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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Future of Games Days & Games Workshop's - Part 8 - Today: stock market crash -24% in one day!

The future of Games Days and Games Workshop 
Part 8 - brief emergency stop in the 'grim present'

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we are usually VERY well informed when it comes to insider
GW-information (if you know what I mean,... *cough*).

Surprise, surprise,...

Newsflash: After peaking at over 810 pence per share in October, Games Workshop's stock market value dropped sharply by 24% today, following their release of half-year numbers. Turnover (that is sales, people) is down 12% from last year. 


How is that possible? I mean after all, GW increased prices so much! How can sales be down? That makes no sense, does it? Well, not to the GW Management it doesn't... 

Someone should have told them about the error of their ways....


Don't say, I didn't tell you Games Workshop! I point at you, going 'HAHA!' while I weep for the hobby and the community

Articles like the ones we wrote about the Future of Games Days and Games Workshop even got us not one, but two nominations in the Wamp awards for 2013! Over one-hundred-thousand views on our epic wall-of-text-venting-my-frustration series prove that people are concerned about what the GW management is doing - and the Bubble Boys still dance naked in black snow of Nottingham Forrest...

Read up, if you don't know what we are talking about. Oh, and grab some cheeze with our whine and grab a towel for the tears. Make it a large one - you'll need it:

Elasticity without bounce?

Seems Games Workshop has finally found the 'price-elasticity' of their products - or rather as I would like to call it "the point of no return". Why that? I don't think GW will be able to recover from this. 

The long awaited downward trend has begun and the management is too immobile and too set in their ways to recognize what the frakk is going on. The have proven that time and time again. FIAL. 

As I wrote earlier this year, I thought that at over 700 pence the stock was already too expensive, even though it went on to new heights beyond 800 in October. 

Well, inb4 reality check: - Games Workshop posts pre-tax profits of £7.7m for the six months to 1 December - down from £11.1m last time.
Revenues fell to £60.5m (£59.8m at constant currencies) from £67.5m a year ago and operating profits fell to £7.7m from £11.0m. [edit: that is -30% profit]
Chairman and acting chief executive Tom Kirby said: "Our costs are well under control and margins remain strong. Cash management is good and our capital expenditure continues as planned. Following the implementation of the structural changes just announced we expect to benefit from the more focussed selling operation across all channels against the background of a materially lower cost base."

More "focused selling operations" across all channels?

I already had planned to write another installment of our popular mini-series this weekend, as I have connected a few more dots between the tons of new rumors about Games Workshop that were floating around the Internet the last couple of weeks (the 'death' of Warhammer Fantasy, the desperate White Dwarf, Fusion of GW and FW websites to strengthen sales and so on)...

But this 'little' update - for obvious reasons - could not wait. 

Obviously, GW was and is aware of the downward trend in sales for the last couple of months. If they know one thing, it's their numbers and their precious KPIs. That explains some of the hectic changes we will see in the next couple of weeks: Obvious increasingly panicked attempts to increase sales are obvious. 

The big meeting of the "black shirts" in Nottingham next month will confirm some of the above rumors. And it's not going to fix GW's problems.

And as far as the "more focused selling operations are concerned": I don't see it, Tom. I really don't. I don't see your stock rebound much (except for maybe some technical reaction), and I see it much lower in 6 months time than it is today. 

Take a step back, Tom, and think about something you mentioned in some of the early 2000 s shareholder reports. "The problem is us!" See? You already know what's wrong. The community and I personally would offer advise and counselling but then again, we all know you wouldn't even consider taking it... Oh well.

Coming to an Internet near you this weekend
The Crystal Balls of Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox - Part 9

Prepare yourself for part 9 of our epic series - as planned, I will write it this weekend (because I really don't have time today :P).

In the meantime don't let anyone tell you that it doesn't matter that GW's share price dropped.
'cause this is like really important, guys!


  1. It was a long time coming. Last thing I purchased was the DV boxed set. I am still painting it and I still like GW models, but I get more bang for my buck and better/ more dynamic sculpts from the other companies out there. It happens to every big company though. They lose sight of what made them great and get their legs kicked out from under them by the newer, smaller customer oriented companies. I think GW is having trouble deciding if their are a gaming company, hobby company or both and how they can support the two intertwined groups who are completely divergent in their mindsets and purchasing habits. I think the struggle is exemplified in White Dwarf particularly which over the years has just become a "buy this new thing" catalogue and less a hobby or gaming publication. Great series of articles man!

    1. Thanks Zab! I would enjoy it more if I could tell all of the world how great GW was... :/

    2. I think the endgame for GW is they get bought out by a company who intend to exploit the IP rather than produce minis.

    3. That will be one of my conclusions for this weekend's post. Today's crash doesn't really change any of my previous conclusions. Only makes GW cheaper.

