Wednesday, 1 May 2013

How can you tell when a business is in trouble?

   
    


It starts counting pens! It's an old joke that organisations normally start looking at the little picture when times start getting a bit rough for them; and they start doing stupid things in a desperate bid to stave off the wolves at their metaphorical, and sometimes real, doors. 'Counting pens' is a joke often told by consultant types, but if any of you have ever worked at a place where the stationary cupboard has been locked, and a guardian appointed to protect it, you'll be aware of how depressingly true the old joke about counting pens truly is. I've seen companies implode in this way from the outside, and indeed from the inside. They start attributing their woes to external sources, or not enough micro-management. When the going gets tough in the corporate world, quite often it's the stupid that get going.

Companies do dumb, counter-intuitive things when times start getting a bit tough for them. Rather than asking serious questions about why it is the case that the companies bottom line sucks, or the KPI's are going in the wrong direction, because that would be wise and sensible, they plough ahead, just faster. Nope, they tend to assume that if they do more of the same, just better, things will improve. Rarely will someone ask the sensible question "hey, guys, is trying to sell fridges to Eskimos such a great business idea?". Nope, they appoint stationary cupboard guardians, and set researchers off to assess KPI's in minute details, everything becomes too close to view properly and nobody can see the bigger picture anymore. When that happens companies start making rash decisions that are counter-productive and expose themselves to even more risks.

I think it is part of human nature when in such a company to never want to ask whether actually you are doing a good job yourself. Not if you are working hard enough, just asking whether what you do is needed, or indeed efficient. Everyone is on edge, and people do feel besieged and vulnerable; people put their heads down and motor on, thinking blood, sweat and tears will win the day. So where am I heading with this. Well I'm going to talk about our hobbies favourite topic again, Games Workshop. Over the past few months they've done some pretty dumb things haven't they? I might not have commented on the online sales embargo, or their restriction on free trade for independents; and despite sharpening my pen over their claim to own all literary uses of the words 'Space Marines' I've stayed silent.

Partly because I've been reticent in my maintenance of this here Blog... and partly because I don't want to kick that hornets nest again. Well stuff it, I think now is just the right time to kick it again. Maybe it's the sun outside, or the glass of cold cider in my hand, but given that these subjects seems to have cooled down a little, and the interwebs is back to hating their alien codices I think I can talk about these subjects sensibly, and hopefully without being a bit too ranty... oh wait!!! What the f*** have they gone and done now? In spate of what can only be termed as idiocy in the extreme, the great tactical and business centric minds that have been assembled at Lenton Lane have decided now is just the right time to pull another dumb-ass maneuver. You know, because they don't get enough bad press and they apparently have a thirst for more. 

Now I could've gone off into a rant yesterday about fair usage, freedom of speech and done exactly what everyone else has done in the Blogging sphere... but that's not me. I've waited a short while to see what the upshot of the BoLS outage was, and tried to get in touch with various people over the taking down of Faeit 212. Turns out BoLS is back up and it had nothing to do with a DMCA order. So that's good news. On the other issues I've received no reply, and it looks like Faeit 212 has been shut down by the over zealous actions of Games Workshop. Let me be blunt here, this is one of the most blisteringly stupid actions Games Workshop has EVER taken, for a number of clear reasons:

  1. Natfka, the chap who runs Faeit 212, is clearly one of the worlds biggest fans of Games Workshop. His blog was filled with nothing but love for them and their product. If I ever wanted a positive spin on GW I'd always head there first. Why attack a site that is giving you such good free publicity?
  2. I hope Natfka doesn't mind me saying this, but he's hardly the worlds biggest blog out there. Hell he's probably not as big as some other gaming related sites that have reproduced pages from within early copies of White Dwarf. Why go after a small fish and not some of the big fish that actually do attack Games Workshops product?
  3. This action just proves all those people, myself included, right when we say that Games Worshop just do not 'get' the Internet. I famously likened the Internet to the powers of Chaos, and this action shows my analysis was spot on. Way to prove to everybody how paranoid and out of touch you are GW.

I took a lot of flak off of people for daring to say that Games Workshop was paranoid about not being able to totally control their message online. I was told I had no clue about what people up at head office were thinking. Some people got so arsey I received threats... well guess what suckers? Seems I was 100% right after all... so go suck on my meaty man truncheon.

I want to be clear here, I personally think Games Workshop have every right to get screwy about people publishing rulebooks, and codices online. I really do. Whether you think they should follow the examples set by other companies and offer their rules for free is a moot point. They don't. As such we should respect the fact that they expect us to pay for the fruits of their labours, even if the fruit is decades old rotten work we've all already brought a bazillion times over already!!! You lazy motherf... any way, they have the right to protect their revenue streams, IP and Trademarks. Where I get a bit lost though is over their White Dwarf rag. What is White Dwarf for? You see I thought I knew, I thought it was a blatant partisan advert for their product. Nothing wrong with that. An example of a one-sided diatribe passed off as factual and even handed coverage. Nothing new, companies do that all the time. Seems Games Workshop don't see it that way.

Many are sad to see them go... who will be next?

Because, if they did a blogger showing pictures of miniatures contained within its pages would be the exact sort of thing they'd want to see. You know, people talking about their product and promoting it. Saying "hey guys, look at how cool this is!" But no, Games Workshop doesn't really like that it seems. I'm going to let you all into a little secret, I do know people at GW HQ... shock horror!!! They all report the same thing about White Dwarf, the hierarchy thinks ever hobbyist should be buying the God awful rag every month because... because... well they just should!!! They gave it a face lift, but it still remains a piss poor excuse for a magazine, it's still nothing but a shameless advert and has no editorial content worth reading; or journalistic integrity. It is crap. Honestly I haven't felt the need to buy White Dwarf since I was a little kid, because, well when you grow up you can spot when somebody is trying to rip you off.

But they think we should all buy it, and I assure you their moves to stop people publishing any of its pages will continue. This is what this action is about. They think if they stamp out all sources of information people will be forced (note the word 'forced' and not compelled) to buy White Dwarf again... erm... no. There's a classic logic fail right there. Many others and myself will never buy White Dwarf again, I used visit sites like Faeit 212 to keep up to date with the latest wonky looking plastic crap to roll off of their production lines. I'm not interested enough to waste £5 or whatever it is on White Dwarf, and neither are many of their fans... because it's been crap for years! The clear aim of White Dwarf has been to advertise new product, it's a paid for advert; except it's the punters who are paying. So when the Internet is suddenly awash with their blatant propaganda they should actually be happy that it has done its job. We're talking about them. Awesome. So to see them take such draconian measures tells me they're counting pens. Rather than accepting White Dwarf as promotional pamphlet that it is, they see it as a cash generator and want to 'protect' it.

If you can find it for sale buy it just to stick two fingers up to GW.

It's not just attacking little sites with DMCA's though is it? As I pointed out earlier on, it's also the dumbass decision to claim all Space Marines are Games Workshop Space Marines in a Trademark dispute that got them a lot of flak. It's the restriction of trade... on their own goods!!! You see, often people will look at these three issues and see them as separate topics, and the only commonality is that the company resorting to such crude tactics is the same Nottingham based antiquated organisation it has always been. There is however a more telling reality behind these actions, that I think points to a mindset I've witnessed all too well in the past at other places. They're scared and worried. I've worked with some companies recently who have been struggling to make ends meet, and who wanted new marketing strategies and to find new customers. Rather than ask whether the product they have is the right product for the customers they have, they just need to find new people willing to buy their stuff. Sound like any company you know? Always after new starters?

At their root, both the ludicrous claim that all Space Marines are Games Workshop Space Marines, and the restrictions placed on independent traders can be seen as nothing more than a retraction to protectionism. The shutting down of Blogs (trust me there will be more) can also be added into the case for the prosecution. Companies get all worried about such things when they feel threatened, or that they are on shaky ground. There's no question that GW have had to face some pretty tough potential infringements on their IP, see Chapter House. In a sense you could view the restriction of trade agreements with independents as a sort of counting of the companies metaphorical pens... that they are hoping to drive sales to their own stores by starving independents of stock. And you could certainly see their treatment of Maggie Hogarth and her book Spots the Space Marine as a company that has got too close to the KPI's to understand the wider reality they find themselves in.

Just who copied who?

It's almost as if those people at GW HQ don't realise just how flagrant the plagiarism in their own universes is. For instance much of 40k is lifted directly from other people's works, such as the novels of Robert A. Heinlein or the visual stylings of 2000 AD. Nobody back there seems to remember just how much they've stolen themselves, and just how little any of what they think they own the rights to they actually do. They're the biggest IP and trademark thieves there are! They were always unoriginal, and nobody minded, because it was done with a reverie and love for the source material. The truth is Games Workshop have opened themselves up to a massive risk with this lawsuit and C&D action, if tested in US courts there is no way they can win (first Amendment anyone?), and their trademarks might be thrown out as the clear bunkum that they are. You can't own the rights to something somebody else produced over 20 years before your company even existed; and that has been in common use before your company existed. How stupid are these people?

