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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The future of Games Days and Games Workshop - Part 6

End of the line for Games Days & Games Workshop?
The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop 
Part 6 - End of the line?

Finally, part 6!

It's been two weeks since Part 5 of our popular little mini-series "The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop" received it's latest update. 

Many of you have sent me messages asking when the next part of this series would be posted and if you read these lines now, you KNOW! 

We have been very busy here at our paintingbuddha living-room office, filming Season 3 with Chris Octive, an incredibly talented and totally hoopy frood from UK. Season 3 is scheduled to be released in 2014 

Since there are a few hundred new followers on Facebook, I'll take the opportunity to once again say a few words about this mini-series. Well, if the walls of text I have thrown at you are any indication of the word 'mini', this is a fail in itself ^^

I describe myself as GW/FW Fanboy #1. And I mean it. The posts, especially starting with part 3 probably raised the question "Why are you a fanboy, if GW's business practices causes you to rage so much?"

Well, I guess that IS the definition of being a fan-boy of Games Workshop. You support them, no matter what. 

Do you love them or hate them? Or both? Why?
Comment below or we'll release the baby!
And I know many of you share this love-hate-relationship. We love the hobby, we love the miniatures, we love the community, we even like most of the people at Games Workshop. We just hate how the GW management continues to needlessly fail on so many levels. And yet we flock to the stores, buy all the product we'll never need and turn GW profitable again. Just to get kicked where it hurts.

No wonder GW thinks they are doing everything right. Black snow, Baby! It's a fan-boy's life. Suffering for the greater good.

So, today, we will finally look at what caused this mini-series in the first place. A critical assessment of the recent changes to Games Days, how the frakk we got here and what I think the grim darkness of the future holds. 

Brace yourself for another epic wall of text!


The life of a nerd 2.0

In the grim darkness of the late 90's and early 2000's there was only work. And a lot of it. 24/7. Trying to wind down in the few private hours, I re-discovered my love for miniatures. In 2005, I visited my first of many Games Days in Cologne, Germany. 

I got my 'Mega Ticket' VIP thingy that would allow me to get in an hour earlier than the non-mega-nerds, who were only allowed in at 10am. "Well, let's be there at 8, so I am in front of the line!", I thought to myself. 

A full Games Day. Good ol' days - source: Lexicanum
Good plan. In theory. 

I arrived at the Gürzenich a few minutes past eight and headed straight for the entrance. The end of the line, which wrapped once around the whole building was a few thousand fan-boys & girls and a few hundred meters behind the entrance. 

Being a good German, I just cut in line and entered the venue as one of the first happy nerds. Bad, sneaky Zaphod!

Success! Error 37! 

Eight years and a few unbelievably 'successful' (oooh, I'm gonna give you successful! *rage*) marketing ploys later, at Games Day 2013, there were a total of 37 people waiting in front of the Gürzenich, waiting to 'storm' the venue. 

37. Thirty-seven. Even Blizzard knows that 37 is not a good number. 
It's not even 42, for crying out loud!

If you have not followed the rumors and leaked documents (courtesy of, I might proudly add!), back then there were two possible scenarios when Games Workshop announced its elaborate new International Games Day Codex rules (cancellation of GD Australia, France, Spain and to some extend Japan, increased prices and limited availability):

Either a) GW sells out the 2000 tickets within hours OR b) it would turn out to be a disaster. Well, GW sold just slightly over 1000 tickets. 1000.
Remember the black snow from Part 5? According to sources at Games Workshop, the Games Day Germany was a great success. I'd call it a successful disaster - or disastrously successful. Let me elaborate. 

Success and Failure are subject to definition

At 4.2 centimeter, it
just SUCCs.
There is only one way to know if you were successful or not. You have to set a goal, perform an action and check the results to see if it worked. (That's the kind of stuff you learn in first year University classes, go figure). 

So, let's see. 

As a fan, what would I think the goals for GW running an event like this could possibly be? Why does GW run these events? What's the purpose - or rather what should or could be the purpose?

First and foremost, a Games Day is a marketing event. It's marketed as a celebration of the hobby and its hobbyists. As we have seen in an earlier part, Games Workshop describes the hobby as gaming, painting and collecting of Citadel Miniatures. So far so good. As an additional fact, the community is geographically distributed and as such uses the Internet extensively. 

Time for a quick excursion into the wonderful world of marketing! In short, marketing is the kind of common sense they 'teach' you at universities ^^ 

Marketing 101

Of course, we all know what marketing is, but for the odd chance that some GW HQ management reads this, I'll give them this very ancient and basic definition from Wikipedia, so they understand the basic concepts: 
"Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling the product or service. It is a critical business function for attracting customers."

