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Subject: What The Heck Happened With Games Workshop in the Last 20 Years? rss

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So I walked into the old Comic store I went to in my hometown for many years as a kid the other day. I planned to pick up a miniature or two for my son for Battletech.

While there, talking to the owner's wife, who was working while the owner was at a conference, we got to looking at the GW stuff on the shelf.

MY GOD. I felt like I had been unfrozen from cryo-storage in the year 40,000, and boy was I in for a shock! The pricing was unreal! A single-sprue plastic miniature running upwards of $29.00!? A squad of five Terminators for around $78 USD. Every box I picked up almost immediately burnt my hand and I could hear my credit cards whimpering for mercy in my back pocket.

So what happened? GW was always expensive, but back in the 1990s I could buy a box of plastic Space Marines for $10-15. A single metal Terminator miniature was around $6-7. I always felt the metal minis were appropriately detailed.

It should seem as though producing a plastic miniature via injection molding should be quite cheaper in scale and material than producing any metal miniatures.

I now understand why people buy the GW boxed "games" just to get the miniatures.

Bottom line, I could marginally afford to play GW games years ago in high school, but now as a productive adult with kids, I certainly could not afford to do so. Even the paints have doubled/tripled in price.

How is this a sustainable business model? The owner's wife told me they basically don't have WH gaming groups anymore -- no one wants to pay for the miniatures, and an army is almost out of reach for most people.
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Falling profitability being solved by massive price hikes, and the fact they are greedy.

I know quite a few people who are not dropping Warhammer and 40K as a game but they are not going to buy it any more and just play with what they have). I have seen a massive decline in GW related games at shows. I have also seen the store go form being packed with noisy kids to being (almost literally, staff only) empty (when it is open, about half the week now).

No I do not think it is sustainable.
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Julian Coles
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I'm not into Games Workshop games, but I have a friend who is. He reckons that most of their custom comes from the old generation of gamers. He says that if you go into a Games Workshop store today you rarely see youngsters. What you have mentioned is probably why. Maybe GW can cream off from the older generation but that seems like a bad business plan to me, you'd think they'd want a steady stream of new, younger gamers. It's like they're committing financial suicide, high gains now for a slow painful death in the coming years.
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Games Workshop was always on the expensive side. Opening up an old White Dwarf next to me from twenty years ago (White Dwarf 190) shows the following (rough) costs

Boxed games for £40
Army Books for £10
Unit Boxes for £10

Today

Boxed games for £75+
Army Books £25-30
Unit Boxes for 25+

However the biggest and most damaging increase I believe comes with individual character costs and the lack of individual models and blister packs. Twenty years ago you could buy individual miniatures for £2 or £3 and a blister with three miniatures in for around £5. You can't do that anymore, now you have to buy the unit boxes which makes the whole thing feel even more expensive than it really is. I don't want 8 Knights I want 1 but I have to buy 8 as there is no choice.

If they bought back blister packs and the ability to buy individual miniatures I think they would sell a lot more. If I went into an old Games Workshop store I would always buy something, even if it was one miniature, just because I liked it and I could buy it individually. Now if I go into a Games Workshop (I mean Warhammer shake) I won't buy anything unless I have planned for it and really want it.
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Family wrote:
I'm not into Games Workshop games, but I have a friend who is. He reckons that most of their custom comes from the old generation of gamers. He says that if you go into a Games Workshop store today you rarely see youngsters. What you have mentioned is probably why. Maybe GW can cream off from the older generation but that seems like a bad business plan to me, you'd think they'd want a steady stream of new, younger gamers. It's like they're committing financial suicide, high gains now for a slow painful death in the coming years.


So they're kind of taking the Lionel trains model -- figuring the guys who have nostalgia for their products also have disposable income now and can afford them...

Yeah, that is definitely bad for future business.
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arthurcucumber wrote:
Games Workshop was always on the expensive side. Opening up an old White Dwarf next to me from twenty years ago (White Dwarf 190) shows the following (rough) costs

Boxed games for £40
Army Books for £10
Unit Boxes for £10

Today

Boxed games for £75+
Army Books £25-30
Unit Boxes for 25+

However the biggest and most damaging increase I believe comes with individual character costs and the lack of individual models and blister packs. Twenty years ago you could buy individual miniatures for £2 or £3 and a blister with three miniatures in for around £5. You can't do that anymore, now you have to buy the unit boxes which makes the whole thing feel even more expensive than it really is. I don't want 8 Knights I want 1 but I have to buy 8 as there is no choice.