I've heard all sorts of theories about why these things are happening. Business reasons, economical arguments, marketing arguments and even protectionist arguments. Justifications that all seem plausible to a degree, but ultimately miss the motivations for such actions. We're talking about a company that has cut its staff to the point that some stores are one man bands now, that are lucky to be able to open more than 5 days a week. Major stores like the one in the center of Birmingham; previously one of their flagship stores is no longer open all week, and rumours are that is going down to a one man store soon. There is a clear desire to cut costs regardless of impact, and to maintain their business empire at the same time, and they plan on doing that by doing more of the same, just more efficiently. You see efficiency is the Holy Grail for companies struggling to respond to new market conditions... in other words it doesn't really exist.

I'm going to talk about the dreaded VI now, or Vertical Integration. Perhaps I'll let Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy explain, in Games Workshops case substitute in Finecast and Liquid Green Stuff. VI became a very dirty phrase in business during the 80's, 90's and indeed early naughties. It was seen as being bad for companies and bad for consumers, leading to shoddy product that was sold at exorbitant prices... hang on, Finecast, Dreadfleet... hmm; shoddy expensive product. The idea is simple, Games Workshop designs it's products, it then produces, distributes and sells them. They control every aspect of their business, it's kinda like Heinz owning shops that only sell Heinz's product... yeah that'd dumb right? But it can work, if your business is small enough, it's arguably best if you control every aspect yourself early on, farmers taking product to market themselves for instance will yield bigger profits often that way, than if they sell product to a middle man or supermarkets. However, Games Workshop has long since passed that point and is now only perpetuating a monopoly and protectionist racket in my opinion.

For VI to work you need to know for, which part of the business all others are working. In short, which part of the business is the one you want to be profitable and why! Games Workshop no longer knows for 'which part of the business' all others are run. If any one link in this vertically integrated chain is weak, it has compound impacts on the rest of their business. If manufacturing is poor, that costs distribution and retail big time. If the product is weak everyone suffers. If your retail chain is manned by lobotomized gibbons it'll hit every other department exponentially. No one is insulated against the shocks of everyone's utter crapness!!! Their retail chain is being slashed so hard that you'd argue they were only keeping it going to sell their product. But their product line is so bloated and unwieldy that no part of their retail chain could stock it properly... so why keep it? But the Bloat in their product line could be seen as an attempt to force more sales to support a retail network... It's all a bit of a mess. Nothing seems optimized.

It could be argued it is a strength of the organisation that they do indeed do everything, but it is also a dead weight around their necks too. They seem wed to the one way of doing business, and it seems they are going to continue swimming against the tide of change, that not just exists within our hobby, but in the wider world. This leads them to making the crass and counter productive decisions we've seen them make over the past few months. They aren't really sure what they're doing anymore. No body seems to know what the goal is. Yeah, OK so 'profits', but you need a focus on how you are going to make them. Shoveling shit, and flinging shit is not a strategic direction any organisation should be taking, but it seems to be the route that Games Workshop are taking. I've often said the hobby needs a strong Games Workshop, honestly... I'm not so sure anymore. I'd be happier if they just died. Bad companies should be allowed to fail, and Games Workshop are terrible. They're determined to stagnate and force the rest of us to stagnate with them.

Now when Maggie Hogarth was attacked she had literally hundreds of famous authors and public luminaries from nerd culture lining up to support her. Now that's great, and I was really very heartened to see this outbreak of common decency and support. But spare a thought for the likes of Natfka. Which famous comic book artist or science fiction author is going to come to the defense of Faeit 212? I'll tell you who, nobody. All we have as a little blogging community is each other. As hobbyists all we can do is stick up for each other, and offer support. If you're reading this Natfka I'm here for you buddy. If you think there is anything I can do to help (I've fought off my own C&D orders and DMCA claims) I will help. But if you really want to help this hobby, and the industry then please, please, PLEASE, never buy another Games Workshop product. EVER!!! They are not deserving of anyone's cash. Peace out!

94 comments:

  1. I think you're a little off base here, Frontline. The DMCA notice you linked shows GW just asked for one page of the blog to be removed.
    It is likely google, having received multiple notices from GW (a few posts have vanished here and there from 212) decided to shut Faeit down for repeated ToS breaches. Might also explain BoLS shutdown as Naftka was an author there so a google tech might have nuked them by accident (given the lack of explanation forthcoming to Bigred).

    Now, I don't think GW went about this the right way, and I pretty much agree with you on the other points, but it wasn't GW who took Faeit 212 offline.

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    1. You're entitled to your opinion, but I think you're wrong. Why the hell GW should care about a small blog like Faeit 212 is beyond me. The fact is they cared enough to file multiple DMCA notices about a site that is by and large nothing but a GW fan site. They know full well that if they file multiple DMCA notices that more often than not the website gets shut down. Everyone does. It's common knowledge, so please don't assume those at GW didn't know exactly what they were doing. They did.

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    2. People also know that if you keep doing an action that gets you DMCA notices you'll get shut down. It's common knowledge, so I think it would be equally foolish to assume Naftka had no idea he was running that risk.

      As an example if I had a video pulled from my youtube channel due to a DMCA claim I wouldn't put up more of the stuff that got pulled, and if I did and had my channel shut down it would be my own fault.

      GW weren't saying we can't discuss High Elves, or remove descriptions of the battle report and unit abilities, or even people writing up rules from FW books on display - they just asked that a sizeable number of scans of their not yet released publication be taken down so they can have their right of first release.
      Compared to the other stupid crap they've done lately this seems reasonable to me, and the only surprise is it didn't happen sooner.

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    3. "People also know that if you keep doing an action that gets you DMCA notices you'll get shut down. It's common knowledge, so I think it would be equally foolish to assume Naftka had no idea he was running that risk."

      Yep and it is a point I take. However let me explain something that has occurred on my Blog. When a DMCA notice is posted at Chilling Effects or with whoever, it takes a number of days to be actioned by someone like Google. I've had DMCA warnings off of Google over a number of articles. Interestingly only those that are critical of GW.

      By the time Google / Blogger contact me and I go to the source of the complaint it has quite often been removed. There is actually an outstanding DMCA over an article I've written that I can't see on Chilling Effects. Even though Google say it's there, I can't see it or access it. I have no idea what the complaint is concerning and I've supplied evidence to Google that all the pictures and words in the article are my own, or I have written consent for their use from the owners. Yet I still am not allowed o re-post the article until I remove the offending content... but nobody is able to tell me what that is.

      I'll bring it back to fair usage. White Dwarf is a promotional publication. It is not an independent review magazine. It is a wholely owned self publication. So when discussing it, or it's content it comes under fair usage. I've had a lot of lawyers from the US and solicitors from the UK confirm this for me. IF I'm talking about a new product from GW and I use an image from White Dwarf that I've purchased I am actually within my rights to do that. Is that what Faeit 212 was doing? Honestly I can't be sure.

      As to the other stupid crap... I wholeheartedly agree. Which is why the article is also about this other crap. It's not just about what has happened to Faeit 212, that's just part of a wider tapestry of dumb shit GW seems to be getting up to lately.

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  2. Vote with your dollars people

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    1. That would be my advice too. They're a menace to our hobby now, and they are willing to use what ever means they can to try and remain the only show in town. Just boycott them until they no longer exist.

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    2. "They're a menace to our hobby now"

      Really? You actually think this? How? What the hell is your hobby? Painting models and playing games with them I'd have thought right? How the hell is GW a threat to that? Are there more or less companies out there making miniatures than there were five years ago? Your hobby is not under any kind of threat. Take a look at the long list of games at the top of your blog. Not even one of them is under any kind of threat from GW.

      Lets look at what is actually threatened by GW with the most recent action shall we? People who post leaked pictures. That is all. Shall we stop pretending that GW are the bloody antichrist? You have clearly come to a peak of hatred against them. Fair enough. You are entitled. They've pissed me off too. But get a grip. Your hobby is not GW and is under no threat. Zero from them.

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    3. @The Pirate Viking, Please read the entire article. This isn't just about Faeit 212. It's about a catalogue of actions against authors, independent traders and many others that support the hobby in it's widest sense. GW are using their market position and strength to basically bully other companies out of existence. They're trying to shut down authors and claim usage of a phrase that has been in common use more than 50 years before they existed. It is about control and an attempt to stifle competition and that is a threat to our hobby. Whether you think it is doesn't bother me. I think it is, and I'm willing to bet others think it is too.

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    4. I have to agree with Frontline. Our hobby is not merely about collecting models and painting them, it's about COMMUNITY. COMMUNITY is what makes our hobby strong, COMMUNITY is what grows our hobby and COMMUNITY will take us into the future. GW is BLIND TO THIS, WILLINGLY BLIND, they stick their collective heads in the sand to this FACT. GW ceased all tournament activity, DONE, FINISHED and continues to increase prices on an already expensive hobby, AND YET despite this fact our hobby continues to grow, BECAUSE OF COMMUNITY. GW actively alternates between attacking and ignoring our community, and that my friend IS MOST ASSUREDLY a threat to our hobby.

