The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop - Part 7
Games Days - Dead on Arrival?
Traveling the Planet for the greater good of nerds everywhere.
After visiting Games Day US, Games Day Germany and now Games Day UK, there is only Games Day Italy to come on October 20th.
|Hussar 2013: If you can, you should go!|
I promised the awesome crew of the polish Hussar to join them again in 2013, after I visited them for the first time in 2012. And since both GD Italy and the Hussar 2013 are on the same weekend, I won't be able to go.
But fear not - Ben is going and he will be writing the Report for GD Italy, while I will write the report on Hussar 2013 (← FB event page). That will probably result in twice the fun for you guys ;)
It is quite astonishing, how many messages I get, asking - in some cases begging - for the next installment of our very popular series about "The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop". If, by some bizarre coincidence, you still have not read any of these legendary walls of text, here's the start - you'll find the rest.
I wrote about the business 'success' of GW, the mistakes GW made (and continues to make) and how some of the 'interesting' business decisions of GW get me close to losing my marbles for good.
So, lean back, PREPARE for another legendary wall of text.
So, lean back, PREPARE for another legendary wall of text.
One question, one answer and secret fans
Games Day UK gave me the chance to talk to all kinds of people from Games Workshop and Forge World and ask them one question: "How do you feel about Games Days being cut down in size significantly and how do you think that will impact the financial success of Games Days and Games Workshop?"
|Amount of fans that|
would go, if...
It is fair to say that - even if 3600 visitors is the correct number - it is far away from the around 8000 fans that made Games Day UK 2012 one of the biggest hobby events in the world.
|GW does not need more customers|
to make more sales... Maybe they
should write a book about it!
Surprisingly I got exactly one answer. Out of EVERYONE I asked. I did not get anyone's opinion, I got a response that the blue shirts seemed to have learned by heart or at least have been briefed on.
"We strive towards being more accessible and serve our fans better and limiting tickets is the best way of achieving that. We just have more time for each of you by doing so."
And a few of the questioned added: "We don't think that sales will be affected by this. We were able to save significant cost by limiting the amount of fans that can attend our events."
I see, I see, ... I get the picture!
I get the part about saving cost. If you read any of the previous posts on this subject, you know that everything that GW does is targeted to maximize their margin.
|Blue shirts after the show, waiting to be picked up by a|
fleet of buses: To the after-show party at Bugman's Bar.
GW also sent less staff to work at the event. That was mostly apparent in the fact that the stores were all opened on Saturday. And with a lot of single-staff-stores, that meant that most of the blue shirts at GD UK actually came from Nottingham HQ, hauled to Birmingham in a fleet of at least 5 buses.
So - as far as saving cost is concerned, I guess GW succeeded.
How sales are not impacted by less than half the visitors is a miracle to me, my brain might be too highly trained to understand that math.
As far as cost/ratio is concerned, I am sure, however, that GW was happy with the results of the event. For some reason, I am sure they have a KPI (key performance indicator) for that.
Games Day UK - the last Games Day ever?
The answer is of course, no - that would be a rather silly statement.
That, of course, is because Germany seems to have been the last Games Day ever.
"Wutt?" I hear you say? I mean it!
|Games Day 2012 UK - teeming with life, excited fans,|
all aspects of the hobby, INCLUDING gaming could
be found. Not so in 2013.
At first it did not even occur to me, as I am not a big gamer and I wasn't too excited about these uniform modular gaming board tables of recent events anyways.
So I want you to read this following sentence very, very carefully: There were a total of 0 gaming tables at Games Day UK 2013. ZERO. Zilch. Zipp.
Games Day UK 2013 may as well have been called "Day UK 2013" - because Games were clearly not a part of any of that. Even now, from a distance of three days after the event, I still can not believe what I did NOT see: no Gaming Tables at a Games Day.
There better be a goooood explanation for that! And Lo' and behold, I heard one!
The wonderful logic of Games Workshop's "International Games Day Codex"
There actually seems to be rhyme and reason behind this magnificent achievement of ingenious marketing. According to the organizer of Games Days worldwide, this is all planned. And it's all part of the 'International Games Day Codex'. WOW.
