Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Games Workshop's "iron curtain"

Game's Workshop's rumor policy

Lately, I've been thinking about Games Workshop and how they have changed over the years as a company. I remember when they used to allow for a free flow of information to its fans. I remember when their business practices were a reflection of what miniature wargamers wanted...

Having been familiar with Games Workshop for the past 15 years or so, I have noticed a lot of changes in the games they have made as well as how they market and cater to the community as a whole. Many companies have come and gone so Games Workshop must be doing something right to maintain its position in the business world as a minis company but is Games Workshop riding on the legacy of its previously established business practices/models or are they genuinely making good choices in recent years?

That is the big question I have been asking myself lately as I have found myself to be losing interest and generally not being as excited as I used to be about Games Workshop and their products. Granted I am much older, mature and have had some great life changes over the course of my life (got married, have a career and so forth) but that doesn't change the fact that I love military strategy games and find a deep satisfaction with seeing an army I built/designed and the plans I had for the army come together in a symphony of destruction visited upon my opponent.

So with all of that said, I notice a specific thing about Games Workshop and their business practices that I personally disagree with and that I see as being responsible for my declining interest; namely, how they are handling product presentation and rumors.

When you are thirsty and there is nothing to drink, you will die of thirst. I think this happens with interest in a product, unless the interest is fed appropriately and adequately then the interest will die and the lack of rumors/information coming out of Games Workshop is akin to the Russian Iron Curtain. Case in point is that I have been playing Tomb Kings since they came out and we just found out last month officially that Tomb Kings are coming out in May. I'm caught off guard by this, I am pleasantly surprised by this but I don't care. Why? I am no psychologist but I think it might be because of the insufficient information about the product. I do not know what I should get excited about. I mean, sure I like the army but things can go in so many different ways I don't want to waste my time daydreaming about things that might be done well since I have been disappointed in the past (Codex: Tyranids, Codex: CSM). Right now I am just doing my thing in life and I plan on checking out the army book and if I like it, MAYBE I will get on board otherwise forget it and I'll move on. I just have not been hooked.

So the points I want to make about my personal gripe with how peaking interest and rumors are handled are as follows:

-Last minute revelations and announcements don't build up interest or excitement effectively. Imagine going out in the ocean and waiting for a wave to surf. If the perfect wave comes along but you don't see it coming and it just side-swipes you, how the heck can you catch it, surf it and enjoy it? You can't.

-Communication is key. In marriage, relationships, the workplace; if you are not an effective communicator, your relationships will suffer greatly. Games Workshop has not been communicating or disclosing much to its player base and as a result, I think its relationship to the gaming community has suffered.

Some things I would like to see changed from Games Workshop are mainly just more transparency as they are acting like Russia did after WWII and for what reasons?

-I would like to see a proposed release schedule and timeline (nothing set in stone that they need to stick with if its in the products best interest).
-I would like to see what they are working on, their thoughts on it, their reasoning.
-I would like to see Games Workshop open itself up to honest, useful and constructive player based feedback/input (at least more publicly).
-I would like to see  proposed changes to rules/games/armies and be able to have some input.

An example of a company doing it right:

Almost everyone has heard of Blizzard Entertainment (makers of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo and World of Warcraft). The company is very successful and puts out very high quality products. If you look at their business model and decisions then you will see that they release new information about their games regularly and well in advance as to foster a healthy excitement and interest. They have a huge amount of resources dedicated to player feedback (which they take into intimate consideration) and are constantly updating the game and fine tuning it to provide a better experience for their customers.

I feel that Games Workshop's business model is too rigid and inflexible and a combination of factors (like their mentality perhaps or perception of how to be successful) are limiting factors in this matter.

Anyway, this has been basically a long rant about how GW should be more upfront and open with what it is doing and how its super secrecy is hurting its relationship to the gaming community. Any thoughts? Feel free to post!


  1. I love your constructive breakdown of the issue. you acknowledge where you feel the problem is and give some reasonable compromises. I'd like to see more of this type of disagreement from the blog/wargaming community!

    Thank you for the well reasoned and insightful critique!

  2. Wow, thanks for the feedback! It's nice to know people read my rambling/blog.

    I also plan on writing about GWs army/codex development and playtesting. A lot of that info is not known so GW can't really be held accountable by anything other than their finished products and the playerbase's limited understanding.

    I mean, GI just wonder what metrics GW uses to measure the success of a product/the direction the company is going and how they measure up. They seem to be pretty hit or miss with some of their products/rules and many people probably hang on to the hobby because of the invested time in their favorite armies. That's probably why I still have my thousand sons...

  3. Very well written article. I love the points you make about what GW is doing wrong at the moment.

  4. I would agree that GW's rumor policy doesn't benefit themselves or their customers. There's a complete disconnect, but somehow they make it work.

    My only thought as to why they don't announce things in advance is that customer purchasing behavior may change. If I know for sure Orks are going to be released in a year, chances are I won't start collecting an Ork army next week. If I'm unsure, I may start my collection now, and then buy the new stuff when it comes out. More profits for GW.

  5. Nick, well, if they are not announcing products so that people will continue to purchase soon to be discontinued or out-date model kits then that is unethical IMO.

    If anything, its like buying a car. You know they come out with new models every year but you want to just buy what you need for the moment and get as much mileage out of it. Some people don't care about the new models and some do but as far as rules go, those make or break models/armies. So my point is that they don't seem to have a good reason for being so secretive.

    One thing that I think might be going on is a disorganization in the companies structure so that they may just not have the resources to adequately get the info out, who knows. I just wish I knew the reasons why they do the things they do, otherwise we can only speculate.

  6. I never said it was ethical, but ethics and good business don't always go hand in hand unfortunately.

    As for the car example, you're right in that some people just wouldn't care. Others would fear that their car would look outdated in a year when the completely re-designed model comes out, and wait to make their purchase.

    I think that if they wanted to they could get the information out, but have taken this secretive approach deliberately.

  7. Looking for the Best Dating Site? Join to find your perfect date.