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    5. @Intrizic, I'm glad you get it. I think TPV has some points, but they do sort of buckle when you scrutinize them a little closer. I'm not saying the likes of Faeit 212 are totally blameless. If somebody asks you nicely to stop once or twice, you ought to at least look into whether it'd be wise to listen and take heed of what they are asking. To repeatedly flout DMCA notices wasn't wise. I haven't done that, sure I've tackled a few, and others have disappeared as soon as they were issued... but I've never ignored them.

      Part of me questions whether Natfka wanted to court the controversy to improve there online profile. Nothing like a storm in a tea cup to do that, but then I look at the sort of articles he wrote and conclude that no, I really think he just had that much love for the product he just had to share... and tht's just a real shame.

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    6. My post was more of a 'in general' reply, less specific to the situation at hand. In general, I see this as GW attacking the community at large, why pick fights with your community? Any business would love the kind of community that surrounds the GW product, many businesses would consider that a strength of the brand. Natfka should have listened, GW doesn't play around with it's legal department. While their litigation may not always be prudent, it is consistent.

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    7. Intrizic gets it.

      GW is doing everything it thinks it can get away with to discourage the online 40K community. Particularly the competitive portion of it. Whether it's take-down notices, deliberately competition-unfriendly rules, or what have you. GW wants to return us to the 'glory' days of the late 80's and early 90's, where they could control the entire experience of the 'hobby', and everyone was safely balkanized in their own separate basements. With no concept of what was happening in the rest of the world apart from GW's manufactured reality.

      In the process though, they're constantly throwing away opportunities to leverage their brand and community. Opportunities that could strengthen the company, grow profits AND revenue, and set themselves up as the masters of the transformative technologies that they're currently so fearful of.

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    8. @SandWyrm, I'm not too sure GW are doing everything they think they can do to discourage the online 40k community. It just sometimes seems like it. :P For instance I think they have been given more than enough ammunition, if they so wanted, to have nuked both Warseer and Dakka Dakka if they wanted. That's not to say their inept solicitors haven't tried of course. But I wouldn't know if they had or not. I think though like you I believe GW do want to return to 'heir' glory days of the 80's and 90's, when yes they controlled the message within the hobby pretty much totally. It certainly wasn't our hobby's glory days in the wider sense though... I think those are happening now. It is though, as you say, their inability to leverage the strength of loyalty they once elicited from their fans that is the most baffling and frustrating aspect of all these issues... I guess ultimately the company is just too stuck in its ways to ever really truly change. But is it big enough to behave in this way and still survive? As always time will tell.

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  3. "Rumours" are something I've always been conflicted on. On the one hand, I am curious about new things and like seeing what is upcoming. On the other, I have always known that the only way this information gets out into the community is through people wiping their ass with non-disclosure or just straight up copying information that is, and should be, protected IP.

    Seeing it from a business perspective. GW can never, never win online. Every time they actively engage with the community it has resulted in a tide of mostly undeserved hate and bile from people who have lost all perspective. So they pulled up the drawbridge, deleted their forums and the like and communicated in a controlled fashion. Fairy nuff. Equally, the further in advance they promoted their products the worse it was for them. You can't believe the number of times I would try to get someone excited about a new product that they would probably have enjoyed only to be told "nah, I'm waiting for... [insert upcoming thing here]". So they once again rolled up the drawbridge and kept their cards close to their chest. So now, the only "rumours" are ones that are, well, stolen really. Add to that that when they are published the same people that hurl abuse all the time hurl some more hate so that even people excited by new things (i.e. me!) are dropped waist deep into a soup of bile and cynicism by people who will probably buy the damn things anyway. Actually, worse, people who quit years ago "GW will never get another dollar from me" etc. continue to follow these sites and pour scorn on. I can't abide golf, divisive, racist, sexist, won't watch it, won't pay any money to it. However I don't find golf blogs to jump up and down about it either.

    Hillariously, GW don't even pretend to stop people discussing rumours, even through non-disclosures. Their legalese says as much. All they ask is "don't print the pictures please!". I can see why they've issued the C&D notices, Google COULD have just demanded the removal of the offending content. But they've gone for jugular. Who knows what has gone on behind the scenes leading up to this. Of course, none of that will matter to Teh Internets as it likes simple, David/Goliath, big bad wolf stories. I suspect that you might be a trifle too angry about it at present to agree though!

    Anyway, my twopennethworth over. Hopefully with my preferred flavour of "dissapointed but I get it".

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    1. I'm going to take issue with the phrase "mostly undeserved hate". The forums closing down was because they couldn't take criticism of failed services or product cropping up. If people posted about bad service the threads would get locked. Ditto the closing of comments on their YouTube videos... and the assault on their Twitter accounts after the Space Marine incident shows that much of the hate is fully deserved I'm afraid.

      They don't want to engage with the community, and their attempts you mention weren't attempts at dialogue. They were clearly viewed by GW as new methods of broadcasting 'their' message. It's a control freak thing with them. Many other companies have to put up with rage haters... do they respond? NO!!! They just put out their products and information and let the chips fall where they may. GW's problem is seemingly they're not willing to let that happen. In this day and age that's just heads in the sand type stuff.

      As for not being able to sell new product because of other releases down the line... I'm sorry that always makes me giggle. IF a company is not able to sell a new product because there is something else coming then guess what, that product wasn't good enough in the first place. Everyone knows Apple will release regular updates to their iPhone. Does that stop people buying them? Maybe close to the launch of a new version, but across the life cycle of the product no. The thing is GW's product line should ALL be saleable at any point in it's life cycle. The only thing that should stop me buying a Tau codex is the prospect of a new one being launched in the next few weeks or so, not the launch of Eldar or Blood Angels or Whatever. Because we're talking about different facets (factions) of the same product (say 40k). If I can't sell Grey Knights anymore because Eldar are new out and as such "the best" then they have a problem with their product line. Being secretive about the fact they have an intrinsic problem with how their business is run won't solve their fundamental problems will it?

      As to GW not wanting to stop people talking about their products... I beg to differ quite strongly. I've had some interesting 'issues' shall we say... and I have my suspicions as to what caused them. I've had a number of DMCA notices issued against my articles that talk about GW. My articles are taken down by Google as a precaution then the DMCA's are removed almost as soon as they were posted. As to Google, they respond in a manner that we've all become accustomed to. I'm sure GW knew exactly what they were doing and indeed the likely outcome of their actions.

      I've posted contact details on my Blog, and I'm easy to get hold of. I've had companies contact me and ask me to stop using stuff. Or to remove links to their products... God only knows why, but they have. And I've been willing to comply if asked nicely, even if fair usage is on my side. GW could operate in the same way. It's far easier to email me and get a response than have to file a legally correct DMCA notice... trust me I've tried both methods myself. I'm not angry at GW, this is just another example of their overly draconian measures. Read the entire article. I'm not just talking about Faeit 212, it's not about protecting IP, it's about control, even their DMCA notice confirms this to be the root cause of their motive.

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    2. Ok, I take your comments on board and I did only answer a small part of the post. Fair enough. I will ask just one question though. Why shouldn't GW try to control their message?

      Seriously? Why should they just "take it" and leave the bile and vitriol without answer or recourse as everyone seems to want them to? No other company in our hobby is the target of the amount of hate out there for GW. I wouldn't just take it if it were targeted at me.

      We aren't going to agree. That's fine, you are as entitled to your views as I am to mine. I will though, in a slightly low blow, direct your attention to one of your own articles.

      http://thefrontlinegamer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/sunday-sermon-beware-internets-version.html

      We always run the risk of choosing one reality and failing to see the other side of the argument.

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    3. I have no problem with GW trying to control their message. They can spin their message however they want via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, White Dwarf and whatever. They can even come on here on this very Blog and post a comment if they want to. I wouldn't stop them. They can respond to the bile and the hatred, although as someone who has advised on publicity issues I'd advise against it... you see that's not what they are doing.

      What they are doing is trying control my message, or Natfka's or any other persons message then that's fucking wrong. they're trying to silence people, and what we've got to say. That's an attack on freedom of speech, and that my friend is worth getting angry about. No company should be able to stomp on independent views and voices. That's what Games Workshop are doing, and that's what I take issue with the most.

      You can direct me to my own article all you like. It just proves that I'm more even handed than most, and that I'm willing to sit back and asses things properly as I have done here. The fact that I write such articles, and have stuck up for GW in others should suggest to somebody like you that maybe if somebody as rational and even handed as I am think they've crossed them line, then perhaps they crossed the line.

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    4. @PirateViking

      You're supposing that all this "undeserved hate" just bubbles forth out of nothing. GW hasn't done anything to deserve criticism or dislike? Anything? Really?

      No badly designed/manufactured products? No unwillingness to admit that certain products aren't as well made or durable as previous ones, but cost more? No lying about the reasons for price increases? No unwillingness to address key flaws in their game systems? No attempts to nerf or break rules to sell more new models? No misguided attempts to claim IP that isn't theirs? No restrictions on exports to countries where their products are significantly more expensive? No ratcheting up of stock minimums (and lowering of margins) for independent retailers? No restrictions on how retailers may sell you stuff online? No attempts to discourage or control discussions within their own fan communities? No shutting down of the communication channels that customers might use to criticize these actions and gain the attention of GW management?

