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Tastyfish
16-08-2007, 15:20
So stemming from the GW's announces a loss thread and the slight tangent of how to change this, couple of people said (including Kirby in his comments on the company's review) that they had taken the veterans for granted and focused too much on the younger newcomers. Whilst it might be all well and good to recognise that, actually doing something about it is going to be a lot harder for a variety of reasons.

Firstly; you have to accept that a fairly high percentage of players are going to drop out anyway. As much as we may like it, this hobby isn't for everyone and some people might find they just don't have the time, friends or space to play.

Secondly, partly because of the first point (and pretty obviously), there are fewer potential long term gamers than there are potential new players.

Finally, just how long should GW expect to be able to keep people playing? You are going to get diminishing returns trying to keep everyone as there is really only so many major things to keep them going, and obviously you are going to get less and less players after a while.



So then, what possibilities do you see open to GW to try to increase its retention of players? Keeping in mind that you are going to have to carry out a balancing act between retaining old customers but not at the expense of new ones (for the sake of the argument we could try to estimate some general figures for how many people keep playing past the 18 month mark - or perhaps keep playing to the five year mark).

This is going to be a really long first post if I keep going, so I'll just chuck out a few ideas first for what could be done (or are commonly suggested) and the potential problems I could see arising.

Obviously - get them to start a new army, or switch systems. Now the latter seems totally out of the hands of GW other than generally featuring the games side by side in the shops and in WD, however there is some potential to encourage the former a little bit in the form of army lists like the Storm of Chaos Cult of Pleasure and the Hordes/Beasts of Chaos or Allied Contingents to a lesser extent. Major drawback is that you're going to risk diluting the individual feel of the armies and GW do seem to be getting close to the maximum number of armies they are happy with - plus the whole SoC/Tournament fiasco a couple of years back. Players don't seem to be happy with non-tournament legal lists as anything less is treated like a House Rule and regarded with suspecion (fair enough to a degree, generally it being a fair fight is what makes the game fun).

Game expansions ala Cities of Death, Seige, Skirimish, Campaign, Space/Maritime combat etc - the sort of stuff veterans love. However they generally don't come anywhere close to generating the same amount of revenue as a new player starting an army but take more time to develop and support. You also run the risk of creating mandatory supplements like the old Dark Millenium and Battle Magic sets which is going to discourage new players (Advanced 40K would be one of these).

Living Universes, another veteran favourite but even more newbie unfriendly than mandatory supplements. I'd probably say it also carries an even greater curse than the undating Binder Rulebook. Its going to **** of veterans as well if you change it wrong.

So this post has gone on long enough - any thoughts or other strategies, or comments on the ones I've mentioned?

Osbad
16-08-2007, 15:36
My number one gripe is "more affordability".

As a "long term" gamer this is why I very rarely buy figures from Gee-Dub any more as I have been able to find better value elsewhere. Where I remain as a customer is in areas where no-one else is competing effecitively ... which right at this minute is plastic fantasy terrain buildings: about the only thing on my "to buy" list at the minute is some of the new placcy WFB buildings.

Sure there are models that I think are quite nice, but they have priced themselves out of my price range I am afraid: 2.33 for a single 28mm tall "rank and file" metal model from GW or 80p for one from Black Tree Design..... ooh, doesn't take too long to decide really!

Vic
16-08-2007, 19:41
I agree with Osbad. Prices have crossed well into the "Ridiculous" category 2 price hikes ago. Now with the downturn in the global economy, I wonder how sales will fare for GW.

And by the by, GW stock looks like its getting a slight bump I think from people who might be leaving more volatile stock and looking for something more stable for long term. But I think once they get a look at the financials, that bump may flatten out.

Again, just conjecture :)

Tastyfish
16-08-2007, 21:43
Can't really see the price rises having too much of an effect here, they are going to be just as big a thing to new starters (and likely more) than the veterans.

Crube
16-08-2007, 21:55
I think the prices are an issue to keeping gamers. Many will see the true cost of buying an army, and baulk at it, prefering to return to or try other hobbies.

The price is not neccessarily the main thing, as long as there is a perceived value for money. This does need some addressing.

The old arguement for retaining Vets vs newcomers is that it is easier to retain someone who is already hooked. For GW, they operate the reverse, and to a degree, i can see why it could be perceived as easier.

New customers have no pr littel expectation when they try a game for the first time, and are generally quite easily impressed by these detailed models. Vets know the score, and more has to be done to sate them.

the fact that these things are all (pretty much) quite low cost, low impact measures seems to have escaped GW, and this is I think their problem.

They are good at getting new people. They need to improve retention, whilst still getting new blood in...

lanrak
16-08-2007, 22:40
Hi all.
It appears Kirby and co, thought 'as long as the kiddies buy then quit who cares?'
They forgot about the internet!
So now EBAY is flooded with WH and 40k stuff.
This can give the impression to parents that 40k and GW games are 'fads kids go through' therfore poor value for money,and also gives yet another place to get discounted GW stuff.A double whammy to GW store retail turn over.

