as a whole, be responsible for the rules, as they will never agree, as said before with the cupcakes.

It will be hard to get a majority share, but if it's achieved, well, Reinhold is a great contender to lead the business side of the company (just read his sig ;)). As to the creative side... do we have any good rules writers?

@allmyownbattles
26-01-2014, 10:53
GW is not 'dying'. Granted they've made one or two cost cutting measures (Germany etc.) but it's nothing serious. Have we all forgotten we're in a major global recession? For a company like GW to come through a recession totally unscathed would be unbelievable.

Miniatures are a luxury purchase; they should be the first spend to be cut back on in time like this and yet GW continue to produce new products for us at a steady rate (i.e. We're buying them).

In Britain the high streets have decimated over the past few years with massive brands like Woolworths going bust and others like Curry's and PC World having to join forces under the same roof. Last time I checked GW were still opening new stores and they had a fanatical following visible online. How many forums are constantly buzzing with talk of the minutiae of other companies' movements?

Don't worry friends the slow decline of GW has a good fifty years in it yet.

Commotionpotion
26-01-2014, 12:44
I wouldn't trust gamers to run anything in the manner that's being suggested. Just look at these forums for a start - people fight like cats in a sack over the smallest details, often resorting to very personal insults.

Is that the kind of attitude that can successfully run a business? I think not :P

Kegslayer
26-01-2014, 14:09
GW is not 'dying'. Granted they've made one or two cost cutting measures (Germany etc.) but it's nothing serious. Have we all forgotten we're in a major global recession? For a company like GW to come through a recession totally unscathed would be unbelievable.
Not dying, just fading into obscurity. Cost cutting measures that have not actually helped them as befits this months half year summary. According to our government the recession is over.

Miniatures are a luxury purchase; they should be the first spend to be cut back on in time like this and yet GW continue to produce new products for us at a steady rate (i.e. We're buying them).

Just not as much as we used to, again shown in Januarys report

In Britain the high streets have decimated over the past few years with massive brands like Woolworths going bust and others like Curry's and PC World having to join forces under the same roof. Last time I checked GW were still opening new stores and they had a fanatical following visible online. How many forums are constantly buzzing with talk of the minutiae of other companies' movements?

Currys and pc world have always been the same brand under the dixons group so that makes little difference. Woolworths, jessop, hmv etc all had trouble and some closed and gw could easy do the same. GW maybe big in a gaming community sense but they are no hmv

Don't worry friends the slow decline of GW has a good fifty years in it yet.

Time will tell but id not hold my breath

shotguncoffee
26-01-2014, 15:16
HOW TO MAKE SURE THAT WARHAMMER WILL NEVER DIE
* Get hands on pile of money.
* Use pile of money to buy Warhammer IP.
* Release Warhammer IP to public domain.
* All producers can now make minis, rules, movies, computer games, etc. based on Warhammer IP.

Scaryscarymushroom
26-01-2014, 16:30
GW is not 'dying'. Granted they've made one or two cost cutting measures (Germany etc.) but it's nothing serious.

"Tis but a scratch!"
"A scratch? Your arm’s off!"
"No, it isn’t!"
"Well, what’s that then?"
"I’ve had worse."
"You liar!"
"Come on, you pansy!"

Brother Dimetrius
26-01-2014, 16:39
Why would you think the "community" would necessarily have the same views as you do, be able to agree on something, or do a good job in the first place, even if you suggestion made sense?

This. Look at any internet board. Now imagine that these people need to agree on a board, a management and a strategy for the company.

More often than the not, the opinion of "the community" is the opinion of the individual, artificially inflated by a handful of likeminded loudmouths who spend to much time on the internet. I have no clue what "the community" is, or what they want. And neither does anyone else. Just like a politician who claims to represent "the people", it's just inflated ego wrapped in demagogy.

lanrak
26-01-2014, 16:39
I find it odd despite the recession, most other companies in the table top minatures/war games market have increased sales and market share over the last 5 years.
Only GW plc has continually lost sales volumes for the last 9 years.
(This is years before the recession started, and this last drop in turn over is during the 'climb out of recession'.)

However, stubbornly sticking to a business practice that dates before the internet retail and communication options became available.(A chain of costly to run B&M stores.)
Simply drains profit , and drives up cost.(GW plc could drop RRP by about 40% if it restructured its retail practice.)

GW plc is big enough and cash rich enough to stop it failing over night.However, GW plc needs to attract and keep more customers than it currently is , if it has any long term future.

Reinholt
26-01-2014, 17:23
GW is not 'dying'. Granted they've made one or two cost cutting measures (Germany etc.) but it's nothing serious. Have we all forgotten we're in a major global recession? For a company like GW to come through a recession totally unscathed would be unbelievable.

The growing GDP of the two largest economies in the world (the USA and China) would like to have a word with you about the factual accuracy of your statement.

Kung Fu Hamster
26-01-2014, 17:30
hahaha.

Even though there are pretty sophisticated gamers out there, I think you're right. Your whole post, I mean.


I can't take credit for all of it; someone here on Warseer gave me the idea for the bit about smashing products and blaming it on the baker. (http://www.warseer.com/forums/showthread.php?387891-Opinions-on-the-Tyranid-codex-by-Tyranid-players-ONLY&p=7035504&highlight=defy+you%2C+Games+Workshop#post7035504)

frozenwastes
26-01-2014, 18:38
HOW TO MAKE SURE THAT WARHAMMER WILL NEVER DIE
* Get hands on pile of money.
* Use pile of money to buy Warhammer IP.
* Release Warhammer IP to public domain.
* All producers can now make minis, rules, movies, computer games, etc. based on Warhammer IP.

Or, realize that it's all largely derivative and just start making relatively compatible figures. GW failed to shut down CHS in their lengthly lawsuit and you have miniatures being produced like this:

185977

and this:

185978

The community simply does not need to legally own the trademarks GW has. They're derivative and not nearly as enforceable as GW thought. You can simply use ideas that are already in the public domain.

Archaon
26-01-2014, 19:04
HOW TO MAKE SURE THAT WARHAMMER WILL NEVER DIE
* Get hands on pile of money.
* Use pile of money to buy Warhammer IP.
* Release Warhammer IP to public domain.
* All producers can now make minis, rules, movies, computer games, etc. based on Warhammer IP. .

Uhm.. welcome to communist gaming. Only.. where would the money come from? And why would someone just give it away?

For lack of a better system capitalism is still the best economic model out there.. you invest something and you want your money return to you including some profit. Rinse and repeat.

Scaryscarymushroom
26-01-2014, 19:17
Uhm.. welcome to communist gaming. Only.. where would the money come from? And why would someone just give it away?

For lack of a better system capitalism is still the best economic model out there.. you invest something and you want your money return to you including some profit. Rinse and repeat.

That's a bit of an overreaction don't you think? I wasn't aware that the public domain was a communist plot.

