Well it’s that time of year again. The sun is shining, the bees are buzzing, the happy images of May Day parades are still fresh in the memory, and GW is in for it’s annual basting.
Price rises, or, more specifically, GW’s annual price rise is bubbling on the forums. There was a link, but it’s been altered so that it doesn’t work. However, the basic scuttlebutt is that GW supposedly mentioned their price rise in 2 lines of a deeply embedded page, several links down their site. Copies of what purport to be the US trader’s new retail price list are kicking about with some scary % increases. Supposedly the non-US retailers have heard nothing of this. Whether it is real or nonsense is anyone’s guess.
Actually, I don’t think I care.
GW is a business and it’s been about for a while now. They don’t always make what I regard as sane decisions, but that’s their lookout. They’ve raised their prices many times before, and more than once it’s been by many times the rate of inflation. The forums will be full of angry fans and some will doubtless ragequit (only to slink back later as the cold turkey kicks in).
A few will abandon GW. Most will not.
This entirely predictable (and frankly dull) fury has been a routine event for decades. I recall the far off days when GW decided to put all their models in blister packs (and bump the price hugely in the process). There was an outcry then, and that was before the internet. It would be a regular firestorm if it happened now. But none of this stopped them from becoming a £100 million+ turnover business so they must be doing something right. Right?
Well the point I am pondering (and I do have a sort of point) is that this is all entirely futile.
If GW cared what people think of their price rises then they would have changed their behaviour long ago. One is left to assume that they don’t think their customer’s opinions matter in this regard, and as they keep turning a profit who’s to argue?
What I am curious about is when someone is going to come up with a way to actually make them pay attention, or even try to. I’ve no idea what this way might be, though with so many new concepts for mass organisation and action emerging over the last few years (facebook, crowdfunding, flash mobs, etc), all enabled by new technology, I expect someone to come up with something soon. And when they do it won’t only apply to GW. Just imagine if we could actually make the petrol prices sane 😉
And before I am accused of GW-basing, I have to say I’m really just a mainly disinterested observer. Currently the only game of theirs that I’d play is Blood Bowl, though I might use some of their models for other things. That said, having seen many Finecast models and knowing something of the process, I do not own any and have no expectation of ever getting any. They make some nice hard plastics, but they’re available on Ebay 🙂
I’m just bored of the same old arguments, and the utter predictability of it all. Even posts like this complaining about the predictability of it all are becoming predictable.
Feel the irony.
There’s only one effective way to register a protest against GW price rises and that’s to stop buying. Anyone who loudly complains and makes a lot of noise but continues to buy is just proof to GW that they were right to raise prices.
Indeed. Ultimately, a consumer only votes with his or her wallet. I’ve been saying it a lot these past few years…
He has, I heard him.
Already the last price rise left its marks on the German community (way fewer WHFB-tournaments and people you can play against, 40K got not hurt that much but still, slight decrease overall).
This time, telling from the responses on the net it might be a little bit to much too, too soon. It will probably nut hurt GW big time, but this time they will feel it more than before.
André, André… you’ve fallen into the trap. Every year someone says “this is the last straw. Now they’ve gone too far.”
Nope, two years ago you could swing a cat arround by its tail and you would hit a WHFB-player. These days they are more of an anommaly than Warmachine/Infinity/FoW players on gaming nights in LGS. WHFB really took a nose-dive in those two years and though they never sold more new editions books then of the latest book, strangly all those guys have it gathering dust in their book-shelves. 40K is way better, but also gets harder to fill all slots in a tournament where in the past you had to reject players cause there were to much applications. That´s the situation for Germany and it may be not as bad elsewhere, but still it´s an inidcator I would not completly ignore.
And nor would I. GW, however…
What do I care for what´s after the next quarter report?
Btw, is Kirby not retiring in the forseable future?
I didn’t know he was still there 🙂
First and foremost I think the annual GW price increase is a gift to the community. People like Mantic should send them a big thank you card or perhaps donuts or cake. GW raising their prices every year is giving GWs competitors margin that greatly increases the chances they will grow and prosper. This increases the number of gaming systems on the market and the chance we will have an opportunity to play games that are a perfect fit for each of us so it is good for the community as a whole.
Imagine the alternative what if GW kept driving their prices down by working to lower their cost of production and allowing prices to remain stable in the face of inflation. How many start ups would make it then? I don’t think I would like that alternative so I am grateful for what they are doing.
I like well sculpted figures in plastic and GW does a lot in that area. I did decide not to buy GW figures this year because for me the price was to high for the value provided. Takes the fun out of it when it feels like you are being ripped off even when you can afford it. It will be interesting to observe if they take the price increases to far. Always interesting to learn from other peoples business successes and failures.
So I guess it is GO GO GW 🙂 but I might not feel that way if I was committed to only using their game systems.
“A gift to the community”.
Love it Don. Beautifully put.
I don’t buy the idea that GW could lower costs and increase sales let alone increase profits. The tale of the high street market in the last few years has been nosediving sales, cheaper product doesn’t change that. GW understand they have a core consumer base with disposable income they are prepared to spend on GW product and they will settle for reduced overall sales if it means they continue to make a profit.
