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!