If they bought back blister packs and the ability to buy individual miniatures I think they would sell a lot more. If I went into an old Games Workshop store I would always buy something, even if it was one miniature, just because I liked it and I could buy it individually. Now if I go into a Games Workshop (I mean Warhammer shake) I won't buy anything unless I have planned for it and really want it.


It's a huge jump, though. When I worked part-time at the hardware store making $6/hour I could afford one miniature for one hour of work. I make @ 3x that now and cannot afford one miniature for one hour of work, so they have way outstripped inflation and any reality, apparently.
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slatersteven wrote:
Falling profitability being solved by massive price hikes, and the fact they are greedy.

I know quite a few people who are not dropping Warhammer and 40K as a game but they are not going to buy it any more and just play with what they have). I have seen a massive decline in GW related games at shows. I have also seen the store go form being packed with noisy kids to being (almost literally, staff only) empty (when it is open, about half the week now).

No I do not think it is sustainable.


We had a store at the mall down where I used to live, and it is gone now. Has been for several years, I noticed the same things you mention.
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They have also stopped taking 'risks' on the lower sales of 'smaller' games and baord games.

Curn and burn the younger crowd with parents with disposable income, while keeping a 'few' of the old gaurd that just don't want to get into a new system at this time.
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battler44 wrote:
Family wrote:
I'm not into Games Workshop games, but I have a friend who is. He reckons that most of their custom comes from the old generation of gamers. He says that if you go into a Games Workshop store today you rarely see youngsters. What you have mentioned is probably why. Maybe GW can cream off from the older generation but that seems like a bad business plan to me, you'd think they'd want a steady stream of new, younger gamers. It's like they're committing financial suicide, high gains now for a slow painful death in the coming years.


So they're kind of taking the Lionel trains model -- figuring the guys who have nostalgia for their products also have disposable income now and can afford them...

Yeah, that is definitely bad for future business.


Which is odd due to the old burning their fanbase of tournament players by moving to Age of Sigmar for Warhammer and invalidating huge collections. I've heard many rumble that they won't buy in to it, that its just a cash grab to get revenue by forcing repurchases of troops to build armies with, and so on.

Of course, did Lionel aggressively attack first its online vendors (going so far as to say "our pictures are copyrighted - you can't use them to advertise our products you sell" or "if you sell online then we won't sell to you anymore") as they pushed their own online store presence? Did they then also go after B&M stores, leaving them intentionally short supplied or denied the right to buy the hotter of the new releases?

Now GW is taking a shotgun video game license approach, and it sucks... because I want to support these smaller independent developers, but not knowing their money went to a company that claimed they owned the classic SF term 'Space Marine' and killed fan content online (I am not only referring to the general web, but the great file purge of the Emperor done here also).

GW is a company I want to see die. I avoid them unless I am buying older vintage copies when they were a great asset to the hobby... alas, you either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain, eh? (Just like FFG is starting to become after being gobbled up by ANA.)
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Verbosity wrote:
battler44 wrote:
Family wrote:
I'm not into Games Workshop games, but I have a friend who is. He reckons that most of their custom comes from the old generation of gamers. He says that if you go into a Games Workshop store today you rarely see youngsters. What you have mentioned is probably why. Maybe GW can cream off from the older generation but that seems like a bad business plan to me, you'd think they'd want a steady stream of new, younger gamers. It's like they're committing financial suicide, high gains now for a slow painful death in the coming years.


So they're kind of taking the Lionel trains model -- figuring the guys who have nostalgia for their products also have disposable income now and can afford them...

Yeah, that is definitely bad for future business.


Which is odd due to the old burning their fanbase of tournament players by moving to Age of Sigmar for Warhammer and invalidating huge collections. I've heard many rumble that they won't buy in to it, that its just a cash grab to get revenue by forcing repurchases of troops to build armies with, and so on.

Of course, did Lionel aggressively attack first its online vendors (going so far as to say "our pictures are copyrighted - you can't use them to advertise our products you sell" or "if you sell online then we won't sell to you anymore") as they pushed their own online store presence? Did they then also go after B&M stores, leaving them intentionally short supplied or denied the right to buy the hotter of the new releases?

Now GW is taking a shotgun video game license approach, and it sucks... because I want to support these smaller independent developers, but not knowing their money went to a company that claimed they owned the classic SF term 'Space Marine' and killed fan content online (I am not only referring to the general web, but the great file purge of the Emperor done here also).