I am not saying they would make more money although at some point high prices will cut sales more than the increased margin can cover but it seems they are not there yet. What I am saying is that by pushing the margins (price) as hard as they can GW is trading margin for market share. This has worked well for us as alternative manufactures have stepped in and not only do we have more choice I think there is a good chance the overall market has grown from the increased choice we have in game systems. Bingo more profits for GW more choice for us.
GW has what it takes to starve out completion if they want to because they have funding and built in volume. I expect maximizing profits is a good reason for not doing this. In any case we should be grateful that is the way it is. If GW was working on market share the whole infrastructure we rely on (including people working free lance like Jake) for the interesting new games and products that are showing up would be starved for income and would have to find other things to do. Thus I think we have a richer community because GW is looking for higher profits. It is our dumb luck but it is good to be the lucky ones.
GW don’t see Mantic, Privateer Press, Foundry or any other minis company as their competition so would never want to starve them out.
They will be concerned if sales and profits drop after all that is their job to be concerned with that. With all their IP rules it would seem there is some concern with what other minis companies are doing. So far we are lucky they are not so concerned with the competition and their income is not in trouble. I just don’t think I would like the results if they started to panic about market share.
GW have always said that they view Nike, McDonalds and suchlike as the people competing for the cash in their pockets of their customers. That’s true. Even so, I do know a few gamers who no longer buy GW products because of the price, but still play and buy things for other games, so GW do lose at least some money this way. More often though, people I know who have stopped playing GW games seem to have done so because they find other games that are more to their liking. However, if they weren’t being pushed away in the first place by the cost… who knows whether they’d be as easily tempted away?
At the end of the day, GW will only worry if it loses them enough custom to dent the bottom line, and what I hear suggests that this is not anywhere near the top of their list of worries.
Well, in the past the managment/legal department at least deamed some competitors dangerous enough and tried to stop them with some legal mumbo-jumbo. In the end the ylost but had achieved what tey wanted, keeping some competing products away from the street long enough for potential customers to be no langer willing to wait for it.
I think that most of GW’s legal work is related to IP protection, and quite rightly. It’s the most valuable thing they’ve got.
Sometimes, but I also witnessed some of the competition-lawyering myself and do know why some companies suddenly could not keep their street dates.
I stand by my now dated thread
Long live Mantic
‘This is commerce, baby. We WON the Cold War. We live in a capitalist society.’
GW may be the all powerful capitalist ‘pig-dog’, but we live in a consumer market and have all the powers associated with that.
I remember an article a few years ago, the gist of which was ‘no one is afraid of Microsoft any more’.
Yes and long live an upcoming mass fantasy battle game with giant crabs and creepy insects!
so you’ve not seen the Starship Troopers expansion?
In all honesty I think GW know EXACTLY what they’re doing
And in saying that I bought a GW Empire army to use as a KoM army in KoW, took one look at it on arrival, re-sold it – at a profit – and invested in Forge/WF/Perry figs
Walked away with more minis and still had money in my pocket
If.one thing rocks about GW it’s you can ALWAYS sell it on
Not so much so with other firms for now…
@Ben – Indeed. More of which anon…
@Steve C – so would you suggest investing in an army or 10, just in case the bottom drops out of the Euro and the economy goes to worms. safer than gold 😉
I don’t care so much about price increases; business is business and the economy is dire. What bothers me is when they shut down departments, like poor old Warhammer Historical just the other day. It was Warhammer Historical that got me into wargaming, and is the reason I bought Tribes of Legend!
I was working for one of those departments when it got “downsized”, so I can’t help but agree. Still, it made me what I am today 🙂
(Bitter…twisted… mutter… grumble…)
Just a note on the ‘few ‘ that abandon GWplc.
Using thier own financial reports to work out sales volumes.GW plc has lot over 40% of its sales volumes over the last seven years.
If things are so dire,and all GW plcs loss of sales is down to the economy.How come other companies like Mantic seem to be GROWING thier customer base?
GW plc is run by corperate managers for the benifit of corperate managers.
I much rather give my hard earned cash to people who care about thier games.
Mantic can grow their customer base because two-and-a-half years ago it was non-existent. It’s easy to grow a customer base from such a low starting point, it’s difficult to maintain a large customer base during a recession.
@Kevin – run by corporate managers for the benefit of shareholders.
@Ben – good point. Easy to build on zero. Still, if Kevin is right and they’ve lost 40% of their sales volume that would be very unpleasant for them. I’d be vaguely interested to see a proper analysis of their accounts, but am far too busy (lazy) to do that myself.
I know I said I didn’t care, but I do care about the industry as a whole and whatever you might think of them GW is a fair sized fish in this pond so what happens to them impacts us all in one way or another.
I wouldn’t be surprised if 40% was right. I certainly rarely buy any new GW product anymore though touching on a point you made elsewhere, I didn’t leave because of price, I left because I discovered other games. Or more to the point, I spent money on other, I already have a couple of WFB armies so didn’t need to keep spending money even though I keep playing.