As the majority of GW customers are GAMERS ,they tend to be interested in the quality of the games they play.
So if GW let the developers do thier thing ,and develop the actual games not just market playing pieces!Things might improve?

And the most hideously overpriced /blatent taking the p**s, HOW MUTCH!!! increduluosly spoken when looking at hobby supplies,at 200% to 500% more expensive than in other widly available outlets.6 for a 99p tape measure with a GW logo??
Now average joe public may think that the metal sculpt of Captain Lysander is worth 12 because it is subjective, (and little Billy is ranting about it).
But in a shop that has hobby supplies at 'rip off' prices, Joe public may think EVERYTHING is as hideuosly overpriced as the hobby supplies.

When the EMBARRASED red shirts feel compelled to direct you to purchase hobby suplies (other than paint and brushes,) from DIY stores, this shows how poor GW are at judging what people are prepared to pay.

Well if WD went back to being a gaming supliment ,not JUST a minatures catalog.
And SGs were not hiden from view.
Heck if GW went back to how it was in the early-mid 1990s ,here would be loads of happy gamers again!
Lots of games to suit a wide range of gamers.And gamers wouldnt crave updates as much because there is a wider variety of game to play!

Semi rant from an old 'un.

grickherder
16-08-2007, 22:41
Firstly; you have to accept that a fairly high percentage of players are going to drop out anyway.

And everyone of those customers that can be retained for even a single extra year of gaming is like getting a new customer.


As much as we may like it, this hobby isn't for everyone and some people might find they just don't have the time, friends or space to play.

Which would make them the wrong market to go after in the first place.


Finally, just how long should GW expect to be able to keep people playing?

Given that some people have been playing non-stop since Rogue Trader, I think very long periods of customer retention are possible. Also, when games like Necromunda and the like were supported well and sold in stores, people would often switch to them as a break from their 40k or WFB stuff.


You are going to get diminishing returns trying to keep everyone as there is really only so many major things to keep them going, and obviously you are going to get less and less players after a while.

That assumes (wrongly) that you have to stop getting new customers, which is silly. You're going to get compounding returns from retaining customers, not diminishing ones.


Obviously - get them to start a new army, or switch systems. Now the latter seems totally out of the hands of GW other than generally featuring the games side by side in the shops and in WD, however there is some potential to encourage the former a little bit in the form of army lists like the Storm of Chaos Cult of Pleasure and the Hordes/Beasts of Chaos or Allied Contingents to a lesser extent.

I completely disagree. Getting players to start new armies or whatever should be easy. You just need to make it accessible. Escalation leagues were a great idea, for example. As were codexes with allies rules. It was really easy back in the day, because the game mechanics were similar enough that it didn't require so much to get up to speed.


Players don't seem to be happy with non-tournament legal lists as anything less is treated like a House Rule and regarded with suspecion (fair enough to a degree, generally it being a fair fight is what makes the game fun).

Then they need to stop perpetuating the myth of "official" or "tournament legal" play. They need to stop diminishing their own product by calling it things like "unofficial" or "needs opponents permission." It took them years to learn that lesson with independent characters, and yet they still won't learn it with entire armies. Lost and the Damned/Codex Eye of Terror is a great example. When the new Chaos Codex comes out, there is no reason there shouldn't be a PDF on GW's website explaining how Lost and the Damned work with the new codex. Instead, they'll alienate the customers and declare Lost and the Damned "unofficial."

Basically I think you've created a false dichotomy where it is either the new players or the veterans when it actually should be both/and. Often the very things that keep customers around are the same that attract new long term customers.

Emperor's Grace
17-08-2007, 15:42
And everyone of those customers that can be retained for even a single extra year of gaming is like getting a new customer.

<edit>

Basically I think you've created a false dichotomy where it is either the new players or the veterans when it actually should be both/and. Often the very things that keep customers around are the same that attract new long term customers.

Actually, it would probably be worth slightly more than one new customer...

Not only is the old customer retained but you also have "word of mouth" from him to his buddies (who may also be retained) and a more visible presence (of folks that know the rules and paint fairly well) to boot, if they play in shop.

I think that grick's right. I think retaining the vet actually adds new customers of the right (long haul) variety. Sure it may not appeal to as many Poke-kids, but if the customers you add are interested in vet stuff, they're more like to be the stable ones that stay to be vets in GW.

Easy E
17-08-2007, 19:52
First setp is to remove the Tournament Legal stigma from some armies so you can sell alot of models for those armies.

How? Codex: Tournamants for those who want to play with matched lists. It would have very specific rules, scenarios, and lists to remove inconstencies and unfairness. This is for the people that want a competetive game and like the universe.

Then, everything else in 40K is beer and pretzels. List would be quick and dirty, scenarios wouldn't always be balanced, and house rules would be encouraged for shops. This is for people that want a rmore relaxed game and love the universe.