There are about a million and one ways to improve on a purely capitalist model. Part of the reason we have IP laws because we are afraid of people monopolizing information.

bolshie
27-01-2014, 01:56
The most realistic scenario would be waiting for GW to go bankrupt (hardly round the corner or even inevitable) then see if you could get together a kickstarter to buy the IP for rules and models on the cheap (I suspect a computer games company would spend substantial sums to get the IP for computer games). This would probably be more realistic if an established company, say Reaper, Warlord Games, Mongoose or Mantic lead kickstarter, promising to run GW democratically in return for the kickstarter funds. The only realistic option for a community run GW and would require some very specific circumstances to occur, so not likely.

Alternatively, we could see if GW go backrupt and then hope Warlord Games steps in, buys up and does a good job of running a new GW, given that people from the golden/silver/bronze age of GW currently run Warlord Games.

All that this would achieve is bankrupting Warlord and ruining the their free-pass in the wargaming press.

bolshie
27-01-2014, 02:01
HOW TO MAKE SURE THAT WARHAMMER WILL NEVER DIE
* Get hands on pile of money.
* Use pile of money to buy Warhammer IP.
* Release Warhammer IP to public domain.
* All producers can now make minis, rules, movies, computer games, etc. based on Warhammer IP.

I couldn't give a monkeys about Warhammer dying or not.... what happened to the pile of money I got my hands on?

Zustiur
27-01-2014, 03:00
I wonder if perhaps a slower, more subtle take over might be useful. Simply purchase shares individually until gamers have enough of a minor share in the company to have a voice.

On a related note, Reinholt, I've been following your commentary in several threads, and you've shown that you have the knowledge and skills. If the opportunity presented itself, would you be willing to take the reigns of the company?

ehlijen
27-01-2014, 03:50
Uhm.. welcome to communist gaming. Only.. where would the money come from? And why would someone just give it away?

For lack of a better system capitalism is still the best economic model out there.. you invest something and you want your money return to you including some profit. Rinse and repeat.

It's not really communism. The idea is some benefactor does the first step, and the market fills with companies that keep making and selling compatible miniatures, background and rules. All very capitalistic.

It just won't work, because without anyone making definitive, official rules for the game, it won't survive economically as a game. And if that doesn't happen, no one will make minis for it and it will only survive if generic minis work for it.

frozenwastes
27-01-2014, 04:37
It just won't work, because without anyone making definitive, official rules for the game, it won't survive economically as a game. And if that doesn't happen, no one will make minis for it and it will only survive if generic minis work for it.

I'm not so sure. In historical miniatures you often have rules publishers that don't make miniatures and miniature manufacturers that don't publish rules and they get on great.

Right now we have multiple companies making miniatures for the 40k universe. I posted pictures of some earlier in the thread. GW can keep the IP and keep making rules people can use and other companies can make accessories and figures that don't violate any trademarks or trade laws and still other people can publish sci-fi rules for those who like something else but want to use the miniatures and fiction of the 40k universe.

We're already part way there in terms of GW's handling of the game being irrelevant. Not completely or even mostly, but closer than any other time in 40k's history. For a few of the 40k armies I can make an army that looks right without including a single GW miniature. Or if I want to use GW's miniatures and don't like the rules, i have more options today than ever before.

If someone's definition of the hobby though, includes showing up at a local store and getting a game in with a complete stranger, than this direction won't do. This direction demands actually communication and community activity between the players in a given area. Much like RPG groups forming and playing with a given set of rules.

However, given GW's direction, more and more people already cannot show up at a local store and reliably get a 40k game in with a stranger. I know I can't. I can show up with a Flames of War army or a Warmachine army, but I'm in an area where the independent stores have largely dropped GW.

ehlijen
27-01-2014, 06:48
I'm not so sure. In historical miniatures you often have rules publishers that don't make miniatures and miniature manufacturers that don't publish rules and they get on great.

True, but that's dealing with established backgrounds with little change done to them by either producer. Fictional universes don't have that kind of fixed nature; more cooperation between the rules writers and the miniatures makers is required to make the most of it.


Right now we have multiple companies making miniatures for the 40k universe. I posted pictures of some earlier in the thread. GW can keep the IP and keep making rules people can use and other companies can make accessories and figures that don't violate any trademarks or trade laws and still other people can publish sci-fi rules for those who like something else but want to use the miniatures and fiction of the 40k universe.

In the proposed scenario, the background rules and the miniatures are all public domain. That will result in a lack of focus and splintering of the fanbase. Quite possibly to the point where no single resulting game is still large enough to support itself and the whole mess dies as a result.

A game needs a certain critical mass of gamers to stay alive as a game. It needs these gamers to keep buying stuff to stay alive economically on top of that. If the entire universe is public domain, that's not going to happen because no single rules or background writer will be keeping the game focused.

"Hey, let's play 40k."
-"40k 2, 40k Omage Strike, 40k Classic or 40k Retro?"

We are already seeing small tastes of that with the debates on whether Fortifications, Forge World or Escalation are 'core 40k'. Imagine a dozen more companies joining the fray.


We're already part way there in terms of GW's handling of the game being irrelevant. Not completely or even mostly, but closer than any other time in 40k's history. For a few of the 40k armies I can make an army that looks right without including a single GW miniature. Or if I want to use GW's miniatures and don't like the rules, i have more options today than ever before.

And yet, without 40k being a single entity to keep the background and rules somewhat consistent, the gaming crowd would splinter into dozens of different games and variants and marketing to any one group of them would become economically limiting. You need a big player in the field if you want to tie your success to someone else's. Many companies make knockoff 40k minis. How many make knockoff starshipt troopers minis? How many make knockoff Babylon 5: A call to arms minis?




If someone's definition of the hobby though, includes showing up at a local store and getting a game in with a complete stranger, than this direction won't do. This direction demands actually communication and community activity between the players in a given area. Much like RPG groups forming and playing with a given set of rules.

Agreed. A big rules provider is needed to give a rally point so to speak for players to congregate at. Currently that's GW. If the rules were public domain, you'll need either another company to take charge (but why would they, instead of buying the IP or making their own more potentially profitable one?) or a community that actually agrees enough to create a single rulesset (in which case cooperation between new rules writers and miniature makes becomes very difficult).
It can be done, but not easily so.



However, given GW's direction, more and more people already cannot show up at a local store and reliably get a 40k game in with a stranger. I know I can't. I can show up with a Flames of War army or a Warmachine army, but I'm in an area where the independent stores have largely dropped GW.

And if Flames of War and Warmachine had several companies writing competing and incompatible rules versions and expansions, you couldn't do that easily either.


GW isn't doing well. Their financial records show that. But the proposal of making all of 40k public domain is more likely to make things worse for us players, I dare say.

frozenwastes
27-01-2014, 07:07
I'm not advocating for the actual trademarks and published works to be moved into the public domain. That's someone else's position. I'm just pointing out that the core elements of GW's fictional universes are all derivative of other works and are already all available to us in the public domain.

Honestly, your scenario of a splintered 40k player base were you have to talk to people and find out what they are into sounds good to me. I don't necessarily see a homogeneous player base all doing the same thing as an advantage. I see the end result of people making 40k-ish miniatures and 40k-ish rules bringing the end user more choice in terms of both models and rules. I really don't think the whole thing would die at all. GW might, but I think the sci-fi miniature player base would soldier on in one form or another without that particular company around.

