11/07/2013

Toy Soldiers

So the current business tactic of Games Workshop is baffling me. That's not to be interpreted as I dislike it, but as it doesn't seem to make much sense in the long-run.

For years now, gamers have pleaded to GW for them to release every factions' codex simultaneously alongside a core rule book. While that hasn't happened, they have boosted their releases at least tenfold.

Since sixth edition launched last year, they've updated seven books: Space Marines (with Black Templars), Dark Angels, Eldar, Tau, Chaos Marines, Daemons, Sisters of Battle, and even reinvented the Apocalypse expansion. That leaves eight codexes to update - and Tyranids, Orks, and Imperial Guard are already rumored to be coming soon.
The game designers recently revealed that the average lifespan of a rulebook/codex is only five years. And, according to an interview with Jervis Johnson from a few years ago, the plan was to update all armies before moving on to a sixth edition. Obviously this plan was put on hold, because fifth edition wasn't very good and they barely released any updates/content for it.

But now, at the current release rate, we'll have all books updated by halfway through the core rulebook's lifespan. Like I stated before, I'm not complaining, I just don't understand what their plan is. As far as I'm aware, never before have they released every factions' rules during a single edition.

Not only that, but the level of production they've been pumping out is quite extreme: Tons of new models, new terrain pieces with rules included, hardcover books with full-color illustrations, flying models, etc.

It's like they realized how stagnant the hobby was becoming because of their laziness. And their laziness was caused by arrogance. For 20 years they were the top company in the industry, but mostly because other companies didn't have the funding or artists to compete.

Now Warmachine, Hordes, Flames of War, Malifaux, Infinity, Mercs, etc., have caught up to GW's standards and in some ways exceeded them. Their models may not be quite as aesthetically pleasing, but their rules, quality of production, and fanbase interaction have definitely surpassed GW in comparison to fifth edition.

And that's why I suspect GW cancelled their plan to make fifth their "catch up" edition. By that point, they were in danger of becoming second to Privateer Press. So they cranked out sixth edition and packed it with as much as possible. Their laziness has finally ended.

Unfortunately, they keep foolishly raising their prices which will eventually be their undoing. But that's a rant for another time.

My worry is what their new goal is. Do they update everything for this edition, making it their final, and just continue to produce terrain and expansions for it? Or will they end this edition's life early and render all updated books obsolete with it, thus making the next rulebook a ridiculous cash cow if everyone has to buy everything all over again at once?

Only time will tell...