Saturday, May 25, 2013

GW... Not for the Greater Good

It's not a secret that there's a storm brewing behind the battlefield lines for us wargamers when it comes to Games-Workshop.  Hell, you've all heard me rant about it once in a while and while I do it with a little twist of comical irony, the truth can be something that can really hurt us as the gamer and for all our complaining, calling for boycott or trying to convince those that play Warhammer that GW is evil is the WORSE thing you can do.  Why? Read on.


There's an article I am writing that will be released later as a featured topic on our website and this is a little part of it.  I just wanted to write this out now as it's just something I need to get off my chest as well as try and let the Nyquil high guide my pen. Ha!

This isn't a GW bash as I've stopped doing that a while ago and when I do, it's more in jest than anything now-a-days.  What worries me about GW is how the latest policies are really going to kill the local game shops.  I always believed that in this hobby, to keep it moving is to work for the greater good.  I know, it's a  very Tau thing to say but it is BECAUSE of the way that the Tau release went down (and how the new Eldar release is going down) that is causing me concern.


The Policy
First, let's all agree with some facts here.  GW is the leading wargaming company for us. They been around the longest and have the largest following in our hobby to date.  That is not going to change for a very long time unless something drastic changes in the company.  Their IP doesn't just lead on the table top but it has lead to movies and videos games and whether they were any good is something left for an argument for another day.

So with that fact out of the way, this also means they are the lead sellers, next to Magic the Gathering, for most local game shops out there. In most cases, LFGS main stay is Warhammer.  The latest  policies take a lot of that money out of the LFGS hands into their own to handle the own distribution so they can make the money.  It's not something I'm making up and anyone can see that plainly just by doing a Google search.

"UNOFFICIALLY" it goes down like this as quoted from this link at thecombatcompany.com:

"Unofficially, we’ve been told that GW are withholding 66% of all stock for their own purposes - 33% for their bricks and mortar and 33% for their own Internet / mail order sales.  The last 33% is split across every other independent reseller in Australia and New Zealand – that’s at least 25 wholesale customers, averaging to about 4 pieces for each wholesale customer."

It does make sense. I just don't think it's happening in just Australia and New Zealand as it's gotta be happening everywhere.


Why No Can Buy Chin Wa?
My next army venture for Warhammer 40k is Tau. I've been wanting to play them in, like, forever.  So a couple of nights ago, I decided, what the heck.  I need something to make me happy.  I was ready to go order some stuff from the places I usually order from as JJ's Game Lounge is out on the new stuff. To start, I was going to get 2 Riptides,, 2 Bombers, 3 Broadsides, 3 Battleforces and a Pathfinder box to start.

Nada, can't find them anywhere.  I actually did a BUY NOW on eBay for two battleforces thinking they were in stock as their estimated ship date was this week and then noticed that at the bottom after I bought them was they were on pre-order.  That was my own fault for not scrolling down all the way.  But now I have $180 or so tied up in a promise I'm not even sure the guy can keep.

Hell, I have two Devilfishes on hand to work on and realized I can just buy the sprue for the tank upgrade.  Off to TheWarStore I go.  I put in an order for two sprues.  The next day I was refunded and an email from Neil to say "I am sorry we cannot supply the Hammerhead upgrade sprue any more -- we cannot seem to get anything Tau out of Games Workshop at all right now".

Again, it's not TheWarStores fault. They can't get Tau from GW.  Well ok.  I can go make calls as I can't just go order GW stuff online in the USA but it's freaking 3am in the morning.  As a huge publisher of the game that controls a big market, you'd think that they'd put out enough product for a large release like this.

Well, they did and they do have stock. It's just in their own hands.  Out of curiosity I went online to their website and low and behold, everything ships within 24 hours.  Just to be sure, I throw down $50 bills for a Broadside.  No problem, order is bring processed.  Hmmmm... Maybe they will come back saying it's out of stock but somehow, I don't think that's going to happen.


The Local Hobby Shop
When it comes down to it, it is GW right to control selling their own products and I think they are riding that fine line as to what is fair marketing practices or not but I don't really know all the legalities of the UK.  It's bad enough my British friends have me referring to potato chips as crisps.

