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Friday, August 16, 2013

The future of Games Days & Games Workshop - Part 1

In the grim present of the 21st century there are only true nerds and evil managements.
The future of Games Days & Games Workshop - Part 1

1+ saving roll against wall of text
President Beeblebrox
Yeah, I admit, this is a pretty fancy title for a post that is supposed to summarize our experiences at Games Day 2013 both in Germany and the US. 

But the recent developments within Games Workshop as a company, the miniature and board/tabletop-game landscape as a whole and especially the community warrant a post that is more than the 'Oh, it was great, we had fun!" kind of post. 

I felt compelled to 'dig a little deeper'.

Prepare for incoming wall of text! 

German hit comedy: "Who are you to accuse me!"

After the launch of our first ever miniature painting DVD set called "Season 1: Target Identified" and the many positive reviews you guys SHARED & ENJOYED, our Facebook following has doubled from the mid 600s to now over 1200. We are very happy and grateful for your support! 

Naturally, a lot of 'the new guys' don't know us yet. So, if you are new to masterminis or paintingbuddha.com have a look at who we are

And if you think "Who is this overweight, bold-headed, bearded hobo (that would be me), who thinks he can talk to me about the future of GD & GW", just a quick few lines about myself: 

I have been #1 (HUEHUE) Games Workshop and Forge World fan-boy since 1991, when I set my foot into the GW store on Oxford Street, London. In my previous life I worked as the Global CIO of the ALDI Süd group, an international discount retailer with over 4000 stores worldwide. Many of you know them. Now I 'retired' as a full-time nerd, age 42, working only for you :D. My hobby room holds about as much stock as a small GW store. 

I paint miniatures, but I am not an artist.

Structure of this post

Since it's a complex issue, I want to structure this document a little. So first, I will introduce the main players, talk about how good or bad the GW Management really is, talk about how business decisions of the last decades have impacted all the players and finally will talk about our experiences and my view of the future of Games Days.

This little mini-series will have two parts. In part 1 we look at whether GW's management really sucks and in part 2 we will look at the future of our hobby.

So let's get cracking.

Introduction to the players

For this discussion about the future of Games Days and Games Workshop you have to look at 'the big picture' - I will try to be as terse as possible, even though it is a complex subject. The main players on this field are: 

The customers: we got three groups: collectors, gamers and painters. 

The distributors: independent distributors (brick & mortar), online-sellers, GW Stores and the GW Online Store. 

Games Workshop: Employees, designers, top management including legal inquisition, Shareholders.

Part 1
"GW's top management sucks! They don't know what the frakk they are doing!"

Tom Kirby - GW's acting CEO
Mastermind or Evil Genius?
Another yearly 15% price increase, the disaster release of Finecast, new releases that might not tickle one's fancy, Space Marines inside Space Marines - we are all raging and condemning GW's management decisions at one point or the other. "They don't know their business, they don't understand the community! I am done with GW" are statements echoing throughout the Internets with almost every official release of anything GW does. 

As #1 fan-boy I can completely understand when emotions of true fans of the hobby run high. It happens multiple times every year - and has been happening for decades now.

SHARE & HOLD
However, with some experience in management myself, I have a different perspective on the subject as well. Two hearts beat in my chest: The Nerd and the business dood. 

There is one simple fact that we may wish was different, but have to accept as is: Games Workshop is owned by shareholders. The board's main job is to make shareholders happy. 

So let's have a look and see whether Games Workshop's top management, which - after 5 years under Mark Wells - is currently led again by acting CEO Tom Kirby, 63, is doing a 'good job'. 

(Tom Kirby, btw., led the management buyout of Games Workshop back in 1991. 21 years ago. That's half of 42. Is Kirby a mastermind or an evil genius? We'll talk about that later :D)

Miniature nerds are the best lovers

Tofu and Titans,
Rollin' in the dough.
Let's say after all the Mordor-related financial trouble GW was going through in the early 2000s, at the height of the crisis in 2008, you decided to support Games Workshop by buying 100 shares. It would have cost you 118.75£

Because, as we all know*, miniature nerds make the best boyfriends, lovers and husbands, five years later you cash your stock which now is worth almost 800£. You invite your dream-woman to a nice dinner the night before Games Day UK, pay for the trip, buy a Forge World Titan and fly back home. Your first child will be named Marneus Calgar. 

