Friday, 17 January 2014

Shock report: GW is losing popularity!!!

Since my last post GW have both come out and clarified the WD magazine situation and released their financial report.

The deal with the magazines is as anticipated in many quarters, one becomes two as the shiny advertising is split off to become a weekly catalogue and 'hobby content' is released monthly in a more expensive form.

Well, good luck to them I guess but I remain deeply suspicious of GW's ability to produce any writing of real quality. They have got an over-worked, cut-price staff working on all their output these days and it shows. While the shiny, glossiness of the magazine and books has risen tenfold (good to see all those graphic design degrees being put to good use) the substance has withered away to naught.

I'm not going to buy issue one of Warhammer Visions. There, I've committed myself now. I'm fed up of giving GW second chances. While I have many friends who still work for them and avoid the malicious bashing of GW at all costs I have lost all hope of ever seeing things turn around. I have actually begun to detect a few nods here and there to the retro scene, my mate gives me a free WD each month and I swear some of the articles were written by someone aware of the Old School scene and the growing bands of retro-gamers out there. Narrative campaigns made a reappearance for the first time in decades too.

It was all a bit mediocre though. The books and supplements were too shallow, too focused on teh awesum perilous grims and grim darks.

Where was the poet who had to weigh the terror of the Warhammer World against the more immediate fear of failing to fulfil a drunken oath given to a psychotic Dwarf that could tear him in half? (Bill King's Felix & Gotrek.)

Where were the insidious story hooks that gave dangerous hints about a wider galaxy? (Rogue Trader.)

Where were the Space Marines that battled their homesickness and homo-erotic feelings even as they battled Tyranids? (Ian Watson's Space Marine.)

Where was the playwright thrust into a real life tragic drama alongside a child-like vampire with as much sensual, sexual energy as fighting prowess? (Jack Yeovil's Drachenfels.)

All in the past, that's where. Has the ability to create pulp fiction of this quality left the British Isles? I say no, I think it's down to penny-pinching and restrictive deadlines that smother creativity. I always assume the knock-on effect the poor writing has on the games is obvious to all, the stories and the game should go hand in hand, grist for the mill so to speak. Before I move on to the rather juicy report, I will end this section with a reminder to GW, 'you have to speculate to accumulate'. Ah, who am I kidding!

The report then. It's baaaad. There are positives to be drawn from it, technically they are still making a few million in profit, but there will be no dividend paid out this time and the shares have taken a nose dive as a result. The way those share prices recover in the coming weeks will be a key factor in deciding the future of GW in the long-term. 'Weak share price provokes hostile takeover bid' is one possible headline. 'Shareholders revolt' is another. I don't intend to start another diatribe about GW's strategies bringing about their own downfall, it's an all too familiar tune by now, but I will say this brings us a big step closer to the removal of several armies from Warhammer or at least their integration into other lists. This will mark the first step back for GW who have been trying to embiggen Warhammer in a bid to emulate the success of 40k. The design staff fought with marketing to be allowed to make changes to the Warhammer restrictions they worked under (eg. creating three-sprue kits for Warhammer instead of only one and two) because they believed it would drive sales. In light of these figures it would seem the creatives will have to admit defeat. When Dreadfleet failed to reach the targets set for it, marketing canned all future boxed specials as a result (Blood Bowl 25th anniversary edition was an idea that became a casualty of this decision) so I imagine talks will be reignited over Warhammer only this time with a very negative mindset casting a pall over proceedings.

I hope things straighten out in Lenton, for my friends sake, and I don't indulge in schadenfreude as a rule so I will always be urging GW to turn it around rather than implode but I have to say I am left anticipating more bad news to come if I'm honest.

Thanks for stopping by!

15 comments:

  1. Very well written post Paul. I hope this does represent a turning point for GW in the most positive sense of the phrase.

    Good use of the word embiggen. It is a very cromulent word.

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    1. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. I too hope for the best, even while fearing the worst.

      Pleased you like my casual approach to English! (For those of you who don't know what the heck we are talking about, watch the Simpsons episode 'Lisa the Iconoclast'.)