Introduce people with Universe games and offer Codex: Tournaments as an expansion like Apocalypse or CoD.

This generates sales as people will have their tournament lists, and their Universe variants. People would also be able to build alternate lists without fear of never playing them, this means they would have to buy the models. The more inclusive the game is, the more likely you are to get players.

grickherder
17-08-2007, 20:15
Actually, it would probably be worth slightly more than one new customer...

Not only is the old customer retained but you also have "word of mouth" from him to his buddies (who may also be retained) and a more visible presence (of folks that know the rules and paint fairly well) to boot, if they play in shop.

Absolutely. And long term GW customers would be excited about their hobby. They'll honestly recruit other people. It's what marketers call an "evangelical customer" who goes out and spreads "the good news" of the product. Free sales force!


I think retaining the vet actually adds new customers of the right (long haul) variety. Sure it may not appeal to as many Poke-kids, but if the customers you add are interested in vet stuff, they're more like to be the stable ones that stay to be vets in GW.

Poke-kids is such a great term.

grickherder
17-08-2007, 20:25
People would also be able to build alternate lists without fear of never playing them, this means they would have to buy the models.

It took them forever to learn this with special characters.

"Why aren't the special characters selling?"
"Well, you only ever need one."
"But the average marine player isn't buy any."
"Well, they're not official, you need opponents permission."
*slaps forhead*
"Our rules are devaluing our own product?!"
"Yeah, our players seem to want things to be "official" and they aren't."
"From now own, special characters go right into the HQ sections as normal choices."

And yet they keep doing the same thing. Broodlords are a great example. Why in the world are they 0-1? I know people might cite game balance (as if taking a flyrant is more balanced than taking a 2nd broodlord), but they've effectively limited their potential sales of broodlords by 50%. All the players who might have bought 2 just to have the option of using two will now not. Again, GW appear to have wised up to a degree, taking away the 0-1 limit of Chaos Lords and Daemon Princes in the new codex.

If you're going to have a repeat customer that is going to build an entire army, you certainly don't want to set up artificial purchasing limits.

Gaebriel
17-08-2007, 21:12
Long Term Gamers vs Fast Turnover Newcomers

I don't think GW needs to limit itself to one of these groups, but can contain both. The often quoted idea of three step game systems (basic/beginners, standard/tournament, advanced/storytellers) would take into account everybody's needs, and wouldn't kill their release schedule if - if they had a bigger design and support team.

I think it doesn't take more new releases to keep the different fires burning, just the impression of a living system, and visible support. Give the majority of the stores, and a shiny high-gloss magazine to the newcomers, give an organized club-culture including support for club-magazines and newsletters to the others, a controlled tournament circle with newsletters (and regular FAQs) to tournament players, and a website to exchange experimental and house-rules to the old grunts.

GW has most this, but on a somewhat low flame. The key lies in making those things touch the gamer, giving every group their open communication avenue, putting faces to the support crew. Making things personal and giving every group and gamer the impression to personally count.

And funding all this - well I guess 111,000,000 do go somewhere in that company. And some major restructuring is needed anyway...

the1stpip
18-08-2007, 00:14
I agree with Codex: Tournaments. It is the only way forward.

GW concentrate too much on tournaments these days. Only a small minority of gamers play tournaments. The rest just want a fun game, using fun armies. This is turning a lot of people away from GW.

The other point made earlier in this thread, was that GW should be supporting new AND old players. Don't differentiate. This causes upset, cos 'GW are dumbing down the rules' or 'the old fogeys are always on about how it was different in Rogue Trader'. Don't. We should all be in this for the same reason. Make the rulebooks include basic rules for newcomers, and let them progress on to different things in the same book when they are ready to.

Something else I have noticed, is a lot of veterans don't game in the shops, so the new players don't get to see these wonderful armies and be inspired. Stop the red shirts jumping and whooping like they are on ecstacy, and encourage a slightly more sober atmosphere where vets can enjoy a game, without trying to be sold the latest set of dice.

yabbadabba
18-08-2007, 08:14
I agree with Codex: Tournaments. It is the only way forward.
GW concentrate too much on tournaments these days. Only a small minority of gamers play tournaments. The rest just want a fun game, using fun armies. This is turning a lot of people away from GW..

First - you don't need a codex tournaments. You just need a codex which has a campaign army list, a tournament/beginners list and an individual points list for those who want to do their own things. Also tournament players and beginners have something in common. Both need clearly defined, straight forward rules to play. Hence the focus.


The other point made earlier in this thread, was that GW should be supporting new AND old players. Don't differentiate. This causes upset, cos 'GW are dumbing down the rules' or 'the old fogeys are always on about how it was different in Rogue Trader'. Don't. We should all be in this for the same reason. Make the rulebooks include basic rules for newcomers, and let them progress on to different things in the same book when they are ready to..

But the rulebook already does that. GW sees a campaign as something for people who want to play beyond the basic rules, hence the rulebook has a camapign system.