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  2. The reality may be much more worrying for GW than high prices driving customers away. When reasonably priced product is offered the word is that it does not sell in any greater numbers than its higher priced brethren. That suggests that GW is experiencing high consumer attrition regardless of price. Which would mean that cutting prices would not help, and in fact would probably ruin the company as profits would decline with the reduced margins.

    1. You are absolutely right. The high price is not the problem of GW. Lowering the price will likely kill them.

      And the obvious solutions are only visible from outside the management bubble.

    2. The question is - will they do something different than to increase prices again? Because that will kill them as well in my opinion.

    3. Yes they will - as we all will find out end of February. I have some more-or-less confirmed rumors (and some made up conjecture) which I will report on over the weekend or on Monday.

      But none of them are long-term fixes. And giving their track record, I would say that 'thinking outside the box' is not their strong suit...

    4. I disagree here, but I will say lowering prices is only part of the problem. The price point of this game is a HUGE barrier to new players. $50 for a hard back codex? $90 for a rule book? Forget how intimidating hard backed rule books are, you're talking about asking someone to drop $140 just to read the rules. That's 2 or 3 other games in other mediums. Then you're looking at building an army. Say another $300-$400 to get a 1000 point army (half of what most people play with) and then you can play your first game.

      Not only is the barrier to entry incredibly high, but they've set up a system where current players only purchase every 2 years or so. I would love to expand my collection to include tau or necrons, or eldar, but I can't drop another $500+ on an army. The price point IS too high for most people to collect more than one or two armies which means your average purchase cycle is once every 2-3 years. This "attrition" may not be players who have LEFT the hobby, but simply players who aren't active in the current purchasing cycle.

    5. Because high prices are only have the problem, the other half comes with shoddy after thought level rules production.

    6. Paul: $140 sounds like a bargain to us here in Australia. The core rulebook is $124 and a codex is $83 - so you'll need $207 just to read the rules. Then you have to buy the miniatures, which are similarly inflated.

      At my local club - and many others around Australia - Warmachine is the game everyone is playing because it's much cheaper ($207 will get you your rulebook and a starter army, with change to spare) and just as much fun. Infinity is taking off too (although not to the same extent as Warmahordes), and they give their rules away for free. You just buy the miniatures, which are about $10-12 each (any you only need 10 of them) and much higher quality than citadel miniatures.

      They've already driven Australian hobbyists away, we're just seeing it happen to the rest of the world now.

    7. Same in New Zealand - incredible prices and determined refusal to allow internet purchases. LOTR was hugely popular, but the Hobbit pricing slaughtered interest - result? In two clubs I attend, no LOTR, no Hobbit, no goodwill to GW

      And like Aussie - strong interest in Infinity Warmachine Hordes etc - good lord even Dystopian wars...

  3. Can't wait to read the next part!

  4. You just have to look at how they changed the 2 main games they produce. Back around 200 or so they said they would never use magic style cards again and then BOOM!! They brought them back. And the WD is just a look at these new models that you must have!!! They don't talk about tactics or many of the older columns they used to do. I understand change needs to happen, but when it hurts the hobby or the company is it the right change

  5. i still enjoy their products but, i stopped giving them my money years ago. WD was a good read OUAT and often, i flick through my old copies and get all nostalgic at some of the batreps and fluff etc. i get that they are in the business to make money but, they lost sight of their inner geek too long ago.
    i feel bad for hating on them as, i had utmost respect for them way back.
    i think what did it for me was, moving from 40k 2nd to 3rd in such a short time. i was happy with RT and liked 2nd a lot. 3rd did away with parry rule and, i could see the constant cost of new books and obsolete minis costing me my soul as well as my cash.
    wake up GW. listen to the gamers.

    1. I love GW and FW. But I have to admit that after 22 years of buying EVERY limited item they ever produced I just stopped in November of last year. Mostly because of my experiences at Games Day. And the new WD format will likely give me an easy way out to finally stop my subscription of WD which I had from #1 on.

    2. ZB, what were the negative experiences at Games Day? I've only been once and didn't understand what I was getting for my money aside from the opportunity to buy more stuff.

  6. I think that the latest Codex for Tyranids shows it best because they removed every unit that any other company has produced as a model and that is only one of the reasons that they turned out a very sub par codex. I am their target audience, I play Tyranids, I was super excited for the new codex, but then I got my hands on it and read through and and I'll tell you this, I'm not going to buy the codex and I'm not going to buy any models.

    The next codex is Imperial Guard in a couple months and if it's as bad as the Nids, I may stop playing Warhammer 40k all together like I did Warhammer Fantasy when 8th edition came out.

    Unless they turn out a better product, I have no reason to keep buying their crap.

    1. I feel for you, dude. I felt very much the same with the new Eldar codex. It really felt like their plan to stimulate new sales was just to make old popular units crap, and other rarely purchased units good.

      Don't get me wrong, changing the meta is not necessarily a bad thing, but it seemed to me like they were taking the road that required the least effort.