      Battlefront (and other game companies) make stupid decisions on a regular basis too. But you don't see them hiding from their communities. Instead they... gasp... communicate with us. And even if you don't agree with their final decisions, at least you know that they're aware of the problems, and usually there's a compromise of some kind offered. Has GW EVER done that? I can't think of a single time.

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    5. @SandWyrm... well said. That is all.

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  4. Frontline...you are spot on. I haven't been a GW player or customer for many many years, but neither have I been a 'hater'...until recently. Picking on the little guy, irrespective of the legal position, is just plain bad form. The desperate act of a desperate company who's days are clearly numbered.

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    1. I said in my Imperium as metaphor article that I have much love for GW's games, and many of their products. No matter how crap their Black Library fiction is, I enjoy their hammy and derivative backgrounds because I grew up with it. If for no other reason than nostalgia I would love GW to be utterly awesome. The truth is they are not. All these niggly little actions they've taken of late though seem strangely more draconian than usual. They also seem born of a wish to control things rather than actually protect their IP... that is an interesting switch up.

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  5. great post, especially the man truncheon bit!

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    1. Quite frankly the bile I received for saying GW wanted to control the Internet and what people say on it was ridiculous. So I wanted to put a line in their to all those who felt it necessary to email me with threats to basically say "up yours". I think the man truncheon line served it's purpose quite well.

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  6. Interesting commparison of the great Heinlein's book cover with GW's game art. Lame :(

    Homage is one thing and it is cool if done right, but taking it as if it is your own and thinking no one cares is bad.

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    1. Yeah I thought so too when I saw it for the first time. As you say there's Homage, and then there's passing other peoples ideas off as your own. That's basically what GW do and then get all arsey when others get 'inspired' by the same source material the likes of Rick Priestly were inspired by in the first place. The fact that their two universes are so derivative of others works is what is causing them so many problems now. What can they truly claim to be their own?

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  7. While I admire the effort, I have to think it's sadly wasted. Anyone who was going to stop giving GW money because of their douchebag business practices would have long ago. The recent stuff has been truly bad, but my favorite was what they did with Blood Bowl a few years ago. Take the guys and group who'd maintained the LRB and kept the game alive, kick them out of their ass as they reclaim the game and effectively steal the work done by those loyal players, send takedown orders to every website out there with "Blood Bowl" in the name, and then... nothing. They change the name, post the PDF work of others, and then not a single new model or even for what, 4 years?

    Anyone who wakes up because they sent a takedown to a smallish blog and goes "Wow, GW is kinda mean" has had their head so deep in the sand they can probably speak Chinese by now.

    At least for us Americans. I think you Brits would pop out somewhere in the south Pacific ;)

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    1. True dat y'all.

      I'm not just talking about a smallish Blog here though, although that was a trigger to posting this up earlier. I was originally going to look at the independent trade thing in detail, and I might still do that. There's certainly some interesting economic data to suggest that what GW have done is actually going to harm them. I was also going to look back at the spots the space marine fiasco and I was writing all this up when my inbox was flooded with emails about Faeit 212. It's all just facepalm worthy if you ask me. It's like they're too dumb to realise how what they do is viewed.

      As to it not stopping some people, don't be so sure. Everyone has a different straw that finally breaks their back. The independent trade thing really hit home round by me, and the spots the space marine thing enraged a lot of the GW diehards I know. They lost customers due to both, and I gained new opponents. Thanks GW.

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    2. Ta-Nehisi Coates has a pretty good working definition of what an asshole is:

      "A person who demands that all social interaction happen on their terms."

      And folks wonder why some people don't like GW.

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    3. SandWyrm that's a very good definition actually! Might have to use that myself. GW does a lot of things wrong for me, but it really is this lack of communication and more importantly the fact that they only want to transmit their thoughts and not listen to those of their customers that totally pisses me off. My biggest gripe.

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  8. Let it be known round the world.. Frontline called it first!

    But seriously.. I've been reading your blog for a while now and this is the first time I've this kind of tone comming from you. Considering your writing style and general reasoning in your articles, that's saying something..

    I don't get it. I don't get any of it. With their crackdown on independent retailers, do they actually think that every sale they take away is a sale they will automatically gain? Why would you alienate and piss off the people who sell your product. In some countries even the only people who sell their product.

    And the whole "we own space marines as a term, because.. well.. reasons.." Seriously? Did they somehow think they would get away with trying to claim one of the largest (and oldest?) tropes in sci-fi? Or did they really believe their own bullshit?

    And now this blogging load of crap.. There are hordes of marketeers trying to figure out the best way to get a message spread on the internet, the most efficient people to send it to. The most convincing way to 'leak' some blurry ass picture so that people think it's an actual leak and spread it. It's not just that they can't be arsed to do it themselves, their big fucking plan is to try and get rid of the people who do it for free?? Fuckin' A gw.. Fuckin' A..

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    1. I could take it when Games Workshop were just crap. When they did stupid things that shot themselves in their own feet... when their idiocy spreads out and affects others I'm sorry, but then I think it pisses me off. If all you are doing is harming yourself well that's your call. When you start harming others that's shitty.

      As you say there are other companies that would KILL for the sort of product dissemination that GW get with these early White Dwarf leaks. OK if they don't want them, that's cool that's fine, find out where the leak is coming from inside your own company and shut them up. Get your own house in order first.

      If this is leaks though from a White Dwarf the person has in their own hands, then I'm sorry, but what the hell are you complaining about? You distributed it to the person. To be honest it's not Faeit 212 that I'm most concerned about, it's the treatment of distributors and independents. That's got under tones of what they did in the late 80's and early 90's when they killed of any emerging competition.

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    2. Indeed. They're not only messing with their own livelihood, but the livelihood of the distributors/independents themselves and the producers of other ranges these people sell.

      Thanks for a good article. Seems like I was too lost in rage-mode to mention this earlier :(

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    3. I think a lot of people are in rage mode right now. I'll put my hands up and say some of their actions of late have right royally pissed me off. I try to ignore them where possible, because I'm just not interested. But with complete dickish moves like they've pulled over the last few months it's just not possible to avoid them... they're being that big a bunch of ass hats over things they've made the national news over here in the UK a few times.

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  9. Hey Frontline, Another smallish GW douche move that people may not be aware of....

    I work at a bookstore in New Zealand, because I also help to run the local gaming club I stock White Dwarf, Fantasy Flight's Relic and other gaming related product(ignore the fact that we get White Dwarf two months later than GW stockists, its not worth arguing over) For the last 2 years we have been stocking Black Library titles, buying them through Penguin books. We have two entire shelves of books ( a lot for a Sci-Fi series in a small shop believe me)and a small but dedicated audience who salivate for the latest title. Two weeks ago I received an email from Penguin advising me that as of May 30th Penguin has lost the rights to distribute Black Library titles and in order to stock these titles we would have to open a Black Library Trade Account. As of today I have received no information on how to open such an account and tbh I have no intention of looking into it, if their terms are anything like the terms for Independent stockists of GW models then we will not be interested.

    I can only shake my head at this point as it is more of the same foot shooting that GW has been doing for the 7 years I have been in the hobby but the real kicker? Of the 10 odd customers who regularly peruse the shelves for Black Library only 2 actually play the game! The rest of them will never set foot in out towns model shop (that only ever carries one copy of the latest title and never restocks) and so will JUST STOP BUYING BLACK LIBRARY. Anyways, what can you do? If they are determined to do this to themselves how can we stop it, and do we even want to?



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    1. @Blackhand

      Also in NZ. I've also heard from people in stores that they have real difficultly with pre-orders as GW wont tell them whats coming, that the margins are crap, and that generally they only stock GW to get people in the store.

      Also, NZ suffers from horrific regional price gouging and anti-trade shipping discrimation.

      see http://vom-krieg.blogspot.co.nz/2011/12/price-aint-right.html

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    2. @Blackhand, that just beggars belief. It really, really does. Yet again it is a retraction to protectionism. Rather than distribute their product far and wide, as is normally the case with companies, GW are hoping to drive sales to their own stores. It won't work. We'll all just buy better novels written by other authors... like Spots the Space Marine. I wander if that'll be the case for big bookstores here in the UK like Borders or Waterstones. I can't imagine their buying teams taking too kindly to having to open another trade account just to manage the fecking Black Library stock. They're likely to say screw it.

      @Vomkrieg, I'd read your article the first time around, I'd urge others to go check it out. Makes for some interesting reading.

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  10. Hi Frontline, looks like you got a bit of turbulence in the comments there. But I got to say that I agree with you 100%. GW is dyeing slowly... it would be better for the hobby if it didn't linger another 10 years before it finally drops dead. So I say GW is holding the hobby back. Just look at the number of other games / companies starting to emerge from the shadow of GW... Mantic and Privateer Press to name but of the more successful ones. I buy from both these companies, but GW will not get another penny from me.