As for the background and aesthetics of the universe, I say the more variety the better. It's become stagnant. And anyone who wants the original fiction of the universe just has to search the net for the 40k fluff bible. Or get old books in a used book store or whatever. I don't think we need anyone being the central source for any of this.

Either way though, my point is that "We The Gaming Community" (to quote from the original post) already can legally take things over. Without buying out GW or anything else. We just need to be willing to break the link between models and rules and use whatever models we want with whatever rules we want and actually communicate with gamers around us rather than relying on GW as the central authority to tell use what rules to play.

lanrak
27-01-2014, 10:24
@frozenwastes.
I totally agree with you!

I would like to try to make the point that the only reason 40k has such a large player base is it had originally had very little competition.
And because of this it had grown a large customer base over a long period of time.

And GW plc are happy to sell their '40k rules' to a wide range of customers, irrespective of the suitability of the game to the players intended play style.
(Hence all the arguments about what 40k is 'supposed to be'. 40k is actually just a series of sales brochures thinly disguised as a rule set and army composition books.That 40k players tend to project their personal ideas on to. )

If gamers take charge of their hobby,they can choose to play 40k skirmish rules based on FUBAR, or No limits etc.
Or play massive battle games using titans and super heavies, based on NET Epic or Epic Armageddon, etc.
Or play 'normal' sized battle games of 40k with rule sets adapted from other sources, (Tomorrows War etc. )
Or use complete new rule sets written specifically for 40k game play.

The 40k rule set published by GW is probably the most over complicated and counter intuitive rules set sold today!And most conversions from other rule sets, (some free to down load), often result in better game play experience.

Obviously if you play in a GW store you are sort of tied to GW plc products.
But if you are not tied in this way, why pay 'over the odds' for 'sub standard products' from GW?

The only sure fire way to prevent a game from dying is to keep playing it .BUT you do not have to play it GWs way, play it YOUR WAY!
It is YOUR HOBBY after all.
(The GW hobby '...is buying product from GW..' According to senior GW management.)

ehlijen
27-01-2014, 13:28
There is something to be said for a common standard, though.

Look at the average board game and tell me, which is less likely to die tomorrow?
Monopoly?
Settlers of Catan?
Puerto Rico?

Monopoly wins that race, hands down. Not because it's the best game, or even a good game. It's simply well known and everyone knows how to play it. Settlers of Catan has far more player choice and more importantly, more player interaction. It's far less well known though. Puerto Rico goes even further that direction.

Being the big thing that everybody knows is worth a lot. Splintering off into everyone doing their own little thing means all those groups isolating themselves from each other (few people will bother learning multiple games that are so similar), and with isolation comes intellectual stagnation.

Verm1s
27-01-2014, 14:21
Either way though, my point is that "We The Gaming Community" (to quote from the original post) already can legally take things over. Without buying out GW or anything else. We just need to be willing to break the link between models and rules and use whatever models we want with whatever rules we want and actually communicate with gamers around us rather than relying on GW as the central authority to tell use what rules to play.


(Hence all the arguments about what 40k is 'supposed to be'. 40k is actually just a series of sales brochures thinly disguised as a rule set and army composition books.That 40k players tend to project their personal ideas on to. )

If gamers take charge of their hobby,they can choose to play 40k skirmish rules based on FUBAR, or No limits etc.
Or play massive battle games using titans and super heavies, based on NET Epic or Epic Armageddon, etc.
Or play 'normal' sized battle games of 40k with rule sets adapted from other sources, (Tomorrows War etc. )
Or use complete new rule sets written specifically for 40k game play.

The 40k rule set published by GW is probably the most over complicated and counter intuitive rules set sold today!And most conversions from other rule sets, (some free to down load), often result in better game play experience.

Obviously if you play in a GW store you are sort of tied to GW plc products.
But if you are not tied in this way, why pay 'over the odds' for 'sub standard products' from GW?

The only sure fire way to prevent a game from dying is to keep playing it .BUT you do not have to play it GWs way, play it YOUR WAY!
It is YOUR HOBBY after all.
(The GW hobby '...is buying product from GW..' According to senior GW management.)

I love you guys.

I sold, gave away, or threw out a load of 40K stuff over the last few years, and what few minis I have left get, at best, an occasional nostalgic look before I stuff them into a dusty box at the bottom of the pile again. I like the look and (most of the) fluff associated with them, but it's hard to keep up the enthusiasm of building and playing with armies when your best or only choice of ruleset is 40K.
Then I had a look at Victory Decision (http://www.agisn.de/html/future_combat_vide.html) on the LAF, bought it, downloaded it, and had a look. Now I'm actually eager to pull those 40K minis out again, get 'em built up, revamped, and added to. (With ebay as the first stop, natch. ;) ) Can't remember the last time I felt like that.

I only wish that, as my thoughts turn back to kroot mercs after several years, kroot didn't just go direct only. Bah.


Not because it's the best game, or even a good game.

...with isolation comes intellectual stagnation.

Those are points in favour of the Warhammers? Particularly the second, which... doesn't really make much sense in the face of the current gaming market, as far as I can see? (First and only time I've seen current GW core hinted as being intellectual and preventing stagnation. :wtf: ) I'll bet Settlers gets more gametime with regular gaming groups than Monopoly does, anyway. "Hey family, since we're all gathered together for Christmas, will I dig the old Monopoly box out of the wee cupboard under the stairs?" "NO!"
Only reinforces my view that the 'common standard' needs a shakeup: more people waving Settlers around saying "Hey, let's try this! It's better!" rather than moaning "Monopoly's crap but I can't be arsed lifting a finger to help myself." Which seems to have been happening anyway. Hoorah!

Reinholt
27-01-2014, 15:48
On the topic of public domain and fragmentation:

1 - I actually think there is a significant benefit to being able to have a standard set of rules. The "pick up game" is still somewhat prevalent, and as long as that is the case, the paradigm of "negotiate what you want to do first" becomes problematic, because you can't be assured the army you have is one your opponent will play against.

2 - With that said, the pick up game remaining prevalent is also dependent on a good rules set. When you have a broken set of rules that cannot guarantee at least a nominally balanced game out of the box, pick up games become very difficult. There is a reason Warmachine continues to slowly encroach on 40k's territory (especially in the US, where both pick up games and random FLGS are more common than in the UK), and a big part of that reason is much better rules and community support. I'm more likely (there is never a complete guarantee) to have a fun game with a stranger playing Warmachine than 40k (where it's very possible one of us, purely through coincidence, brought an army the other side can't match up with, and the number of models you have to carry is so large for many armies it's not as plausible to bring multiple lists as with Warmachine).

3 - You can have some of both if you license properly. It's always been my view that the best situation for 40k would be a well-run GW controlling the entirety of "core" 40k, but licensing out on a selective basis (you have to maintain high quality, not produce junk) to expand the universe. FFG is a great example of this.


I wonder if perhaps a slower, more subtle take over might be useful. Simply purchase shares individually until gamers have enough of a minor share in the company to have a voice.