    2. I used to play Tyranids as well. Parted with all of them in a trade for a late war Flames of War german armored company. Have no regrets at all. Honestly, abandon GW and you won't regret it. There are so many excellent non-GW war games in the market these days.

  7. agreed. some say that the new nid dex is shite but makes gamers think about lists more and is therefore competitive. if so, why are there so many ppl up in arms? to make stealers and warriors almost useless in game seems a bit daft imo. they were the must have minis in every nid force. i'm a csm and daemons fanboy now and eldar back in 2nd and DE in 3rd. the csm dex seems a bit broken with very few FA choices and loaded with HQ and elites. i fail to get GW's mentality of..."if we ram it down their throats far enough, they will buy it".
    sad indeed.

    1. I think you are both right. With 40k we still have pretty decent rules (unlike WHFB which totally suck balls now). And yes, Some weaker Codices and some stronger codices... well, that's to be expected.

      But the 'they gonna buy it anyways' approach, the way they neglect anyone older than 14 (most important KPI: Starter Box sales!!!!! DAFUQ!!!!) and their general 'we live in a bubble'ness won't stand much longer.

    2. WFB 8th ed is just awful. It's by far the worst edition, and I've played 1st ed! lol

    3. Well, there are lots of people out there that are actually still playing WFB 8th and saying it is one of the most fun and best balanced editions there were. Personally I enjoy it, but then I played only a few newbee games of 7th and never looked back.
      Just to break the doom and gloom a little.

    4. I seriously do not understand all of the hate for 8th edition warhammer fantasy. I started playing with 3rd and walked away at the beginning of 5th due to being sick of the herohammer effect. I got back in 8th and love it. It actually plays more like a real battle with blocks of infantry slugging it out for turn after turn until one of them breaks. Magic is way more balanced. The rules are more elegantly streamlined. Magic items are no longer game breaking. There is no herohammering. In short, games are more balanced toward actual tactics and are far less powergaming. Is it all the powergamers complaining about 8th sucking!?

    5. ^^ This exactly. I started in 4th, walked in 6th and came back after reading 8th. I would really like to hear from a hater on why this Ed. sucks so bad.

  8. I've been a GW customer for 25 years and I've had many discussions about this situation recently with a friend of mine who's also been at it about 2 decades and who worked for GW for 10 years. It seems GW has forgotten that what they are selling in addition to their model kits and games is an intangible: fun. When people are having fun with the GW hobby they get excited, buy new products, share it with friends and both help build the customer base and sustain it. GW no longer sees any value in intangible things that helped sell their product. They have no loyalty programs. Exciting promotional events like they had in their shops back in 2007-2008 are dead and gone. Nowhere is the problem more evident than in the transition of Games Day events from giant parties celebrating the hobby to mere paid admission stores where people queue up to buy the same merchandise they can buy in their local shops. And the near monthly increases in price points have driven away many existing customers and turned off many potential new ones. Sales were down world-wide last year. Years ago GW tried making basic "core" units affordable and gouging a bit on elite troopers and larger centerpiece models and it worked pretty well for them and their customers. Now the entry point for the GW hobby past the starter sets is quite high and GW currently prices even basic army units so high that many hobbyists don't feel they can afford to build a worthwhile army. GW upper management seems intractable on their current pricing structure and is ever pushing the limits of price points with nearly every new release. If they can't replace the hobbyists they lose over time due to natural attrition, are driving even more away with their ballooning prices, and have trouble bringing in new long-term customers due to the high cost of hobby entry, this does not bode well for their future. It makes me very sad to see what is happening and how it has hurt my local GW stores and the local hobby community.

    1. I'll take that as a compliment. Thanks!

      I do a lot of hobby writing these days. If you're interested, check out my hobby articles for Spikey Bits blog:

  9. that is just it guys. it was all about the "FUN" side of the hobby. i was into scale modelling before GW ever existed. it was a natural progression to build and paint models that i could actually play "board games" with. albeit a much bigger this is why bolt action and FoW have taken off i feel. you get to go back to your youth and actually use your WWII models to play games. it mixes the best of both worlds. there are only "so many" over priviledged 14 year olds that can now afford to rape the bank of mum n dad and build a good force. and even less that live close enough to play games with each other. or...are GW purely aiming at private schoolboys who have parents that hold high paying jobs and drive really nice motors? you can bet that GW management enrol their kids in such schools and they get minis on pre-release. how the other half live. the glory days of GW are long gone. the good ol times are surely unable of a return.
    they are slowly but surely killing their customer base by shafting the veteran gamers to suck in new blood. bad choice GW.

  10. Don't know if you'd picked this up, but it was announced at the end of November that, "Games Workshop, the Nottingham-based fantasty gaming company, has appointed [Elaine O'Donell] a well-know north-west corporate finance accountant as a non- executive director."

