Friday, June 19, 2015

Alladin's Morning Coffee Musings #9 - Slow it down, GW!

Haven't had the luxury of writing up one of these in a while, but with another chunk of painting backlog complete I thought I owed it to myself to wax poetic about the hobby for a bit, rather than jumping back down the painting rabbit hole.

Today I want to talk about Games Workshop and the steadily acceleration of major releases. This topic has been covered elsewhere, but it seems everyone has an opinion on it.

Why did you have to bring John Voight into this, GW??? WHY???!?!

First off, I don't claim to be an expert in all things GW, nor have I charged and plotted their releases or created some sort of mathematical algorithm to prove my point.

That said, it's plain to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of GW's release history over the last few years that things have changed. And continue to change...

I fell back off the GW (and tabletop gaming) wagon back in early 2012, shortly before 40k 6th Edition was released in June. We are now almost exactly 3 years from this date, and a lot has changed. Not only did we see a new edition (7th Ed.) get dropped on us out of the blue a year ago, but in this span they have updated every Codex, as well as released countless supplements, campaigns (and in the case of Tyranids, a substantial new wave models for an army that had fairly recently received a new Codex AND a substantial amount of new kits at the same time), and, as if to show they can do it all, at least one completely new army in Adeptus Mechanicus (Imperial Knights and Daemonkin don't count).

This is the "good" side of the argument. For the first time in forever, most armies were on a relatively level playing field (note: in terms of updated rules, not competitiveness. Dear heavens no...)

In their infinite wisdom, GW then decided that their 6th Ed. Codices were not compatible with the direction they were going 7th Edition, so in the last few months we got a new Eldar Codex and just recently a Space Marine Codex, both are less than 2 years old. We are also on the cusp of a Dark Angels release, which is comparatively long in the tooth at about 3 years...

I don't know. For someone like myself, who devotes a significant time into the hobby but just paints very very slowly, it is getting to be s but too much. 

I know a part of this is my fault (and the sole reason I started a 'Nid army, so I could actually play while I paint my GKs) but I feel that GW is setting a dangerous precedent here. Are they able to keep going at this pace? Their initial ramp up at the start of 6th was impressive, but now they are seemingly going even faster, and I expect that eventually they will have to slow down.

And what happens then? From a hobbyist point of view, I would welcome a breather, but the investors now expect a consistent level of output.

Let's take a quick look at Age of Sigmar, and even the whole End Times arc they finished. It was a very slick campaign, punctuated by some top notch models, and well-padded campaign books. I am not a WFB player, but I constantly drooled over each release. But it's done now, relegated to history as they switch gears yet again. The models are still usable, I suppose, but those really nice looking campaign books have outlasted their usefulness. It seems a lot of effort was put into the design, and background fluff for End Times, and it really could have been an event that spanned a year or two, rather than a paltry 6 months.

I guess it was fairly well received and they sold out of the books they printed, but why limit yourself, GW??? I know we are in the ADD generation, but compared to video games, people who choose to paint and play tabletop games NEED to have some modicum of patience. Even for fast painters, it takes a while to collect, assemble and paint a new army, let alone find the time to play enough games to make it worthwhile.

I'm not a marketing or sales guru, but I feel that GW left a LOT of potential money on the table by rushing through the campaign and then putting it aside so quickly. In fact this is a whole other sub-topic on the subject - limited print releases: What the HELL are you thinking???!

Who in their right mind says, "I only want to make $500,000 on this product." I guess it's a guaranteed profit if you plan sales that way, but can you imagine if Apple did that? Would they be the most profitable company in the world if they limited their iPhone to say, 10 million units? And their fanboys are way more ravenous than GWs, but they are smart enough to know that these most loyal customers aren't their entire market, so they don't shut out the other 100 million people who eventually bought an iPhone. Why? Because it's good business.

Anyway, this is getting a bit long-winded so I will wrap it up.

Bottom line: GW seems to be chasing the quick buck at the expense of consistent sales and growth. Maybe there is a reason for this, but I don't see it.

I think there are a lot of people in my shoes, who want to expand into other game systems but need to be reassured that they can do it at a reasonable pace without being made obsolete. Even with 40k, my MAIN system, I feel I am losing touch with all the changes and releases. How is this a good thing???


