Sunday, October 6, 2013

Life Without Games Workshop

Hi!  My name is Robert and I have not played a GW game in about a year.  That was a game of 40K against my friend Lonnie.  I wrote about it last December if you are interested.  At the time I did not know it would be the last GW game as I fully expected that Lonnie and I would get together again.  I did realize that my GW days were numbered.

Over the years I have played lots of Games Workshop games and purchased huge amounts of models, both new and used.  I started with Necromunda back in 1996 and collected and painted nearly every Necromunda model made.  Next I moved on to Warhammer 40,000 and started a small Dark Angels army.  I really loved the models and the gamer were fun.  GW games helped to rekindle some old friendships and start some new ones.

In 2001 the Lord of the Rings game first appeared.  My friends and I were really excited about the movies and the game and by 2005 LOTR:SBG became my main GW game.  I spent thousands of dollars over the years amassing a huge collection of Lord of the Rings models. Much of which did actually get painted and used.  During this time I continues to build armies for 40K and upgrade the rules through four versions of the game (Lord of the Rings went through the same number of versions over the same period).

In March of 2012 I played my last game of LOTR:SBG.  For several weeks prior GW rolled out new versions of the army list for the games and repackaged long released models in smaller model count packages.  This had the effect of doubling the price for models that GW had already made massive amounts of money off of.  This was about the same time that Finecast was released and the new FC versions of the hero models were more than doubled in price.  Combined with the damage the new army lists were doing to the game I could see the writing on the wall.

Even with the death of LOTR:SBG I still was not ready to completely drop GW games.  The 6th edition of 40K was released in the Summer of 2012 and I (grudgingly) dropped the $75 for the rules.  At the same time I purchased the new Ork Dakkajet.  I really loved both purchases and have no regrets for them.  At the time I did not know they would be the last GW purchases I would make.

The last few years has seen some real changes in the GW hobby.  The cost of the hobby is one part of this.  Prices are sky high and are actually quite ridiculous.  I make more money than I ever really thought I would and in the last 10 years my income has roughly doubled.  In that same period the cost of playing a GW game as quadrupled or more.  Their prices are increasing much faster than inflation even while the company outsources production to cheaper locations.  This has not gone unnoticed by many gamers.  I have seen lots of people leave the GW hobby and move to other games or even out of miniatures altogether.

Now consumers and gamers in particular love to bitch about price but I really believe that GW has priced themselves out of reach for their target market - teenage and preteen males.  GW has also done huge damage to their brand with their pricing policies in different markets.  I don't claim to understand the ins and outs of how things are priced in various places but I can say it is nuts that an item in, say, New Zealand, can cost twice what the same product costs in the United States even though the currencies of the two countries are near parity.  To then rub salt in the wounds of these gamers by setting policies that prevent them from making purchases from a country that can offer a better deal than they can get locally is plain profiteering.

Then we come to GW and how they protect their IP.  First of all, let me say that I believe they have a right and a duty to protect their IP, but they have a lot to learn about the best way to do this (their PR department must hate their legal department).  The internet is filled with stories of GW sending letters and threatening various websites with legal action for things that seem to be fair use and within the scope of legitimate news.  But GW seems to think that, since they have money, and most of these websites don't, they can just do whatever they want.  Well, they are right, they can do whatever they want.  But I don't have to support a company that treats it customers and best fans as if they are all criminals looking to steal from them.

In the end, I miss playing 40K and Lord of the Rings, but I don't miss all the baggage of the GW hobby.  I have moved on to companies that appreciate my business and make a real effort at customer service.  This is a great time to be a miniatures gamer as there are so many options available.  Now I just need to decide whether to keep all this stuff or sell it off....


10 comments:

styx said...

You and I are in the same boat in many ways. May was my last 40k game for me this year. I have been interested now in Bolt Action and many other games including Judge Dredd which takes me back to the Necromunda days...other games like an old West Game Shoot and Skeedaddle and Strange Aeons have started to plug the holes slightly in my interest. The only problem is converting others over. Many around here are die hard, brain washed fanatics still for GW product. Most are young and have drank the Kool Aid and are addicted to the plastic crack.