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    1. Turbulence... meh. I expect it when Games Workshop are involved. It seems people on both sides of that particular debate are unable to see things from the other side. However, I think we've all been cordial and I'd defend Gotthammer and The Pirate Viking and what they've said. They've not been out of order, and some of what they say has merit. I'm not blind, and nor am I unreasonable... nope, that'd be GW!!!

      Yeah GW have been in a holding pattern now for well over a decade. They bloated their games and product line to support and unsustainable network of shops. Now they're desperately clinging to that retail network because if they lose it, they lose the ability to control how their product is sold. The whole thing looks like a bit of a mess from the outside. I'm told it doesn't look much better from the inside.

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  11. OK. It would be fair to say that I agree with some, not all of your arguments, however I wholeheartedly agree that the current GW and its decisions are both bad for GW and (I fear) bad for the industry - as a gaming industry without GW would (OK could) be a weaker and less well funded community.

    However (there - I have used the word again) I think the way forward is lots of smaller companies, and the fresh impedes of KICKSTARTERS. In the last year I think there have been more new games and new ideas and new miniatures launched or more precisely offered than in the last five years. Plus these new games/new miniatures have been more segmented, more original.

    GW with its stuck in the past and huge structure is falling behind.

    It could also be that there is more of an emphasis on profit rather than passion.

    I'll end there as this is becoming a ramble.



    Great post and one that is well written. Thank you.

    Tony

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    1. I don't expect people to agree with me, and articles like this, no matter how well reasoned or written are unlikely to sway people from the other side of the debate. It's just the way things are where GW are concerned. I totally defend their right to protect their revenue streams and IP... I just don't think that's what they are doing here at all.

      I think Kickstarter has been a boon and indeed a curse to the industry... in fact jumping the gun a little there may be an article on that very issue this Sunday. Just sayin'. When you look at GW and it's HUGE bloated and antiquated ways I have to say compared to many of the nimbler smaller companies out there, GW looks old and tired. It's products in the main just don't stack up well against new comers to the market who are just doing 'it' better.

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  12. Great article Frontline I couldn't agree more.

    Though that being said I'm still in the hate phase of my personal GW breakup.

    "I loved her man! But she was only interested in my money!" :)

    But I wonder what would happen if GW did go under?

    Would the main games survive as the company is broken up and sold on? or would other companies just see its bloated product line as a burden and forgo the chance in favour of there own projects.

    Would the specialist games side of the business get taken up and finally reach its potential?

    And would our hobby dwindle without the high street presence of GW?

    Now I've gotta admit part of me would like to see GW fail! Some of my reasons are petty but mostly its because of what GW has become.

    But if it did I do worry about the repercussions.

    Anyway that's my thoughts, as pointless as they are. :)

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    1. Well you can be as angry as you like about her buddy... because she's a bitch!!! lol.

      I used to wander what would happen if GW went under. There is no doubt that they'd take a hell of a lot of retailers with them... but I'd guess there'd be a equal number who'd learn to adapt and survive. It's what we humans do when we face adversity.

      I've argued that GW's High Street presence was important in the past... but seriously, name me a GW here in the UK that is actually on a High Street and not some God awful back alley where piss heads and ne'er-do-wells go do urinate. Those that aren't on such streets are closer to them than they are the actually main retail centers in our towns and cities. They don't get much passing trade anymore and that argument from GW is pure BS. The only people who head to those stores are those who know they exist in the first place...

      That's community baby. If they went away, we'd still all be here with a need for toy soldiers. We wouldn't disappear with them. Sure we'd take hits, but the hobby would survive and might come out the other side looking the better for it.

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    2. If you want to know how the hobby would do without GW's street presence, look to the US. GW has no meaningful store presence here. It's driven entirely and almost exclusively by independent game stores. Those stores could introduce people to Warmachine or Malifaux as easily as Warhammer-anything.

      There are two areas where there might be an impact. First, how many GW players are so GW-only that they'd take their dollars out of the hobby rather than play a second game? Second, the one thing I think GW does provide better than anyone right now is playerbase - no matter where you go, you can almost certainly find an active GW playerbase. I expect at this point that PP could easily fill that role, but this could also be impacted by GW-only players.

      Overall I think the hobby would survive, and honestly would probably be better off. IMHO GW strangles communities - between simple dedication and loyalty (which isn't a bad thing) and massive sunk costs (which is) GW players tend to stay there. Seeing them disperse to support multiple cheaper systems, rather than surviving price lockin, would be a good thing.

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    3. @Buhallin, you make some sensible points, and I think quite often many gamers will overly sensationalize the effects that GW going the way of the dodo would have. Sure it'd be pretty bad at first. No question. But I think we'd all adapt and move on.

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  13. an outstanding post frontline, glad to see you back to normal ;)

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    1. Thanks for the kind words Anton... there might even be two more articles already written for the rest of the week!!! *sharp intake of breath*

      OK there are at least two more articles already written... but you know... I was going to keep it secret.

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  14. You know, as much as I dislike the company's methods and attitudes I find myself lacking sympathy for the situation Natfka got himself into. The scuttlebutt so far has been that he posted scans of an as-yet unreleased WD, which is enough over the line for me to agree with GW's DCMA on the content. For Google to suspend the blog over that is well within their rights, especially if he's done similar before.

    Caveat: I'd never heard of the dude until this happened, the GW blogscene is not one I care to follow anymore.

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    1. When I first read the story about Faeit 212 I'll be honest with you Arquinsiel my cynic radar shot to 10 (that's the maximum by the way). My instant thoughts were, he must have had more than one DMCA claim against him for Google to have taken his site down. So my logic was "you crafty bugger, you've done this to raise your profile". Nothing like a Goliath stamping on your David to raise your profile. So if that's what Natfka has done it is cheeky, but GW's stupidity in pursuing his Blog has allowed him to exploit their paranoia. I just don't get why they're bothered. They've actually handed him some Internet 'street cred'. So either way, it doesn't really matter if Natfka was goading them does it? Why the hell should they care? It's just such a bizarre thing to pursue.

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    2. You're right, it probably will help his profile long-term which is cheeky. But really, when he's posting pictures from a WD that hasn't been released to the general public then GW have a leak on their hands. Without going into the pros and cons of their biblical approach to getting info out there they've got good reason to be concerned about someone, somewhere, in the organisation who gives no fucks about their NDA.

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    3. Arquinsiel that's the point isn't it? There's a leak at GW and surely it'd be wise for them to find it and plug it. Because it is just going to keep on happening. There will be other sites that crop up and post them, mark my words.

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  15. First off, great to see another meaty FLG article!

    This is always a topic that provokes a lot of reaction so I thought I'd get involved a stick my thoughts down.

    I don't think I've encountered anyone in person that hasn't had a negative opinion of the shenanigans that GW have been pulling recently but I get the impression that it's the level of reaction and/or impact that has varied. From a personal perspective, it annoys me, I definitely think less of GW now but has this had an impact on the amount of their product I buy? Probably not. But... their general insistence on secrecy has definitely had an impact on the way myself and other people locally have been spending their hobby budget.

    In terms of the recent decisions coming from Lenton Lane, the crack down on advance scans of White Dwarf I can almost, if I try really hard, almost, see a slither of their side of the argument; a number of years ago when speaking to someone from the GW studio they argued that they spend a lot of time making their models and making them look pretty and so when they're unveiled they want them to look their best and not be some crappy blurry photo. Now, I can sort of see their reason there, but, I don't think seeing a poor quality pic is really going to steal the thunder of seeing the proper photo in the same way as seeing the photo doesn't always do justice to seeing the model in the flesh and, as others have already pointed out, surely any hype, publicity and discussion is a good thing. As for the heavy handed way of dealing with it? Well, what can you say really? Same goes for all the other negative publicity, I can't really come up with any justification. I'm sure the people sat there making these decisions aren't intentionally trying to be so bloody useless and must believe they're doing the right thing but surely there's got to be gamers working at GW, particularly anyone that's worked there for a considerable amount of time, that have to be as disappointed by the company's actions as the rest of the general gaming populace?

    I like seeing the upcoming new releases as soon as possible, I like having an idea of what's coming out, I'm not going to buy every release GW bring out as I have no interest in the vast majority of the armies they have in their games; whether I know about the releases a week in advance or a year in advance that won't change, I'll only buy for the couple of armies I collect. The problem lies in the fact that other manufacturers don't insist on keeping it secret what they're releasing until the last minute; if Corvus Belli show me a nice Haqqislam or Yu-Jing model a month before release I'll allocate some of next months hobby budget to it. If Privateer Press show me a shiny Khador unit a month in advance or show me some crazy Convergence of Clockwork army's coming out in the summer that's where my money's going. If Spartan games start previewing Russian's or Relthoza, guess what? My cash is going to get thrown at them. That month GW decide in their infinite wisdom that Sisters of Battle are finally getting an overhaul and only let me know a week before it happens, yeah I'll be pleased, but unlucky GW, my monies already been spent and, given that you're generally being dicks, I don't feel so bad about not buying your stuff.