As the owner and operator of a chain of high street stores the financial challenges and pressures facing GW are nothing like the ones facing other minis companies. Theirs are more like the ones faced by the GAME group. I personally think they have more of a high street presence than they need. One store in Newcastle back in the 80’s was sufficient to get us into the hobby when there was no internet. Now we’ve got stores in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and Durham and they’re competing against companies who can conduct their business online. GW are even competing with themselves with online sales taking sales away from the stores.
Regarding your last sentence, Ben, am I right in thinking that what you mean is: if more people are buying online, then the need for high street stores is lessened, thus keeping high street stores open and the staff employed becomes an extra cost they don’t need? At first I was confused because I thought: “Stores or online, surely it doesn’t matter where you buy from — GW make money either way? How is that internal competition?”
High street stores must be a real financial sink hole. The more sales that go through online stores the less there will be through the high street shops, all things being equal.
Here is the rub imho. GW want to portray themselves as a purveyor of quality luxury products.
They perpetuate a myth then believed it to be true. The loyal fans like to buy into the image of their exclusivity and status as owners of something special.
So GW try to restrict and keep in control of sales as much as possible, pushing up prices to endorse the fallacious status of their wares. They have backed themselves into a corner with no way out except to keep believing in the myth.
The truth of the matter is that they are in the main, afaik, knocking out plastic toy soldiers by the bucket load. Often from moulds that have paid for themselves many times over.
To operate efficiently they, like most manufacturers, need to take advantage of the benefits of large scale production.
As I have said elsewhere GW are not, however highly we think of GW products, quality goods.
By that I do not mean to suggest they are shoddy, which is patently not true in the main.
By quality I would expect something more in the way of, for the sake of argument, Studio McVey.
Note that some of the low volume resin figures limited editions of 700 cost about the same as Finecast figures being turned out in far greater quantities. Since a large portion of the fixed costs goes into making moulds, one would expect the Finecast figures to be far cheaper, as the cost can be spread over more units.
Also the design and sculpting of the Finecast figures had been done and paid for, being the same ones used to cast the metal figures.
GW are schizophrenic. They pretend to be a maker of superior good selling at a premium but are not genuinely making low/medium volume premium value goods,
If GW where prepared to open out to other outlets and allow retailers to stack high sell cheap it would make a lot more sense to me. Yet they are prepared to suffer the costs of high street bricks and mortar with a lower turnover.
GW are reluctant to put their wares on shelves in retail outlets all over the place, promote themselves to a wider audience and make more sales. They seem intent on projecting themselves as an exclusive brand.rather than be what they actually are, a maker of mass produced toy soldiers.
There would indeed be ripples in the pond, but the waters will settle and other fishes will have room to get bigger.
UK prices went up in the last two days 😉
I find it amusing that for the second year running Privateer are having a sale at the same time, and I wouldn’t put it past Ronnie to have timed the KoW launch around GW price rise time either.
“A few will abandon GW. Most will not.”
The second part is ofc very true, but some basic accounts extrapolation from their financial reports would make the first part false – that is they are losing sales volume that no sane management accountant would describe as “a few”.
Ofc since revenue is flat and profits are up, why should they care. I noticed that management increased their shareholding recently. Before the LotR bubble burst, they sold a lot of shares at about £8 and bought them back at £2 a bit later. Be interesting to see if something similar happens in 5 years or so.
If one wanted to go “full-conspiracy”, one might suggest that they could raise prices until the company crashes, then instigate a buyout of the IP and assets using a newco, thus freeing themselves of the burden of public ownership.
Meh. I’ll make the odd adjustment to my existing GW stuff, but I’m having great fun exploring all the other stuff that other companies are producing, mainly in the skirmish and board games arena. 🙂
Thanks Sami, glad someone’s paying attention 😉
on a quick skim it seems they do listen to their customers and have heard folk saying that although GW is generally expensive their scenery/accessory range isn’t badly priced. Look at the % increases on the top of that list. They’ve clearly decided to bring it all into line a bit more.
Scenery prices are nearly all going up which would coincide with some 40K rumors. 😉
I just wanted to say a quick thanks. If you hadn’t posted that, I wouldn’t have bothered to check the price increases. As it is, I just put in an order for the Imperial Sector box for £51.25, before they bung the price up to £70.
I feel you pain and joy!
15 years ago, there was very little room for any competition for GW.
As thier ‘isolationist’ marketing was still working.
The fact new companies can spring up and in a matter of months be seen as a ‘GW rival’ by gamers speaks volumes.IMO.
But my point was that many peolpe leaving GW plc behind , dont just quit the wider hobby, but many switch to support other companies.And more people being positive about other compnies, while being negative about GW hurts GW plc sales far more.
There are lots of great games and minature manufacturers out there.Why anyone would keep soley with GW plc products baffles me. (Unless they depend on GW stores to play games in .)