Something else I have noticed, is a lot of veterans don't game in the shops, so the new players don't get to see these wonderful armies and be inspired. Stop the red shirts jumping and whooping like they are on ecstacy, and encourage a slightly more sober atmosphere where vets can enjoy a game, without trying to be sold the latest set of dice.

Why should Vets play in the stores? And if they want to play in the stores, shouldn't they accept the rules of the store? As a "vet" the only reason I would want to play in a store is because I can't get a game anywhere else. The stores are far too limited, for sound commercial reasons, for me to fully enjoy a game, I would reckon many other "vets" would feel the same. I can't understand this welfare state mentality where everyone should play in a store.

If GW should do anything they should do a Generals compendium for every system and just make it non-tournament compatible. While I agree that GW is very expensive and this does need looking at, and I agree that SG should be re-marketed, I think most Vets need to be reminded "get of your **** and do something positive". This isn't a hobby for spoon-feeding.

the1stpip
18-08-2007, 10:18
Vets don't play in stores. I don't, and its generally cos I can't be bothered. But if we did, then noobs would see two (hopefully) decent players, with nice armies playing each opther having a laugh and think 'Cool, I want to be a part of that.'

If there was a tournament list (either in each codex, or separately) then it would allow more freedom for casual gamers, who want to enjoy the hobby for the sake of it, not just feel the need to win (not that I am saying that all tourney players have to win).

Gaebriel
18-08-2007, 11:41
... I think most Vets need to be reminded "get of your **** and do something positive". This isn't a hobby for spoon-feeding.
Of course it isn't. Or - it shouldn't. Strangely, something has lead to a really big "needing to be spoon fed mentality" over the years.

It might be a rather harsh framework of model reglementations (only GW, straight WYSIWYG). It might be the tournament scene which includes a certain competitiveness, leading to disapproval of change. It might be the pick-up gaming scene with it's requirement of universally recognizable rules anywhere on the planet. It might be GW's focus on a younger audience, thus making their direct customer approach more patronizing. It might be the pricing, which leads people to expect more for there money than the mere models, but an entertainment framework.

I think in the established athmosphere it comes over a bit harsh to put off people with a "get of your lazy butt, and do it yourself". I think some visible support from GW would stand them much better in a time where part of their customership complains about being neglected. Preach to a group that wants to be preached to, but preach freedom of mind, and utimately, in a couple of years, people will do it themselves.

I for my part would enjoy not hearing 'I won't play against non-official army lists' anymore :rolleyes: Who knows, when GW endorses tinkering with their systems again (on the advanced level, mind me), I won't :)

Tastyfish
18-08-2007, 15:18
And everyone of those customers that can be retained for even a single extra year of gaming is like getting a new customer.

Which still isnt worth it if the effort and resources to keep that player prevent you from recruiting an additional one or two new players.



Which would make them the wrong market to go after in the first place.
No, it wouldn't. Its a massive market capable of generating revenue above and beyond all the alternatives as well as producing your long term gamers. To not target this demographic would be madness, its just comes with its own set of complications.




Given that some people have been playing non-stop since Rogue Trader, I think very long periods of customer retention are possible. Also, when games like Necromunda and the like were supported well and sold in stores, people would often switch to them as a break from their 40k or WFB stuff.
This is your problem, just because something can happen doesn't mean it will always happen. Yes, some people have been playing for very long times however they are in the minority. Whilst very long periods of customer retention is possible, its very high numbers of customer retention which is the issue. Also the specialist games didn't do that well. They lost money on Gorkamorka despite it being immense fun, and in the shops specialist games is competing against LOTR, 40K and Warhammer for space - something that has become even more valuble as GW move from blisters to plastic sets and boxes. Again this is going back to the point I was making in the first post - how can you make going after the veterans economically viable. Space in the shops (and even more in the Independants) is at a premium already.



That assumes (wrongly) that you have to stop getting new customers, which is silly. You're going to get compounding returns from retaining customers, not diminishing ones.
I never said that you aren't getting new customers, but there is a finite amount of resources avaible which is usually stretched to the limit as it is. They can only make so many plastic kits at a time and have a limited number of sculptors, so something veteran focused like Mighty Empires, Cityfight or Seige comes at the expense of more plastics for existing armies. Likewise every vet's night is a beginners night you're not running and every box of Battlefleet Gothic is a Battle for Skull Pass or battalion set you can't fit in your shop.
So far, you just seem to assume that GW has a magic 'customer retention' button it can press without recognising any of the issues that targeting vets has.



I completely disagree. Getting players to start new armies or whatever should be easy. You just need to make it accessible. Escalation leagues were a great idea, for example. As were codexes with allies rules. It was really easy back in the day, because the game mechanics were similar enough that it didn't require so much to get up to speed.
Back in the day? 40K and WFB have always had very similar rules (often identical) but were also very different. Only things that have changed are the psychology rules and shooting modifiers - stuff like vehicles and close combat were always different.
Allies and Escalation leagues are good ideas though, particularly the latter since its just a beneficial to new players as well. Allies is tricky since it runs into the 'Tournament legal' issue below, particularly since 99% of the time its going to be more 'DoW Cannons' rather than 'Cult of Pleasure'.