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    1. This is exaggerated even more when you take Kickstarters into account; disposable income is gone before the product's even out and it might not even arrive for months but chances are I'm going to be getting a good deal and will be receiving loads of minis at some point in the future. The fact that the postman's going to be dropping a shit load of minis on my doorstep makes me even less likely to buy more from GW; "I've got the best part of 300 minis turning up in November that I'm going to have to find the time to build, paint and play with, there's no way I can justify buying a load of GW minis whose games now rely on fielding a bazillion models, but, another couple of Hafzas aren't going to hurt and I can easily knock out another 'jack".

      Related to the points regarding dicking about with independent stockists that I don't think has been bought up (a relatively minor point when considered in isolation but another illustration of the ever increasingly dubious business practises) concerns the supply of White Dwarf. Now, like most, I recognise that White Dwarf is and has been for some time a massive steaming pile, but... I do enjoy reading it, well, looking at pictures. For me, I don't mind spunking a fiver on it once a month. It wastes a lunchtime or journey or whatever and I like having a physical catalogue in my hands. The problem comes to getting hold of it. Previously I had a subscription which, upon expiry, I didn't renew, the reason for this was that despite being a subscriber the only perk I got was that it was slightly cheaper and despite being a subscriber it would appear in our local gaming store well before I received my copy. This seems to have changed in that now our local gaming has to wait a ridiculous length of time to receive their copies. It was always the case that somewhere like W H Smiths would have to wait but the games store would get it on time; surely this is right, the game store gets it on time seeing as they're hawking GW's wares whilst a newsagent has to wait? I guess that GW likes GW stores to have its magazine in advance of other stores so that if we want it on time we have to visit them where they'll try to ram more product down our throat but I don't have a local GW store. If I did I would happily go in, wade through the children and tell the overly enthusiastic employee "No, fuck off I don't want your new, more expensive, overpowered, flavour of the month, slightly different coloured, copyrighted space marines, I've only come in for your rag of a magazine/sales brochure!" So there, the five pounds they used to get off me a month they're also missed out on. Wankers.

      Well that turned out to be a lot more ranty and sweary than intended but I quite enjoyed it.

      I think the vast majority of us, at least those of us between certain ages, do have a bit of a soft spot for GW purely down to nostalgia, it's what introduced a lot of us to wagaming and there is the issue of what would happen if they weren't on the highstreet? Who/what would introduce the new players? For me, not so long ago I'd have thought it unthinkable for GW to disappear and I couldn't imagine not buying the next edition of 40K but it hasn't taken all that long for that mindset to start to change and I think that is a pretty good indication of how shitty things have started to get with them...

      P.S. given the length of time this epic has taken to type some of the points have been covered by others but, well, I'm done typing so I'm not going to go back and edit :P

      P.P.S. ARGH!!1! Now I have had to split this into two posts s I've written too damn much!

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    2. Well I hope it was cathartic for you at least. I'm not sure there's much I can add to what you've said. I feel the same way. I used to buy all the army books and codices, just to keep up. They don't even get that business from me any more... and I love owning rulebooks!!! So I'll say this...

      right on brother.

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  16. What´s a "Games Workshop"? ;p

    Man... if you don´t like their "modus operandi" don´t buy from them... simple as that...

    It´s hard for me to understand all the fuzz about GW. It seems to me, reading lot of posts about their goods, that they are an overpriced piece of poop. I tried to play WH40K once and it almost bored me to death. Don´t get me wrong... the background story is really cool but do I have to use their overcomplicated rules and expensive-beyond-logic products to have fun? There´s nothing better out there?
    Even if you don´t play their games they can annoy you. I love to paint my minis and I spent a lot of money in paints and mediuns. I don´t use their paints (GW) because I buy my paints online in a friendly known webstore and they sell their paints but you can´t even see the picture off the paint?! It seems that even when a retail store is actually selling their products and generating profit for them they can´t advertise it? No pictures of the pots? Are they serious??

    Fuck them! Vallejo and P3 are awesome and cheaper too.

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    1. I think most of the 'fuzz' is mainly to do with nostalgia. I asked the question a few months back of some friends as to whether GW were ever any good. It was a difficult thing to qualify to be honest. What we can say is that in the early 90's they were better than most of their competition in terms of product and customer service. But they haven't really moved on much from that time, and others have.

      I don't play their games anymore. I don't buy their product anymore. I have never really used their paints either. Sure I would buy the odd colour or wash or whatever, but I've mainly always used paints for model cars etc. because that's what my dad taught me to use. So I have a load of Vallejo paints, Tamiya et al. I do own some P3 paints, but I'm not in love with every colour they make.

      So I've been off of GW for some time. But as you say they cast such a large shadow over our hobby that their decisions can affect me, even if I want bugger all to do with them. Their practices are hurting and harming the shops I choose to do my buying of other peoples products from. There's no lead in or transition period with them, it's just over night you can't do X, Y and Z anymore. They're not giving businesses fair time to respond and restructure.

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    2. Bingo.

      In the age of Battletech (late 80's to early 90's), Adeptus Titanicus was like a breath of fresh air. Faster (way faster) to play, and 2-3x more fun. We kept asking ourselves how the game could be so simple (no coloring in little dots all night long), and yet so fun at the same time.

      So yeah, there really was a time when GW was the best at what they did. Still greedy, and prone to releasing ridiculously overpowered stuff (Skaven Screaming Bell circa 1992-ish) to sell models. But at one time they really did seem to care about their products from a design standpoint. There was always something new and cool coming out from them.

      Not so much now.

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    3. I think that much of what we attribute as 'by design' from the early 90's era GW were more happy coincidence that they learned from. Even possibly the screaming bell... although I too had my suspicions at the time. :P

      I mentioned in a comment on my specialist games article today:

      http://thefrontlinegamer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/monday-musing-specialist-games.html

      That I think most of the Specialist Games hark back to a time when Games Workshop actually viewed their games as their key products, and in many respects it was the quality of the game that was their focus. The likes of Rick Priestly and Andy Chambers wouldn't have had it any other way. That focus has shifted so tha their games are now simply just a justification for the massive volumes of miniatures they want us all to purchase. They no longer care about their games, as long as they ensure you need to buy a megacrapton of their miniatures.

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    4. FG, I think you're forgetting just how badly designed most tabletop games in the 80's and early 90's were. GW's designs really were superior to almost everything else that was out at the time. Faster, simpler, and more fun was what they were known for. It drove their success.

      But GW stagnated around '98, ceased innovating, and now they just soullessly pump out plastic without bothering to really create anything new in their games or universes. Part of that is the loss of the Specialist Games, as that was their experimental playground for concepts they later folded into the games and fluff.

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    5. @SandWyrm, I think you misinterpreted my comment, I wasn't saying GW games from the early 90's weren't well written and well designed. On the contrary they were, I was just saying that some of the power creep accusations leveled at the time, at units like the screaming bell, weren't done to shift miniatures, but were actual genuine honest to God mis-steps. Many gamers at the time attributed 'malice of forethought' to such issues, I don't think that was the case at all. Although having seen the sales spike of such units, they certainly appear to have learned from the experience.

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  17. Congrats on starting back with your blog. Couldn't wait to tickle the dragons tail could you. No nothing light like the few month of back log of infinity minatures to review. Anyway hope you are well and this discussion isn't getting the better of you. Lol

    Personally the way I see it is that all GW is doing is shooting themselves in the foot unless they are trying to sure up their IP before a major change. What I mean by that is from my point of view is that unless they are looking to bring on a corperate partner (maybe fantasy flight gust a guess) or sell out completely these moves to alienate customers make no since. What I was taught from a young age is that if you make a person happy they will tell four or five people. If you treat someone unhappy they will tell everyone they know.

    I played 40k from mid third edition thru the 5th edition. In the years I played it is like the universe was stuck in stasis. Their was no forward movement at all. The years advanced but the story remained where it was. What gets me is that the stories and fluff are right their but GW does not pursue it. Look at Paradeso for infinity it forwards the story keeps players engaged and sold a ton of minis for the company. GW last "campaign" that I saw Eye of Terror introduced three or so new armies which weren't playable within a few years and were mainly just added sprus to other box sets. But this is another topic.

    As for the cease and desist all I can say is that anything that keeps your name and product in the public sight in a positive light should be embrassed and negative comments should be responded to in a professional manner if a response is needed. These high handed tactic just seem like the school yard tatel tell pointing out your miss steps to a teacher and them scolding you for it.



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    1. Actually I didn't want to 'tickle' the dragons tail. I was going to write about MoFaux 2nd ed. But some of the issues in here I'd been mulling over for a while... and with Faeit 212 being closed... whether it's Google or GW you blame, I just got fed up. This is the same sort of shit they got up to in the late 80's and early 90's when they were trying to stamp out any meaningful competition. They haven't changed. Despite what people say. The attitudes are the same.

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  18. While you can choose to argue a number of Frontline Gamer's points, the final one is inarguable. In a free marketplace, you condone or condemn the actions of a company with your wallet. If you're upset about rising prices, it does no good to buy from a cheaper source- the company is still making money. STOP BUYING. If you are upset with quality or materials, don't just whine and complain- STOP BUYING. If you are upset with business practices, by all things holy STOP BUYING.