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  2. "Where were the Space Marines that battled their homesickness and homo-erotic feelings even as they battled Tyranids? (Ian Watson's Space Marine.)"

    Where are the Space Marine who assault living Tyranid spaceships up the bum? [That's my abiding memory of reading the book 20 years ago.]

    I can confess here, where my family will never see it, but I was given £50 worth of GW vouchers for Christmas. I went on the website - nothing left in Specialist Games, nothing left in the 'Collectors' section, hell, they didn't even seem to be selling their 'manor house' kit anymore (but they do have three different beskulled towers). I sold the vouchers on at a knock-down price and I'm thinking about how I should spend the money at Wargames Foundry or Warlord...

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    1. Aaah, the climactic penetration of the giant sphincter is quite a vivid memory!

      Your story is sad one, but mirrored everywhere. I too got £50 of vouchers, for Christmas 2012 I recall, and I couldn't spend them for ages until the urge took me to paint that giant robot riptide thing which came out several months later. When I spent the vouchers the manager's face fell and he tried to talk me out of using it on a new release because it would affect his weekly figures. What a world we live in.

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  3. A sign of the times, you give bad service and overcharge people and they dont return. They have lost the target market, lost the best sculptors and game designers, tried every desperate money saving measure except reducing figure costs for the buyer, and instead push increases across the range

    one man shops are a joke, the figures have got to be ridiculously priced now in a competetive market, and now two expensive rags in stead of one

    It does not take a genius to see why they are failing

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    1. All true, unfortunately, all too true. I hear the already limited stock the stores carry is going to be cut by a third and moved to mail order only too, in order to save a few quid. It just seems to be one customer-bashing decision after another.

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  4. Heh feck GW, I'm going to open my own wargaming store.. with Hookers and Blackjack!

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    1. Well, that's one way of expanding the hobby to include more women I suppose... I do think their is a niche for independent FLGS though in the UK, as long as you can find the right location at the right price. And card-dealing hookers?

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    2. There has been 2 Indie Wargaming shops in Watford, both never lasted long sadly :(

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    3. That's a shame. I guess if it was easy to find a cheap, large store near an affluent, middle-class area we would all be doing it though. There is one near Manchester that works off an American model, with annual subscriptions for membership, which is apparently successful and growing. Maybe you need to move to somewhere else and try it bro. Reading? Slough? Milton Keynes? If you can bear the horror of 20th century city planning that is.

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  5. @Warlord Paul. Whats the membership subscription for? To play on their tables or something?

    I can attest to the card-dealing hooker model being quite successful. The PH casino is about a three hour drive away.

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    1. Basically yes, I suppose the customers think of it as paying for the gaming area provided and the electricity and whatnot. At my local club we hire a community centre and charge subs of a couple of quid each week to pay for all the boring stuff like rent and insurance, the ones I'm talking about are a business though they still keep the idea of 'subs' but customers pay in advance or by direct debit (like a gym) and therefore they are more inclined to go and play games. There is a club-sized gaming area as well as racks of minis etc. for sale. Apparently it works well.

      I'm beginning to see there's a market for a casino where instead of cards or craps you play wargames and video games with money at stake. Get a bar, some ladies, bit of Motley Crue on the sound system.

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    2. I can understand a club needing membership fees but a retail joint charging for membership is odd. So far I haven’t seen that around my neck of the woods, its probably a "back east" thing.

      The original Magic the Gathering crowd is at the least in their 30's now. I suspect its only a matter of time before Vegas starts hosting MTG type card tournaments for real money (assuming they haven’t already).

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    3. The one near(ish) me had an American visitor who vlogged about it and he seemed to think it was familiar, I can't remember where exactly he was from though. It did seem a bit strange to me at first, but I guess there are those who are just happy to have a FLGS near them.

      MTG does actually have a Pro Tour, and several Grand Prix each year. Apparently the prizes are such that there are several professional MTG players. Surely now it is only a matter of time before the gambling world starts to offer a wider variety of games at casinos!

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