Then they need to stop perpetuating the myth of "official" or "tournament legal" play. They need to stop diminishing their own product by calling it things like "unofficial" or "needs opponents permission." It took them years to learn that lesson with independent characters, and yet they still won't learn it with entire armies. Lost and the Damned/Codex Eye of Terror is a great example. When the new Chaos Codex comes out, there is no reason there shouldn't be a PDF on GW's website explaining how Lost and the Damned work with the new codex. Instead, they'll alienate the customers and declare Lost and the Damned "unofficial."
This is just as much a problem with the players. Why would you want anything but the Tournament versions since they have been designed to be the fairest (and also imply that you can break the lists in whichever way you like and its still fair) - if I want to do something wierd and unusal in a game against a long time gaming buddy then I can bend the tournament rules.

Only thing I can think of for tournaments would be to have set lists, so when you make a tournament marine army, you pick one of four varients. However given how important customisation is to the hobby I can't see this being a popular move in the slightest

The Lost and the Damned is a special case, since it might be being covered in the next book. If we look at the Storm of Chaos books, they've largely tried to make the varients work with the new army books (lifting the 0-1s on Slayers and Black orcs, the customisable Eldar codex).

Ravenous
18-08-2007, 16:14
I think GWs problems go deeper then whats been mentioned so far.

Perhaps its just a fact that people just arent interested?

Back in the early 90s the comic industry was going bankrupt because there was just no interest in it. It had nothing to do with prices, or the writers or art, but just a lack of interest. No one cared. It was the comic industries great depression. Now, what brought them back up to the level of today? Nothing, other then interest picked back up.

I think that GW is facing its decline at the moment and they are doing the same thing the comic industry did, panic, and try a million different things that only make it worse.

They will keep sliding and sliding in a downward spiral.

and they will either pack it up and call it quits, or the spark of the game will come back up.

grickherder
18-08-2007, 23:01
Which still isnt worth it if the effort and resources to keep that player prevent you from recruiting an additional one or two new players.

But is that the case. Once again, can you cite any example in any business where customer retention stands in the way of getting new customers? Business just doesn't work that way-- pleasing customers so they keep buying is almost always efficient at getting new customers because you have word of mouth advertising, and even an effective volunteer sales force who get their friends and acquaintances involved. Also, with GW keeping customers (that is to say, those naturally disposed to miniature wargaming-- not the poke-kids) is likely more of a matter of simply not alienating them. It's not going to take tons of resources, they just need to stop doing stupid things like invalidating models.



No, it wouldn't. Its a massive market capable of generating revenue above and beyond all the alternatives as well as producing your long term gamers. To not target this demographic would be madness, its just comes with its own set of complications.

And one of the complications of the poke-kids is how fickle they are. They are a market with generally a pretty poor attention span both in real terms and in terms of their entertainment. It's trying to sell people who like video games and instant gratification on spending hours painting miniatures. Some will obviously be well suited, but most will simply dump the product inside of a year. This market could be the only way for GW to have reached it's current size, but I don't believe it is sufficient to sustain that size. Churning/burning customers will lead to declining sales, profit, etc.,. Oh wait, it already has.


This is your problem, just because something can happen doesn't mean it will always happen.

My *problem* is that I realize that business is about goals. Plans to meet those goals and the implementation of those plans. If GW sets the goal "to have more customers that stick around buying for an indefinite period" they can devise a plan to make it happen and execute it. Well, as long as they don't fill their ranks with people like you who just think business "happens."


So far, you just seem to assume that GW has a magic 'customer retention' button it can press without recognising any of the issues that targeting vets has.

No, that's an assumption you make about what I assume. Which I don't. Don't make stupid assumptions about others. If you can't grasp what I'm talking about without making stupid assumptions, go and read it again.

Here's a hint: In all businesses everywhere, the things that keep customers attracts new business. It's been this way for centuries. There is no conflict between customer retention and new sales unless the company choses to make one. GW is a typical business, despite all the baseless assertions to the contrary and needs to concentrate on what makes typical businesses successful.

Ravenous might be on to something with this:

Perhaps its just a fact that people just arent interested?

It could be that GW's product is not good enough to hold all but a minority of customers' attention for an extended period of time. It could simply be that without the brand attraction of LOTR than GW's products are just not up to the task of sustaining their current business size and that demographic shifts and changes in styles, tastes and fads has begun their end of their profitable operation. If that is the case, then GW will have to eventually abandon the poke-kids market as they will become increasingly unreceptive to GW. I'm not sure if it is the case, but I do know that LOTR sales served to greatly mask falling sales in GW's main products. The LOTR bubble could have simply served to obfuscate the fact that GW's inferior products are declining in sales despite all of GW's efforts to constantly recruit new gamers.