    Board members and shareholders don't sit in the game stores and listen to complaints. They only look at rev reports. If the revenue is there, they *assume* everything is fine and the complaints are minor. Spending 15 minutes in your store complaining about the uptick in price, then paying it, is exactly the same on a revenue report as spending 15 minutes extolling the virtues of the company before buying the product- they can't know the difference, because you *bought it*.

    There's a wealth of other games on the market- Kickstarter is literally overflowing with them. Let alone solid games that have been out 2,3,5 years or more with solid followings. You want to show GW that you disapprove of being treated like sheeple made of money? Then stop being sheeply made of money. Find a company that *wants* your business, that *appreciates* hobbyists and recognizes us as the necessity to their existence that we are.

    Look, I love my Space Marines as much as the next three guys in line. It pains me that my Crusade sits untouched and unloved in a case because I recognize that even *playing* a GW game against someone makes them more likely to want to buy more models from GW, and I won't do it. Maybe one day the "olde GW" will come back, but right now the only thing back is the "evil empire," and buying from them just entrenches it.

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    1. Yep. In a free market economy if a company is doing things you don't like then you have the power to vote with your wallets. Simple as that. I don't buy product I don't like, or from companies who I think have ethical issues I'm not overly pleased about.

      However, dude who are you really hurting if you aren't using a product and goods you already own? I've used GW product over the past few months, because I have mates who still love GW stuff and enjoy their company. So if I want to throw down with them it's GW or the high way. Not going to lose touch with mates because they're only into GW.

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    2. And I totally see your point FG. That's why I've been slowly winning my mates over to Spinespur, and Mecha Front, and Warzone, and a bunch of other games. I don't want to be responsible for my buddy buying four more dark lances because he hates my land raiders. I'd much rather be responsible for my buddy buying a Brotherhood army to come smash my Cybertronics. Yeah, there's a couple buddies I haven't gotten games in with because they're not switching. So we paint.

      Oddly enough, between my blog and all these new games coming out, I'm playing more right now than I have in years... just not with Helbrecht and the boys in black. Not saying it's the right answer (in fact I regularly have conversations with Big Jim of Deepstrike Radio on the moral and ethical implications, cause we're nerds like that), and I'm not telling anyone else to do it/condemning anyone who still plays. I'm just saying you've got to make the choice you're comfortable with, and live with the ramifications of that choice.

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    3. Slowly winning people round? I like it. You sound like a gamer after my own heart. My nickname round these parts is games pimp. I've pushed so many new games in my area that in some quarters I'm hailed like a folk hero and in others (normally the partners of those who view me as a folk hero's) I'm nothing short of a villain. Some local GW store managers also view my name as mud!!! lol.

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I have no idea why you removed your comment Squirrel, just to be clear I didn't remove it!!! I'm going to repost what you typed and I'm going to answer it. Here's what Squirrel posted:


      It's pretty clear that you don't understand the difference between a copyright and a trademark.

      Trademarks need to be defended, and if you don't protect your claim to a trademark, you lose it. It's hardly 'counting pens.'

      The rest of your article is padding around absurdist claims like

      "They're determined to stagnate and force the rest of us to stagnate with them."

      Whether you agree with GW's business practices or not, you can't claim that they are 'stagnating,' because one of the major criticisms being leveled at them at the moment is that they have changed things. They may not be changing in a way that you agree with, and they may not be solving problems you have identified, but they for sure are changing.

      If you're sticking to the kind of arguments that you were making 2 years ago, maybe it's you who needs some fresh eyes on the situation.

      I appreciate that you feel strongly about GW - there's a lot of folks who do - but if you want to talk about the business aspects of gaming, then you really need to understand business, first and foremost. Even when the business is about selling space barbies to nerds, it is still first and foremost a business.

      Finally, to Second Class Elitist, I'm of the opinion that I bought my space barbies, and I'm going to have fun with them. Denying yourself a peaceful night's sleep in a comfy bed because you're mad that the mattress maker is charging too much now is only hurting you. And doing it because you think you're protecting other people from being traumatized by GW is just as daft.

      That said, if you're quitting GW, can I have your stuff? I promise I'll only play in a darkened room (as if that's a change anyway) <3

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    2. Firstly, I didn't think there was any need for you to remove your comment. You disagree fine, you're entitled to do that. Perhaps you were one of the people who sent me a stinky email last time around and my man truncheon comment has offended you. :p

      As to me not knowing the difference between copyright and trademarks... oh please. Come on!!! In the article do I confuse the issues? Nope. What I say about trademarks is that some of the ones GW claim to own the rights to are fucking bunkum, pure and simple. Space Marines? WTF were they thinking. If they'd said Adeptus Astartes I might have go "yeah, they own that". But the truth is they've appropriated phrases and trademarks from other places that are not their own. If they want to defend Horus Heresy and other things that are clearly theirs then I am 100% behind them. But claiming phraseology that was in common use long before they existed? Bullshit, and I'll call them on it. As have many legal professionals it seems.

      You might think it is an absurdist claim... but that's just your opinion. What have they changed? Seriously please tell me, because I'm ever so slightly confused.

      Have they changed how they treat independent stores? No!!! They're constantly shifting the goal posts, restricting their ability to compete fairly in an open market place on an even and fair footing. They've been doing the same shit since Kirby's buyout in the early 90's. There business practices are the same. They're cyclical. They are still bloating their games to try and encourage people to buy bigger armies, to try to sweat more sales from people, which leads to diminishing participation numbers. Just because Warhammer 8th is all about over powered magic and monstrous cavalry don't let that fool you into thinking the underlying business practices have changed. they haven't.

      This isn't the same fecking argument I was passing off 2 years ago either. So I have no idea what the fuck that comment is about. GW weren't attacking small independent authors 2 years ago. Nor were they shutting Blogs down. I understand business just fine. I wouldn't get repeat commissions to help with marketing plans and business plans if I didn't. GW are stagnating and by restricting the free trade of independents they are trying to force the entire industry to stagnate with them. They don't want to change up their business plan to be more profitable, they just want to kill the competition and hope they pick up the sales.

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    3. It is so interesting to see all the hate for GW from people who have never had to make a rent payment or buy food form selling little spacemen.

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    4. I can post comments from friends who run their own mini companies if you like :) And there are plenty of rants on youtube from retailers :)

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    5. @Xen3, how do you know I've never had to make a living selling toy soldiers? Simply put you don't. For what it is worth I funded my university education selling toy soldiers, either via working at shops (an independent at first, and then the local Games Workshop) and also selling fully painted armies to collectors. For the record I've also helped 3 independent stores here in the UK recently re-write their business plans after GW changed their trade agreements and heavily reduced the amount of stock they could buy. So please do not presume to know my level of involvement and understanding.

      Plus where the hell have you been for the past two decades? Have you not seen the amount of YouTube videos and comments on forums from independent traders lamenting GW's attitudes towards them? Seriously? I'm only asking because there is a link in this article to one such video, you'll find many more by others as well. Right now a lot of independents are having to work out exactly what GW's latest restrictions on free trade will mean for them. Especially as the local officially branded stores seem to not be operating under the same restrictions of trade... oooohhh... hang on, that's against the law here in the EU. Hmmm. Yeah great company GW, always looking out for the little guy... SO THEY CAN STAMP ON HIM!!!

      @Chris, there's little point. I was once told the blind might not be able to see, but they find a way to comprehend. Yet those that refuse to look will always stay ignorant... if you catch my drift.

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  20. I think more evidence that Games Workshop are in trouble is the large number of video game licenses they've announced over the last few months. I've been keeping track of them: http://www.polyhedroncollider.com/2012/12/future-games-workshop-video-games.html & http://www.polyhedroncollider.com/2013/03/new-collider-small-world-2-relic-and.html

    In total there is:
    - Space Hulk
    - Warhammer Quest
    - Talisman
    - Blood Bowl Star Coach
    - A free to play Titans game
    - A tactical 40k game
    - A Warhammer fantasy battles game

    Most of which have only been announced over the last couple of months. This to me is a sign of a company desperately trying to make money by selling of IP rights as quickly as possible.

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    1. Yeah... we were talking about the death of THQ the other day actually and how that might have hit GW's profits from licensing agreements. It was clear from their half yearly figures not that long ago that they were super pleased with the profits from licensed computer games, and that they had massively impacted their profits. How much wasn't spelled out. Some people claim all the their profits were from computer games... but given sales figures of those games I'm not sure that's likely. But a significant wedge is likely.

      So losing that revenue stream will certainly hurt there figures, so you could see the recent spate of licensing agreements as nothing more than desperate grabs to recoup the stream they've lost with THQ going under. Or you can see it as a wise business move to sweat more profits out of their assets in a manner they've proved to be profitable. I'd probably fall mainly on the later argument than the former personally. Although I'm sure the former will have spurred them on, even if just a little bit. Fact is GW have seen computer games are an easy way for them to make lots of cash, so regardless of the THQ situation it was inevitable it would be something they'd look to pursue further. It's sensible, easy business.

      Whether that's out of desperation I couldn't possibly know. either way I think it's a sound way to proceed. It'll make them cash.