    Another great episode. Looking forward to the weekend :-)

    1. Yes, I think I might even have written something about it,... not sure...

      Finance accountants are great, BUT they should not run the company. And that's GW's biggest problem. They need hero nerds with corporate powers.

  11. I started playing Eldar in 1989. Two years ago, we moved across the country from Texas to New England. I ebayed the massive army I'd collected over the years and used the money to switch to Warmahordes and Flames of War. I just couldn't stomach spending any more time or money to help a company that clearly doesn't give even the mildest of damns about me as a player. From unplaytested rules to clearly deranged pricing strategies, I'm simply done with them.

  12. Incisive writing Zaphod. I worked for GW for about half a decade before being let go in 2006. I still have all my stuff and keep a weather eye on the company's performance, but I don't buy or play much anymore.

    I was part of the early 2000's GW team that built the Chicago metro area into a GW juggernaut. The guys I worked with were awesome and we had a great time building a hobby community. Because that's how we saw ourselves: as community leaders. Don't worry about sales. Create awesome events and activities, deliver great customer service, and the sales will follow (usually really good loyal sales follow)

    When the recession really hit here in the States, I mentioned to a friend that I was pretty sure that Chicago and GW would weather the storm well because of all the community building.

    Then the company started doing the recession panic shuffle. They started doing all the stupid stuff you've previously written on, and I mentioned to a friend that "I understand the business rationale for what they're doing, and it's cool that they're showing profits, but it's not sustainable." and all of them were of the belief that GW can do no wrong.

    Now I know how Cassandra felt.

    1. Hah! Maybe we met!

      I lived in the Chicagoland area between 1999 and 2001 and went to the Battle Bunker on several occasions :D

      Good team that!

  13. I abandoned GW years ago because years ago their prices were unrealistic for my budget. These days I play other systems, in smaller scales with better rules. It is however with some schadenfreude that I continue to watch GW as a company.

  14. I couldn't agree more. GW has lost touch with it's players/collectors to an extreme degree. The moment this was made *the most* apparent to me was back when Eldar had a Storm Guardian box. It contained 8 units for a squad with a min size of 10.

    We all already thought GW was laughing in our faces with that, but then they removed that box set and replaced it with an Upgrade box which only comes with 6 swords/pistols, 1 flamer, and 1 fusion, so again, you have to buy 2 boxes, but now you ALSO have to buy a Guardian box. Well, to buy the Guarding box and 2 "Upgrade" boxes in NZ costs a total of $136 (or 12 individual Guardians and Upgrade boxes for $123). Either way that's over $1 per point.

    I refused (and still refuse) to purchase Storm Guardians.

    1. Yeah, I think things like this are most aggravating and most obvious examples of trying to skim money off the player base...

  15. I totally agree. If the stores are where the new gamers are found why are the empty? or worse shut? I can't tell you how many times gw have missed money from me because the store is closed. I might come home and order it on the net, but it won't be from gw! I might come back and buy it another time, but what about the purchase I would have made next time. I buy, I paint or read, I come back and buy again. If there is a delay in that process that's less money for gw.
    If sales are down it's due to the space marine codex not hitting the mark. One word centurions! I did buy the codex eventually, but I know people who didn't. I've only bought 1 kit from that release, The tactical squad. I don't want more vanguard or stern guard. I don't want fat terminators for twice the price, or whirlwinds with a different gun. Look at what forge world are coming up with and turn some more into plastic. It worked for the last set of codex's. The frustration for me is the beautiful models which forge world make are too expensive. The stuff gw have been putting out is ugly? So I end up buying neither. The wraith knight was the last kit gw made that I liked. Honestly if the hobby is for men stop designing things that look like toys cough cough lord of skulls. I won't get started on escalation and stronghold.

    The Tyranid codex release will be no different. It's bloated rehashed content it lacks any sense of excitement for me. It's not the design studios fault they have lost metal/fine cast. The medium most of them are experienced with. Four times two models doesn't make 8 in my book it makes 4. But where was the big bug to form the centre piece of the release. We got the harpy and another carnifex and retooled kits, so nothing new really. The only reason I will buy that codex is to get the red terror back on the table.

    Less opening hours
    Less new miniatures (just kits)
    Less new fluff
    Less fun:(
    Someone head needs to role. Time for a new CEO in my book, glad I'm not a shareholder.

  16. Still a nice read again
    And I have to agree to most of what has been said by you and in the comments.
    In my local community (mostly inside an amazing an customer/service oriented FLGS) I've seen what GW does to improve the situation…
    People are now trying out all of the other system, disgruntled by the price increase, policies (as we are non EU and our country doesn't have even 1 GW store and they have tried for more than 5 years now), frantic pace and rules.
    On the good side, it keeps the store and community alive and well, on the flip side it leads to more and more fragmentation and it gets harder and harder to find an opponent unless you play and own multiple systems.
    Noone spends less, but we tend now to spend it on different systems instead of just one.
    If there is no big change in GWs behavior, this bodes quite ill for them and we'll loose one of the big entry points into the hobby.