So it could be that the only customers GW will eventually have will be those who are normally/naturally disposed towards the hobby and the customers short term churn and burn customers created by the demo/sales process will become harder and harder to reach. If GW continues to alienate existing customers and also continues to chase a demographic giving them lower and lower returns, things could get very, very bad for GW very quickly.

Hellebore
19-08-2007, 01:17
I think some of it is perhaps sales projections.

Every new gamer MUST buy a minimum of product, and thus they can actually asign a dollar value to each new one. Veterans on the other hand are sporadic and unreliable in their purchasing. They just can't asign a dollar value to a veteran beyond the setup 'fee'.

They aren't gambling with their margins - they know how much each noob will spend on average, and so go with that over hoping a veteran will spend X to cover it.

Say this hypothetical value is $100US (I know it's more than that).

Either they get 5 new players to spend their start up fee each month ($500), or they hope than an unknowable number of veterans will spend the same in the same amount of time (2 spending $250 each for example).

We know that Veterans are generally more WILLING to spend more money, but because they just aren't RELIABLE in their spending it's impossible to really project how much you can make off them.

So they concentrate on the new players in order to maintain a specific income and asign a nebulous quantity to the veterans and add it on.


Anyway, that's my entirely business-ignorant view - better the figures you know than the ones you don't.

Hellebore

Tastyfish
19-08-2007, 03:15
But is that the case. Once again, can you cite any example in any business where customer retention stands in the way of getting new customers? Business just doesn't work that way-- pleasing customers so they keep buying is almost always efficient at getting new customers because you have word of mouth advertising, and even an effective volunteer sales force who get their friends and acquaintances involved. Also, with GW keeping customers (that is to say, those naturally disposed to miniature wargaming-- not the poke-kids) is likely more of a matter of simply not alienating them. It's not going to take tons of resources, they just need to stop doing stupid things like invalidating models.
These are just assumptions, but you don't have anything to back them up either - a large part of the problem with that we're not quite arguing directly against each other. There are some things that can be done that will attract higher numbers of new players and also increase retention - however when we're talking specifically of targetting veterans then the options change and 90% of the things most commonly suggested will have a negative effect. Far as I know, only the Slayer Doomseekers have been invalidated haven't they? Unless we're counting equipment options I suppose.

TSR went out of business because they wanted to retain customers, rather than maintain an influx of new ones (to grossly simplify things). Eventually you just run out of sourcebooks to sell to vets and the guy selling the new and improved rulebooks.




And one of the complications of the poke-kids is how fickle they are. They are a market with generally a pretty poor attention span both in real terms and in terms of their entertainment. It's trying to sell people who like video games and instant gratification on spending hours painting miniatures. Some will obviously be well suited, but most will simply dump the product inside of a year. This market could be the only way for GW to have reached it's current size, but I don't believe it is sufficient to sustain that size. Churning/burning customers will lead to declining sales, profit, etc.,. Oh wait, it already has.

But they are in a position to do something about it, rather than being a far smaller tiny business. Even if GW folds next year, the people responsible for taking it this far would have been right to target that demographic. If not, they're still right since even if only 1% of pokekids end up being vets, they outweigh the people who would have got into wargaming later in life many times over.



My *problem* is that I realize that business is about goals. Plans to meet those goals and the implementation of those plans. If GW sets the goal "to have more customers that stick around buying for an indefinite period" they can devise a plan to make it happen and execute it. Well, as long as they don't fill their ranks with people like you who just think business "happens."

But you refuse to suggest any meaningful way of doing this, nor appear to care particularly about what changes would be required of the business or the product. What would you suggest needs to be implemented to increase customer retention without having an overly negative effect on the huge volume of sales they make from Pokekids? That's the whole point of this thread. Not theorectically can it be done, but what sort of thing?



Here's a hint: In all businesses everywhere, the things that keep customers attracts new business. It's been this way for centuries. There is no conflict between customer retention and new sales unless the company choses to make one. GW is a typical business, despite all the baseless assertions to the contrary and needs to concentrate on what makes typical businesses successful.
That's out and out wrong. Somethings that keep customers will attract new business, there is no guarantee - this is obvious if I were to use an extreme example. If I offer 50% discounts to people who have remained loyal for two years I, selling units just above cost, I will lose out to someone who just has lower prices if our target demographic only wants the product for a year or less.

The whole point is that a lot of the things that might seem obvious as things vets like, aren't and many have additional costs (especially things that require plastic pieces like Mighty Empires, Cityfight, Naval combat, Seige etcs). These and living universes/more fluff are some of the most common suggestions by veterans when asked what they want and yet, things aren't as simple as just selling X units to Y% of people who has been playing for Z years.
might be on to something with this:



It could be that GW's product is not good enough to hold all but a minority of customers' attention for an extended period of time. It could simply be that without the brand attraction of LOTR than GW's products are just not up to the task of sustaining their current business size and that demographic shifts and changes in styles, tastes and fads has begun their end of their profitable operation. If that is the case, then GW will have to eventually abandon the poke-kids market as they will become increasingly unreceptive to GW. I'm not sure if it is the case, but I do know that LOTR sales served to greatly mask falling sales in GW's main products. The LOTR bubble could have simply served to obfuscate the fact that GW's inferior products are declining in sales despite all of GW's efforts to constantly recruit new gamers.