You would a) be the most awesome hoopy nerd I know and b) very happy with Games Workshop's management.

* WE all know that, not all the ladies do yet. At least they know at all times where we are!
  Voluntarily locked in the basement ^^

Games Workshop's shares dropped to under 120 pence a share end of 2007. Then Mark Wells happened.
As a matter of fact, if you followed the global financial crisis and its impact on the stock markets worldwide, this recovery of GW's stock price seems miraculous, especially if you consider that we are talking about friggin' plastic miniatures in times of mobile games and the Internet. Who would have thunked?

How they dunnit

Well, let's look at how Games Workshop has done it. Of course, I get my information from financial reports, GW's sparse communication and 'inside sources' - but, like anyone else, I don't even know the half of it. So let's just identify the main aspects of profit: Cost, price, sales volume and margin. 

Cost

Cutting cost. You're doing it wrong!
For the last decade, Games Workshop has run a very tight regiment when it comes to cost. Staff was cut, distribution streamlined, production modernized (and, in part, outsourced). And to be honest, having followed GW's financial reports for decades now, it is rather impressive what they have achieved. 

Please note that cutting cost in general is not a bad thing, as it often leads to optimized processes. 

I'll talk about which cost better not to cut later, when I talk about the community and how this cost-cutting has affected us. (Part 2)

Price

Unlike our little company, where we plan to lower prices the more successful we get, Games Workshop has not opted to share their success with their customers. Only their shareholders. Again, that's just the way things are when you are owned by shareholders.

As long as I can remember, GW has increased prices by 10-15% every year. My three Space Marine Company Boxes alone have turned out to be a better investment for me than my other 'classic' investments! Not only did they increase prices on a regular basis, they also cut unit sizes in boxes. I know kids that never heard of a 10 or 20 unit box. "They came in boxes larger than 3-5 units? Man, you're OLD!". Yes, the good old days of yore.


Yesterday, I bought a SINGLE Herald of Nurgle Plaguebearer plastic miniature that alone cost more than my first unit of 10 space marines many moons ago. Actually this one herald was 20€, the box of 10 Nurgle Plaguebearers came in at a moderate 23€. (I don't need to understand this).

For the record, let me state that the new single plastic models from GW are PERFECT. Well done, indeed!

Ed Witten could explain basic
arithmetic to you.
GW would probably debate that "15% price increase" is blown out of proportion as they always apply some cosmetics to make their price increases look perdy. The price of items that don't sell well were often not (or only very slightly) increased while top sellers took a 15%, 20% or even larger price increase hit. 

As we all learned in school, you don't just add percentages and then divide them ;) 

There's a little, but in my eyes very bright light at the end of the tunnel in 2013 as for the first time in as long as I can remember Games Workshop is NOT increasing prices on items they produce themselves. This includes all models! Price increases are mostly on items such as brushes and paints. *sigh of relief*

Margin

The third and for GW currently probably the most important way to make profits outside of cost and price is your margin. 

Example: GW sells a box worth 100€ directly to you. Production cost is 10€. Margin is 90€. That's 90€ profit in the bank. Now GW sells the same box to a distributor at 50% margin. That means 50€ - 10€ = 40€ for GW, the rest is what the independent distributor gets to work with. 

So, if I asked you to increase the margin, what would you do? Of course! Sell more yourself and less through distributors. You would try to cut out the 'middle man'

And that is what Games Workshop has systematically done over the last couple of years. The US online market is 100% in GW control. Tightening the screws on distributors all over the planet and force-feeding their customers to the GW Online-Store has significantly increased the profit margin for Games Workshop. I totally failed to buy a chaos moloch from my store yesterday. "We can't order that, we are over our quota. You need to buy it from GW directly". Bad for the store, but from a management perspective, this is perfectly fine, if not desired - unless we start to think of the consequences later (Part 2).