    1. IF GW would go down (and unfortunately, like others, I do NOT agree that they are too big to fail...), that would not be good for our hobby at all.

  17. First and foremost, I have to thank you for such great articles, combining business talk with geekdom. I've read it through and through and I cannot describe the smile I have right now. Rare times I find business analysis jewels through the buzz, noise and tears of many (justificated (poorly) or not) among the many hobbies and passions I have, WH40K being one of them.

    I got hooked up to the universe thanks to my Dad who brought out of surprise the Dawn of War Gold Edition game to my house. I loved it and started to crave more around the series. I was in school, still a teenager, but I said to myself that when I got to a proper job and nearly finishing university, I was going to start buying my own figures and paint them. I started with Dark Eldar in early 2013, so I'm still a newbie on many things. Aside of the game, I'm heavily interested in miniature painting and striving to improve so.

    Now, and this is personal, being a geek in Peru (South America) is already pretty tough. Some have it a little easier (like my passion for board games and gaming in general thanks to the internet), some of them have it tougher (like my passion for anime & manga and comics, fan conventions that have the insight and managing of GW - poor), but it's internal and external factors that make it tough.

    As you might have guessed, yes, being a 40K fan here is tough, but I still love it. I know there are many miniature options and variants around but... I do not feel drawn to them. I may not have enjoyed the bonanza years like you guys did, and jumped into the hobby in times of crisis, but I still get a kick out of it.

    As far as GW's management is concerned, yes it's horrible. I'm used to see short-sighted profiteering and completely ignore long-term investing in many places. Now that the bubble has been punctured, it's time to see whether they will try to patch the bubble (with little to no results, I dare say even making it worse), or step out of it and change things. The KPIs are now failing and the ball is on their court. I honestly hope for the sake of the hobby that they fare better and improve.

    The show has begun.

    1. being in Peru (and which), seems to be be like the arse end of nowhere in wargaming terms, you make some great points. being a nOOb is fine. you can see things more clearly than us oldskoolers. if you are seeing GW's management as a bad move, then that says a lot.
      i will say this though...
      if you like a particular figure,
      it does not force you to buy an entire army. too many fall in love with a single mini and then buy the army to go with it.
      i have bought minis for the pure aesthetics of them and have no interest in the army or with gaming with them.
      for example...i don't do WHFB but, some of the high elves are amazing sculpts. just as a fun to paint & display project. kudos to you for sticking with a hobby that is not readily accepted in Peru dude. :)

    2. Big greetz to Peru! Glad you join us :)
      I can only agree with what you wrote and you are right: KPIs are down and the ball is in GW's court. The problem I have with this is that GW is just looking at the wrong KPIs because the don't understand their customer base :)

    3. Indeed. We're not saying it's not good to have KPIs. In fact it's darn great to have them! The problem is when you have the incorrect KPIs and go full steam ahead without even trying to revise/remake them.
      Come to think of it, does GW even get any kind of external auditing/consulting?

  18. I built my Dwarf army using Mantic figures purely for cost reasons. 20 Mantic Dwarf Warriors£14.99. 16 GW Dwarf Warriors £20. The only place I can't use them is in GW events. Since I don't go to any, it has no impact on me. But those that do want to compete in GW events are just going to get more and more disenchanted with them.

    1. Kings of War is a better game anyway, Simon. Especially if you're playing Dwarfs.

  19. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the entire mini-series (to date) today at the office. As an ex-LFGS owner and hobby enthusiast for 15+ years many of your points touched a real cord with me, primarily concerning GW's approach to supporting independent retailers.

    I look forward to continuing to read future posts and as a consequence of finding and reading this mini-series I found your painting DVD's which I am interested in buying now ... sometimes spending a little 'unpaid' time to interact with your 'customers' (and community) can lead to sales ... GW take note.


    1. Hahah, awesome!

      Yeah, we actually only are in the business to finance the time for unpaid activities like report from events, spending all day on Facebook and be geeky and nerdy and grow the hobby. :D

  20. About the GW share price, i dont think its unusual for your average punter to dump their stocks at then first sign of trouble. Although i agree that it doesn't bode well for GW, i would only become concerned if and when any of their ex-employee's/hobbyist who own shares, start to off load them.

    I'm not really sure how this is going to play out really. I honestly think the people at the helm have no idea what their doing. If they don't replace the top brass, then its going to keep sinking though, coz in the end, they are the only ones who can steer the company in a new direction.

    The company has reached a bit of a tipping point i think.

    Tom Kirby hasn't (and probably won't) realize the position he has put the company in over the many years of his stewardship. its starting to come to a head now.

    Here's my take on it;

    Back in the "golden era" the company released all this great stuff, expanding their product lines year after year. Then Bryan Ansell sold it to his pal Tom Kirby who quickly listed it on the stock market.