So it could be that the only customers GW will eventually have will be those who are normally/naturally disposed towards the hobby and the customers short term churn and burn customers created by the demo/sales process will become harder and harder to reach. If GW continues to alienate existing customers and also continues to chase a demographic giving them lower and lower returns, things could get very, very bad for GW very quickly.

GW did fine before LOTR, and the falling sales of the main product lines aren't as simple as total sales - LOTR = total possible 40K + WFB sales. When in competition with each other, LOTR has a big advantage against the other two wargames since its from an established brand. If the pokekids aren't a big enough demographic to support GW, then GW needs to seriously reorganise before doing anything drastic like changing the main demographic (infact I think they probably need to anyway given how fast they've grown and their tiny profit margins).

That said, the LOTR bubble may certainly have masked the saturation point for the demand of GW products (going back to pokekids, its included the fad aspect of the hobby on top of normal demand).

However that's not the point of this thread, this thread is what can be done to generate vets without significantly impacting the generation of new customers

grickherder
19-08-2007, 04:43
What would you suggest needs to be implemented to increase customer retention without having an overly negative effect on the huge volume of sales they make from Pokekids? That's the whole point of this thread. Not theoretically can it be done, but what sort of thing?

Step 1 is to stop alienating existing customers. Part of this is to not devalue existing purchases with massive rules changes. LatD is a perfect example. The Eye of Terror Codex came out as part of a big campaign/sales pitch. To then invalidate the list and refer to it as "unsupported" or "unofficial" or anything that devalues the products purchased in the eyes of the customers is absolutely stupid. GW has only just started realizing they were devaluing their special characters by having them be "opponent's permission only" and by having needless 0-1 unit restrictions. Apocalypses de-emphasis on stringent army building will certainly help as well. So Step 1 is to make sure that the rules never get in the way of selling miniatures and never invalidate or devalue past purchases. This doesn't mean that the units can't get a strength/points change, but that there should atleast be rules for it that are not actively diminished in terms of what's official or not. Infact, they should stop ever using any referencing to the words "official" or "tournament legal" or anything like that where a customer's purchase could potentially be devalued in their eyes or the eyes of others. Never again even mention those words.

Step 2 would be to re-involve their customers in the rules process. During GW's largest periods of growth, there were things like the Citadel Journal and lots of actual gamers were involved in play testing and rules development. Now instead, we have a cult of personality and complete secrecy. All the while, Specialist Games complete lack of support has shown that fan input can create great rules (living rulebooks, army lists et al). Customers should feel that they have an input to at least some degree. This would also take strain off of GW's studio budget as a single volunteer coordinator can be cheaper than 10 designers (and I bet a single volunteer coordinator could get more than 10 designers worth of good content from the fans).

Step 3 would be to lower the ratio of ads to content in White Dwarf. It should be about inspiring a gamer to start a new army or whatever rather than blasting them with ads about a particular new product. The primary goal of White Dwarf should not be advertising but the creation of excitement and inspiration through real content.

Step 4 would be regularly running escalation leagues in all stores with sufficient space to do so. This helps vets start new armies as well as helps new people build their armies. A more concerted effort by trade sales to get similar events going in independant retailers would also be a good idea. Even as a way of space monopolizing. No one can really run a Warmachine/Hordes league if the tables are always going with 40k/WFB Escalation league games (mercenary, I know, but it might work to stop the trend of shrinking GW product space in many retailers).

Step 5 would be to be more fan friendly. They shouldn't try to arbitrarily squash fan creativity like fan videos. It used to be that stuff like that would get your picture in White Dwarf. Now it's on the list of things for the GW legal team to try to stop. Customers do not like companies that are adversarial towards them-- especially when they are expressing their warm feelings about the company's products.

Step 6 - figure out pricing. I believe that GW has gone too far in their price increases and that repeat customers are particularly sensitive to it because they are more cognizant of what the item used to cost. I also don't believe that GW's products are as inelastic as they believe them to be. The problem is though, that sales are down, revenue is down and cost cutting measures are being put in place. Dropping prices would be incredibly risky at this point (or it could save them). Also, in our global market, pricing should be equitable between countries. For example, bitz from GW Canada are often double the price of bitz from GW USA (yes, double). As it stands, there are many, many products where ordering them from a discounter in the US nets a Canadian a 40-50% discount even after shipping. This is Canada specific, but many Canadians are very aware of the changing USD dollar exchange rate and find GW's prices laughable as a result.

