Why Games Workshop hates you. | Print |  E-mail
Saturday, 14 June 2008
Games Workshop might make the most popular stuff - but does that make them the best, and give them the best intentions?

For all six of you out there on the internet who might not be entirely versed in Games Workshop's ouvre when it comes to business practices, let me simplify what may be a tl;dr moment:

Games Workshop Hates You.

Now, don't misunderstand - they love your money.  They love your participation (e.g., spending of your money on GW product).  And they certainly love getting more money.

So why then, do I think GW hates you - me, us?

It's crystal clear, in my opinion, what GW's model is, and it's so clever you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel.  Observe:

Little Johnny Wannagame goes in to the mall and sees a GW shop.  Hello, GW shop!  My!  Your aisles are bright and clean and brimming with product.  And friendly staff are there to help me find a game I might like!  Lord of the Rings?  Well the movies and books are certainly cool.  Hey, what's this science fiction deal?  Why, I've heard of Warhammer 40,000!  And books!  Oh, mom and dad have been after me to read - books, magazines - and it's all about this cool stuff you sell!

So mom and dad plunk down the price of an army.  Or a starter kit.  And paints.  And a few issues of WHITE DWARF.  And tools.  And glue.  And terrain.  And so on.  Now, Johnny is in the sweet spot for GW.  They have a young gamer (13-17) with a credit line to mom and dad.  Mom and dad will buy the stuff, then maybe for Christmas if it's close enough (time is key - see below) they'll spend on another hunk of swag.

Now Johnny won't stay in that sweet spot for long: he'll only be "ripe" for 12-18 months.  After that, the next thing GW wants Johnny to do is go away.  Get interested in girls.  Pick up a new hobby.  Sell your army on eBay, Johnny or better still don't sell it at all.  Leave it, half painted, in a box on your closet shelf.  If you have to sell it, fine, but they don't want it sold any later than two to three years after Johnny gives up.

You see, if Johnny becomes John who gets a job, and continues to pursue the hobby, something interesting happens.  John starts looking out across the sea of information on the internet.  He finds out what happened to Squats, to Halflings, and to a myriad of other cool things that existed in GW's various milieus.   He reads about how cool the original Rogue Trader rulebook was.  About how people (and I speak from having witnessed this myself) spent money on armies based on the rules in a rulebook or outlined in WHITE DWARF only to have the game changed subtly yet enough to make that army untenable under the new rule system.  He'll see how GW has created, fostered, nurtured and then abandoned games like BLOOD BOWL, SPACE HULK, DARK FUTURE and others.

Then John becomes problematic for GW.  Instead of being in the sweet spot, he's now in the poison patch.  And he's spreading the poison.  John is now a grognard, a grumbler, and he's going to cons and events talking about how the guy who blew $2000 on a squat army in 1993 now can't even tourney.  Or how the early adopters of the Eldar armies had the pins kicked out from under them when the first Eldar army book was released, and so on.  Now, any new gamers that encounter John are liable to hold off on spending that extra dosh on swag.  John certainly isn't: he's kitbashing, playing with mutually agreed upon house-rules, buying "alternate" paints, proxying in  other minis and worst of all, gaming just for the hell of it.  He's not push push pushing the tourneys, the pay to play games, and the competition painting.

Johnny/John is poison to GW, and they hate him.  And you, if you're John.

There's an alternative, but it's a rare occurrence: Johnny toes the company line, keeps playing, and keeps spending.  He stays enthusiastic enough about it that he either becomes a GW rep or store employee, and preaches the gospel from the pulpit, heretics like us be damned (in the name of the Emperor!).

And that, boys and girls, is why Games Workshop Hates You. 

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