GW is a company I want to see die. I avoid them unless I am buying older vintage copies when they were a great asset to the hobby... alas, you either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain, eh? (Just like FFG is starting to become after being gobbled up by ANA.)
Age of Sigmar would have been an OK set of home brew rules 20 years ago.

We thought it was OK (but needed work) the first time, OK but needed better balancing the second time and an impossible to balance pile of turn the third time.


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I had a 20+ year relationship with GW and finally divorced them for good back in 2013.

Their main issue is they went from a company of gamers, for gamers, run by gamers, to a company of suits and bean counters. Those being more concerned with profit and sales than their players or the game itself.

Too many rampant edition changes, with a focus on getting people to buy new models and, again, less of a focus on the games.

Honestly, I beleive their decline began way back in 1998 with the switch to 3rd edition. They streamlined the game to the point of absurdity in an attempt to get in the younger crowd. You know, the ones who's parents have the money.

Lastly, competition. Privateer Press came along and grew in popularity enough to rival, and now surpass, GW.
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clancampbell wrote:
I had a 20+ year relationship with GW and finally divorced them for good back in 2013.

Their main issue is they went from a company of gamers, for gamers, run by gamers, to a company of suits and bean counters. Those being more concerned with profit and sales than their players or the game itself.

Too many rampant edition changes, with a focus on getting people to buy new models and, again, less of a focus on the games.

Honestly, I beleive their decline began way back in 1998 with the switch to 3rd edition. They streamlined the game to the point of absurdity in an attempt to get in the younger crowd. You know, the ones who's parents have the money.

Lastly, competition. Privateer Press came along and grew in popularity enough to rival, and now surpass, GW.


Ahh, see, I missed that, as I was already pretty much out of gaming at that point, and in college so all my stuff was sitting in the basement waiting to be sold on Ebay the next couple of years from then.
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clancampbell wrote:
I had a 20+ year relationship with GW and finally divorced them for good back in 2013.

Their main issue is they went from a company of gamers, for gamers, run by gamers, to a company of suits and bean counters. Those being more concerned with profit and sales than their players or the game itself.

Too many rampant edition changes, with a focus on getting people to buy new models and, again, less of a focus on the games.

Honestly, I beleive their decline began way back in 1998 with the switch to 3rd edition. They streamlined the game to the point of absurdity in an attempt to get in the younger crowd. You know, the ones who's parents have the money.

Lastly, competition. Privateer Press came along and grew in popularity enough to rival, and now surpass, GW.
It is Privateer Press games I see at shows where GW would have been (fantasy/SF).
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Verbosity wrote:
battler44 wrote:
Family wrote:
I'm not into Games Workshop games, but I have a friend who is. He reckons that most of their custom comes from the old generation of gamers. He says that if you go into a Games Workshop store today you rarely see youngsters. What you have mentioned is probably why. Maybe GW can cream off from the older generation but that seems like a bad business plan to me, you'd think they'd want a steady stream of new, younger gamers. It's like they're committing financial suicide, high gains now for a slow painful death in the coming years.


So they're kind of taking the Lionel trains model -- figuring the guys who have nostalgia for their products also have disposable income now and can afford them...

Yeah, that is definitely bad for future business.


Which is odd due to the old burning their fanbase of tournament players by moving to Age of Sigmar for Warhammer and invalidating huge collections. I've heard many rumble that they won't buy in to it, that its just a cash grab to get revenue by forcing repurchases of troops to build armies with, and so on.

Of course, did Lionel aggressively attack first its online vendors (going so far as to say "our pictures are copyrighted - you can't use them to advertise our products you sell" or "if you sell online then we won't sell to you anymore") as they pushed their own online store presence? Did they then also go after B&M stores, leaving them intentionally short supplied or denied the right to buy the hotter of the new releases?

Now GW is taking a shotgun video game license approach, and it sucks... because I want to support these smaller independent developers, but not knowing their money went to a company that claimed they owned the classic SF term 'Space Marine' and killed fan content online (I am not only referring to the general web, but the great file purge of the Emperor done here also).

GW is a company I want to see die. I avoid them unless I am buying older vintage copies when they were a great asset to the hobby... alas, you either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain, eh? (Just like FFG is starting to become after being gobbled up by ANA.)


The really sad part is that they had one of the best, most richly developed backstories and realms of any gaming company, rivaled perhaps only by Battletech. So there is so much that is lost when they purge and do stupid stuff like this.

