Its been an interesting week for those people who watch Games Workshop and generally have an interest in the miniature wargaming industry. As a long term club activist in the UK, I feel some comment necessary.
So what’s been happening? Well three things, two of which are connected.
The Beginning of the End?
Firstly, in their infinite wisdom Games Workshop have changed their terms and conditions with independent resellers in the UK to prevent them selling Games Workshop products outside the EU and EAA. This is bit of a PR disaster and a bad deal for hobbyists living in certain countries (such as Canada and Australia). This said I can understand how this came to past.
Games Workshop as far as I can tell, has never lowered prices, which is fine when you operate in one country with a normal economy, but with an international business it can cause problems as different currencies fluctuate and economic conditions change. In particular, GW products are priced very high in some countries compared to the present value of the British pound. This has made importing directly from resellers in the United Kingdom MUCH cheaper than buying locally.
This obviously impacts on those customers, and the resellers in those territories.
Whilst I’m sure the new terms and conditions are legal, this will only solve part of the problem. With a weak pound; I think many European fans will be eying up companies like Triple Helix Wargames and other resellers, and the 40-50% discount they can receive by simply buying in the UK rather than on the mainland.
For those outside the EU, this will make our hobby much less affordable. If I was living in some countries, I’d be moving to other systems.
Pricing by Codex
Secondly (and thirdly), Games Workshop choose the same week to announce their long awaited move from metal to a resin like material called Finecast. I see the logic with as white metal prices have shoot up in recent years; however this has also been used as an opportunity to adjust prices (upwards) and further drive the pricing of miniatures according to what they do in the game, rather than what they cost to produce.
As a veteran hobbyist this sits very badly, especially deploying above inflation increases during a recession.
On the plus side, if this material is the same as the Privateer Press plastics, it will hold detail very well and will allow for more delicate sculpts. On the down side, I do not think it will be forgiving to work with; and for us consumers it is going to cost more.
While I’m sure none of these decisions will cripple the company, they will continue to raise barriers to people wanting to get into or expand their hobby. This is a very bad thing.
In fairness, I will say one really positive thing about Games Workshop. They have continued to support the gaming community in the UK. Between their work with the Schools League and the Gaming Club Network, Games Workshop have promoted good standards and the hobby beyond their own retail network, and this is great.
This is something I know the company is committed to and does them great credit.
It is only a shame that this good work may have been undermined by some of these commercial decisions.
I for one will continue to play their games, well, 40K anyway, as I’ve dropped WFB for now. However I doubt I will be starting any new armies or expanding my existing forces anytime soon; especially as I already have plenty to paint.
Conversely, despite being relatively pricey (at least in the UK), I will be investing more money in Warmachine and Hordes.
Why? Well firstly, Privateer Press seem to support their fan base better; offering something to every army and faction on a regular basis. And secondly, their products (especially their army books) are absolutely top notch and only getting better.
Both of these things have helped MK2 Warmachine/Hordes go from strength to strength in the past 18 months, and are an exciting prospect from a hobby point of view. Perhaps Games Workshop could learn something here?
So, what do you think? Of course no one likes price increases, but have GW got the right strategy or are they shooting themselves in the foot? (or both feet)
No flame throwers please…