White Dwarf Reborn – Part 5

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So there you have it: a Brave New World of weekly Dwarfs and a “visual feast” once a month in case you missed anything. After looking at the old Dwarf, the new incarnation and the Warhammer Visions that replaces the old Dwarf on the newsstands, what do I think overall?

Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag and, I would argue, a missed opportunity.

 

Good Things

The best thing is the new life that White Dwarf seems to have found. It’s a tone thing rather than a specific page reference, but it’s crucial in making something worth reading. Perhaps it’s the excitement of the change, perhaps it’s the impending panic of wondering how they’re going to do this every week – I don’t know. Whatever the cause, I thought that the last of the monthlies was half asleep, and the first weekly had woken up fresh and cheery after a long rest. Long may that continue.

The weekly format also had a lot less chaff in it, though it could still prune back just a little more. Even though it’s short, at least most of it is actual content (and yes, I do count the promo stuff at the front as content – WD is all advert so why be picky?).

 

Not So Good Things

There are two main things:

  1. Warhammer Visions.
  2. Restricted WD distribution.

Warhammer Visions, hmmm…. Collectable? Yes, but only in the sense that my local council collects my waste paper every fortnight for recycling.

All the good things about the new WD are lost because they have gone from something that could be sold in every newsagent and every supermarket in the country to only being available in their own stores and a few approved stockists (I’m talking physical copies here, not digital). I don’t know the exact difference in numbers, but it’s got to be pretty big. This means that the best of the new changes is hidden away. If you don’t go into their store every week then you’ve missed it. As has been mentioned in comments on the earlier parts of this article, that doesn’t generally encourage customers to go to your store, it drives them to the competition or out of the hobby altogether. It will be worth watching to see if WD creeps back into wider distribution in a few months.

 

Conclusion

Whether this makes more money for GW or drags more customers into their stores doesn’t really make much difference to me. I started this series wanting to know if these magazines would be a more or less interesting read after the change, I think that it’s pretty clear.

The new WD has regained some of its verve, which is good. If it was easily accessible then I would probably buy at least some of them. Perhaps not every issue, but I’d add it to the ones I looked at. As it isn’t they’ve shot themselves in the foot as I’m a long way from the only one who won’t be bothered to make a special trip to get it.

I’m trying very hard to be polite about Warhammer Visions. It is a strain.

As far as I can see, leaving WV as the only thing on the shelves of newsagents and supermarkets (ie making this the most widely available GW promo item) seems like a very Bad Thing to me. Certainly I won’t be wasting any more money on it myself.

Luckily, there are many other magazines to look at. We, as gamers, are not stuck for choice. If you can see outside the narrow confines of Games Workshop’s games then there are many, many options for painting, modelling and gaming advice and reading. I’ll be looking at some more of these over the coming weeks and I, for one, find the excuse to trawl through them all in detail quite exciting 😉

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32 Responses to White Dwarf Reborn – Part 5

  1. Erin Freeman says:

    The limited availability of the weekly is something that’s bothering me, I’ve not touched WD in years (and likewise, GW products in general) – and I’m willing to give GW a chance to get back in there and make me a customer again. So, as luck would have it, my wife was out in the vicinity of our nearest store yesterday so I asked her to pop in to GW to pick up a copy for me… I got a text in the afternoon, “your nerd shop is closed”

    Can I be bothered to go back to pick up a copy? I’m eager to be a GW customer once again but.. ultimately, probably not. Just too busy with other things in the week and there’s no local games store within walking distance to pop out to during lunch. I really have to go out of my way to get there to pick up a copy and ultimately, I’m quite happy playing other manufacturers games in the mean time.

    • Ben says:

      I wouldn’t be losing any sleep if I was running GW. You’re a currently non-existent customer who might want to be a customer future. If that hinges on WD being easily available to you then I’ve not lost much. If you become a customer anyway then I might drag you into a store now and then. It’s not-lose/win situation for me.

      • bittermanandy says:

        I remember when I went to University and discovered the delights of beer and women. For four years, the one thing that kept me in touch with Games Workshop was White Dwarf. Sure enough, once I graduated and got a job, I went straight back to buying Warhammer figures again.

        Had the only option available at the time been Warhammer Visions, or a trip into the shop that I wouldn’t otherwise have visited for four years to buy a 32-page White Dwarf Weekly for about the same price as a full magazine… there is precisely zero chance I would have bothered. I’d have drifted away from the hobby entirely, or at least from that company if not the wargaming hobby as a whole.

        It’s unhealthy for any company to say, “the only customers we want are the ones we already have”.