I think a lot of the reason people continue to play GW games is that this is what they started with, what people they know play and what they have heard about. There is a lot of inertia to overcome if you want to get a group to drop what they know and start playing something new.
And you’ve got to have heard of it in the first place…
True. I’ve recently begun gaming with a fellow student at the uni who’s been buying GW product for ten years and was blissfully unaware any other companies existed.
Also: Too many companies die of suicide before GW even has a chance of reacting towards them.
My little brother is an interesting example. He’s 16 and so is probably bang on the target age for Games Workshop. However, he’s a bit unusual in that he has access to me, a 32 year old who drags him to events like Salute, Colours, etc. Consquently, he is now building an Empire army made largely from Perry Miniatures War of the Roses and an unofficial Norse army made largely from Gripping Beast plastic Vikings.
I suspect if more teenagers knew about the cheaper options, GW’s sales would start to drop very fast.
Very possibly, which is possibly one reason why their chain of stores is not such an albatross as some folk suggest.
Pingback: QUIRKWORTHY, “Tis the Season” | Under the Mountain
My poor concentration and abysmal lack of short term memory is a real pain the the lobes when it comes to playing games. Not remembering the rules from one turn to the next is not fun.
However, such a lack of mental capabilities comes into it’s own at this time of year.
The arguments are daisy fresh every time!
What’s a Games Workshop again?
It’s a large, hairy…
“The GW Story”
Experience the golden age, the tragedy, the tears and the laughter!
Hello Quirkworthy, I’m not angry about the latest instalment of price rises. More disappointed. I’m not one for economics so to help me fully understand once and for all why GW undertake this unpopular annual event, tell me, does GW genuinely make profit from these price rises? Are they really key to the company’s success and long-term future? Is GW really so strong financially that is doesn’t matter if they upset the loyal community, again? And how about the argument about getting new starters into the hobby? Doesn’t high prices hinder attracting newbies? I’m sure you’ve answered such questions a thousands time and quite rightly bored of the subject but to the majority of customers like me, this is indeed a frequent mystery and we’re left to ‘assume’ things because nobody tells us anything. When not well-informed little angry minds do tend to drift towards all kinds of conspiracies. To read the cold honest truth for once would indeed be a blessing. Thanks!
” does GW genuinely make profit from these price rises? Are they really key to the company’s success and long-term future? Is GW really so strong financially that is doesn’t matter if they upset the loyal community, again?”
Yes. No. It doesn’t upset enough of the community to make a difference.
Revenue has been roughly flat for a few years, prices up by by approx 12% (compound average), therefore less product is sold for more profit.
As a social wargame, less customers is a bad recipe for the long term future, but customers don’t leave the hobby at a fast enough rate to make GW want to change it’s behaviour.
How much of the profits are derived from sales of products?
Recently GW have been getting a fair whack of revenue from licensing iirc
They have indeed. Licensing is also a relatively painless way to earn money, which is why protecting their IP with legal beagles is important.
To add to Sami’s comments, I suspect that GW’s core audience is generally loyal and has little knowledge of the wider gaming world. The IP is well developed, the models generally sculpted well and they have a huge chain of stores (for a gaming company). People get very attached to their games and their armies, and that “stickiness” makes them loyal. Not knowing the options to GW games means that they might complain. but if they’ve been bitten by the gaming bug (and don’t have someone to hep them find alternatives) then they will just carry on.
As the core audience often play either in the GW stores or round their mate’s house, the circle is largely closed. All they come into contact with is GW, all their peers play is GW, and so if they want to carry on playing then they play GW whether it’s expensive or not. GW know this and out up the price because they believe they can get away with it without reducing their overall turnover/profit.
Of course, if it is true that they are simply charging an ever-reducing number of people more money per head to end up with the same bottom line, then it cannot go on forever.
I am not a financial expert, but reading throught GW plcs offical financial reports, there is a trend apearing .
GW plc are loosing customers, for what ever reason.(Static turn over despite RRP increases over inflation.)
There are 2 chioces avaiable to in this situation.
Add value to thier products.(Widen apeal and longevity of the games by adressing rules issues, and providing more ways to utilise minatures.)
Coupled with price freeze to keep players playing!This grows the customer base!
So more stuff is sold and prices can remain static while the company make more pofit from increased sales.
OR continualy raiseing prices to try and recover money from remaining customers.Incresing the barriers to entry and driving more customers away…This errodes the customer base requiring higher and higher price rises as the customer base shrinks!Eventualy leading to negative margins and complete dissolution of the remaning customer base.
The last report said GW plc had a gross margin of 76%.
That means before the costs of logistics and retail are taken out , they make £7.60 profit from every £10 of retail price.
Yet net margin was only 13%.(Profit after the costs of logistics and retail taken into account.£1.30 out of every £10 of retail price)
So that means GW plc spend 63% of thier profit on moving boxes about and keeping B&M stores open!(£79M).
By my calcualtions GW plc have lost over 40% sales volumes in the last 7 years.
IF they had kept all the customers they had in 2005 , and they bought the same amount of product.
GW plc should be announcing a turn over of about £260M, and a profit of about £50m!