    From that point on the company didn't come out with any new products...just re-imagined & narrowed its focus onto the games that sold well. But, by doing this they had created a monster.

    All of the product lines that had sold well & been promoted back in the Bryan Ansell days i.e. Bloodbowl, Realm of Chaos, Epic etc, had now been abandoned. Leaving a big gaping hole in the market place for other would be manufactures to step in...and they did. The more they narrow their focus on their products, the more other companies will step into the breach and take that market share away from them.

    So, in a nut shell, Tom Kirby had products that were well promoted when he arrived, and instead of running with them and adding and/or tweeking them, he dropped them. Big mistake as far as i'm concerned...he effectively gave other companies free advertising for a product that he no longer made or ever wanted to make again.

    My two cents.

    Obviously there are other products & factors that i haven't elaborated on, but i feel the points i have made are indicative of the failed business model of Mr Kirby and his gang.
    By the way, your articles are great. As Kerigis previously mentioned, you have combined geek & business speak very well :)

    1. That post resonated a lot with me. Especially your connection of the words "Tom Kirby" and "stewardship" brought to mind vivid imagery of Denethor II, son of Ecthelion - jumping off the walls of Gondor, burning, still not knowing what the fuck is going on :D

  21. I've been playing for more than half of my life. I organized a league with 20+ weekly players for the 7 years previous to 6th edition. I have around 35,000 points of Orks and Chaos/Daemons. You could say I'm a 40k enthusiast.

    I hate playing both armies because of the current state of their rules. I played a handful of games in 2013 and they just weren't as fun. The rules needlessly slowed down the game. Other than the Space Marine poster children, I think all of the 6th edition Codexes are, rules wise, crap. The background material is great. The digital SM book is fan-freaking-tastic. But, I'm just not going to buy the book if the rules are terrible (rules for units with new models aside).

    I know that GW has, previously to 6th edition 40k, been focused on the new player. "Get them to buy some Space Marines and then forget them" was the motto. I think that GW actually tried to reach their hardcore fanbase with 6th. Conceptually their approach is very appealing. More casual focus, rules for everything and the kitchen sink, lots of background material, etc. That doesn't matter though, as their game just isn't as fun to play anymore.

    With a focus on the "enthusiast" gamer GW is, more than ever, pushing the new models. You can't make money off of the guy that has 150 Genestealers if Genestealers are good (i.e. can strike at initiative when charging through cover...), right? Right?
    Wrong! Tyranid guy might not have bought additional Genestealers, he probably would set his attention to those new sexy models. We're talking about a guy that has 150 Genestealers! He's probably got a huge collection of bugs. He's probably going to buy one of everything because he's a collector. But, now his Genestealers are looking mighty sad with all that dust. Now he looks at the new Codex (without even buying it) and realizes that he has to buy almost an entire new army of bugs to have a decent chance. Now this guy who loved GW's product is very sad and doesn't buy anything, perhaps ever again.

    This is pretty much how I felt when the Chaos Marine book was released. All of my Undivided Marines are pretty lame. Then the loyalist book came out. I recently moved my 3 7-foot tall display cases full of minis to the garage. It was just depressing to even see them in the house. Boo! Hiss!

    I'm pretty sure I've gotten dozens of people into 40k who were on the fence about it. I kept the community going and made sure the game kept going. Then the game stopped being fun because of the lame ass company that makes it. Now, this is disappointing on a level I can't describe, but it isn't surprising. GW has never really seemed to know what they're doing. THey got a long way just because they were on top. But GW management doesn't understand the psychology of their audience. They just tried to monetize their IP without understanding their own golden rule.

    1. Man, when I read something like this, it kinda breaks my heart. I wished someone at GW would read this. Or at least the bosses of the majority holders of GW stock.

  22. Zaphod, let me add to the huge chorus of thanks and appreciation for your series on the decline of our hobby. It has been both painful and enlightening to read - but hey, you're a buddha so enlightenment is your goal, eh? However painful it is. ;-)
    Nerd rant begin. So i'm in my late 40's. I earn a six figure salary (sterling). I have been playing since Rogue Trader. I own 1000's of minis. I subscribed to WD for years in the 90's and noughties. I have helped establish two successful GW gaming groups, run several tourrnaments, attended many more, was an active member of the WPS back in the day yadda yadda yadda. You get the picture.
    That all stopped several years ago. A sadly familiar story. To add context, in Nov last year I dropped £600 on kickstarter tabletop games so i'm still spending. I now have considerable disposable income and love my gaming (painting not so much because I can't see well enough nowadays!!). But GW is not going to get a single penny off me again because they have treated me/us so badly for such a long time. Unless! they change significantly. Which, as you have pointed out, isn't gonna happen. Because, even if Tom Kirby reads your blog and the attendant comments, snow in Lenton will remain black.
    I still play 40K, but in it's Apoc version- there is still nothing to compare to the sheer spectacle of a fully painted Space Marine Company with supporting elements. I still find it breathtaking (true nerd). But nothing will be added to that company ever again.
    I don't see the decline and fall of GW as a problem, except for the fact that the value of yours and my collections will fall to practically zero (hope you have an alternate pension plan). It will mean the rise of other, better systems. Mantic, PP, prodos will all get the opportunity they deserve - and they deserve it because they do it better. Much better. They may stand on the shoulders of the giant but us gamers will become important again. And that is all that matters. Nerd rant over.