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    2. Licensing income was around £400K in the last half-year report, and £2600K in the year before that. Not enough to take them from profit to loss in its absence, and unless they're Enron-ing their numbers, they're doing just fine (profit-wise) even with the YoY licensing drop.

      So I'd say they're just doing the smart thing and accepting the easy money. THQ was probably just more of a wake up call than a crisis.

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    3. @SandWyrm, I know a few accountant types who think that the GW accounts always make for 'confusing' reading. They have a knack of double reporting good news within their reports, although I've personally never seen double reporting of figures or anything like Enroning going on. Like you I think they're just doing the smart thing with these computer game licenses.

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  21. Great post and some great points there.

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  22. I'm a simple man so I'll keep it simple, great post with spot on insight of the overall situation.

    Keep up the great work and keep on supporting the massive gaming industry that isn't GW.

    Brian

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    1. I'll continue writing about other companies games, don't you worry about that!!!

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  23. A good post, and the summary needs to be repeated: Vote with your money

    Also: Get your kids to play another system! :-)

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    1. Well I've been voting with my money for more than two years now... if only I could convince everyone else to do likewise.

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    2. If it's any comfort, you convinced me about a year and a half back.
      Not in the sense of "don't buy gw, they suck" but more "Look at this little game. Look how nice it plays, what Corvus Belli/Freebooter/... does to win new customers".

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    3. @Aeria_Gloris as I've said before... it's not my fault you're bankrupt!!! Well, maybe just a little. But I accept no liabilities. I'm glad I could be of service. ;)

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  24. Yep. That company sucks. If they went under it would be interesting to see how the new owners would handle it. Licence stuff out to other companies? Run it themselves? What would happen to the shop network? Both a blessing and a curse would it just die? That would be interesting because I doubt anything in the UK would replace it. You would just have to hope they had the sense to get an intro set into retailers to serve as the seed to get new people in and properly leverage video game launches and the like.

    You will have probably seen the death of specialist games. The models are not being restocked and most have disappeared this week. This included the forge world models and forge world game as according to the staff in forgeworld I've talked to they were told to do this by the parent company and it was all decided earlier in the year. I almost ordered a set of epic models until I saw the prices and came to my senses.

    That alone could be picked up as a case study in how not to do things. They have added to their legion of angry customers by simply not giving a warning. Now I know they have shut down communication avenues because they don't like getting comments from their public, but still I'm sure some people would have got the message. As it was people will now never complete armies, teams and the like and forever resent GW for not giving them x months warning.

    Still there has been some interesting commentary about it. Leaving aside flat sales in an expanding market and a falling user base, many people have pointed out that by abandoning the less profitable side games they have allowed companies to gain footholds in their market and expand to positions where they offer viable alternative to their whole range. So a short term profit boost, long term added to their relative decline. Ironically through a lack of control of the market...

    So I for instance have gone from being a GW gamer for all my non historical needs (lets not discuss warhammer historical here, another bat shit mental decision and execution), though I confess the warmaster system is everywhere there... basically playing a variety of GW games, now I play Dwarf Kings Hold, Epic with a lot of other companies models, Blood Bowl with no GW models or even board and dice, dreadball when I can face seeing those horrible models (I have started doing up some alternatives using blood bowl esk stuff, yea gods I hate those restic clean up hours), God of Battles (yes Jake T is having an unhealthy influence on me, here is hoping rulebook layouts from Mr T improve in the near future) and so on. And all those games have hooked into other companies very effectively. Whereas my default behaviour was checking out the GW stuff, now it is look anywhere but. Ok I know they want only tweenagers customers, but how did they manage to make me bitter and negative about them at the same time? When a relative says there kid likes toy soldiers I make damn sure they ditch GW in a hurry.

    Something else to consider, maybe with the advent of cheaper 3d printing they think the writing is on the wall for the model business. And so only want high volume plastics and a pristine IP to get them computer game revenues and any other avenues they think up.

    But anyway, stuff 'em. How hard did they have to work to get someone who has played their games since Adeptus Titanicus to actively dislike them? Pretty hard, but they succeeded.

    Final note I was amused by the recent Rick Priestly interview comments about the different styles of management and what the changes in the design studio relationship with the marketing side of things led to.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts again Chris. I have indeed seen the news about their Specialist Games, and I've added my own thoughts to that particular discussion today:

      http://thefrontlinegamer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/monday-musing-specialist-games.html

      Still, I think I have a more rounded and realistic view of that supposed injustice. Seem in the broader context of their business... well, it's understandable I think. The lack of communication while regrettable, is certainly part of GW's modus operandi now isn't it?

      As for pushing customers away, is that really what is happening? Or is it that as we grown up they can no longer keep us engaged with what it is they produce? Perhaps it's a bit of both, I'm certainly willing to see it as a bit of both, but other things I've grown out of I still can appreciate for what they are. GW and their products however are rapidly losing any nostalgia 'sheen' and love that I had for them. Why the hell is this? I don't profess to understand my feelings towards them myself, and I'm not too sure going all psychoanalytical on myself to find out why would be interesting or fruitful. So I'll not be bothering.

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    2. I shall reply on that post... And yes zero about it is surprising.

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  25. Angry, SirAngry? :).

    It is quite possible to enjoy tabletop gaming w/out GW. The whole issue of their behavior disappears when enough people find other tabletop games to scratch their itch, no?

    One strength of your blog is exposing people to alternatives, and not just tabletop games. Let GW be dead to you. You have more interesting things to say than pointing out GW corporate stupidity. Say those interesting things, and let the stupidity speak for itself. We all hear it already, whether we like it or not.

    Glad to see that you're blogging again. Stay strong.

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    1. I am angry? Nope. I think frustrated would be more the mental state I feel over this all, that and actually disappointed. Maybe GW were always like this. But when you consider the Tradmark and IP infringements they've had to fight in their past, you'd hope that somewhere imbedded deep within their own DNA would be some common sense around this issue. Alas that doesn't seem to be the case at all.

      As always though I'll continue to talk about other things in the industry. You're right to an extent, if people find other things to engage with GW will become irrelevant. I'll continue to talk about the good and the great things in our hobby. The things that excite me and make me happy, but when the biggest player in our industry does something dumb... it'd strange for me not talk about it surely. So in a way the amount of GW content that ends up on my Blog is a direct result of their own idiocy!!! :P

      Perhaps it'd help if they could get all their 'dumb' out of the way annually in one week. Perhaps I ought to suggest it to them.

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  26. They can do no wrong
    http://www.standard.co.uk/business/business-news/fightback-games-workshop-on-a-winner-as-profits-rise-8457217.html

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    1. Chris, yeah. It's an old story though. The really interesting thing was that picked up by most business commentators was the fact that despite a bumper half year profits (almost certainly to do with the increased profits on Finecast and so sweet licensing deals) Mark Wells still left. A number of business analysts all asked why this was the case, he hasn't turned up elsewhere either, so he didn't jump ship for a better job. I think a lot of people are waiting to see the 2012/13 FY figures in full. Could make for some really interesting reading.

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  27. Great article and great debate.

    My $.02 are simply this. I still enjoy a few of their games (particularly WHFB). I will continue to support them no matter how bad they are online marketing since I still like playing the game and think most of their kits are cool.

    GW's biggest problem is they are a mature company in area that is gaining enough new players to give them the growth needed. Companies like PP, Wyrd or Corvus Belli are early in their growth and stealing share from GW not from new gamers. In effect, in many ways GW is a victim of their own success.

    I really hope they don't go out of business because that would kill the community in the long run since no new product would kill the influx of new gamers (look at Confrontation.

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  28. Great piece. I come to your blog every so often not so much for information on specific games but for your insightful musings on the hobby as a whole. You're building an impressive blog sir!

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  29. Fantastic article, and one with which I agree wholeheartedly. Myself, I have been buying much less Games Workshop than I have done in the past. The prices make me wince. My local Games club has until recently been almost 100% GW (the exception being the old timer grognards) mainly because the local games store is in fact and Art shop run by an enthusiast and stocking GW has helped keep the store open! I started taking boardgames to my local club (BSG, Dominion etc) as my codex was two editions out of date, played poorly especially with the massivly imbalanced introduction of aircraft, and I got some real interest - now there are people regularly playing all sorts, magic, boardgames, x-wing etc. RESULT!

    Whilst GW as a whole seem to be doing a piss poor job. There is one division which I feel deserves a mention simply because they are doing a wonderful job. I speak of course of Forge World. A division which engages with the customer and, for me this is the most important bit. Does things a bit differently. I think GW could learn a lesson from its' little brother.

    FW like GW is in the business of selling models. Instead of the never ending rules edition cycle (which I think is a bloody awful idea) FW releases campaign books, along with new and interesting models. Variant army list and some inspiring, if sometimes poorly written, background material. I've been playing 40k since it was released (good grief I feel old) but have only recently bought my first Imperial armour book (Taros 2nd edition) It has inspired me. Rather than just feeling cheesed off at GW for their insane business practices, high prices and attacks on the community. I want to build scenery, run a campaign play some games and yes, spend some money.

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