Lets see what the next report in June says….
But it perfectly fits a bankers PoV fo the world…
Goodness. Interesting figures.
(How much of their production has moved to China? Do they still have the £10 million factory in the UK?)
Actually they had to move the FW subdivision back to UK for certain reasons….
FW? Forge World?
Yep, at least the Warhammer Forge part of it.
Thanks Quirkworthy, Sami and Kevin for your helpful replies. I admit I’m one of those loyal (and silly) GW fans. So why do I stick with GW despite the constant price rises and increasing lack of customer care? Well, I suppose the combination of nostalgia and happy memories play a part. I’m not a happy bunny these days due to unemployment but those moments when I’m painting models and playing games of Fantasy are rather enjoyable. Also, the background stories of the Fantasy and 40K games are very well known to me and I enjoy them. My brother reads all the Black Library books and we know many of the characters and armies very well. I think this is what the GW phenomenon taps into and explains why it has lasted so long. When I go to a shop and buy a unit of orcs for my Fantasy army, I am buying something very familiar and it is a genuine feeling of excitement to purchase them. Also another crucial element, which I’m sure you won’t agree with, is that the games are rather good. Maybe not 40K at the moment in my opinion. But by and large the games are good. And that is the final element to this. If the games weren’t enjoyable to play then there would be no incentive to finishing an old army or starting a new one. My brother who started as a cynic has increasingly been drawn back to the hobby to the point where he himself has begun buying GW models again. Once this hobby gets under your skin it does infect you.
However! Despite my loyalty, prices are an issue. Playing Fantasy hasn’t been the biggest financial investment for me because I’m mostly playing with old armies. All I am doing is getting the odd unit to round off armies I started years ago. Many of the few models I have purchased over the last 12 months have been through eBay or independent retailers who offer discounts of between 10-20% off. However, for me to play 40K again I would have to invest a lot of money in armies etc to even begin having a half decent gaming experience. I’m not a fan of the current 40K game but the new edition that is due out in a few weeks looks rather exciting. I was prepared to buy the starter set and to purchase lots of new models to round off my very old Dark Angel army but the price rises have made me think twice. I’m sure we’ll be having price rises next year, and the year after than and the year after that. So the heavy financial investment required to ‘enjoy’ the game leaves a nasty feeling in my stomach.
Another crucial factor in all this is the impact of the internet on the gaming community. Finding like minded people around the world helps to enforce my enthusiasm for the GW hobby. However, with websites like Beasts of War, I’m now also being exposed to other companies like Mantic and Privateer Press. The Beasts of War coverage of the 2012 Salute event was fantastic and I got rather excited seeing the huge diversity of games and models from other companies. The enthusiastic competition to Games Workshop is certainly raising questions amongst loyal customers like myself as we are beginning to open our eyes. I myself now purchase a lot of terrain, paint brushes and modelling materials from other companies. Not only are the products cheaper and of better value but they are often of a superior quality. Things are beginning to change! I have been keeping a close eye on Mantic and feel the quality of the models are getting better and better all the time. Also, Mantic is clearly tapping into that old-school GW nostalgia with classic armies like Chaos Dwarfs, Squats and Space Skaven. The new Space Skaven models remind me of the Orks I got in my 40K 2nd edition starter set back when I was 12 (in terms of quality, look and feel). If Mantic can match GW with decent models and can push on the 1980s/1990s GW nostalgia then the games will become very alluring for the likes of me.
I keep my 40K-armies but play them with Mantic-rules. For me the best of both worlds.
I played Warhammer from first to 5th edition, helped write 6th and played masses of that, then dabbled a little in 7th. I think I still have 6 armies. I bought Rogue Trader from Rick himself at the Games Day it was released and played the various editions in diminishing frequency. So I really do understand the draw of the story (I even wrote some of it) and I have had many an enjoyable hour playing their games. If I still felt like playing either game I have the armies and there are people locally I could play against. However, for me, I’d kind of done everything I wanted to with Warhammer and the games were becoming repetitive and no longer a challenge or enough of an interesting story. 40K as a game is nothing like the back story, so I don’t find that a draw in the same way. Coupled with the fact that I don’t think either game is in its best edition at present.
So, yes, I understand where you’re coming from, and there’s nothing wrong with nostalgia. In fact, I’d recommend wallowing in it occasionally as a pleasant change. But things do change, and personally I’ve moved on from 40K and Warhammer. For now. If they did a brilliant revision and made a wonderful game then I’d go back to playing it. I just do not expect that to ever happen. Oddly, it’s not what they’re about.
I’m also in an unusual situation because I design games myself. I’ve written the Advanced Rules for Kings of War, and that’s starting to look quite mature as a system. The upcoming hardback should be very popular. The reason I won’t be playing lots of that isn’t actually to do with the pre-measuring, it’s because I’ve written my own fantasy mass battle game: God of Battles. And that, obviously, is something that works very well for me 🙂
And yes, I really must get around to writing myself an SF tabletop game.