Regardless of the legalities, this has GOT to affect a lot of LFGS's.  Now it's easy to say, "They shouldn't put all their eggs into one basket." but the cold hard truth of it is that in most area's, they have no choice.  That's all that people know, have or want to play.

Let's also be completely honest. A GW store is NOT a game store.  At least to me it isn't.  Not when there's policies in place to discourage community.  Either you're here to paint or play or you get out.  At least that's how it is around the GW store around here.  Which is fine, that's their policies.  Whatever, this is why I barely step foot in one.  I have LFGS that I support that love me being there because we have fun, whether it's while we're painting, gaming or just standing around talking and because of that, I am more than happy to  give my money to them.

Now to be fair, these are my experience with GW stores in Los Angeles.  Not every GW stores are like this and to be fair, some non-GW LFGS are just as bad.

I have to say that I am one of the lucky ones to have a LFGS like JJ's Game Lounge. I think EVERYONE in a perfect wargaming world should have one.  A place with friendly staff that aren't just staff but part of the wargaming community.  Who are ALWAYS there with a smile when you come in to buy, peruse, play or just to hang out.  Who supports you and any game you wish to play, whether it's a wargame, roleplaying game or a board game and doesn't make you feel weird for just wanting to peruse the merchandise.

Hell, JJ's was created by the community when the last LFGS owner freaked out on the staff.  Everyone pitched in to make it happen.  That you can't buy.  This is the perfect example of what good can come out of the wargaming community.

There has to be more stories like this about other LFGS out there.  Those stories should be shared so we can understand why it's important for these shop to stay around and for people to understand how bad these new policies from GW can really mess up the places we call a second home.


Stop Reflecting, Start Redirecting
One of things you can do to help your LFGS is to help them introduce new games.  Even if the LFGS doesn't carry it at the time, it still helps.  Once a community is created for that game, I'm pretty sure your LFGS will be more comfortable in carrying it.

Get one friend that will stick with it and play him/her at the store and just have fun with it.  People will notice, they will ask you what you are playing, answer their questions politely and even offer them a demo.  That's how you spark a flame.  I've seen it happen with Warmahordes and Malifaux here locally. X-wing is the latest biggy here for us.

And what's important is to do it with out bashing the game they are already playing and love.  That helps no one and just turns them off to you and the game you're trying to introduce. I have to say this because a lot of people who are looking to other games that stopped playing Warhammer for one reason or another did it because GW did something to really irk them. As wargamers, we're pretty passionate about the games we play.

We're going to hear the same old arguments about GW and the antics they pull. It can go on forever and it usually ends up with someone calling for some kind of boycott or what have you.  That's dumb.  It's never going to happen at a scale that it's even going to make GW blink. And if it DID happen, I hope you realize that it means you're boycotting your LFGS too!

This is why you shouldn't quit the hobby because of GW but rather start a new game.  I'm telling you right now, there's GOT to be a game you'll enjoy, just as much if not more than Warhammer.  WarmaHordes and Malifaux are two I really enjoy next to Warhammer.  Dark Age, Relics and Dark Potential are newer games that I like as well.  Some you get into right away, some might take a little time to grow on you.  Warmahordes was one of those games that I got into right away.  Malifaux take a little time to grow on me because the mechanic was different that most games out there but now I can't get enough of it.

If you still love to play Warhammer, then go for it! I still love to play, collect the models, paint them... etc. but don't discount yourself to what other cool awesome games that are out there as well.



We, as the wargamer, need to come together and help keep the LFGS alive so the community stays alive and the first step is to help the local store and the gamers there realize there are other games out there other than GW and help redirect the money in other games but keep it within the hobby.


So with all the cool new releases from GW, it's really great for the game.  Unfortunately, with the new policies, I just think it's going to hurt us all in the long run than anything.

It's just not for the Greater Good.

14 comments:

  1. way i see it, GW is going to go to an all company owned outlet basis within the next 3 years and totally alienate any player that isnt within a reasonable driving distance from their established stores. plain and simple. we all know what that means...no community, no game...