  1. thanks for taking the time to write this up and I agree with what you are saying especially as a fantasy player
    when nagash came out I was beyond exited we hardly even read the rules but were interested and talking about if any old faces appeared again (abborash came up a lot) then when glotkin came out we saw a problem it didn't reach as much as nagash partially due to the fact that it was a new character but also because the writing wasn't as good during nagash the battles could swing either way it was exiting although the title gave some clues :) whilst glotkin was chaos wins empire sucks nonstop.

    this continues for the rest of the books where it was fairly predictably and boring in a way and certain races got shafted (lizards beasts and Bretons) in a way that wasn't even fitting bretonians were exiting in nagash we thought we would get rules for giles le Breton nope not even mentioned for the rest of the series beastmen just died non stop whenever important people walked and morghur chaos's anti elf character who wishes to destroy the oak of ages wasn't even present for the battle and the lack of graktar during kazarak one eyes end didn't do it justice and all in all after nagash the rest of the books felt rushed

    sorry for the long post haven't had my coffee yet and felt like a rant just explaining what I think is a great problem with the speedy release's and sorry bout any spelling mistakes with character names :)

    1. Thanks for your post! It's nice to hear the perspective of a Fantasy player, since I have no first-hand experience with the system.

      It sounds unfortunate that GW seemingly dropped the ball on a massive opportunity. I remember the hype and excitement when End Times: Nagash came out, especially those amazing models. I think with a little more foresight they could have capitalized way more on this excitement.

      In fact, I feel that a Canpaign-like system would work way better than the current "Edition" system. If they released an End Times-like book every 6-8 months, with the story being moved forward with each step, they could really make it exciting for players. Each faction would still get Codexes, but the Campaign would introduce new units, campaigns, missions etc. and focus on 2 or 3 factions, who would get the bulk of the new kits released. However, minor splash releases could also be included for secondary factions to keep everyone happy. Then, when the new part of the campaign rolls out, the focus shifts to a 2-3 other factions.

      I don't know about everyone else, but this idea resonates really well with me.... And GW could milk sales of each book over a longer period... Kind of a win-win. But what do I know....

  2. I think part of the issue when talking about GW, is that we tend to forget everything they do is highly delayed. They didn't "just" start ramping up the codex releases. They started this process quite awhile ago (sometimes years ago), and it's just now hitting the market.

    Kinda of like trying to move an aircraft carrier out of dock. It's a huge complicated process with lots of moving parts.

    By the time they hear the community yelling "STAPH!!! TOO FAST!!!" it'll be almost another year before they can make adjustments to their timeline.

    I honestly wouldn't be surprised at all if 8th edition comes out for 40k this year. The next year we see a "warhammer" rulebook, combining rules for both fantasy and 40k like warmahordes.

    One of the nice things about all of this...if you aren't attending tournaments, (and even if you are), you don't have to jump on the latest band wagon if you don't want to. There are plenty of classic, friendly, highlander type events that enable the same type of play you've always enjoyed.

    1. Yeah, you are right on many accounts. I just find it interesting that they would go from one extreme to another.

      I am not a tourney player, so it doesn't really affect me from a gameplay perspective. I just feel I am missing out on a lot lately. Before I have a chance to read about one codex, 3 more have been released.

      I guess it's a first world problem, "omg! Too much choice!" But the stolid old communist in me wishes for a slower release calendar.

      And using the End Times as an example again, that was a potentially HUGE event, which I feel GW did not capitalize on thoroughly.

      My wallet is thanking me for it, but I have been looking for an excuse to jump on some Lizardmen action, and now I am holding off, possibly forever if some of the doom and gloom rumours are true.

    2. I hear you on the endtimes event. They really could have done more, and extended it further. Wait till they release an ork evil sunz supplement...with a plastic buggy kit...totally missed the mad max window on that one! (I'm guessing here, but was rumored in the past)

    3. SO much more. I never gave a damn about Fantasy until End Times... And now it's been replaced with an unknown quantity. Who knows, maybe it will also be a great product, but I am disappointed that I couldn't jump in on what had the potential to be an awesome multi-year campaign.

      Ahh well.

    4. I'm still giving them the benefit of the doubt. If you look at them in a negative light, everything they do is awful. I try to give them a bit of a shine now and then.