I just talked to a brick-and-mortar store owner who recently got "audited" by the GW "Inquisition" who checked her books (!) to see whether she has more than 50% of GW product in online sales (in which case the retail margin offered by GW would go down from 50% to 20%!). You think the IRS was bad! 

Sales

So, cost has been cut, prices have been increased, the margin is skyrocketing! Sales and profits must be going through the roof, right?

Well, yes and no. GW reported profits of over 20m£ for 2013 - very successful indeed! But let's look at GW's sales over the last five years in more detail. 


After declining and stagnating sales in the years before 2009 we can actually see that between 2009 and 2013 the sale volume in fact did go up, with increased momentum since 2011. While profits more than doubled in the last five years, sales 'only' increased by 7%. Still good, all things considering, but let's just assume a yearly price increase of 10% (I know this is not scientific), at equal units sold, sales volume should have gone up around 45%. They didn't. 

What does that mean? Simple. GW overall has lost customers. Average spending per customer, however, went up. More about this in part 2.

Let's have another quick look at the operating profits: 

Royalties down, operating profits up
THQ: Burning down the chapterhouse
Blood Angels of Chapter 11
I want to point out that Royalties receivables went from 4,2m£ down to about 1m£. 

Companies like Fantasy Flight Games pay licence fees to use the Intellectual Property (IP) of GW. In 2009 that was almost HALF of the overall profits! Now you know why GW Legal Inquisition department is so paranoid about protecting their IP!

Since 88% of royalties received came from licenses sold from computer games and 
the now-bankrupt THQ (Dawn of War) has a hard time paying the bills, the income from royalties has crashed badly. 

Ironically, the income from royalties in 2013 barely covers the legal cost of GW vs. Chapterhouse in the US. That's what I call getting bitch-slapped. Bullying fans and C&D shutting down sites that actually bring customers (most prominently Natfka's Faeit: 212 earlier this year) seems so much easier and more cost efficient! Protecting your IP while destroying your fan base. Learn how to do it from the pros! ^^ Oops, I apologize for this momentary lapse of reason.

Anyways, as we can see clearly now, no longer clouded by royalties (which are not the 'core business' of Games Workshop), we can see that operating profits pre-royalties nearly quadrupled between 2009 and 2013: 5,4m£ to 20,2m£. THAT is impressive and a result of the aforementioned cutting of cost, increasing of prices and - most significantly - increasing the margin. Very healthy indeed and less vulnerable to the success of outside partners.

Again, looking at these numbers, I would tend to say that the often ridiculed Games Workshop management has done a tremendous job. The company is healthy, growing and shifting investment into a direction that many of us either have not seen or chose to ignore: 

Less sales staff, more designers. 
GW has streamlined production and cut down staff there marginally. The biggest cut was in 'selling' which mostly means store staff. The number of sales staff is down from 1264 in 2012 to 1148 in 2013 with a net change of -116 employees. 

(GW has 137 stores in UK, 135 in Continental Europe, 99 in North America, 37 in Australia and 4 in Asia. 274 out of 412 stores are one-staff-stores. This program will continue in the future.)

(Hey, I just realized that I might be one of very few - if not the only one - to have visited and purchased stuff on all Continents GW is operating ^^. YAY!)

What is very important and very promising, however, is that Games Workshop heavily invests in new designers. Sculptors, 3D designers, painters and artists in general. We have seen many of our talented friends move to Nottingham to pursue a career with Games Workshop. Good for them!

In 2013, there were a total of 145 employees working in the design department which is up almost 30% from 2012. Again, in my book very promising numbers, indeed, and the best investment any company can make: hiring the right people. 

Summary of Part 1

Even if some of you might not like this conclusion, from a management perspective as well as from a shareholder perspective, GW's board has done a tremendous job. After his bold management buyout, Tom Kirby has created a true empire. Over the last 5 years, Mark Wells led GW back on track as CEO. He recently left GW to pursue new challenges. (Read "End of Cake?" in Part 2 on Monday).

So why all the whining? Should we as fans not be happy with the success of a now stable company? Should we not rejoice in the fact that our hobby is doing well? 