        • Ben says:

          You miss my point. I did not say that if I was GW I wouldn’t want a monthly magazine on the newsstands, just that WD weekly is not it. That serves a different purpose. Whether WV is fit for purpose is another conversation and not something I have claimed.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      “Your nerd shop is closed” did make me laugh a lot though 😉

      @Ben – clearly one customer here or there is nothing to GW. However, if this sentiment is widespread then it isn’t going to do them any good. How many sales do they have to lose before they are concerned?

      • Minitrol says:

        Well sales volume in the last 6 months was down and that hasn’t sunk in yet and doubt it will so a few less people buy White Dwarf? My guess is they’ll can it rather than reinvent it a third time.

        • Ben says:

          @Q

          If I’m looking at this from GW’s point of view, then Erin isn’t a lost sale because he isn’t currently a customer. If he’s serious about becoming a customer again then WD on newsstands won’t add any impetus. If he isn’t, then putting WD on newsstands won’t bring him. Nor am I overly concerned over maximising WD’s sales. That’s obvious given I’m not putting it on newsstands. It’s a tool that serves a different purpose for me and I don’t mind if non-GW customers want to buy it but feel like they can’t.

          Now Warhammer Visions is an entirely different kettle of monkeys. I do want this to get my product under the noses of non-customers to try and reel them in.

  2. I remeber having quite some fun with the White Dwarf when Mortheim came out. I think the special issue with Aenur as a promo figure in it was my first one and I got ten or so more after this. I remember fondly quite well written short stories featuring the Dark Eldar and cool fluff about the Space Wolves and their ‘modifications’. The Mortehim photos in a city setting were gorgeous and I dreamt of running a warband in such a beautiful setting. If they could bring back these feelings and quality to it, I think there would be good odds that even I would consider getting a copy. But as it stands all I see is advertisment and mediocre photos. On the web I can find hundreds of photos which are inspiring and not recycled. I also feel that there is someone behind them with genuine love for the hobby, not with genuine love for my money…I guess we will see, a new start also implies new possibilities.

  3. Troy says:

    I hadn’t considered a strategy of using White Dwarf to lure customers into your store where you can upsell them to buy more stuff. I don’t think it’s going to work.

    Anyway, White Dwarf hasn’t been a general tabletop hobby magazine since I was a teenager (late 80’s). Expecting it to suddenly cater to an audience outside GW, ie most of those reading this paragraph, is being too hopeful 🙂

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Too hopeful? Why? I buy several other modelling magazines that are plainly aimed at an audience other than me. Why, when GW have the talented folk they do, and a major interest of mine is 28mm gaming, should they not be able to produce something that has appeal both for their core audience and more broadly? I don’t see any conflict there. What I do see is an opportunity to broaden their appeal which would also show their products to a wider audience. An opportunity they choose not to take. Why would that not be good for GW? After all, WD is a big advert.

      • OldNick says:

        Q, GW don’t support other system for the same reason they don’t support clubs that support other systems, fear of competition from cheaper and better rulesets and companies who have the gamer in mind. Here’s the prime example from only last week. There’s a group of us trying to drum up some new membersin a recently established local club in the Nottingham area. Part of our promotion plan is some old school flyers in game/comic related businesses in the city centre. So, after work I nipped into Forbidden Planet to check if they’d mind taking some from us and they were more than happy. They stock Mantic systems and x wing (which we regularly play) but there’s systems we play that they don’t stock, but that’s not a problem. I leave the shop, walk across the road to GW (hey I know I’m chancing my arm but don’t ask, don’t get) and ask the same question. The guy behind the counter is new so asks the manager and its a flat no. No reason given when I asked why they wouldn’t support a new club apart from “maybe it’s because we have warhammer world down the road”.
        Regardless of why, their reluctance does nothing to encourage this grissled ex 40k player back into the fold.

      • mattadlard says:

        GW would have been better to operate a Customer loyalty card like Costa where you get stamp when you make a purchase like WD, get say 15 get one copy free, draws people in and encourage local in store purchases.

        • Ben says:

          It goes against their branding to do something like that. Though the recent offers may indicate a change in direction.

  4. Joe Banner says:

    Great write-up. Definitely agree with what you’re saying about Warhammer Visions. Whatever happened to doing more fiction – Inferno and the other monthly Black Library stuff? Seems to this (admittedly increasingly older and more grumpy veteran) as good a way to inspire the kiddies. I don’t know… do you think a monthly release of comics and stories would be more collectable than a printed photo gallery?