On a related note, Reinholt, I've been following your commentary in several threads, and you've shown that you have the knowledge and skills. If the opportunity presented itself, would you be willing to take the reigns of the company?

I'm flattered, but the reality is that I run a business with revenue on the scale of GW, only a much better cost structure and market position, within a huge company that gives me a nice buffer. It would be hard for GW to peel me away unless it were a considerably better package than what they have paid past execs. So while I would never say never, it's unlikely.

Lord Solar Plexus
27-01-2014, 16:49
Okay, hands up, who of you is Schroder plc? They just bought some 6 % of the shares... :p

Reinholt
27-01-2014, 17:36
Okay, hands up, who of you is Schroder plc? They just bought some 6 % of the shares... :p

http://www.schroders.com/global/home

Could be retail money being invested by a fund manager, or could be a private client (as in, one high net worth person).

Muad'Dib
27-01-2014, 18:46
Community as a whole - or even a small part of it - cannot be trusted to build a new Warhammer. What is needed is a revolutionary vanguard of fluffy powergamers leading the proletariat, seizing power and guiding the changes until the state of perfect Warhammer is reached. Then of course the vanguard will step down and everyone will be able to enjoy the game. :evilgrin:
Note that the achievement of the perfect state might take a long time - in fact, some would say that a balanced game is actually impossible to create.. During the time of working towards the perfect state, any GW loyalists and other enemies of the revolution must be rooted out.

shotguncoffee
27-01-2014, 20:26
The community simply does not need to legally own the trademarks GW has. They're derivative and not nearly as enforceable as GW thought. You can simply use ideas that are already in the public domain.

That may be true for the miniatures but not for the rules, specific troop names and specific battle Codexes. I.e. another firm can produce Squigs, but another firm can't make a competing Warhammer Armies: Empire book with better, more balanced, and more exciting rules.

frozenwastes
27-01-2014, 21:51
That may be true for the miniatures but not for the rules, specific troop names and specific battle Codexes. I.e. another firm can produce Squigs, but another firm can't make a competing Warhammer Armies: Empire book with better, more balanced, and more exciting rules.

Sure they can. Empire is probably the worst one to choose if you're looking for uniqueness that other companies can't use. Just use the historical names for the actual military formations represented and include pictures so there's no confusion.

Zweihänder Landsknechte
186088
(only, you know, with nicer art)

And you can call the army Holy Roman Empire. Cause that's the historical nation GW used for their Empire. It even had elector counts:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince-electors

Fantasy Armies: Holy Roman Empire. or Fantasy Armies: Forces of the Emperor Frederick. Complete with volley guns:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volley_gun#15th-century_volley_guns

There really isn't much in GW's stable that isn't ripped off from somewhere else. In fantasy you have:

14th Century France/Hundred Years War with a bit of grail legend = Bretonnia
Fantasy Armies: Knights of Brittany

Holy Roman Empire/Early Renessaince Mercenaries = Empire
Fantasy Armies: Empire of Frederick (or whatever)

Medeival Ottomans = Cathay or something right?
Fantasy Armies: Ottoman Sultanate.

Wallachia + Vlad + Vampires = Sylvania
Fantasy Armies: Transylvania (that was hard)

Ancient Egypt but undead = Tomb Kings
Fantasy Armies: Pharoahs Rise

Grand Duchy of Lithuania or Poland = Kislev
Fantasy Armies: Ride of the Winged Hussars

And all the fantasy stuff is so derivative it's not even funny. Elves, dwarfs, orcs, goblins, animal men, minotaurs, rat men, etc.,. Even Chaos, their most iconic thing, is ripped off of Michael Moorcock and you can do things like Fantasy Armies: Servants of the Dark Gods. Or Fantasy Armies: Demons or Fantasy Armies: Both Men and Beasts

Even on the 40k side, so much of it is derivative. SciFi Armies: Battle Nuns, SciFi Armies: Alien Bugs. Sci-Fi Armies: Orcs in Space. Sci-Fi Armies: Space Knights. Sci-Fi Armies: Imperial Military

See what I'm talking about?

shotguncoffee
27-01-2014, 22:17
What I mean is - supposed you write an Empire Rule Book using the M WS BS W I A LD table and all the setpiece names - I don't bode that it would go well for you.

frozenwastes
27-01-2014, 22:22
Speed: Attack: Defense: Shooting: Hit Points: Initiative: Command: Armour:

Imperial Soldiers with Halberds
Elf Warriors with Long Bows

This isn't hard. Who cares if I can't call dark elves riding dinosaurs "Cold Ones" when Dark Elf Raptor Knight describes it perfectly.

And miniatures like this exist already:
http://www.coolminiornot.com/shop/media/catalog/product/g/z/gzm0652_1.jpg

Scaryscarymushroom
27-01-2014, 22:32
Sure they can. Empire is probably the worst one to choose if you're looking for uniqueness that other companies can't use. Just use the historical names for the actual military formations represented and include pictures so there's no confusion.

Zweihänder Landsknechte
186088
(only, you know, with nicer art)

And you can call the army Holy Roman Empire. Cause that's the historical nation GW used for their Empire. It even had elector counts:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince-electors

Fantasy Armies: Holy Roman Empire. or Fantasy Armies: Forces of the Emperor Frederick. Complete with volley guns:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volley_gun#15th-century_volley_guns

There really isn't much in GW's stable that isn't ripped off from somewhere else. In fantasy you have:

14th Century France/Hundred Years War with a bit of grail legend = Bretonnia
Fantasy Armies: Knights of Brittany

Holy Roman Empire/Early Renessaince Mercenaries = Empire
Fantasy Armies: Empire of Frederick (or whatever)

Medeival Ottomans = Cathay or something right?
Fantasy Armies: Ottoman Sultanate.

Wallachia + Vlad + Vampires = Sylvania
Fantasy Armies: Transylvania (that was hard)

Ancient Egypt but undead = Tomb Kings
Fantasy Armies: Pharoahs Rise

Grand Duchy of Lithuania or Poland = Kislev
Fantasy Armies: Ride of the Winged Hussars

And all the fantasy stuff is so derivative it's not even funny. Elves, dwarfs, orcs, goblins, animal men, minotaurs, rat men, etc.,. Even Chaos, their most iconic thing, is ripped off of Michael Moorcock and you can do things like Fantasy Armies: Servants of the Dark Gods. Or Fantasy Armies: Demons or Fantasy Armies: Both Men and Beasts

Even on the 40k side, so much of it is derivative. SciFi Armies: Battle Nuns, SciFi Armies: Alien Bugs. Sci-Fi Armies: Orcs in Space. Sci-Fi Armies: Space Knights. Sci-Fi Armies: Imperial Military

See what I'm talking about?

You're conflating two separate concepts: trademark and copyright. The copyright is largely derivative, and as others have discussed game mechanics can't be copyrighted. But, you might still run into trademark issues if you were to try and sell rules that were compatible with another company's game. Or, Trade Dress issues anyway.

frozenwastes
27-01-2014, 23:57
You're conflating two separate concepts: trademark and copyright. The copyright is largely derivative, and as others have discussed game mechanics can't be copyrighted. But, you might still run into trademark issues if you were to try and sell rules that were compatible with another company's game. Or, Trade Dress issues anyway.

