5/17/2011

The Folly of Games Workshop


Honestly, I'm not one to rant against GW, nor am I a fanboy. I've been in the hobby for five years now, so I'm fairly used to the price hikes and absurd business tactics. But for the longest time, I knew that tabletop gaming was a niche hobby that was expensive to begin with. I realized that we don't buy Land Raiders weekly, nor add 10-man squads to our forces on a monthly basis.

However, this time I think they've managed to sink their ship, and my frustration with them has peaked to the point where I must vocally condemn their marketing decisions.

Let me explain why I believe that this year could easily be the financial downfall of Games Workshop.

1) Introducing Citadel Finecast. Yes, we're all happy that metals are being replaced with some form of plastic or resin. It'll be much easier to work with, and should've been cheaper for the consumer. This is not the case, sadly, as GW has decided to increase their prices yet again on all previously metal blisters for the convenience of re-casting them as plastic.

2) Another annual price increase on everything else. From codices to box sets, and even starter kits, the prices are increasing from 25¢ to $15. When I started this hobby, in early 2006, I bought the fourth edition starter kit (Battle for Macragge) for an affordable $45. Now the price for fifth edition's starter kit (Assault on Black Reach) will be increased to $99. That's more than double the cost! And yes, I realize it comes with "so much more", but this is a starter kit, not a "value box". GW should've realized this when deciding what models to put in it.

3) Forcing European stores to stop selling outside the EU. Before, GW had stopped online retailers from doing many things: having shopping carts, underselling their products, using GW's images on their store's site. But now they've taken it a step too far, I feel. They shouldn't really care who the independent retailers are selling to, so long as their product is selling and they're still getting their large chunk of the profit.

4) Killing the hype. For some bizarre reason, GW has decided not to inform retailers ahead of time about new releases. This is a poor decision all around. First, there's no hype for the new product. Second, the store won't be able to take preorders and thus won't be able to inventory their shelves correctly. Third, considering how expensive this hobby is becoming, people won't be able to save up for the product to buy it on release day. Think of how many teens play this hobby and have to do chores, or save their allowance, to afford anything. Even us adults usually have to skip a few meals or cut back in other areas, or even work overtime, to purchase any new stuff these days.

It's not that I'm tired of GW. I love their games and their products, especially their novels and books. I would prefer to see them continue developing the games I enjoy playing. And no, I'm not switching over to Warmachine or Hordes out of frustration. But I feel like Games Workshop aren't just shooting themselves in the foot, they're practically swallowing a live grenade with these decisions. I'm just hoping they'll survive such foolish actions.

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