Step 7 - Play nice with trade accounts. Especially in the US and Canada, most of GW's customers purchase their products from resellers and not GW directly. These customers develop both a product loyalty and often even a loyalty to their own store. There should never be an adversarial relationship between a supplier and their retailer as it can sour gamers to the supplier's products. Another interesting point about the US/Canadian markets is that those who frequent a local independent retailer are not necessarily the same demographics as those targeted for the sales/demo process in one of GW's retail stores. The customers in a store that mostly sells RPGs, miniatures, model kits, comics, collectibles, etc., are far more likely to be the type of customer that will continue with a hobby longer than a poke-kid that happened to wander into one of GW's mall stores. Anything that can be done to ease the process for an independent retailer should be given due consideration.

Step 8 - Harness the internet instead of fighting it. GW couldn't even run their own web forums and yet fans who do it for the love of the hobby can (ref: warseer, bolter and chainsword, warp shadow, 40k.ca, and more). Even before the latest codex chaos has come out there's been massive discussion on rules questions, power levels, combinations etc.,. The fans who love their hobby enough and like to discuss it regularly on places like Warseer are more than capable of doing a lot of GW's error correction, editing, etc., (which they are sorely lacking). Furthermore, they need to stop being adversarial with forums about rules. Giving vague threats that they'll shut down the forums if people mention points values is total crap. GW should seriously investigate whether or not GW Japan's current practice of having free PDFs of all codexes is viable for the English speaking world. Rather than fight the distribution of their info on the net, they should embrace it.

That's what I've got off the top of my head. I don't believe any of these items would impact the demo/sales process that GW already has going to attract new players.

Archaon
19-08-2007, 09:12
There's about 3 things currently that would re-energize long term gamers in my opinion and they are all closely connected:

- Write consistent and unexploitable lists

Many gamers are put off when either newbie (or even worse veteran) gamers appear with hugely unbalanced and powergaming armies because the rules allow that.
It immediately sucks the fun out of the game when you "only" have a balanced force and *gasp* use units only seen once during a full moon just because you like the miniatures, have bought them once and want to field them.

GW needs to seriously tighten up their playtesting and writing and the only way to do that is to use the vast amount of experienced gamers as input. Finish a codex/armybook to about 70% and then let external playtesting begin. What's even more important listen to them.. if 80% of the playtesters tell you that rule x is crap and highly abusable or that unit y is crap or too strong for specific reasons then change it and don't get insulted because others criticize you.

So what if some idiot leaks his playtest copy.. i don't know a single company that rips off GW rules directly and may get an advantage out of it and gamers should know better not to start purchasing miniatures because they saw a pre-release playtest copy on the net.


- Do something with the prices.. fast

The pricing has gotten out of hand.. big time. I'm a veteran with more than 13 years under my belt and many of my friends and gaming buddies also clock more than 10 years of GW and they rarely buy GW armies exclusively made from GW miniatures.
Many know the entire market well enough to be able to hunt for cheaper yet sometimes better looking miniatures. A buddy of mine started Tomb Kings this year and bought a big unit of Graveguard from Crocodile Games (company of an ex-GW sculptor who designes games set in an egyptian fantasy setting with matching miniatures.. some of them are really cool).
I know that GW has its own artistic style and sometimes another companies just fits the taste of a particular gamer better (personally i adore Gamezone's cavalry.. especially the Bretonians and imperial heavy Knights).. nothing you can really do about that but when said miniatures look better and are cheaper you are in trouble.

To sum it up.. lower the prices. GW saw diminishing returns and instead of asking why or blaming it solely on Pokemon, videogames, trading cards etc. they just upped the prices to keep the income level while selling less of their product and on top of that not adressing the underlying issue.
I'm no business expert but even i see this as a big mistake.


- support your products once they are out

GW needs to come off their high horse that once they release a product it is fine, doesn't need to be patched (to use a computergame anaology) or otherwise supported.

There will be holes and slipups during design processes, something the designers overlooked or the army and by extension the game is evolving in a way that was not intended.
Look at it and come up with a solution and then write that down and make it an official download on your website stating that the rules or statchange takes effect from a certain date on.
People can print that out and stick it into their books if they don't want to buy a new one.

Have a FAQ after a few months to clear up any misunderstandings.

All these are measures that would extend the life of an army and would reduce the criticism of being outdated (especially if there are main rules changes and the armybook won't be renewed for years).


If you combine all that veterans might be consistently interested in the product and what's more important might see value for their money. If they are indeed long term gamers they might have begun as teenagers, played through school and college/university/job training and now have "serious" wages so they could afford more but since the value for money is off currently in their eyes they'll look elsewhere if they want to continue tabletop gaming (i know i did).
Older gamers aren't this easily awed by new miniatures because they already own the old ones (new Marines.. again?). You need to catch them at a different angle and GW completely failed at that.

Apocalypse for 40K is a step in the right direction and i'll be following it closely to see if it is just a fad for a year or two or if it indeed blossoms into something good that's been played often.