  5. meh, it’s a reflection of a lack of vision on gw’s part. a throwback to 20th century marketing. this morning I saw a 3d printer on a talk show that retails for under 3000$ USD. a smaller version is half that price. on the show it was printing out toys in real time. the idea of home printed tabletop minis looks more feasible each day. this is the future and gw’s hardcopy magazines are sadly looking like an anachronism.

    • Ben says:

      They’re both available digitally.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        They are indeed. I just choose to read magazines as hard copies – especially when they are about high quality images. This stems from some comparisons I did between images on printed magazines and the same image on the retina screen of my iPad (which is one of the better screens I could have). In every case the screen images were slightly less good.

    • crimsonsun says:

      The only 3D Printer that comes close to being able to print Table Top mini’s in enough detail that I have seen is the Formlabs Liquid 3D Printer and even that lacked a resolution I would be happy to settle for currently.

      For gaming Mini’s a 3D printer needs to be able to achieve at least Layer resolution of 0.007mm and have a form factor that can handle detail of at least 10mircons. The printer I saw mentioned above was just shy of the needed resolution for around £2200 but thus far the only Printers that can produce the required resolution I have seen will cost you between £10,000-£2,000,000 depending on the scale of the printing required.

      I am planning to fully invest in 3D printing when I am able but I feel I will be waiting for a year or two for the printers that are in the domestic users price range (£1000-£2500) yet even if I had the cash waiting and a printer came out today I still would not be able to utilise it fully currently due to a lack of non professional software.

      For me the Software is more essential than anything else, currently to create 3D models from scratch you will need to be trained in 3D animation or Graphic Design and while I imagine Gaming Companies will have specialised 3D Design Software for creating there plastic kits, I have not seen any commercially available leading me to imagine that mini companies currently either have adapted professional software or have employed a company to write the software specifically for there requirements. Sadly without easy to use software being attainable I feel that any non Pirated 3D printed Mini’s* will be only achievable by 3D design specialists.

      *Pirated 3D mini’s will be achieved via 3D scanning and then leaking the mode specifications on the internet. I make no qualms about the fact that I make use of pirated products in various forms – It is a huge help in fact when it comes to helping me decide what to buy and what not to. Yet my interest in 3D printing is to allow me to produce mini’s from my own imagination, it offers the chance to really give your table top models a personalised theme so this combined with the huge negative affect such pirated models would have upon smaller hobby companies makes me feel this is a area of Pirated Products that I would actively oppose.

      Crimsonsun

  6. mattadlard says:

    The review has been interesting and well worth the time to read. As someone who reads magazines a lot, have an interest in Digital Art so ImagineFX, and that has a decent amount of tutorials and concepts and feedback that works well with the community and the interest field.
    Other magazines like Computer Arts has seen a change and one can see parallels with WV as it went more specialized, and not necessary for a good thing. Now, instead of engaging articles, tutorials and a selection of relevant interest pieces.
    But now it’s more a 6 week one trick pony issue with one topic subjects that recur as they come up with a new concept on the old subject.useful if you want that subject, but only if, the same applies with WV if it has a selection of images the directly apply to what one was collecting; However at that price will stick with C’MON or Google.
    Personally, one does wonder if GW would have been better to take WD as it has now awoken into, with less stores located in ‘junk’ (I know where the stores are they have a sign saying GW outside and drones on the inside) and self promoting magazine adverts and put more tutorials, customer feedback,or John Blanch type Articles, ‘Like the one LeftLion covered’ which show a more spread thinking with the target audience, and every 2months have a CD attached that is WV as a freebie.

    The flip side of this though is the Wargaming magazines that pander to the old guard, who like large blocks of ‘sometimes’ dry text, does remind one though of the old Times newspaper when it was A3 and solid wall to wall text. They can be dry, droning things, that offer a glimpse into the world of old style journalism, yet they have to cater to a target audience and the fact that they are still on the go, shows its relevant content. But really shows the flip side of the GW WD magazine style.

    This is an interesting subject and one feels explains a lot as to why so many gamers enjoy articles from places like BoW and C’MON, or BoS, etc. They engage at all levels and leave a space in the market maybe that could be filled by a magazine that fills the middle ground.

  7. Minitrol says:

    I think ultimately the wallet shock is too great this time. $7.00 a week sounds okay but then if I am the compulsive collector type that quickly becomes $28.00 a month for LESS pages than before.

    Now after this first month we might find the total content is better and if so it might be a good bargain but if not I would be ripped off.

    I think I’ll let others take the risk on this.

  8. jgoldenf says:

    I think people are being too hard on Visions. Some of the negative points put out seemed a tad embellished. Does anyone really thing the marbled page style destroys the detail in the miniatures on parade?

