My own personal rant zone

I set up this place so I can mostly talk about Tabletop Gaming...but occasionally some other stuff too...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

"Thought begets hate, hate begets pain, pain begets war, war begets heresy.... our greatest enemy is thought"

Me thinks the fine folks at Games Workshop have been drinking their own koolaid for far too long now. Have a glance at the below link:

Games Workshop warns on profit as Ring cycle ends

Hmmm. So people in the industry (not GW people) have been seeing this coming all last year. It's my humble opinion that GW went way, way too deep into the Lord of the Rings product line. Probably sounded like a great idea a few years back, when you couldn't huck a cow pie without hitting some LoTR branded product. Now...woo boy, they are hating it. Now, I am clear that a bunch of the things I mention below were forced by the license agreement they were "forced" into, so there ya go. The LoTR minis game had some serious fundamental flaws from the get-go:

- The minis were smaller than all the other standard GW games.
Customers who might have bought into the game to use the figures for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, didn't. Lost a nice source of additional sales due to scale.
- Independent retailers were sold the line on a "Short Discount"
Wether GW would like to believe it or not, indy retailers are a good thing for them. They help grow their brand and mind-share, and increase their range of people they can touch. By offering the game at a discount smaller than they offer for their other standard lines, many chose not to bring it in.
- The game should have followed a more "traditional army format" rather than a battle of good vs. evil.
Allowing people to play whatever good guys against whatever bad-guys you could muster sure may have seemed like a GREAT the end, it allowed people (mainly kids picked up this game it seems) to cheery pick the "cool minis" and ignore the core units for the game. If they had done codexes, similar to the ones they do for 40k and Fantasy, I think they would have sold oodles more minis in the end.

I think the main thing that really ended up hurting GW the most was the abandonment of the rotating third game, that they had done for years prior to LoTR. One of my business partners handed me this theory, and I think he is right on. So, every year or so, back in the day, GW would have two main games (Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy Battle) and a third game. Games in the past were Mighty Empires, Man-O-War, Talisman, Battlefleet Gothic, Epic, and the list goes on. They would push 40k for a while, then maybe Fantasy...then boom, they would lay down another game. This would not only throw some cash in the coffers by having all this new product on the market, it would essentially distract the hardcore GW consumers from their main two games, allowing them to take a break for a while. Then, as that third game wound down, GW would get aggressive with new releases for their core games...old would become new again, thus exciting.
Fast forward to today where all those "third games" are gone. They live in the specialist games category, but really seem to be gathering a bunch of dust in terms of mind-share. They only have their core two games, and LoTR as the third, and sadly, the third is really targeting a different base of customers.
Now we combine this with the fact that GW is faced with some of it's strongest competition in it's history. Veterans are leaving in droves for games like Flames of War (15mm WWII), Warmachine (steam powered fantasy), and the two Rackham games. So not only do they have competition, they are no longer innovating. For next year, we are going to see things like revisions to the Tau Army and Redos on the Eldar line (for the how many-eth time?) People are just getting bored. Tie this all together with being one of the most expensive games to play at a tournament level...bad times.

It is this retail store owners humble opinion that unless they revaluate their business model, these losses will not jump back into the black anytime soon.


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