That, and I think they got too specific with some of the games. Space Hulk 4th Edition, for example, where every Terminator has a specific name. Come on, part of the fun was just playing and not knowing that so-and-so was 625 years old or whatever. LOL>
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battler44 wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
Falling profitability being solved by massive price hikes, and the fact they are greedy.

I know quite a few people who are not dropping Warhammer and 40K as a game but they are not going to buy it any more and just play with what they have). I have seen a massive decline in GW related games at shows. I have also seen the store go form being packed with noisy kids to being (almost literally, staff only) empty (when it is open, about half the week now).

No I do not think it is sustainable.


We had a store at the mall down where I used to live, and it is gone now. Has been for several years, I noticed the same things you mention.


When I got back into the board gaming hobby, I found the following two videos which summed up GW (from the same vendor):

A retailer's open letter to GW in 2011


A later closing down that part of their store in 2013


Basically, GW shot the people who helped build up the hobby in the back. Its not surprising that so many stores stopped carrying their products or closed.
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battler44 wrote:
Verbosity wrote:
battler44 wrote:
Family wrote:
I'm not into Games Workshop games, but I have a friend who is. He reckons that most of their custom comes from the old generation of gamers. He says that if you go into a Games Workshop store today you rarely see youngsters. What you have mentioned is probably why. Maybe GW can cream off from the older generation but that seems like a bad business plan to me, you'd think they'd want a steady stream of new, younger gamers. It's like they're committing financial suicide, high gains now for a slow painful death in the coming years.


So they're kind of taking the Lionel trains model -- figuring the guys who have nostalgia for their products also have disposable income now and can afford them...

Yeah, that is definitely bad for future business.


Which is odd due to the old burning their fanbase of tournament players by moving to Age of Sigmar for Warhammer and invalidating huge collections. I've heard many rumble that they won't buy in to it, that its just a cash grab to get revenue by forcing repurchases of troops to build armies with, and so on.

Of course, did Lionel aggressively attack first its online vendors (going so far as to say "our pictures are copyrighted - you can't use them to advertise our products you sell" or "if you sell online then we won't sell to you anymore") as they pushed their own online store presence? Did they then also go after B&M stores, leaving them intentionally short supplied or denied the right to buy the hotter of the new releases?

Now GW is taking a shotgun video game license approach, and it sucks... because I want to support these smaller independent developers, but not knowing their money went to a company that claimed they owned the classic SF term 'Space Marine' and killed fan content online (I am not only referring to the general web, but the great file purge of the Emperor done here also).

GW is a company I want to see die. I avoid them unless I am buying older vintage copies when they were a great asset to the hobby... alas, you either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain, eh? (Just like FFG is starting to become after being gobbled up by ANA.)


The really sad part is that they had one of the best, most richly developed backstories and realms of any gaming company, rivaled perhaps only by Battletech. So there is so much that is lost when they purge and do stupid stuff like this.

That, and I think they got too specific with some of the games. Space Hulk 4th Edition, for example, where every Terminator has a specific name. Come on, part of the fun was just playing and not knowing that so-and-so was 625 years old or whatever. LOL>
That was what was so odd about Price of Sigmar. They took a a popular world that had a huge fan bases and stamped upon it (at the same time ignoring the fans, and their own statements as to what they would do).

Of course the issue here as much about trying to create a product that GW can truly say is their own.
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It seems like they diluted the brand with lots of watered-down derivative crap, too. Necrons and Tau being one that jumped out at me. Now, even back in @ 2001, when I was painting the Vampire Counts army for the Hobbytown in Tallahassee, vampires seemed a bit stereotypical and clichéd. But, it kind of made sense in a fantasy battle context. A lot of the stuff almost feels borrowed from other games in their desperate attempt to be original.

Then of course the awful decision to flagship Lord of the Rings as a game which essentially is just competition to what Fantasy Battle folks would be playing anyway, except in a much more narrow environment...
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battler44 wrote:
Bottom line, I could marginally afford to play GW games years ago in high school, but now as a productive adult with kids, I certainly could not afford to do so.

This was what I noticed the most. As a teenager, I scraped together enough cash to make 1000 point Warhammer army. As an adult I managed to fill it out and get another army. Now, when I am earning more than I have ever done, the cost is just beyond me.

Add to this that we have gone from the golden age of plastic miniatures, when every box came with enough bits to fully customise your units and put them in any number of poses, to the barebones where there just aren't any bits leftover at all and you get one pose of each.