Trade Dress is about the look of the product and presentation. Trade Mark is about specific words like product and brand names. You're not running afoul of anything if you were to make a miniature game right now that had a fantasy version of the Holy Roman Empire fighting off an orc and goblin invasion. Or fighting off barbarian invaders from the north.

In order to run afoul of trade dress you have to actually look like GW's products. In terms of trademark you have to use it. And as the CHS lawsuit showed, you can indeed claim compatibility directly. Even if there is no need to do it (I wouldn't bother).

My main point in all this though, is that the based way for the "We The Gaming Community" to keep the warhammer and 40k universes from dying isn't to buy out GW but to take ownership of them in our own hobby activity. If a third party bits maker makes something you like, go ahead and get it. If you find a set of rules online that you think do a better job with the setting, go ahead and talk to your regular opponents about trying it out. We don't live in the pre-internet 80s and 90s and it's never been easier to find someone who makes an appropriate miniature or writes appropriate rules.

And, by far, the most important thing you can do is realize that you are likely not GW's target market. If you're disappointed that GW isn't making a product that you like, it's probably because you're older than GW's target demographic. So GW already shouldn't really be the central source for your hobby needs.

Scaryscarymushroom
28-01-2014, 02:38
Since I think the second half of your post is more significant than the first, I will address it first.


My main point in all this though, is that the based way for the "We The Gaming Community" to keep the warhammer and 40k universes from dying isn't to buy out GW but to take ownership of them in our own hobby activity. If a third party bits maker makes something you like, go ahead and get it. If you find a set of rules online that you think do a better job with the setting, go ahead and talk to your regular opponents about trying it out. We don't live in the pre-internet 80s and 90s and it's never been easier to find someone who makes an appropriate miniature or writes appropriate rules.

And, by far, the most important thing you can do is realize that you are likely not GW's target market. If you're disappointed that GW isn't making a product that you like, it's probably because you're older than GW's target demographic. So GW already shouldn't really be the central source for your hobby needs.

I totally agree with this. I firmly believe that everyone should take every effort they have to liberate their hobby. It's like spring cleaning for your brain. Don't care for GW? Then stop paying attention. Still like Warhammer, but you want the rules to change? Then focus on the parts of Warhammer you like, and when it comes to rules, do what makes you happy. Change them.

I mean, that's a pretty idealistic approach. Because of differences in local communities, it won't work for everyone. But it works for me.

As for the intellectual property. I wasn't originally going to bring anything up because ultimately it doesn't matter whether it's copyright or trademark or whatever, the point is that you can do certain things, and you can't do certain things.

First of all (and unless you are practicing trademark law this is largely semantics), there is no such thing as a public domain in trademark. As a concept, the public domain is limited to copyright and patent. There's just things that are currently trademarks, and things that aren't currently trademarks. However, trademark and copyright share other concepts, like fair use. GW can trademark the word "codex" with the class of goods being table top games. But they couldn't stop people from using the word codex to describe a codex, co·dex: noun 1. an ancient manuscript text in book form; even in the context of table top games.


Trade Dress is about the look of the product and presentation. Trade Mark is about specific words like product and brand names. You're not running afoul of anything if you were to make a miniature game right now that had a fantasy version of the Holy Roman Empire fighting off an orc and goblin invasion. Or fighting off barbarian invaders from the north.

In order to run afoul of trade dress you have to actually look like GW's products. In terms of trademark you have to use it. And as the CHS lawsuit showed, you can indeed claim compatibility directly. Even if there is no need to do it (I wouldn't bother).

Yes. You're exactly right on all counts. Although claiming compatibility directly has its limits. Here's the thing: Literally anything that serves as a symbol designating source can be a trademark or trade dress. Trade dress is essentially just a subcategory of trademark. The color blue has been trademarked. The scent of plums has been trademarked. The fanfares that play before a news broadcast are trademarked.

If all these things can be trademarked... color... smells... sounds... then I posit this argument: Game mechanics may be trademarked.

It is important to distinguish rules from game mechanics. Rules are just words. Game mechanics are processes. It's one thing to have Movement versus Speed, Weapon Skill versus Combat Skill, Ballistic Skill versus Gunmanship, Strength versus Power, Toughness versus Constitution, Wounds versus Hit Points, Initiative versus Agility, Attacks versus... uh... Attacks, etc. etc. blahblahblah. It's another thing entirely to have two names for the exact same game mechanic.

Consider the following scenarios:

1) I want to create an army for Warhammer 40k, a new alien race based on the Apocalyptic Techno-Ogres from the galactic north. And I want people to buy my models and my army book and use it to play against Tau, Space Marines, etc. So I decide to call it a Codex (It's a book! Fair use!), and I call it Codex: Apogrus. And just to make sure I'm not confusing anyone, I put a disclaimer on the cover, and on the first page I disclaim any affiliation that I have with Games Workshop, but I explain that my book is designed to be used with any currently published edition of Warhammer 40k. Since stats are really just concepts that describe something, and I need them in order to make the army work, I throw in a few army list entries and I give them a points cost, and I give them a WS, BS, S, T, W, I, A, Ld, and Sv+. Because heck, it just be stupid if the law made me change the words, that's horribly inconvenient and it doesn't actually do anything! And I give their weapons an "AP" value to boot. Warlord Traits, Flyers, everything. Then people see my models, buy them, and use my book to play 40k, and I profit.

2) Similar to (1), but instead of a codex I call it "Army Book: Apogrus for use with Warhammer 40K" Since I honestly believe I am doing nothing wrong, but I am afraid of GW anyway, I use replacement names for stats, such as val (value) instead of pts; CS instead of WS; G instead of BS; P instead of S; C instead of T; and so forth. Instead of AP I just call it Penetrating Power - PP. And then on one of the first pages of the book, I put in a table - a guide to help people translate all these new terms into GW-friendly terms.

3) same as (2), but with no table to help translate into GW terms, and no explicit reference to Warhammer 40k on the cover.

In every single scenario, Games Workshop would have something to say about it, I guarantee you. In the first scenario, even without using 40k logos or fonts, I think a judge would find infringement, and most juries would too. In the second scenario, I still think a judge would find infringement, and many juries, but probably not most. In the third scenario, I'm not sure what a judge would do, but there are probably some juries that would still find infringement.

In all honesty, I'm not sure if the judge would find infringement on trademark or copyright, notwithstanding the fact that game mechanics can't be copyrighted. (In copyright, I've made a derivative work of Warhammer 40k, in general, as a whole.)

But the trademark theory is that GW is the only company that creates books that are designed to work with Warhammer 40K's core rulebook. The way the rules are presented and the way the rules interact would be the "Trade Dress" - a symbol that designates GW as the source of the goods.

frozenwastes
28-01-2014, 03:04
There definitely are legal hurdles in making a compatible supplement for a game someone else publishes. For sure. I'm just starting from the premise that the rules for WFB and 40k are already flawed and worth abandoning. So I'd recommend finding a base rules set where the publisher doesn't oppose the third party creation of content.