Ultimate Madness: Games Days are no more for kids
First time I heard it, but apparently, "future Games Days are not targeted at kids and the younger attendees" anymore.
|*The statements are based on what I remember from|
what was said, not an actual "transcript".
"With the successful implementation of the International Games Day Codex, which by the way is only a 'guideline' rather than a binding framework, all future Games Days will focus on the older, hard-core fan of the hobby."
OK, first time I heard the International Games Day Codex (IGDC) was not binding, but let's carry on...
"By limiting the amount of tickets, our designers and authors will be more accessible by fans who want to know absolutely everything about their favorite hobby."
Games Days are not about Games anymore
|Who wants this kinda of crappy gaming table anyways.|
Not that the one-staff-stores would have time to build a table for Games Days anyways. More saved cost. Perfect!
To be fair, there were a two or three 'showcase' tables of very finely designed terrain - but nothing we have not seen before. And they were safely warded off by crowd-control metal fences. Go figure.
Meet the Geek
|GD Germany 2013: When is enough room enough?|
Designers, Sculptors, Graphic Artists, Authors. If you are a nerd like me, you want to meet them and talk to them. Golden Demon competition, Armies on Parade - you want to enjoy them without being trampled to death.
So, limiting tickets to the event is a good thing for the fans, isn't it?
|Sales Day 2013: 58% sales, 42% hobby|
In theory, sure! In practice, however, if there is less to see, less to do, less Golden Demon entries and you put less people in less space, you will end up with about the same problem as before - just on a much smaller scale... D'oh! Did I have to spell that out for you, GW? Really?
Just check out the event map on the right. You won't even need a magnifying glass to see what the main concern of Games Days nowadays is. Sales.
Like in Germany, hobby space has been drastically reduced in favor of more sales area and more registers.
Whereas Germany still had a hand full of gaming tables, the UK did not even bother.
Let's look at the three areas of the main hall and the exhibition "sports hall":
Games Day opened at 10am. Immediately there was a line at the Forge World stand - not unexpected. I tried to queue early but was told I needed to go into the line for the line. I looked at the line for the line and said 'Frakk that' to myself.
After noon there were no lines. I remember last year, even at 3pm there were massive lines in front of the Forge World stand. I'd really like to know how sales went for them...
|My personal heroes. Unlimited creativity for limited editions.|
It was awesome talking to you guys! Stay hoopy!
At Games Day 2012 there were at least 54 designers from HQ participating, plus all the guys from Forge World. Not so in 2013.
There was no hobby area, meaning, there was almost nothing to do.
Of course, I loved to talk to the Forge World guys, like I do every year. This year I was even able to meet my personal heroes of Games Workshop, the limited edition design team for the first time! This good looking group of extraordinary enthusiasts has rekindled some of our love for GW as they are the ones creating collectible and precious limited editions. Keep up the good work, guys! And make sure to reserve #42 of that yummy Chaos Box for your Galactic President! ;)
Gameplay and Graphics meh... let's wait on the final versions. But don't expect something of the caliber of Dawn of War III any time soon...
I spent a total of 10 minutes there - and that was probably above average.
The exhibition in the 'Sports Hall' catacombs
Six flights of stairs towards the earth's core was the dimly lit, stuffy exhibition hall, located in a sports hall.
Well, the sport started when we had to climb up against towards daylight. But sport for nerds is good, so I won't complain.
As you can see from the pic, people were stepping on each other's toes trying to get a glance of the 120 or so Armies on Parade or the Golden Demon entries. Being so stuffy and badly lit, to me this felt much more crowded than the years before at the NEC. I can't really say that I enjoyed the exhibition close to the center of earth. But I met Warren Johnston of Beasts of War on my way down - so that's gotta count for something. I'm such a fan-boy.
|Yellow. Lighting done wrong.|
This year, we saw the event in a different light. With the dimly lit hall (I had to take pictures at 20,000 ISO+!) the only major light-source that hit the miniatures came from the totally inadequate, yellow halogen lamps.
I mean, seriously, GW? Da Fuq!?
How long have you been running Golden Demon events? How long have we asked for adequate lighting? Y U NO LISTEN?
Every miniature looked yellow. The strong halogen lights created overly bright highlights and pitch black shadows. To make things worse, many of the miniatures were placed in front of the lamps, so that we as the viewers only saw a wall of shadows.