Gutting the Warhammer world may have been their biggest recent mistake. Everyone who could afford to keep playing because they only needed to buy a new unit every now and then has now had their entire army background scraped off to be forced into a game where no one is really sure if the two sides are balanced for a fair fight. While GW, may be fixing that in the near future, it looks like they underestimated the attractiveness of the competition that everyone fled to and people won't bother coming back.

And now we have entered the era of the expensive one-off miniatures game, which is priced too high to attract casual buyers.
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battler44 wrote:
It seems like they diluted the brand with lots of watered-down derivative crap, too. Necrons and Tau being one that jumped out at me. Now, even back in @ 2001, when I was painting the Vampire Counts army for the Hobbytown in Tallahassee, vampires seemed a bit stereotypical and clichéd. But, it kind of made sense in a fantasy battle context. A lot of the stuff almost feels borrowed from other games in their desperate attempt to be original.

Then of course the awful decision to flagship Lord of the Rings as a game which essentially is just competition to what Fantasy Battle folks would be playing anyway, except in a much more narrow environment...
I have heard (I cannot confirm it) they took a huge hit with Lord of the Rings. It is why they released the part work, to try and shift more units.
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battler44 wrote:

Then of course the awful decision to flagship Lord of the Rings as a game which essentially is just competition to what Fantasy Battle folks would be playing anyway, except in a much more narrow environment...


Again, see cash grab. They attempted to cash in on LOTR's success without seeing it had no real long term future.
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cornixt wrote:
battler44 wrote:
Bottom line, I could marginally afford to play GW games years ago in high school, but now as a productive adult with kids, I certainly could not afford to do so.

This was what I noticed the most. As a teenager, I scraped together enough cash to make 1000 point Warhammer army. As an adult I managed to fill it out and get another army. Now, when I am earning more than I have ever done, the cost is just beyond me.


This grabbed me immediately as well.

And like you say, making the old points systems etc. not work with new systems really screws everyone. I'm sorry, but if I still had some of my old stuff, I'd want to use it -- I didn't spend all those hours painting just to have it all tossed away and have to buy new.

The characters are silly too, there were always champions, but a $30 Space Wolf sergeant??? Come on, Champions didn't used to cost THAT much more than a comparable Mk. 6 Marine or Terminator or whatever special version of a unit they happened to be!
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clancampbell wrote:
battler44 wrote:

Then of course the awful decision to flagship Lord of the Rings as a game which essentially is just competition to what Fantasy Battle folks would be playing anyway, except in a much more narrow environment...


Again, see cash grab. They attempted to cash in on LOTR's success without seeing it had no real long term future.


This is what I can't believe. It'd be like releasing a Harry Potter miniature battle game, or whatever. It's a movie that was a book, and while the book has been popular for a long time, any movie has a limited "shelf life," so to speak.

My stepkids are 11 and 8 and don't even like "Lord of the Rings," and that's prime age for a young kid to eat that stuff up.
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arthurcucumber wrote:


Boxed games for £40
Army Books for £10
Unit Boxes for £10

Today

Boxed games for £75+
Army Books £25-30
Unit Boxes for 25+

40 pounds in 1996 would be 70 today. 10 pounds would be just shy of 20.

The prices have risen, but not by as much as people think.

Pete (thinks the better argument is the frequency with which GW obsoletes your purchases)
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plezercruz wrote:
arthurcucumber wrote:


Boxed games for £40
Army Books for £10
Unit Boxes for £10

Today

Boxed games for £75+
Army Books £25-30
Unit Boxes for 25+

40 pounds in 1996 would be 70 today. 10 pounds would be just shy of 20.

The prices have risen, but not by as much as people think.

Pete (thinks the better argument is the frequency with which GW obsoletes your purchases)
£40 would be £52.50
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slatersteven wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
arthurcucumber wrote:


Boxed games for £40
Army Books for £10
Unit Boxes for £10

Today

Boxed games for £75+
Army Books £25-30
Unit Boxes for 25+

40 pounds in 1996 would be 70 today. 10 pounds would be just shy of 20.

The prices have risen, but not by as much as people think.

Pete (thinks the better argument is the frequency with which GW obsoletes your purchases)
£40 would be £52.50
Figuring I might have used a bad calculator, I tried another one. I got £72.00 with that one.

Try it here: http://inflation.stephenmorley.org/

This one gives 69 pounds and change: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/Pages/resources/inf...

Pete (has no firsthand knowledge and is just relying on calculators)
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