Oh, and will there be a price rise next year? GW staff have publicly referred to their “annual price rise”, so…
Purely financial/investor analysis from about two years ago:
* ‘a manufacturer, not a retailer’
* ‘Fortress Wall’
* ‘a captive band of passionate gamers and modellers who demand the Warhammer experience’
* ‘small band of loyal followers’
Seems to be what others have said here.
Oh, just had to mention Hirschman:
Just to clarify.
I have nothing but admiration and respect for the GW studio staff past and present(All very talented aproachable people a who are passionate about what they do!)
And the background artwork and asthetics of WHFB and 40k is what keeps its apeal.
Despite the worst efforts of the corperate managment to drive customers away with an astounding combination of arrogance and ignorance.(IMO.)
If you do decide to do a sci fi rule set Jake, would you be interested in looking at some alternative game mechanic ideas.(Rather than fantasy battles in space that keep cropping up?)
I’m always interested in looking at alternative game mechanics, though it sounds more like you’re talking about settings.
In mechanical terms, I think that the rules need to fit the things you’re trying to model. We’ve been talking recently about there being a need to pick and choose the things you try to show in a game and I would follow that notion by saying that the rules should then serve the themes you’ve decided on.
“Fantasy in space” or not is a background question in many ways, rather than a rules one. It also depends a lot on whether it’s a game for me or a game for someone specific as people tend to commission things to support model ranges.
In addition, there are several different sets I’d like to do, to be honest. Each would model a different set of features, and therefore be quite separate, though they could all be set in the same background or different ones – that wouldn’t matter so much.
Did you have anything particular in mind?
I think we’re lacking a really well supported and thought-out sci-fi skirmish game. During these harder economic times I think something new and great would go down an absolute treat.
I enjoyed Necromunda back in the day for its blend of sci-fi/western/gangster themes. The rules were good as were the accompanied design and artwork. The league/campaign aspect was really good as was the ability to enhance your gang over a period of games. I also enjoyed the diversity of weapon choices and equipment. I would like a skirmish game that can played 1 vs 1, in a league/campaign but also as a multi-player game between 2-8 players.
New ideas? Maybe a game based a little bit on the Stephen King’s ‘The Running Man’. You have starting gangs made up of amateurs that have to play violent games to stay alive and those that do survive earn money and fame. Another idea perhaps worth exploring is droids/robots. The chance to custom build your own small squad of droids and send them into battle? The design of your robots – from R2D2 designs to proto-terminator type models – influence your game/gang’s abilities.
Or maybe something larger in scope? Gangs in deep space? You get RPG game mechanics to help you pull together a space ship and crew. Crews can be made up of unwashed pirates, villains, aliens, robots etc. Then use skirmish rules to fight battles for loot, competing for jobs etc. A strong rulebook with excellent artwork/background setting and hobby support will go down a treat I’m sure. I particularly like the artwork used by Fantasy Flight games, truly terrific. Overall perhaps I think a game that can cover a wide selection of gamers’ model collections would be great. Otherwise if you go down the specific made model route then try new concepts or poke current ones with a stick.
I take issue with the first sentence, Infinity is a very well supported and thought out game. The rest is obviously personal preference 🙂
There are several SF games already about, and like Ben says it’s personal preference as to whether you like them or not. Sounds to me like you have something specific in mind – in which case I think that you should write it! That way you get just what you’re after 🙂
“A strong rulebook with excellent artwork/background setting and hobby support…” One of the problems with this is the cost of generating it all, and it’s all stuff that you can’t sell directly. Many companies would rather spend the money on getting new models sculpted than develop their backgrounds as it’s easy to see the return. This thinking pervades all aspects of the process. Happily this is not true of everyone. Foundry, for example, let me write somewhere between 20-30k worth of background plus a battle report in God of Battles – an expense for me to generate, and an expense to then print and ship. Tribes of Legend has background too. Both have painting guides and lots more that isn’t “needed” for the game to work at its most basic level. However, I think that this extra background and hobby material is a key issue for games, and depth of background in particular helps enormously with making then “sticky”. And by that I mean, so immersive that you stick with them, which is more fun to play in and means that you buy more too: win/win 🙂
Cheers Ben – good point! Sorry.
I have had a good old rummage around online for a while now for alternative rules to use with my scifi minatures.And there are lots exellent scifi skirmish games.
(Infinity, No limits , Fast and Dirty, Chainreaction, Necromundia, Stargrunt II, etc.)
And some great rule set for large scifi warfare battle games.
Epic Armageddon, Net Epic, Dirtside etc.
But the middle ground is a bit sparse.40k and Warpath simply modify the game mechanics of a fantasy batle game , to fit a sci fi setting .(Sci fantasy?)
I belive that a rule set written for a modern warfare battle game , (about the same size as current 40k ) would be a winner!
Most of the ‘problems’ I see with current 40k rules are due to the rules arriving at the game play having detoured around 20 years worth of backwards compatibility.
(I understand the sort of restrictions put on 40k rules devlopent at GW plc.)
Ill try to expain myself a bit better.
