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View Full Version : Time for another GW subsidiary? (specialist games)



Marked_by_chaos
11-06-2007, 15:14
I was wondering if GW could maybe create a forgeworld style subsidiary for specialist games.

I am sure that whatever they say to the contrary GW retain the old moulds e.t.c that they used for virtually all of their old back catalogue of (now) specialist games products.

Could they start a new subsidiary to make these games again. Seems like a cheap buck to me. I mean the old style of plastic technology must be relatively cheap now and metal models were never that expensive to produce.

They needn't use the fancy new plastic technology and could just produce them in the same manner as before - perhaps even abroad i.e. in China to drive costs down.

Essentially when you can sell an old half painted epic tyranid swarm boxed set for 50 on ebay then you know that there is a demand. I am not even sure people need new models - just the great old ones reproduced and not necessarily the entire range even.

They could then have a small area of the shop for boxed versions of the games and the rest would be ordered as per forgeworld.

What do you think? - I reckon it might be feasible.

Grimshawl
11-06-2007, 15:32
A few Years back Specialist Games was a seperate entity as you are asking for, run by Jervis and doing fine, some lughead at corporate decided to rape it, knock off 3/4s of the guys working and eventually cherry pick Jervis and half the time Andy into core game projects till thiers nothing but life support holding the specialist games to life. As you said with your Tyranid example their plenty of money to be made by releasing epic figs but GW cant be bothered to aparently.

HeraldOfTheFree
11-06-2007, 15:34
I don't understand really why it costs so much to produce new models. The guys at my GW store say a plastic mould costs 'millions' :rolleyes:
All the smaller companies can afford to produce vast amounts of metal models, so why cant GW? I know the sculptors have to sculpt, but I read somewhere quite a few Forge World models are made because the sculptors have nothing better to do/ are bored.
And, shock horror, the Specialist Games could make RESIN MODELS! :eek:
Looking back at an old White Dwarf an Imperial Armour advert had the Fanatic logo, surely they could at least do resin?

Templar Ben
11-06-2007, 15:53
I thought they did make resin models. I have seen FW resin buildings for Epic for instance.

grickherder
11-06-2007, 16:12
A plastic mould costs tens of thousands, not "millions" as the guys at your local GW say. And they're stainless steel and have an incredibly long life. There is no reason they can't just plop those epic tyranid moulds into the injector machine and start it up-- they're already doing it for Marines, Guard, Chaos and Eldar.

And you're right about Resin. There's tons of cheaper resin processes that can work great, especially for smaller runs of smaller miniatures.

Fanatic/Specialist Games would really benefit from complete autonomy from GW (as a separate corporation wholey owned by GW). They can then generate profit themselves based on the merit of their games and develop their games with their own budget and staff. It was like that for such a short while and from what I heard, they had no problem making money relative to their size, but apparently not enough relative to GW's size as a whole.

Arkzein
11-06-2007, 17:55
They entire specialist side seems to have died during the 4 years or so I spent out of the hobby. They were motoring along nicely before with the odd new game being introduced (BFG & INQ at the time) and others seemed to have a least a little support. Now they appear to be relics that get thrown an odd bone occasionally. (I actually thought of it as still separate like BL and FW, I didn't know it had basically been abandoned)

I'd love to see it as well here but with the current situation and specialist games not being a huge money earner they look likely to be overlooked for some time to come. (Though perhaps with how sucessful FW has been and the company looking for a new angle...)

I get the feeling the cost of support and those who worked on them before was simply greater than the loss in sales they're taking with minimal support now, or perhaps the time of said people was better spent on something that would eventually earn more, thus perhaps very unlikely to see any change. I could even see it as a vicious circle, no support so sales falling even further making investment looking even *less* appealing.

Honestly though, if we are to believe specialist games net the company profits so small as to be immaterial, cutting them loose as a free ranging subsidiary wouldn't be an issue at all (nothing to lose, everything to gain if it takes off). Let the division run itself as long as it turns a profit (even if it's slightly less than now). Money isn't the be all and end all, it expands the scope of their product range and the relatively cheap specialist games can get a lot of folks into the hobby. (Blood Bowl especially has been an entry point for many). Definately something I believe the verterans would like to see.

Anyway, can't see it happening, but I would dearly love it to.

PrinnySquad
11-06-2007, 18:06
The GW at Merry Hill(Not sure where excatly in the Mid-Lands it is) has a small shelf space for Specialist Games, as did the one in Birmingham.

Karnage
11-06-2007, 18:14
I was under the impression most stores had a small section for specialist? The stores I've been in recently had a small section with some Epic models (Ork Gargants mostly), as well as the Mordheim and Blood Bowl boxed sets and Warmaster and Necromunda rulebooks, with the Imperial Armour stuff rounding out the shelf space. Have some of the stores got rid of this small section altogether then?