Well, GW does a lot of things right, but like everything, this comes at a cost. And that's what we will look at in Part 2 of this epic series. First thing on Monday morning, when you switch on your office PC, poured a coffee and unwrapped your croissant, you should read the exciting conclusion of this series. What better way to start your workweek by reading walls of text concerning what we love bests: nerdy miniatures and everything that surrounds them ^^.

And here is Part 2

SHARE & ENJOY

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below! Agree, flame, sulk, whine - do as you please! :D

32 comments:

  1. Well now change your hat and become the "real" #1 fan-boy. So far this was a very "corporative analysis" and something that is pretty obvious but what is needed is the "fury"of the tru nerd....;)
    Looking forward to the next post

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  2. Ahhh Monday? Whyyyyyyyyyyy??? I want to know today how the story ends...can't wait to read your perspective on GW on monday. Thanks!

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    1. Seems like it will turn into a 3-part series :)

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  3. WOW great article ! thanks for sharing your understanding of management with us ! well written too IMHO.

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  4. I'm looking forward to read part 2 of this series... though feeling a bit chilly thinking about the conclusions about Games Days and us the collectors and especialy painters...

    It is nice to read this as seen through your proffesional eyes Michael and it is actually nice to see that GW is such a healthy company.
    Well done :-)

    I am just concerned that such a healthy and streamlined company does not cater to my needs as a costumer because I don't buy a new army twice a year. And what about Games Day, if it doesn't turn up a profit, it gets shut down. That is logical after a corporate point of view, but it burns my nerdy heart, that loves competitive painting and in the end I think it is a bad business decision; they loose many old costumers that way not to think of the comercial value Games Days and Golden Demons have within the comunity. Many of the minis that I buy are directly due to some inspiration I got at a Golden Demon, without it I would definately buy less.

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    1. I completely agree, more on that in part 2 and 3 (yes, the article grows :P)

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  5. Ed hutton is really Edward Witten
    http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Witten.
    This could explain a lot of physical logic of light to illuminate our figures.

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    1. Yes he is, I have no idea why I got Hutton there :P

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  6. It's a well knows and often proven fact that companies that establish markets eventually get overtaken by the competition that follows in their wake. This is usually due to them developing a God complex about the industry they created. Eventually they shrink back behind closed doors to plan their eventual (but rare) comeback (Apple are one of the few examples of a comeback I can think of) or they become extinct. Evolution at work.

    Draw your own conclusions.

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    1. They would become extinct, if they did not adapt.
      In the 2nd part I write a little more on this subject.

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  7. HiHo

    After reading that twice i decided to write a few words :D

    In your section about Margin there is a big fail my Buddha. The Trade sale Margin for Shops is only 38,5 % and on LotR Products only 25%. I know that because i was Trade Saler ;) Also a friend of mine actually has a shop and he says that my numbers are correct.
    So saling a Box for 100 bucks to a Shop brings GW not 50 bucks as you said but 61,50 €.
    The online Trader Program has some different Point of view. GW alows averybody to sell their products online, BUT they control the Prices the Trader gives to the customers and when there are things going OVER 10% they do a closer look. 10% is always okay but a higher rate is only allowed for some short time and special limited Offers from the Trader. That means if the Trader gives permanently over 10% GW will lower their delivery rate to that Trader. That is what Mark Wells ignited. Everybody can sell GW but all together in a fair Trade Market and the same rules for everybody.
    The next Point is that a Store with gaming area gets some extra goodies from GW. What means if you have a store with some gaming tables and a GW Core Game Demo table you get som extra % to your margin.
    Then the next Thing is the biggies like Wayland etc. They make so much Volume of Sales so they also get some extra % as it is a golden Cow for GW.
    In your declaration of Marging you left out that you have to pay from that, your whole personal and industry what means finally that GW will have around 25% margin from each product they sell all in all.

    The main Point waht Mark Wells did beside the Price increase is as you said lower the cost of Operation. In that Special Point everybody should know that in 2007-2008 roundabout 85% of the Management and the Redshirts were kicked out and the ONE MAN SHOP was assembled. Beside that more and more ONE MAN SHOPS were spread over the world which means a higher Rate of Margin as the labour costs went down. One man and his lil store makes directly provit just when he makes 150€ Business Volume per day. ;)
    So the big Thing Mark Wells did is increasing Prices beside drastically lowered the labour costs.