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  2. This is one of the best posts on the subject I've read in a very, very long time - eloquent and well-thought out. And believe me, like you've I've seen the GW hate rants that fling some serious vitriol. From a business perspective, I understand GW controlling their product but I don't understand their resistance to independent retailers - it's like these folks are lepers or something. When you run a biz as large as GW accountants and managers understand things like "the cost of doing business" this typically cuts into profits but not much - like Paypal or Credit Card merchant fees for example.While GW wouldn't make as large of a profit with independent retailers, it should still be a profit nonetheless. One thing did cross my mind though - even though it appears to be that the funds are being held close to the GW vest, it can also be a move to retain cash, demonstrate ease of product distribution and providing supply to substantial demand...all that makes a corporation look very good to potential investors and/or buyers. Things that make ya go hmmmm...honestly I doubt that's the case, but it is a possibility that deserves to be mentioned. Again, great job on a very well written post. Cheers, Kathryn Loch

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  3. Good post mate, but just to be fair The Combat Company in Australia aren't exactly innocent of dirty tricks to direct people to them...First of all they do standard 20% all the time off of Games Workshop prices here and very few others can match that especially bricks and mortar stores here in Australia, they are also a wholesaler for some other ranges and from talking to a store owner who sometimes orders from them they make it so the bricks and mortar stores cannot match their online prices and hence have to charge more, making the Combat Companies prices look really good. (Don't get me wrong I do order from them and they are great at customer service, they just aren't angels)

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    1. Ah ok, good to know then. I not sure if they are an actual shop or just an online seller. I mainly quoted from them. But this still applied to B&M stores as well.

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    2. My local Brick and Mortar store hasn't had any issues getting the Tau stuff in, though they only order a few boxsets at a time not massive orders so can imagine GW happily shipping to them as they don't take away from their own sales.

      I mostly know The combat company as an online seller but they may also have a physical store

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  4. Back in the early to mid 90s me and the wife were planning on opening a hobby shop, not just wargames but as many different hobbies as we could fit in from doll house kit to PC networked games (tried to get info on a set of Tesla pods with a singular lack of success) - as a keen GW customer and player I approached their trade people and they were incredibly helpful, they listened to our plans and gave advice that seemed tailored to the business we wanted to open even going so far as advising on non GW lines we should consider because their other independents had great success in selling it. After a long discussion we wrapped the conversation up with us promising to get back asap once we'd completed negotiations on the properties we'd seen and investigated some other locations they'd suggested - a couple of days later a big Citadel box arrived stuffed with shiny GW toys as samples (even though I'd told the bloke I was up to my ears in minis and rulebooks) - What I'm saying is that the experience as a potential trade seller was 100% positive, If that has changed it's very sad and can't help the hobby as a whole.

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    1. GW has changed a lot since the mid 90s...

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  5. well said chung i have thought about starting to get some warmachine stuff do like there armys.:)

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  6. First of all, great article.

    As to what you mention, here in Spain is exactly the same or something. Independent of the hobby stores are being unable to keep bringing more material on GW because of its increasingly harsh restrictions with any amateur policies understands less and less. It's a shame. Although we all know that GW's miniatures brand advertising and more economic potential, as change of address, in some countries like here in Spain they foresee a disastrous end. Hopefully that will change in time. Personally, I try to avoid playing their wargames due to discomfort I have caused. And I understand perfectly, it is we who must help independent stores are the real promoters of the hobby. What happens is that mentality here in these stores to introduce other games like Sphere Wars, 1650 A Cloak and Sword, Infinity, etc ... is very closed. Although in the last two years we are already seeing some changes, they are still very reluctant to realize that no world beyond GW

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  7. Really good article Chung!

    i have been in the hobby for over 27 years(!) and i have seen GW brick and mortars go from real hobby centers to places of just cold hard business, it used to be really a joy for me to step into a GW and ge some really good advice on my army or on a new army i wanted guys even helping to get a decent army list and even some really good advice on painting, Hell some of the "old" employees are still really good friends of me.