All they need is a few strips of white LEDs with a diffusor on each shelf and all would be good. But I guess it's too much to ask for the little money we pay to look at the sea of Yellow.
Many artists were frustrated about how their minis looked under that yellow light. Good thing I saw David Soper's sword winning entry the night before at our Pre-GD-Dinner. At least judging was done under daylight lamps.
The Big Bore
Perfect beings and lost identities
|You can tell that Rob Macfarlane loves what|
he does when you hear him talk about
the awesome new Heresy lineup.
All the designers, in fact all the blue shirts and all the Forge World staff were absolutely pleasant. Don't get me wrong - all of these guys are AWESOME. Dedicated, motivated, driven individuals who have one of the hoopiest jobs in the world. In a way, they are us. Fans of the hobby, putting heart and soul into what they do. And they are pretty damn good.
Sadly, I have finally come to the conclusion, that their management - which by the way was neither to be seen at the event nor deemed it necessary to show up at the after show party at Bugman's Bar in Nottingham to say a few nice words, has lost all ties to the reality of the hobby.
|A lonely scout sniper patrolled the|
halls. He was not needed.
And to be honest, even now, I don't really know who that event was for.
Who makes the money for Games Workshop? The gamers! Well, ... I found no reason for them to go to this event. Paying 35£ entrance fee just to buy stuff at full price is a weak argument to attract gamers. Yes, those one or two display tables looked nice. But that's 10 minutes worth of entertainment.
How about cos-players? There was not even a competition for these guys! There were a few cool costumes, but they probably felt more awkward than appreciated.
Collectors? If you ask for this endangered species you have not read my previous articles - collecting GW product is dead for a while now. And even the valiant efforts of the new limited edition design team won't be able to fix that quickly. Unless someone gives them a few k's of white metal, I think.
|The power of color correction at least lets |
me enjoy the pictures at home. But I don't
need to go to a Games Day for that.
With all the gamers gone, some of us painters already start to feel special. But let's face it: If painters turn into the target audience of Games Days, I would strongly suggest to GW to drop the event altogether. Painters do not even make sufficient sales volume to support even the smallest of companies. And seriously, how many GW employees does it take to screw in decent day-light light bulbs? It's probably less than 42.
Kids & Squid Herder parents: There is not much to do for the kids attending Games Days (no gaming tables, little entertainment). And parents don't tend to support their little bundle of joy's every-changing-hobby-moods if the entry cost for a starter set and necessary tools exceeds the 200-300£ mark. PLEASE GW - stop using starter boxes as KPIs! Lower their damn price and get new hobbyists into our once beautiful hobby!
So, why do I still attend?
|The Beard is strong in you, young Bruddha Conrad!|
Following are a few pictures of many new Bruddhas :)
But that had nothing to do with the show as such. It was not the fault of the GW/FW staff - as they are as awesome as they could be.
No, I enjoyed the show, because I could meet up with many new and long-time friends at our traditional Pre-GD-Dinner and during the show.
|Bruddha Martin and myself surround Bruddha Volomir|
I felt vindicated by the six or seven blue shirts that told me in secret that they really loved our series on "The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop".
|Bruddha James, Bruddha Becky, Bruddha Beeblebrox|
We'll get you a girly shirt, Rebecca ^^
After all the research that went into this mini-series, after all I have seen and heard at the Games Days in US, Germany and UK and after the recent 'glorious marketing moves' that the management pushed upon their staff I actually fear for Games Workshop's mid- and long-term future.
You are probably already afraid of it - but let me still tell you that there are yet more parts to come with the next exiting installment on the "Future of Games Days and Games Workshop" where I will look at what was good about GD US, GD Germany and GD UK, what HQ should learn from that and what I would do if I was CEO of Games Workshop.
I will also explain why I think these are very dangerous times for Games Workshop, Mr. Kirby. All of that should follow in Part 8.
Let me close with the one response that I got from a GW official about Games Days and that summarizes all of the above:
"Our Games Days are designed to allow our fans to do what the love most: Buying Games Workshop products."I rest my case.
Like in the title picture of this thread, GW's management is carelessly tearing out the heart of the hobby. And then they find themselves surprised if they start flat-lining themselves.
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