    That is waht a good Management does. Lower costs inside and increase Prices to the outside. first Semester Management School ;)

    So one the one side i would have done the same in that Position as me as you know was aso in the Management a Long time, on the other Hand i see tha Company on the wrong way for their customers and community.

    It is easy to make the steps Mark did but it is not that easy to get angry customers back. An angry customer never Forgets the bad things but didnt remembers the good things as in example the permanently growing Quality in the plasic range of GW.

    So as always ist a sharp sword with two sharp edges

    and now to Support me pls send me a DVD set to Support me, as you know i have no Money but i want to learn how to paint like Ben and Stefan :D:D:D

    Best wishes Namensbrudda Michael

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    1. Quote:"That means if the Trader gives permanently over 10% GW will lower their delivery rate to that Trader. That is what Mark Wells ignited. Everybody can sell GW but all together in a fair Trade Market and the same rules for everybody" So basically the legal department has found a way to circumvent the worldwide illegal process of pricefixing ?

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    2. Wow, if all of that is true it is far far different here in America. The % Margin is different, noone gets "extra" discount - even the Distributors (large warehouse units that sell everyone else's product to independent gaming stores), you are required to have a bricks and mortar store (which is now the case in UK, too right?), no one can use a shopping cart system or sell things online (and technically this includes stores selling on ebay, though that tends to still happen). In America they can't price fix, or even try, they'd get sued in a heartbeat, and with all of the retailers around it would probably go class-action. They just try to make it difficult for FLGS to sell online. And considering I am also ex-Trade here in America, and am an investor in a store here in the States, I'm definitely sure on the current terms. You can get "support" for tables/volume here, and we are getting more 1 man stores of course, but pretty sure they have to average above 150 euros here, as that would not even pay the other bills for the store, let alone the labor costs.

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    3. Yes, this post simplifies the discussion a bit as rules are different for different regions. Interestingly enough, in the US market, the GW online sales are the most monopolistic of all regions.

      And 50% margin (roughly) is not incorrect - you 'work' your way up there by complying with all kinds of criteria (store size, window front, area for GW products, full color assortment, gaming tables and more).

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    4. i dont know ANY Store here in Austria that gets more than 40% and they of course have complete GW Range in their stores and many Gaming Tables and lots of Minis and Banners in their Window ;)
      It may be that in other States they do different with that Margin Policy but me myself was those days ago Rogue Trader wich ment to have full GW Product line PLUS FW and Mail Order ane we even didnt get more than 38,5 % / 25% as i wrote above.
      GW shots their own foot before giving 50% in the german speaking room.
      But maybe you have newer informations and trustable informants ;)
      Awww how i miss those days i worked for GW in the Store Management....:D:D

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    5. Actually, when I was Trade a lot of us were ex-store owners or managers. When we found out what margin GW gave in other countries we were floored. They'd probably only have their stores in US if they dropped margin below 40% here. Of course, with direct only items, in effect they have.....But in 90s, when GW went direct to stores in US, the basic discount to stores went from 48% to 45%. In late 90s, that went to 42%. And that is the basic discount. Better stores get more "support", but that is just about it (and slightly friendlier service as well - but in some ways it seems new sales people aren't even gamers, they just take orders).

      And yes, different countries and the way they go about it make it much different - and complicated, so I understand. And, yes it is weird, that they have one of the largest discounts to stores in the one country they've basically banned internet only stores for like 10 years....

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  8. Wow great article,Michael.Let me say one thing:The GW management does a great job but on cost of us fanboys.I don´t want to talk about the prices anymore cause i can´t hear it for longer.
    GW is now a company of sellers and traders but that was not so in the past.Some parts were good in the past some not but i don´t wanna to specify this.
    Now, and in the near future i think they are getting more successful but as i heard the Games Days are not profitable anymore.This year i couln´t be there cause of my holiday plans.BUT DON´T LET THE GERMAN GD DIE GW !!!
    And as a real fanboy i will pay every price and there are lot of other customers selling GW products.
    Finally i´m looking in the future with good feelings cause every change brings something good !!
    Greets from the Lipperland Wilko aka Guy de Fracas