If someone really truly wanted to sell a codex that's compatible with 40k, they're still taking the risk of having to deal with a lawsuit and its costs even if the end result is that the court case goes your way. GW might still sue you, name a co-defendant in another state or province and try to bleed you out so you'll just cave and cease your work. Like how they tried to shut down CHS.

So I'd advocate staying completely away from GW and their terrible rules. Like here on Warseer where I post here and read the 40k and WFB background sections and look at the painting and modeling sections. You can have a great 40k or WFB experience while having absolutely nothing to do with the currently published rules.

To those who actually like the current state of the rules, of course they'd be better served by GW continuing on its current path, stabilizing their revenue and continuing to offer them more products for the game they love. I think they're missing out on a great opportunity in doing so, but it's their prerogative.

This also highlights another issue with the whole premise of a fan buyout of GW's shares. Who's vision of what 40k and WFB is gets to be the game going forward?

Muad'Dib
28-01-2014, 08:03
If all these things can be trademarked... color... smells... sounds... then I posit this argument: Game mechanics may be trademarked.

Do you have examples of this and to what extent it works? The only that comes to my mind is that WotC has patent for some Magic the Gathering stuff; but that doesn't stop other card games from using the exact same mechanics. (summoning monsters, main phase etc.) It just stops from using the exact same representation (calling discard pile graveyard et al.) Also see the recent board game Cthulhu Wars borrowing a few core mechanics from Chaos in the Old World.
Anyway - M, WS, BS et al. aren't really distinct enough to cause a problem, I think. (as long as you don't name it all exactly the same) You can always not admit to any intention of this being able to be used with Warhammer, and rely on community to support it.

[Edit] I just encountered the phrase 'Settlers of Catan clones'...so in reality it seems it's easy to create a more or less carbon copy of a game with no repercussions.

shelfunit.
28-01-2014, 08:18
If all these things can be trademarked... color... smells... sounds... then I posit this argument: Game mechanics may be trademarked.

Not sure about the others, but as far as I was aware* it's not the actual "smell" that's trademarked, it's the chemical formula that makes that smell. Were someone to come up with an identical smell, via some unrelated formula then nothing could be (legally) done about it.

*I reserve the right to be wrong :p

Baragash
28-01-2014, 09:03
Doesn't UPS have a trademark on a particular shade of brown?

johnnyrumour
28-01-2014, 13:28
If gamers got together a coherent petition for certain changes, signed by enough gamers, and gave that petition to these investors, then you never know what might happen...

Nothing would happen. Investors don't listen to fan petitions, they listen to stock market reports


The investors only care about the viability and profit in GW's business.

You've quite neatly summarised why your point wouldn't have any effect.
The view that investment funds would place great stock in the opinions of a group of people presenting a petition compared with the facts and figures of the company in question is just naive.

IcedCrow
28-01-2014, 14:05
Players can take charge of their hobby now. Think outside of the cage. There's nothing stopping fan written codices from being used, fan run events, etc...

biccat
28-01-2014, 14:06
Not sure about the others, but as far as I was aware* it's not the actual "smell" that's trademarked, it's the chemical formula that makes that smell. Were someone to come up with an identical smell, via some unrelated formula then nothing could be (legally) done about it.

*I reserve the right to be wrong :p

Yes, you are wrong. The idea behind trademarks (including colors, smells, and sounds) is that it is a source-identifier. When a customer sees a certain mark, the customer believes that the product is supplied by the owner of that mark, and associates the quality of the good with the producer. If people identify the source of a product by smell (I'm not really sure where this could apply), then creating a product with an identical smell would create "consumer confusion" as to the source of the product. That would infringe the trademark.

Going back to what Scaryscarymushroom wrote: As an attorney who practices IP law I feel comfortable saying that game mechanics cannot be trademarked.

shelfunit.
28-01-2014, 15:35
Yes, you are wrong. The idea behind trademarks (including colors, smells, and sounds) is that it is a source-identifier. When a customer sees a certain mark, the customer believes that the product is supplied by the owner of that mark, and associates the quality of the good with the producer. If people identify the source of a product by smell (I'm not really sure where this could apply), then creating a product with an identical smell would create "consumer confusion" as to the source of the product. That would infringe the trademark.

It's very, very difficult to do though isn't it? The various websites I have looked at have all shown numerous examples of failed attempts to trademark a scent, and very few that have succeeded - the best one so far is "the strong smell of bitter beer applied to flights for darts" :D

biccat
28-01-2014, 15:43
It's very, very difficult to do though isn't it? The various websites I have looked at have all shown numerous examples of failed attempts to trademark a scent, and very few that have succeeded - the best one so far is "the strong smell of bitter beer applied to flights for darts" :D

It would take a significant amount of evidence to trademark a scent, or color, or anything other than the traditional word or symbol. You would have to show that there is some association between the odor or color and consumer choices.

Scaryscarymushroom
28-01-2014, 16:41
Do you have examples of this and to what extent it works? The only that comes to my mind is that WotC has patent for some Magic the Gathering stuff; but that doesn't stop other card games from using the exact same mechanics. (summoning monsters, main phase etc.) It just stops from using the exact same representation (calling discard pile graveyard et al.) Also see the recent board game Cthulhu Wars borrowing a few core mechanics from Chaos in the Old World.
Anyway - M, WS, BS et al. aren't really distinct enough to cause a problem, I think. (as long as you don't name it all exactly the same) You can always not admit to any intention of this being able to be used with Warhammer, and rely on community to support it.

[Edit] I just encountered the phrase 'Settlers of Catan clones'...so in reality it seems it's easy to create a more or less carbon copy of a game with no repercussions.

I don't have any specific examples of trademarked game mechanics. Part of the complication involved would be that you'd need to show that consumers associated certain game mechanics with only one source. If you could prove that turning a card sideways to represent that it had been used definitively means that the game came from Wizards of the Coast, then it's the sort of thing that has the potential to be trademarked (there's another wrinkle to this theory, I'll get to it later).

In any case, ignoring other problems, this specific example is highly unlikely to pan out in WotC's favor. You'd need to do a fact-intensive inquiry; and you would probably need to spend tens of millions of dollars carefully surveying people in local game stores to find out if the source-identification function exists. Again, ignoring other problems, it would be a little bit easier to show that there were a source-identification relationship to GW with the format and the total look and feel of their 40k compatible books. (In my opinion.)


Not sure about the others, but as far as I was aware* it's not the actual "smell" that's trademarked, it's the chemical formula that makes that smell. Were someone to come up with an identical smell, via some unrelated formula then nothing could be (legally) done about it.

*I reserve the right to be wrong :p

What you're thinking of is the peculiar technicalities involved in patenting a smell. (Which gets into another series of questions: is the chemical formula novel? Non-obvious? Useful? Has the inventor of the formula adequately disclosed his invention, so that it could be recreated without experimenting too much?)


Doesn't UPS have a trademark on a particular shade of brown?

I believe they do.