ScooterinAB
11-06-2007, 19:10
Having models for the games would be wonderful. GW needs to hire some more sculptors so that we can get more Necromunda models.

TheLionReturns
11-06-2007, 23:29
This idea makes a lot of sense to me. In my experience specialist games are very popular amongst mature gamers. In fact after a long break from the hobby it was actually bloodbowl that got me interested again. I believe all of the games would be thoroughly invigorated by an injection of new models and it would provide a useful additional revenue stream for GW.

I do see some issues though. Firstly would the new specialist games subsidiary make a profit independently just through new models? Or would there need to be an end to the free online support for the games and a constant reinvention of the games? Secondly contrary to my earlier assertion, are specialist games that popular? They are amongst my friends but I hear attendance at this years bloodbowl tournament was down from last year. Not sure what kind of indicator this is but it is worth thinking about.

I do wonder whether a specialist games subsidiary is indeed in the pipeline. At the time of release I wondered whether the introduction of aeronautica imperialis was a testing of the water. Forgeworld does well as i understand but by selling if you like prestige items to collect. The aeronautica imperialis seems to be a departure from this business plan back towards specialist games and I wonder if this is the first step in exploring whether specialist games are indeed a viable business proposition independently.

Grimshawl
11-06-2007, 23:44
Specialist Games was making a profit before it was reapsorbed back into the main studio. Profit enough I believe was the real question, I think GW just got overly short sited and greedy when it came to these games, I once heard that they wanted these games to produce the type of revenue 40k does or else it wasnt worth their time and effort, well Duh, with miniscule support and just plain less of everything put into them that makes 40k big I dont think anyone is suprised that these expectations wherent fully met.

Templar Ben
12-06-2007, 01:01
Well let's say it took 10% of the company resources and only resulted in 3% of the company profit. It may be profitable but since it doesn't have the return the rest of the company does then it is not something you NEED to keep. If that return was less than the return in the market or the interest on your capital (there is a term here called Weighted Cost of Capital where you average the cost of equity and cost of debt). If you can't beat that then you are doing a disservice by keeping the project running. It is better to invest in the core industry or give the money back to the owners (shareholders).

Occulto
12-06-2007, 02:39
I was under the impression most stores had a small section for specialist?

Not in Australia - I know that for sure.

It's mail order or 2nd hand and that's it.

Grimshawl
12-06-2007, 03:50
Well let's say it took 10% of the company resources and only resulted in 3% of the company profit. It may be profitable but since it doesn't have the return the rest of the company does then it is not something you NEED to keep. If that return was less than the return in the market or the interest on your capital (there is a term here called Weighted Cost of Capital where you average the cost of equity and cost of debt). If you can't beat that then you are doing a disservice by keeping the project running. It is better to invest in the core industry or give the money back to the owners (shareholders).

By this theorum only the most profitable item a company makes is worth while, for GW that would be Marines, and yet, without support products, marines minatures do not sell at the same level or quantities, pushing too much of a good thing to the detrimit of all else is partially what got GW to where we are today.
Most of the specialist games are good introductary games leading customers into the Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, not too mention that some of those games, Necromunda and Mordheim, and to a lesser extent blood bowl actually sell figures from the two main lines, how are these sales properly measured aguanst your calculations? Anyway its an old argument where both sides are muddied somewhat by not having all the facts and figures to dissect to our hearts content.

TheLionReturns
12-06-2007, 08:34
I quite agree. GW is a very peculiar type of business where there are strong synergies between the product ranges which normal business accounting methods will not necessarily pick up. This is why it is important to have someone who genuinely understands the unique characteristics of GW at the helm, and indeed that the shareholders they report to have a strong understanding of these characteristics.

I used to work in the city and whilst my field was more economic and political risk in emerging markets, I met plenty of fund managers. I personally often got the impression that their understanding of the companies they invested in was always less than they thought.

Arkzein
12-06-2007, 10:14
Just a student here, so no practical experience really, but exactly what I was thinking in the above, down to someone in accounts taking a dim view, though it's not an exact science and mistakes can be made. (ie what RoR to use and the various methods one can apply to measure things, assign costs, analyse etc.). Hard to decide for oneself without the figures but given the non-financial aspect of specialist games (I'd say bringing new players into the hobby, keeping veterans interested and generally having a wider scope as a whole) I feel it may be another case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It's not like top management can't see this in other areas, look at theit entire retail sector, even keeping some loss making stores open for similar reasons.

Lord knows it wouldn't be the first, otherwise viable, subsidiary or division within a company to be run down because it wasn't meeting the required rate of return for the company as a whole simply because of the accounting methods used.