When most gamers see minatures all ranked up in densly packed blocks of troops mainly armed with close range weapons , they expect the game play to reflect ancient to Napoleionic(ACW) type warfare.
When they see smaller groups of skimishing infantry mainly armed with ranged weapons supported by armoured vehicles they expect the game play to reflect modern warfare.
Even if its just film references, the two types of warfare are distinctly different in most gamers minds..
(WWI was the only time I can think of where Napoleonic approach to warfare was used with modern weapons of war.After taking insane amount of casualties, where a 5 mile advance cost ONE CASUALTY for every SIX INCHES .They developed and adopted the modern way to conduct war, within 4 years.)
So if the game looks like it should play like moden warfare, but plays like ancient warfare.There can be a disjoint in the gameplay that is picked up on by the gamers.
Warpath had the same issue last I read, though.
I hope unlimited ranges (with the stated range of a weapon being optimal, and half that short) are implemented – subject to LOS and, mind you, I’ve played (as a test) 40k with 15mm, 10 and 6mm figures. It improves the smaller the scale gets. Tomorrow’s War looked good, as well.
But, indeed, the bottom line is sci fi offerings out there are for the most part fantasy in space. Which is awesome, but then you have Future War Commander developing a dozen page “Skirmish” section in their rulebook and it soared head and shoulder above a lot of other systems IMHO. And that was Pete filling space, I guess….
AT-43 was the first real-SF game on the market with a bigger reach. Sadly it no longer is with us.
I’ve not played FWC or TW, but from what I’ve read of the TW beta version it was a direct descendant of the Stargrunt II way of thinking. In play, this feels very realistic, which is what actually puts some people off (low body count). So there are more realistic games out there – more “modern” style combat games. I can see what you’re saying about 40K, but the comment doesn’t apply to SGII at all.
I guess what I mean is I, and I alone, struggle with moving a figure that’s over an inch tall around the table and being invited to not fire beyond, say, 24″. In some cases 12″. There are only so many times I can let the “limited vision/poison gas/conserve ammunition” flag fly before it’s invariably perceived as the game mechanic it is, with no foundation in reality. Look at African or Baltic child armies. Did they hit much? Nope. And pitted against trained forces – SGII/TW-style games – they invariably cam out the worse for wear. Shifting die rolls does impact the game. In reference to 40k, the smaller the scale the more realistic the range – also due to more terrain intervening between figs/stands. I hope Warpath doesn’t carry the “gamey range gimmick” to limit fire control over to its final incarnation, that’s all.
AT-43 and the recent DUST Warfare rules are more modern warfare skirmish.(And very good ones as far as intuitive game mechanics go.IMO.)
My point of view is modern skirmish games are great at detailed model/unit, interaction, and modern large battle games are great at unit /unit formation, interaction.
But at the current 40k size game, I think we should have straghtforward unit tactics, coupled with detailed unit resolution generated by individuals/weapons within the unit..
A sort of best bits of both, if you like.(40k seems to fail to do this in an intuivie way.IMO.)
I have been trying to develop a rule set along these lines for a few years now.(New project name is ‘4Tk in 40 pages’.So very cheeky I know.lol.)
Its just a rough draught with the main game mechanics and resolution methods penned in.
As my day job is all about optimising function using objective assesmment.(Conformance/service engineer.)I am ok at the bare bones stuff.But am completly out of my depth with the artistic side of game development!
I could post up basic concept/mechanics if thats ok with Jake?(Ill totaly understand if this is not realy apropriate.)
Kevin – I think it’s not appropriate on this thread as it’s way off topic. However, give me 24 hours to ponder an idea it’s given me and I’ll get back to you.
Just hang fire on posting that up for a little while 🙂
Warfare and its sister AT-43 are very scalable and only with slight changes (if at all) allow to play huge games. Even converting them to 6mm would take only a few changes. So, yes they can be played as skirmishes (would rather say the average game was a mass skirmish), but easily can be played Epic/true Apoc-style.
I totaly understand , I will wait for you to lead the way.
I understand how good these rules are , and they do scale up well!
But my point was , super detailing a’ mass battle’ game to get a more detailed ‘battle game ‘, OR ‘streamlining ‘ a ‘skirmish game’ to get to a ‘battle’ game .May deliver a playable game .
BUT wouldnt be as good as a game developed specificaly for this game size.(Taking the best bits of both game types to start with and blending them effectivley.)
As far as I know there is NOT a sci fi game written specificaly for a modern battle sized game.
And thought if Jake was to point his talent in this direction it would be very much apreciated!
Sorry about wandering way off topic.
To be honest: We tried out mass-AT-43 and it turned out that it plays even better than with skirmish style games. I can imagine that during the design-process instead of skirmish->mass as with Confrontation they moved from mass->mass skirmish. I know they had some small scale AT-43 prototype miniatures in the studio from the beginning on.
Oh dear, still so far off topic…but.
Scaling down a ‘mass battle’ game to a mass ‘skirmish game’ allows for the game to scale up, and gives it a straight forward command and control structure.(When done well which is a good thing.)