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  9. Increasing revenue and lower the cost is everything any company is looking after /I am involved in airline business/.
    The problem is, if the increase of the price of the product is acceptable with the customer and if this price increase is following the purchase ability of the customer, and most important thing, what is our standing against the competition. So the question is: "Is the customer willing to pay for the product" and "How our product stand against the competition". I am afraid both those answeres are not very good, following the histeria with price increase /well I am following this histeria - 30 pounds for 10 elves? WTF?/
    Price increase during economy recession is suicide. I can follow with many examples of the companies, who fights with less income due to slower economy by increasing price, and then cutting the cost (shown then in the quality of the product - fortunately except the failcast and digisculpt, quality is increasing. Full bankrupcy courts are their testimony.
    They are following this classical scissor effect, in my point of view, if you are cutting costs, the effect of the extending scissors will stop at one moment, and the difference between revenues and costs will stop and will slowly start to close.

    Lets see on monday.

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  10. Giving credit for a stock price increase to a CEO when it was in a valley, especially a low felt across the global economy, is dishonest at best. If I bought Taco Bell stock at it's lowest price (I know, its not called Taco Bell, but bear with me), and then sold it today, does that make me a financial genius, or Taco Bell's CEO a super smart dude? No, it just meant the market plummeted artificially, and everyone with the sense to buy in made out like a bandit. I think even the S&P 500 made over 100% from March 08 to December 08... :)

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    1. And a lot of those CEOs are all getting extra bonuses and pay now. Boards tend to not award performance against the market - though a few do - they just tend to award pay to keep it commiserate so they can retain the "quality" they need.

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    2. True, however, 600 or even 700% is more than 100% - and it does coincide with the 'reign' of Mark Wells. His recent departure makes us think about the reasons 'why' though - more on that tomorrow.

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  11. Interesting read look forward to part 2. Personally I just can't afford there prices anymore. The constant samey stuff being released over and over bores me. I wished they had stuck more with Specialist Games ranges but heyho nevermind. My money goes to all the smaller companies now that offer better value for money.

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  12. Post part 1 - 1st - Sorry so long, but your article & Jarec's comment above made my mind go down a dark path. 2nd waiting for Monday. 3rd, just discovered the blog, (through FB from 2 people!)

    Jarec - Was struck by your comment, but probably not why you think. See, GW's main problem was not necessarily its God complex, after all Ian Livingstone & Steve Jackson's main intent was to become "filthy rich" through GW (and with FF books they did). Bryan Ansell (who bought it from them - ditto big time). And Tom Kirby has taken it from 15MIL turnover to 100+ MIL, and expects to get paid as well.
    GW, made their mistake through the secondary games. They used to make really cool games and put them out. Some (or a lot) of these were boardgames, or games designed to replace something they used to distribute (Dark Future to replace Car Wars, etc.). Other competition would come along, & their games would rarely match these secondary games in sales. Even a "Slow" game for GW could sell many times the volume of another company (Fantasy Warriors or Fantasy Warlord or Kryomek). Occasionally something would come along that would give it a run for a while (heartbreaker, etc) but would still rarely beat these smaller games, let alone monsters like WFB or 40k. But eventually, for GW, unless a secondary game could sell X amount it was actually hurting sales for them not to just do more of 40k or WFB. The "tail" of these games (the length of genuine support that the company would devote resources & release schedule slots to) grew shorter & shorter until gamers would actively NOT buy them because they KNEW they were just designed for short term (and in effect until this time, GW was able to sell a gamer not only their "main"game but their distraction game as well).
    Since people started turning away from these games it eventually became more important to just keep releasing more 40k or WFB (after all a general release of 1 book or codex & its miniatures would make far more money for the company than a whole game (especially after costs were factored in). So GW decided to stop - and only eventually replaced it with LOTR. For a little while this did not effect them, more “Core” came out to keep people happy, some were distracted by the bubble of LOTR, but when that ended GW was basically left with just 2 (especially here in USA).
    The Limited release games don't replace it, and are worse because they ARE so limited. GW also cut costs so a lot of employees who were involved in those old games were let go. Then they started joining other game companies or forming their own and releasing everything from Black Powder to AotWF to Warmachine to Mantic Games. Now even other companies with no ex-employee ties to GW that I am aware of have started producing games like Mercs & Malifaux and Soda Pop Minis and others.
    The first batch knew how to do it because they learned from GW, while the second had seen how it could be done for the smaller guys so are now a "second" wave of competitors to GW. All of these companies can be successful and GW still survive, but if 1 or 2 of them explode, then GW will probably go behind the doors you referred to. I don't think it was a God complex, as much as a business decision that made sense to the accountants (and the sales guys at the time), but it did have the unintentional consequence of leaving the porch light on and the back door open for the little guys to provide the "distraction" games for GW hobbyists.