Yes, you are wrong. The idea behind trademarks (including colors, smells, and sounds) is that it is a source-identifier. When a customer sees a certain mark, the customer believes that the product is supplied by the owner of that mark, and associates the quality of the good with the producer. If people identify the source of a product by smell (I'm not really sure where this could apply), then creating a product with an identical smell would create "consumer confusion" as to the source of the product. That would infringe the trademark.

A few 'out there' cases exist. A Google search has revealed a couple of registered trademark scents and an interesting publication in an academic journal (http://www.brinksgilson.com/files/141.pdf) that says:


One scent mark currently registered on the Principal Register gets high marks for ingenuity. The mark, a “cherry scent,” is for “synthetic lubricants for high performance racing and recreational vehicles.” The same registrant owns two registrations on the Supplemental Register for “lubricants and motor fuels for land vehicles, aircraft, and watercraft”: “the grape scent of the goods” and “the strawberry scent of the goods.”

EDIT: Just noticed that that article was written by Anne Gilson, who is a widely recognized authority on Trademarks. (Treatise = Gilson on Trademarks, cited by the Supreme Court at least once.)


As an attorney who practices IP law I feel comfortable saying that game mechanics cannot be trademarked.

Ah, well, it was worth a shot. :p

The best argument that I could think of for why game mechanics cannot be trademarked is the functionality doctrine: it would put consumers at too much of a non-reputation related competitive disadvantage to grant trademark protection. The Wizards of the Coast example above, for instance. It would be an enormous competitive disadvantage to anyone entering the card game market if no one could turn a card sideways, or create a discard pile. But this doesn't really translate well into the wargaming space. There are tons of games, and they have their similarities, but a lot of them have very definitive quirks, too. How much of a competitive disadvantage would people be at if they can't use a deck of playing cards and the weak/moderate/severe grading scale as the randomizer for their tabletop game, because Malifaux did it first? What if, in ten years, Wyrd games makes three other tabletop games that do it, and no one else does, and people start associating it with Wyrd subconsciously? Would it be a non-reputation related competitive disadvantage then?

On a relevant note, companies have proven, by their demonstrated success, that they are not put at a competitive disadvantage by avoiding the (M,) WS, BS, S, T, I, W, A, Ld, Sv+ statline.

As far as I know, non-protectable elements can combine to create a trade dress, which leads me to a question (that maybe only biccat or another IP attorney could answer): if several things are all functional for different reasons, can they combine to create a "total look and feel" that is a protectable trade dress?

Also, biccat: PM inbound.

Gorbad Ironclaw
29-01-2014, 05:10
But this brings up the question, if a
large number of people agree that one of the problems for GW is the rules, why are you trying to copy them in the first place?

Lothlanathorian
29-01-2014, 06:37
What I mean is - supposed you write an Empire Rule Book using the M WS BS W I A LD table and all the setpiece names - I don't bode that it would go well for you.

Game mechanics are not copyright protected, so, it'll bode just fine. So long as you aren't any plagiarizing of the wording, all is well. GW might try to get litigious, but, after the CHS and Spots debacles, I doubt it.


EDIT: I swear none of the posts between mine and the one I quoted when I posted were there at the time of my posting. Or I was/am drunk. :shifty:

Muad'Dib
29-01-2014, 07:44
But this brings up the question, if a
large number of people agree that one of the problems for GW is the rules, why are you trying to copy them in the first place?
The core rules (at least the fantasy ones, I dunno about 40k that much) are good enough for most of people, I presume. The true problem with GW rules is the non-existent internal and external balance - the point cost system is in reality more of a hidden 'choose your handicap' system.
Also - it is (much) easier to balance a game, than to create one from scratch and balance it.

frozenwastes
29-01-2014, 08:04
But this brings up the question, if a large number of people agree that one of the problems for GW is the rules, why are you trying to copy them in the first place?

I'm not. I'm advocating the opening up (by *us* the hobbyists) of rules to multiple companies and fans just like people make 40k compatible bitz and miniatures. If someone really wants to make a fan codex that's compatible with some edition of 40k or another, I think that's cool as well.

My position is that if you are worried about the future of the 40k universe or being able to get miniatures you like for it, instead of relying on one company, diversify. Break the marriage of rules and miniatures up. Take complete ownership of your hobby instead of relying on one company to provide you with everything. That way if GW does go into some sort of tail spin, it won't really impact you at all. They'll just be another manufacturer and publisher among many from which you buy things you like for your hobby.

It's right in the topic title: "Stop It From Dying". I say the best way to handle issues outside of your control (and let's be honest the corporate governance of Games Workshop is likely outside of your control) that might impact your hobby is to concentrate on what you can control. And you can control organizing games with people you know. What miniatures you use. What rules you use.

Make GW and its practices, financial performance, share price, and all that noise, totally irrelevant to your enjoyment of the 40k and WFB universes by taking ownership of your hobby rather than looking for a prepackaged solution from one source. That's much better than some pie in the sky idea about buying a bunch of shares and taking over the management of the company. Even if people formed some sort of co-op or investment group and pulled this off, there's absolutely no way to know if they have the same priorities as you. Or that they wouldn't immediately run the company into the ground.

bittick
30-01-2014, 01:01
It would take a significant amount of evidence to trademark a scent, or color, or anything other than the traditional word or symbol. You would have to show that there is some association between the odor or color and consumer choices.

THX has trademarked their "Deep Note" sound that they play before the beginning of movies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtIOhYqrr00

Other than that, I can't think of any non-word or non-symbol trademarks. I'm sure they exist, I just can't think of them.

Trademarks are also limited to the same types of business. "Apple" is trademarked as far as consumer electronics goes. It is not trademarked when it comes to actual apples. :)

shotguncoffee
30-01-2014, 04:58
The core rules (at least the fantasy ones, I dunno about 40k that much) are good enough for most of people, I presume. The true problem with GW rules is the non-existent internal and external balance...

This. Really .... Look how Mordheim was never balanced. But as soon as it was left to the fans, they came up with Coreheim and balanced it.

I think it would be really good for GW if they just let go of their IP and concentrated on making AWESOME miniatures.

Kakapo42
30-01-2014, 11:00
I seriously doubt in The 40K and Fantasy community's ability to run a bake sale, let alone a corporation. Half the community would bicker about the color of frosting, another portion would im plain about the lack of square cupcakes, about 10% would scream at the top of their lungs about how this was the worst bake sale ever and the food is horrible and the bakers are evil and incompetent, and one person would smash the lemon bars they bought with a hammer screaming " YOU MADE ME DO THIS!"

Don't forget the one quiet person who actually really sort of likes the bake sale and sometimes has trouble understanding why all the others are screaming instead of just having fun baking things, but is often far too intimidated to speak out and just sits quietly over in a corner tending to their lovingly decorated fruit tarts, apple turnovers and chocolate filled croissants (all of which having been deemed by the rest to be completely unusable, despite actually being quite nice if you just want a tasty treat), and smiling fondly when they look over at the one with a little smiley face put on it, because even though it's not perfectly applied and kind of crooked, it's still theirs and at the end of the day they wouldn't want it any other way.