However , sometimes the detailed interaction often wanted for a smaller size game , can be a bit hit and miss.
No doubt AT 43 and DUST warfare are great games and I belive they deliver a much better gaming experiance than 40k.
(But they both have fewer ‘factions/ units’ , because the uncreased tactical interaction carries the game play.)
The problem with writing a rule set for a wide and varied 40k universe TYPE setting , is the players tend to expect higher levels of definition and detail in the wider range of factions and units.
I am not explaining this too well.
But the original scale of the rules game mechanics , means the final rules inherit the inapropriate stuff from a different sized system.(An if you are unlucky a completly differnt playstyle to that intended!)
Therfore a game developed specificaly for the ‘battle game’ ,would not have any inherited problems..
In general scaling down a biger sized game and adding detail, arrives at a much more efficient scale conversion than scaling up a skirmish game.
Again so sorry for getting so far of topic and making sweeping generalisations.
Andre , I am not saying AT43, and DUST games are not great games.Just wondering if there is a better wayto write a rule set specificaly for a modern battle wargame…
I think the price hikes are as usual unacceptable, but it annoys me how people seem to think this is “capitalism” and it’s evil. I think people have mentioned this above, but GW are loosing customers. On top of that, GW’s profits are largely static. So the real issue here is stupidity, not greed etc. Almost no other company jacks its prices up every year, usually because they know this loses customers. Which is exactly what has happened with GW.
They keep making bad decisions over and over. Finecast has been a disaster and I doubt anyone lost their job over it. It doesn’t look good on any CEO’s resume that you got your company’s profits static and lost them customers. It looks like a massive clusterf*ck.
What GW do, that none else can do, is get 3/4 plastic kits out per month, something to be respected: it’s not cheap at £30-50,000 per plastic kit. They simply couldn’t do this if they didn’t make the profits that they do make.
At least the current price hike did not see normal squads/infantry going up in price. But gutted if you like your tanks or cavalry. At the end of the day, every year they raise their prices and that simply means that, ignoring those who pushed away from the game or priced out, those who still collect them game simply buy less. I mean, how many people can actually afford to maintain multiple armies, like the good old days eh?
As was mentioned earlier, the brilliant folks at Plastic Soldier Company manage to churn out lots of new kits every month.And they manage to price thier products very competativley.
Because they realise the economies of scale selling lots of plastic minatures at a small profit per minature makes far more sense than GW plc sell one item for as much as they think they can get away with.
(Mantic also follow this mass production =lots of sales volume at low profit per item approach, that why they are growing thier customer base so rapidly!.)
So producing lots of new kits IS NOT a justification for price gouging.
The way GW plc is run has a lot to do with the personal circumstances of Mr Tom Kirby IMO.
He is in his is over 60, and simply wants to improve the values of is shareholding as much as possible , with as little effort as possible , before he retires.(AFAIK.)
I know you are realy busy.And Work you are paid to do takes top priority.(Same as everyone else.)
But have you any thoughts/ideas on a modern sci fi battle game far enough along to have a general discussion on?(Just general concept and basic mechanics etc)
To get back to the nostagia bit, I find my nostagia is acutally driving me away from GW. I got into it in the dying days of 5th Ed Warhammer with Brettonians, and then moved to LotR. However, since then GW comicfied the Brettonian range, and all the writers that I knew (Priestly, Cavatore, etc.) have pretty much left and moved onto other things. Even the sculptors I knew of (Perries, McVey, Naismith) now do other ranges (Perry Minis, Mantic, Fireforge). While the Perries still do most of the sculpting for the LotR range, the recent doubling in price of the plastics, and move to Finecast, means I’m pretty much done with that range. White Dwarf went down the tubes awhile ago, I find Wargames Illustrated a much better read (And they even ran a version of “Painting with the Average Joe”, a series I remember from when I first started buying WD). Basically, all the pieces that bring on that nostagia feeling for me have moved on to other things.
I find that’s the case with me too. I have very fond memories of GW circa 1995, and all my nostalgia is pinned to that particular period in its history. Whenever I go back to a GW store now, part of me is like “Yay, Games Workshop!” but then I realise everything has moved on; the miniatures have changed; the artwork has changed; the rules have changed; the atmosphere in the store has changed; the attitude of the staff has changed and all the games I used to drool over, like Necromunda, Talisman, Man O’ War, Blood Bowl and Warhammer Quest have all gone. Now the one reason I took an interest in GW again after seventeen years (Warhammer Historical) has closed down too, it’s the final nail in the coffin for me.
Ah, Brettonians V Lizardmen. At the time I thought it was a brave move to skip any of the standard stuff – elves, dwarves, orcs or the old-fashioned type of humans.
“I’ve only just been coming here (independent retailer) for half a year or so and now GW are releasing a new edition of one of their flagship games – what are the odds!”
“Wait, you mean the army I just invested my time and money into isn’t going to have a proper armybook for the next 2 years?” Yup those were the times.
Little dit we know that it would take nearly 10 years for another Codex of our beloved armies…. 😉