I was talking the other day with some other players and this summed it up well for me. I don't hate the game, I love the fluff and their models. What I don't love is the price and their corporate attitude in general. I worked for GW, I read the red book and they have totally walked away from the base guiding principles of the company. What they are doing simply with the price hikes is a short time gain, eventually two things will have to happen. The prices will be dropped or GW will close their doors after a hard depression of cuts. Odds are the company will be sold to someone else that may try to revive the game and I give GW shelf life about 10 years at most, 5 given the downslide will start to become more serious into a free fall of depression for the company. GW has done nothing to maintain my loyality and support, anything by me is minimal of late (mostly paint purchases) and I admit I am shifting quickly to other paint lines.

styx said...

Oh as for armies, I have sold my Necrons, working my Tau now. I have one Fantasy army left. I do plan to keep some armies but very minimal. I do plan to remain loyal to the old classics like Necromunda and Mordheim that brought me great joy!

Christopher Sheets said...

I'm in much the same boat. The only GW product I've purchased in a long while was a pot of Liquid Greenstuff I bought just to try it out. I once owned several sizable armies for WHFB and 40K, but I've sold most of them off. I only consider purchases on a model by model basis now, for things that will find use in the other games I play. Even then, with the high price tags, I haven't liked any recent releases enough to pay their exorbitant prices. I may still pick up one of the phoenixes, since my wife LOVES phoenixes, but that's about it.

Robert Brightwell said...

Thanks for the comments guys! I do fear that when they get to redoing the Orks for 40K they will release some models that I will have to get. It makes no sense but I know I will buy them.

Lee Hadley said...

There's an old saying "History repeats itself" and your story almost exactly mirrors mine - only with a 15 year gap between when I 'dropped' GW and your own escape! GW has been synonymous with large price hikes and hawkish business practices for many years, recent events are just the continuation of a process that started a long time ago.

David Brawley said...

My timeline with GW matches pretty closely with yours, and I've sworn off buying another GW mini. My wife wants the Hobbit intro box, because she really wants the dwarves, but I may try to get them from the secondary market.

On the other hand, there's nothing stopping me from playing any of the GW games I own. I played some Battlefleet Gothic a couple of months ago, I still have my large collection of minis for LotR, and my Chaos and Inquisitor armies for 40k, and I've got my mordheim and necromunda stuff too.

I really wish GW wasn't so set on pricing themselves out of business. And I don't understand the switch to finecast. It's cheaper for me to buy minis from the other side of the Atlantic with shipping than it is to buy GW. On the other hand, it's made room for companies like Mantic to introduce some nice cheap minis.

Scott said...

I am certainly in the same boat as you guys, and agree with all thoughts and comments made here and in the comments... and other than maintaining a collection of LOTR stuff, mostly for the love of the fluff and PJ imagery, I haven't actively played a game of it in over a year it seems...
40K I am forced to dabble in once again, even though I swore blind I wouldn't ever touch it again, due to the interest of my pre-teen son... any future purchases will be 2nd hand or Chinese copies...

ColKillgore said...

I am not out of the hobby yet. The last two items I bought were the 6th ed box set and a codex. All the GW models I have purchased in the last couple years have been from second hand sources. I like the game and love the figures but I am moving my hobby more into pulp and Historical gaming. I paint more than I game and love collecting miniatures. GW were my models of choice for years but when I can get 90 28mm WWII figure from Wargames factory for less than five chaos terminators from GW, What do they expect? Once upon a time I was all GW fanboy and I still have a closet full of models but now I am tempted to sell most off to cash in on the new prices before they go under.

Robert Brightwell said...

The more I think about this the more the minimum wage/cost of living in Australia and New Zealand may contribute to the product pricing. But again, I am no economist.

Clovis Cithog said...

agreed,
love my ork army,
haven't bought a new mini in 2 years,
hurray for Ebay