Like I said, I can see the reasoning behind it from a business standpoint, but hard to swallow as a gamer. Nice to say as I did above, cut it lose to run as it's own small subsidiary and, if it's turning a profit even though with smaller margins than other areas of the firm, let it be. But perhaps the numbers just really didn't add up and the figures involved *aren't* immaterial. (ie it isn't a case of almost nothing to lose and everything to gain).

Marked_by_chaos
12-06-2007, 14:05
The problem with axing specialist games on the basis of lack of profit to input costs seems logical until you consider GW's approach in general.

If they had been given adequate marketing and careful application of resources they could have been successful. I remember well the time when epic was about as big a game system as 40k.

However, also it should be considered that specialist games never amounted to 10% of operating costs if you include leases on shop premises etc.

Also statistically Gw probably barely bare eve - at least for a long time on most games ranges. Its well known how much revenue space marines bring in - however, their hobby supplies alone make more profit the lord of the rings for example (over 10%) and that means the return for many armies must be negligible i.e. i doubt empire contribute more than a couple of percent yet such armies alone get more exposure than specialist games got before it was axed.

Templar Ben
12-06-2007, 16:08
By this theorum only the most profitable item a company makes is worth while, for GW that would be Marines, and yet, without support products, marines minatures do not sell at the same level or quantities, pushing too much of a good thing to the detrimit of all else is partially what got GW to where we are today.
Most of the specialist games are good introductary games leading customers into the Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, not too mention that some of those games, Necromunda and Mordheim, and to a lesser extent blood bowl actually sell figures from the two main lines, how are these sales properly measured aguanst your calculations? Anyway its an old argument where both sides are muddied somewhat by not having all the facts and figures to dissect to our hearts content.

Actually no it isn't that only the most profitable is worthwhile, all projects that give a higher return than the cost of capital are worthwhile. One is also able to quantify how many players will transition from a intro type game to a more profitable line.That is how razor companies decide how many free razors to give away so that some people will like them and start buying the blades (where the money is). I agree that we are again making guesses about GWs process based on our limited view of what they are doing.


I quite agree. GW is a very peculiar type of business where there are strong synergies between the product ranges which normal business accounting methods will not necessarily pick up. This is why it is important to have someone who genuinely understands the unique characteristics of GW at the helm, and indeed that the shareholders they report to have a strong understanding of these characteristics.

I used to work in the city and whilst my field was more economic and political risk in emerging markets, I met plenty of fund managers. I personally often got the impression that their understanding of the companies they invested in was always less than they thought.

It is not unique to this industry to have complimentary products. Many companies work toward that simply because of having a built in customer base, easier customer targeting, and increasing switching costs for your customer to leave.


Just a student here, so no practical experience really, but exactly what I was thinking in the above, down to someone in accounts taking a dim view, though it's not an exact science and mistakes can be made. (ie what RoR to use and the various methods one can apply to measure things, assign costs, analyse etc.). Hard to decide for oneself without the figures but given the non-financial aspect of specialist games (I'd say bringing new players into the hobby, keeping veterans interested and generally having a wider scope as a whole) I feel it may be another case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It's not like top management can't see this in other areas, look at theit entire retail sector, even keeping some loss making stores open for similar reasons.

Lord knows it wouldn't be the first, otherwise viable, subsidiary or division within a company to be run down because it wasn't meeting the required rate of return for the company as a whole simply because of the accounting methods used.

Like I said, I can see the reasoning behind it from a business standpoint, but hard to swallow as a gamer. Nice to say as I did above, cut it lose to run as it's own small subsidiary and, if it's turning a profit even though with smaller margins than other areas of the firm, let it be. But perhaps the numbers just really didn't add up and the figures involved *aren't* immaterial. (ie it isn't a case of almost nothing to lose and everything to gain).

Sounds like you may be saying that SG should be considered a cost center that generates some advertising and opens new channels. Did I read that right?


The problem with axing specialist games on the basis of lack of profit to input costs seems logical until you consider GW's approach in general.

If they had been given adequate marketing and careful application of resources they could have been successful. I remember well the time when epic was about as big a game system as 40k.

However, also it should be considered that specialist games never amounted to 10% of operating costs if you include leases on shop premises etc.

Also statistically Gw probably barely bare eve - at least for a long time on most games ranges. Its well known how much revenue space marines bring in - however, their hobby supplies alone make more profit the lord of the rings for example (over 10%) and that means the return for many armies must be negligible i.e. i doubt empire contribute more than a couple of percent yet such armies alone get more exposure than specialist games got before it was axed.

Please don't get caught up on the 10% number. I pulled that from my rearend just like the 3% of profits. I was just saying that there may well be lots of other considerations.