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  13. Post Part 2 - Strangely enough, you can (if you have internal numbers) actually see where there sales numbers would make more sense to people (on where is the missing turnover gone) since they used to have four to six games selling at all times, and now technically have 3 (or really 2). [Also liked to point out that no one ever mentions the Bitz program going away. I hate it, wish it was still there, but it was either a negligible amount of sales that doesn't count or it was overly costly so helped sales but not profits (what GW was basically saying when they killed it). But lots of people complain about it as it was the greatest thing since sliced bread & GW should go down in flames for killing it off. But in effect it drastically reduced the codes GW had for sale (ie 15-20 years worth of product for 7-8 years) which would have some effect on turnover - something a lot of the expert financial guys don't deal with when they compare "Old GW vs New GW" (and yes, less important year over year, but they have killed just about as many or more than the codes they have released for some time.) Direct only is supposed to replace this, but only repairs the margin, & not the total turnover.]
    I for one wish they would release more games (re-release some old ones add new ones, but the limited model completely sucks (no more Dreadfleets - make more Necro's, Epics, BFG's and Mordheim's & especially NEW ones.) Now it is IMO too late to close the back door, but if Inquisitor as a new game box is actually true, then maybe they will correct this & go back to the good old days, forestalling the time for people to peruse the back room. It will take more than just one game, and it will have to last in some form for some time (3+ years and releases). But as an ex-employee, gamer & shareholder, it would be the best of all worlds for me.
    Once again sorry so long, but it made me think how GW let the Barbarians get to the gate, even if they haven't climbed the walls yet....

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    1. Don't be sorry for a long comment! I enjoyed reading it and it gave me some aspects to think about - I have not really considered the '2nd tier games' yet.

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    2. Well, glad you enjoyed reading it. It is just one of the first things I probably would never have done if I ran the company. And if I stepped in now, it would be one of the first things I would try to fix (with new things hopefully - like the new game that may come out in October).

      But a whole lot of the games that are coming out from ex-GW guys are games that they wanted to make at GW, or new versions of some of those games they did do. In fact some of them were pitched to GW, who basically said no....and now those guys work elsewhere. GW put themselves in a position where they can't risk a lot (since the bubble for LOTR burst) and when Dreadfleet came out, it was not good. it kinda "proved" to some there that they can't do new things. I would have gone a different direction (to a game I know exists but has never been released).

      But a lot of the "competition" exists because of those 2nd tier games. Barring Warlord who is historicals, a lot of them got their funding and capital under control through versions of those 2nd tier games. Spartan did their version of Man'o'War, Impact does their version of Bloodbowl, Infinity in some ways started like a necromunda (not exact I know but in size and scope) - same thing for Mercs. Mantic of course was what Ronnie wanted to do with GW if he was given the chance.....and has come out with his version of WFB, 40k, Necromunda and Bloodbowl (though I don't like that comparison for Dreadball - it will always exist because its sports - I think they are very different games, like chess and checkers. But they also get people trying it out because it is a "new" version of Blood Bowl. Now Kickstarter has made it possible for others to join the fun....how many Bloodbowl team kickstarters have their been? How many terrain ones for 40k...that looks like Necro buildings? Anyway, I'll wrap it up there, but just some more to think about....but they let the door open when they decided to concentrate on only the big three games (and paid service with specialist games)....and I doubt they'll close the door to all of these new companies.

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