    I liked it for many reasons. One is that it tuned me in on what certain Tyranid models were mainly used for. The same can be said for what their weapons were for as well. Was in an in-depth, stats driven article? NOPE! but it is tons easier to digest and cheaper then buying a codex for an army I’ll never field.

    Two. The pictorial “Battle Report” was also nice. Hersey, but nice. What? I’m a Grey Knights player. What did you expect me to say… 😉

    Three. The paper quality is AWESOME! Sorry, but ever since I picked up a Fleetway/Quality comic that used the same type of paper I knew what the good stuff was. And this my friend is the good stuff! The colors are rich and clear so you can see the detail of every miniature and the text, especially the small type, is easy to read.

    Four. The design is less magazine and more Art Book in presentation which is, I think, what GW was shooting for. Yes, you can find a lot more pictures and guides on the web then they will ever be able to fit into a magazine, book or tome. No argument there. I’d compare this to a book you pick up on Frank Frazzeta or Simon Bisley in a Arts College bookstore.

    I do wish they had found a way around having so many picture go across the binding. I agree with that completely. The price Vs. the distribution schedule will keep me from getting every issue. I would have made this either bi-monthly of quarterly.

    So in closing, if you are not awestruck, inspired or challenged by the talents and creativity of other people’s painting, this is not for you. But if modding and painting is your fav. part of the hobby (some people don’t play that game at all!) Pick up Warhammer: Visions and give it a try…

    • mattadlard says:

      My issue with Warhammer visions is that it, if it was an art’s magazine then at least offer more in the way of painting and modelling guides as this would help to inspire rather that just snap shot of Pro Painters images which could be done via CD as a freebie.

    • Sam Dale says:

      “Does anyone really thing the marbled page style destroys the detail in the miniatures on parade?”

      Yes. It’s as bad as the painters who put black backgrounds on their models. They both visually interfere with the paint scheme, make the image cluttered and makes the model less easy to see.

      • jgoldenf says:

        I guess it doesn’t distract me and I’d like a bit of texture instead of a blank white slate.

        Mind you, I’m not a trained artist in any way shape or form so I’m not looking at these with as much of a trained eye as others might so this is just my two cents from an, average Joe.

        • Sam Dale says:

          I’m not average (distinctly unusual, in fact), but I’m definitely not a trained artist in any way. For reference, currently, I’ve reduced my painting to painting base colours and Nuln Oil wash and declaring models “good enough”. However, I have been looking at pics of nicely painted models for many years, and much prefer either a thematic backdrop, or a plain one that shows the model off. A bit of non-contextual texture is distracting.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      “Does anyone really thing the marbled page style destroys the detail in the miniatures on parade?”

      The problem is that it isn’t clear. At the very least it is distracting. At worst, if they have run this background texture under the actual image itself then how can I tell what is skilled painting and what is overlaid images?

      Art book? As I said, if that’s their aim then they’re going about this the wrong way. Of the couple of hundred art books I have the one thing they almost all have in common is their size.

      If modding or painting is your bag and you need to browse images then the internet has far more on hand 24/7 for free. Of equal quality too. At least. Also, if you really are interested in painting and modelling then surely you would want to know some of the techniques employed. If so, you’re better off with any one of half a dozen other options, including the new weekly White Dwarf.

  9. cashwiley says:

    So I dug up a couple of my surviving WD issues from before (1992/3) they had completely laid waste to the local gaming scene and I turned away from the hobby. Turns out they really were not very different in most ways from the current (well, the previous current) WD. McVey’s painting guides didn’t hold up well, though the bias of learning in an Internet era shows here; in many ways the new paint guides are better for army painting if you’re new to the hobby. The thing that stood out as starkly different was the amount of rules and unit card type stuff they used to jam in there (scads of Space Wolves in the one I was thumbing…scads!)

    Which brings up something that might be the important point. GW’s marketing strategy isn’t about us. It’s about the ‘kids’. I’ve been out of their target demographic for decades. Some of you probably have their target demographic in your living room playing the Playstation right now. So what works for us is really not the best call, maybe showing the mags to kids freshly into tabletop gaming would be a better metric.

    As far as an art book, it’s a fail. I was looking forward to Visions because I like to have pictures to look at while I’m on the sofa ignoring the television (you know, ‘quality time with the SO’). I have CMoN’s annuals (and there’s an entirely ‘nother rant about how to print an art book…oh teh pixels) and enjoy them. This little thing, the mind boggles at the thought process that must’ve led to it.

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