    1. Yeah, GW needs an outsider at the top. And Tom and maybe one or two other guys need to step down. Retirement with all of these nice stocks and stock options is not the worst fate one can face ;)

    2. As someone about to turn 50 whose eyes started betraying him eight years ago, I now paint with either 1.75x reading glasses or a 5 diopter optivisor with LED light. I wish I'd started going it decades ago, it has really upped my quality (from 5.5 average to 6.5 average on CMON).

    3. Eyesight is overrated at our age :D

  23. As of today, the last GW model in my house is a Demon winning mini. The only one I ever won, so I think I will keep it.

    I have sold off every book, mini, piece of terrain - I started in early 2nd edition, and had the collection to go with that time. It took me nearly three years just to sell all my stuff. Lord of the Rings was the last thing to go.

    The Hobbit was just such a disaster. I used to play at a store that was the number one LOTR club in all of North America, as confirmed by GW itself. We had LOTR tournaments that rivalled the UK in size. War of the Ring (a blatant attempt to up-size LOTR) killed LOTR. The Hobbit could have revived that entry market, tied in with the films. Nope. A massive, insane price rise, followed by a predictable dearth of sales was what happened. So poor was the result that the latest film didn't get a boxed set - GW has even given up on the franchise.

    I also concur that the company is being prepared for the slaughter. Tom Kirby has his parachute on, and is waiting for the green light. Who cares what happens to the company? He is old enough that retirement is what's important. A massive buyout is just the thing for him. A slight downturn in stock price? Irrelevant when he is a restricted owner anyway. The sale of GW is what he needs to leave the company.

    So long Games Workshop. I hope Hasbro, or whoever picks you up, is humane when they butcher you for the tenderest parts.

  24. If they are short-term smart there is only one thing that can save them: selling to some Hollywood company the rights to make warhammer (all flavours) movies.
    As the Lord of the Rings did for miniatures, so Hollywood can make it for Games Workshop.
    But I am just a little bit delusional, since nobody would go to a cinema to watch mega explosions, monsters, aliens, big spaceships, etc. etc.

  25. This makes me wonder: should I sell my WFB armies or keep them as collector investment ;) ?

    1. Metal minis (especially limited/rare) still get a very good price on ebay, but that might be different in 10-15-20 years IF the hobby ever where to go down. Normal armies are no collector investment - unless they are mint in box ;) With GW killing most Ebay traders, hunting and gathering went down a lot over the last 10 years.

    2. Warhammer on ebay is still going strong. Just search for "warhammer" and you will come up with like 40,000 hits. I suspect this is where a lot of GW's sales have gone... people wanting to stay in the game, but not able to afford it at current retail price. Not to mention the older metal figures are still generally better sculpts than the newer stuff. Even games like epic space marine still sell very well.

    3. Yes, I use eBay a lot, for buying and selling, and get most of my minis that way... but my choice of army is Chaos Squats, supplemented by the rest of Chaos: Dwarfs, Daemons, Warriors, Marines and Beastmen. And Eldar.

      But I am pretty much done with my collecting. Chaos was more or less ruined for me when they, well, made it much less chaotic with so many models that looked the same. When did all Beastmen become goats?

      There's a lot of new stuff that I just don't like, which includes most of the current Chaos ranges. And those that I do like I won't buy because I'm not going to pay $10 for a plastic Wraithguard. Or go for Forge World madness.

      But back to the point: ZB is right, no one wants second-hand assembled plastic models, especially if they are painted. You should keep them, but not as an investment. Keep them because they mean something to you, and only to you.

  26. yes me too this so nice one thanks so much

  27. Howard davies is a clown nugget....

  28. Moin Zaphod!

    Having just breached the wall of text today, I must say that I am very impressed by your analysis.

    I stopped being a GW fanboy a decade ago but I am still a huge Blood Bowl fan, hired legal muscle for a big multinational and I was involved pro bono in one of the C&D fight. I must say that you came to the same conclusion than me regarding the GW "strategy".

    I saw that every day in my colleague that run amok without thinking about the consequence for the business and that the right legal advice can be bad business advice. This is especially true from career in house lawyers with no other experience (I had a life before going in house).

    I would be interested in knowing what are your thoughs on the Blood Bowl developments, mainly that the community basically hijacked the game and that the best miniatures for the game come from other companies. Also the new diversity in fantasy sport game also comes from this attack on the community.