Griefbringer
30-01-2014, 17:17
As an attorney who practices IP law I feel comfortable saying that game mechanics cannot be trademarked.

While game mechanisms as concepts cannot be trademarked, couldn't a specific written manifestation of a given game mechanic (as a piece of text) still possibly be theoretically trademarked, presuming that it is used in an appropriate trademark-fashion in the promotion of the product?

Not that the resulting trademarks would be practical by any means - though I guess a brand of ice-cream called "Roll D10 to determine initiative" might potentially gain a cult following amongst some geeks.

Verm1s
30-01-2014, 17:29
Don't forget the one quiet person who actually really sort of likes the bake sale and sometimes has trouble understanding why all the others are screaming instead of just having fun baking things, but is often far too intimidated to speak out and just sits quietly over in a corner tending to their lovingly decorated fruit tarts, apple turnovers and chocolate filled croissants (all of which having been deemed by the rest to be completely unusable, despite actually being quite nice if you just want a tasty treat), and smiling fondly when they look over at the one with a little smiley face put on it, because even though it's not perfectly applied and kind of crooked, it's still theirs and at the end of the day they wouldn't want it any other way.

Is that the same guy who downloads and obsesses about what's deemed the best cake recipe off the net, but can only just be bothered putting the actual ingredients together and might even prefer another recipe but refuses to try any because the first is apparently what the bakesale demands and applauds and hands out fancy rosettes for?

Maybe related to the guy who knows there are other bakesales with moister, more delicious cakes baked from simpler recipes, but refuses to visit them and try for himself because they're 'small'; and prefers the first bakesale anyway because he likes the concept of piling on more and more different multicoloured, glittery sprinkles and toppings to disguise each chalky, tasteless offering rather than having a well-baked cake to start with.

How much more can we torture this metaphor?

IcedCrow
30-01-2014, 17:33
I would pay to watch a group of the gaming community sit in a room and try to come up with something that they all agreed on as far as the direction GW should go and how the rules should be implemented.

By pay I mean we should definitely put it on pay-per-view and make sure a steel cage is involved.

Griefbringer
30-01-2014, 18:49
By pay I mean we should definitely put it on pay-per-view and make sure a steel cage is involved.

You mean putting the customer in the steel cage and forcing them to watch the train wreck enfold, until they would be willing to pay in order to not be forced to watch it any longer?

Verm1s
30-01-2014, 18:56
Makes you wonder how other wargamers bring out their own voted-for/kickstarted mini concepts and playtested rules without the guiding light of the GW studio preventing everyone involved going all Lord of the Flies and bashing in skulls with rocks to feast on the goo within.

frozenwastes
30-01-2014, 20:25
Makes you wonder how other wargamers bring out their own voted-for/kickstarted mini concepts and playtested rules without the guiding light of the GW studio preventing everyone involved going all Lord of the Flies and bashing in skulls with rocks to feast on the goo within.

Those people aren't the ones who think buying GW shares to eventually take over GW is worth doing. They're out there actually making rules and miniatures and simply wouldn't be involved in directing GW as they have found an outlet for their creativity and vision.

The pool you'd get trying to manage GW would be those who believe that GW is the source of gaming fun and it must be saved from death by their hand.

Verm1s
30-01-2014, 20:39
Fair enough. :)

Lothlanathorian
30-01-2014, 21:52
While game mechanisms as concepts cannot be trademarked, couldn't a specific written manifestation of a given game mechanic (as a piece of text) still possibly be theoretically trademarked, presuming that it is used in an appropriate trademark-fashion in the promotion of the product?

Not that the resulting trademarks would be practical by any means - though I guess a brand of ice-cream called "Roll D10 to determine initiative" might potentially gain a cult following amongst some geeks.

No, it could, however, be copyrighted.

At this point, you'd think everyone who plays GW games would have a functional knowledge of "IP law" :p

biccat
30-01-2014, 22:32
While game mechanisms as concepts cannot be trademarked, couldn't a specific written manifestation of a given game mechanic (as a piece of text) still possibly be theoretically trademarked, presuming that it is used in an appropriate trademark-fashion in the promotion of the product?


Yes. GW could (hypothetically) trademark "Ward Save." That wouldn't actually protect the game mechanism, but you could prevent others from using the term.

Harriticus
31-01-2014, 06:18
The IP is still out there and people have been amassing armies for decades. Even after GW dies out 40k and FB can live on in the minds of its fans. GW hasn't released a quality product in 2-3 years anyway so it's not like it's much different than being dead already.

IcedCrow
31-01-2014, 13:56
You mean putting the customer in the steel cage and forcing them to watch the train wreck enfold, until they would be willing to pay in order to not be forced to watch it any longer?

OH no no I mean putting the gamers that are going to take over GW and keep it from dying in the steel cage and watching them fight each other over whose ideas are intellectually superior and who gets to be in charge of such an endeavor.

Scaryscarymushroom
31-01-2014, 16:07
I would pay to watch the people in a cage on a train paying to watch the train wreck. And pay to watch the caged train wreck.

I might start getting a little paranoid though.

We are going to need a lot of cages. And a lot of trains.

Rogue
02-02-2014, 16:16
To answer the OP's question, yes it is possible with enough money, but honestly, I think that the money that people would spend on saving GW, can and should be used for better things for their hobby. I for one am not a fan of GW much any more. I used to love WFB and had almost every army that there was. I have since rage quit WFB because of their rules, and while I do support my Local Game Store with the occasional 40k purchase, I do not spend as much as I used to. I am always looking for new game systems and models from different companies, and honestly I have found some interesting alternatives out there. In my sojourn from WFB I have found 17 other game systems that I have never heard of until I stopped playing. Likewise there are several other model makers that are making fantasy miniatures. Like GW some have miniatures that I cant stand and some have some really good models. I have no idea if GW will change and have better WFB rules down the line, but I know that it will never be the same game as I once played, nor am I waiting for them to get their act together.

Abaraxas
03-02-2014, 09:21
The IP is still out there and people have been amassing armies for decades. Even after GW dies out 40k and FB can live on in the minds of its fans.

Exactly, I still have the stuff I bought in the early 90s and in fact for the past four or five years have steadily been collecting OOP stuff via an internet auction site that I wanted but never got back then.
And when I've painted it, I play 2nd edition 40k...lots of people do the same or similar things.
I had a dabble in 3rd ed 40k, I just didn't feel the same about it (or any later or current editions) but I didn't rage quit and throw my miniatures in the fire...if you loved that 3.5 Chaos Codex for example just keep playing that edition-I don't get how a new tactical squad gets released and somehow your old tactical minis are trash all of a sudden.

In "my warhammer utopia" it's still 1995, there is no "Ward Rage" etc etc etc bla bla bla- it's just painting awesome little metal miniatures and having a blast when I get the chance to unleash them on the table.
It really is your hobby, at the end of the day- do what you want.

Anyway, getting to the point: would a "fan takeover" end the cycle of editions and the like?
I think a lot of people crave the constant "updates" of rules and miniatures like gluttons for punishment...I could almost imagine what rose from "the ashes" would be just the same in some ways, possibly nastier? hahaha