    Then GW changed their policy and thus there was no need for employees who knew a lot about the hobby but knew more about retail.stepping into a GW became a trap for employees just pushing boxes in your face, new guys assuming you are new to the hobby (which can be funny at times!) getting in there to buy just one pot and a employee trying to push you a mega paint set is where i drew a line. I told the manager i was taking my cash somewhere else from now on, which he really didnt like (i was spending an average of 500 euro's a month in the local GW)but they lost me as a costumer.

    I now buy exclusively from my local game shop, Which has a really great community (monthly apocalypse games, battles whenever you want etc) and altough the local game store doesnt have all the stuff i need in stock he does however have the option to place orders from FW (which is cool).

    GW is chocking the local stores imo. Giving you the option to either run to a GW brick and mortar or buy online from them or just to wait a few weeks before your order is at your local Store.
    Even now with the new Tau and Eldar releases, my local store doesnt have any riptides in stock, im still refusing to go to the GW store or even ordering one online.

    My wife and i decided that shes going to collect a brand new eldar force and starting from scratch we wanted to make a really big order at our local store, the owner told us on forehand that it could take several weeks to get all the stuff we wanted we dont mind ......

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  8. This is an excellent article that makes a lot of sense. I don't "boycott" GW as such, I've got loads of their stuff from the '90's and I do buy an occasional new kit, but I'm not prepared to pay their prices or obey the diktats of their rules and army list changes. I've been playing fantasy wargames since Minifigs brought out their "Mythical Earth" range in the 1970's when the only rules we had were an addendum to WRG's Ancients Rulebook. WFB 3rd edition is still my favourite : I can use my Landsknecht style Dwarf pike regiment - how ridiculous it was to stop a practical race such as the Dwarfs from using a basic defensive weapon! I play more historical wargames these days but I still enjoy the old Warhammer, 40k, and Epic, with Squats!!!
    My local GW store in Liverpool back in the early 1990's was a great place to go into just to peruse the stock and have a chat with the staff. I never used to play games there because there were just too many kids making too much noise. I knew the staff and they knew me and my interests so they would tell me if something had come into stock they thought I'd be interested in - not all shops stocked the entire range in those days. They were always pleasant and always helpful. I had the same experience with the mail order staff too whenever I used mail order by 'phone. their customer service was always excellent.
    I think it's quite sad that GW appear to have become the global playground bully - many of us can still remember when they were the new kid on the block and struggling to get themselves noticed. Now, unfortunately, the accountants have taken over and filthy lucre is all that matters to them!

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  9. See what bugs me is the price of there products full stop. Finecast I can't stand the material I just don't like Resin at all any of it no matter who makes it the price and the quality to me doesn't justify it I'd rather pay more for metal and buy stuff from else where.

    If they said just would say sorry and dropped there price margins like some of the LGFS when they offer a discount perhaps we would not be all moaning so much.

    A friend of mine gave his Nephew his old 40K Ork army so he could get same games at his local GW they wouldn't let him use half his converted vehicles because he'd used toy mini coopers with ork crew and weapons as buggys. I mean come on 95% of the army was GW stuff like this makes me really angry where has 'THE HOBBY' love gone.

    I really hope people realise there are some really great boutique company's out there making miniatures and with the internet, facebook and great forums the love these games will spread until GW goes the way of the dodo.

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  10. One of the only plus sides in living in England, And there is not many i can tell you that much. But With the UK Laws GW are unable to close down online hobby stores just as long as they also have a Brick and mortar store. I only had to wait 4 days for my Riptide to Arrive, that i did not mined so much. But It seems as though GW are still being able to take away from the Local hobby stores by full filling there own back orders first and then and only then stocking the items in the Local hobby stores, thus creating a catch 22. because if you order from your Local hobby store in order to support a Local business then you will have to wait Nearly 2 weeks to get what you ordered. I think a lot of this, is being caused by GW slap dash approach to recent releases. they are releasing to much too fast and are tripping over them self's, as they cannot get the models out of the molds fast enough. Some people have even been receiving items in the GW's plain white boxes with the Citedel Logo. Kind of proof that they just cant keep up with demand.

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  11. Intereting and thought provoking. I have always played games other than gw, and even use historical miniatures for my gw games. A oiling the hobby is not the answer, it's seen that the hobby is bigger than one company,

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