    Would that possible for WFB and W40K? Could player play the game with Mantic figs?

    1. Hey Jici :)

      Blood Bowl (like Necromunda, Gothic and Inquisitor) have been reborn - not last because GW dropped them. And Blood Bowl is clearly leading the charge - supported by the PC game version and the many international leagues.

      With a limited assortment of necessary miniatures, rules that worked for ages now and vendors that sold better (and cheaper) models than GW for what seems to have been decades, Blood Bowl in particular has never been stronger. And it proves how wrong GW is about their business strategy.

      Now granted, BB was never a cash cow. But it proves that good ideas, good games and a healthy community survive things worse than price hikes: They even survive the neclectful Death of a whole gaming system.

      W40k is still healthy as it is imo. WFB has been semi-dead for a while now. Those frigging magic rules dumbed the game down so much (and made it more about luck than skill) that no-one in a competitive mind plays it anymore. No wonder WHFB is dead. It's not the miniatures - they are awesome. Is the rules and the lack of community support from GW.

      HOWEVER, right now I do NOT see how smaller companies like Mantic and others could serve the same scale of market IF GW were to go down (which I don't think they will, they will just fall shorter and shorter of what I think should be the state of the game).

      I do have an idea on how GW could be replaced and I am sure that would work, but I shall reserve that for the time I might have to use it (that would be IF GW really goes down :D). Could be fun.

    2. I think some folks (many who are inside GW) forget that a hobby is not a mandatory purchase or living expense. It is entertainment, and as such maintains the unique requirement of staying fresh, innovative and exciting. All games, be it boardgames, card games, or miniature games, require a careful balance of rules, playability and ease of purchase. There are some very simple reasons that games like Monopoly, Risk and even Magic the Gathering continue to do well. They balance the 3 factors I discussed above. While price point is a consideration, it is not the only factor. The the prices of GW too high? I would say yes, but are they completely out of the fight? I would say no. As a corporation they need to take a hard look at the rules, style of game and ease of purchase. Frankly, if there is any innovation left within GW, they had better find it fast, or in 3-5 years things will be very different in the hobby community.

  29. Moin Zaphod

    as announced in the half year report, GW is centralizing ... by closing all local (Germany, France …) HQs to the UK and closing the local ones.
    Panic, if I ever saw it, I'd love to read your analysis on that :)

    1. As from my POV this is a totally braindead move.
      GW should show support to their long term customers instead, to show their commitment and not give the feeling to leave them hanging out to dry.
      I am not expecting there to be a turnaround soon.

    2. Is this really confirmed? Does it mean that there will be no German HQ in Düsseldorf any more? All the people working there now are fired or called into the GW HQ to Nottingham?

      Sounds VERY Sad actually, if true... We have some GREAT people at the German HQ, also some Friends working there... Hoping the best for them!

    3. Yes, according to my sources it is.
      Sad but true and not yet officially announced

    4. Yes, it's confirmed. Maybe we are missing some details, but the big picture is out. (And of course the analysis already written :P)

      The thing about 'Panic' is that this has been planned some time ago - at least during the last half year, maybe longer.

      Could be a reason why Mark Wells is no longer there... If he knew about this, the best move was to say 'Fuck this, I'm outta here!'

  30. Has anyone predicting the death of GW ever bought a GW share? Any share?

  31. I think GW could recover if they went back to the roots of the Hobby. You know you can't sell a glass of lemonade for $10, nobody would want it, until they are thirsty and that is the only thing to drink, then suddenly $10 is a bargain. GW should throw away the number for a quarter and focus on teaching games, playing games, painting tutorials in stores, make WD a hobby mag again, be involved in the Hobby and growing the hobby. Once you get the people interested in the hobby then they will buy, maybe from competitors, but some stuff from GW, but at least they will have good thoughts regarding GW. That image will help, attitude. People flock to all sorts of hobbies that are very expensive, people buy expensive tech toys all the time too, so this is not a price war (though many whiney people will claim that GW priced them out of the hobby, but really they decided that they didn't want to spend that much on the hobby). If GW can make you want the models, make you enjoy the experience of the game so much that you have to have it, then you will buy, you will find the wiggle room in your budget for it. That needs to be GW's focus, make us love them again. Right now, I love the models, but not the experience and there for I can budget less (I still buy $200 a month from GW though). My 2 cents anyway.

  32. Hi guys, I need to cry mine desperation as well. As Black Library took away the rights for translations to my birth tongue (Hail from Czech)... It is really shame what is happening now.

    I am kind of collector / painter / player for fun. But this is slowly killing me.. All what I see now is profit. BTW this walls of text are honest and true. I think that they will kill the hobby one day. I really hope that they will realise this before the end as I like this world.

  33. too immobile and too set in their ways to recognize what the frakk is going on the have proven that time

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