Of course, since the days of Ford's Model T ("You can have any color you want, as long as it's black"), Marketing has evolved over the decades. I invite you to at least read the first page of the Wikipedia definition of Marketing, especially the section on "Earlier Approaches". 

It should be painfully obvious that, when it comes to Marketing, GW still lives in the grim past of the 1950s-1980s. 

This form of marketing is appropriately called "Selling" or - because it is so mindbogglingly basic - just "Marketing".

Holistic Marketing? Relationship Marketing? Social Media Marketing
Everyone judge for themselves. I don't sense any of that new-age-crap inside GW.

Branding? Yeah, maybe, but seriously GW: you're doing it wrong! Branding is not protecting your IP at all cost - and neither should you brandmark your customers. Not a good idea.

Everyone, just ask yourself: When was the last time you felt that Games Workshop as a company did something FOR you, just because they appreciate you as a customer?  

Marketing 420

1980s: Painting Nerds in a undisclosed Painting Revolution Camp
Now let's leave the early 80s behind. For lack thereof, I feel offended by the disgraceful display of lush hair anyways. Let's enter the 21st century and how marketing should be done. Listen up, GW! 

So we are a community of nerds, gamers, painters and collectors that use the Internet to share & enjoy our hobby. I guess we can all agree to that. 

GW does not offer anything to this effect. No community platform, no more free hobby articles, no engagement with the community. Well, that is not entirely correct. 

At some point the Marketing and Legal department seem to have fused and now the only interaction we as fans seem to enjoy from GW are 'Cease and Desist' letters and DMCA shut-downs of our favorite sites. 

Price increases, Finecast, deserted Games Days. The social backlash for GW policy's impact on the community, aka Shit-Storm, forced GW to shut down their Facebook Fan Page. Even comments on GW Youtube videos are disabled by default!  

Seriously?fan-community based company of internet-savy consumers has to shut down all communication channels? SERIOUSLY? Does anyone else feel there is something wrong here? 

No, of course not. It's a success. At least that's what GW will tell you. 

Black Snow. Oh, lawdy! How I hate black snow. Ain't nobody got time for that!

As far as social media and online community management is concerned, GW is pretty much non-existent. 

Success Stories: Back to Games Days

So, other than enjoying the Online Shop or going to a GW store, what is the one and only form of real community engagement Games Workshop still had left to their name? 

"Games Days!" I hear you say? DINGDINGDING! We have a winner!

Speaking of Marketing:
Target Identified: Shameless plug!
So, let's see if we can't totally FRAKK that up, too!
(I'll have a few nice things to say in part 7, though!)

Many lines ago, I asked the question about measuring success. Let's look at the Games Day again. 

Target: Gamers, Painters, Collectors. 

Mission: Engage as many consumer as possible with an awesome show and create a long-lasting, loyal fanbase to spread the word and secure future sales. In the words of Wikipedia, 
communicate the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling the product or service.

Marketing in good and bad times

I believe that it was the first or second lecture in Marketing at university where I heard that it is important to use marketing tools when you are not doing so hot business-wise. But what I won't ever forget is that marketing is vitally important in times where you are doing great

Because if business turns south again, the customer will not forget.

Games Workshop is writing good profits again. They also skipped the introductory course in my Marketing class. 

The P-word

Stress and nervous tension are now serious social problems in all parts of the galaxy and it is in order that this situation should not be in any way exacerbated that the following facts will now be revealed in advanced:

- Marketing events cost money. If done right, profits will follow

And to further alleviate that nagging feeling that speaks from a rarely used portion of the manager's psyche, the 'common sense centre' I shall also reveal this little secret: 

- Don't you ever try to make profits by running a marketing event or you'll frakk it up

Having said that, what is the one word that seems to drive everything at Games Workshop? Wow, you guys are on fire! Yes, it's PROFIT! The P-Word!

Learning from the Pros

If you are a painter, and you visited Games Days to enter a miniature in a contest, you may have indulged in the consumption of a gummy-bear-like tasting, sugary liquid to help you finish your projects. That liquid that you consumed comes in small, but expensive cans of 100% pure marketing concentrate. Let's call it "Red Bull"

Red Bull makes money by giving stuff away for free.
They don't charge you for looking at the car (or the
ladies) only to sell you a can at full price.
What is Red Bull's business? From the looks of it, they are in the business of making funny Minis with large Red Bull cans, occupied by two rather lovely female carbon based, bipedal, life-forms who descended of an ape who pass out Red Bull for free. 

Or is it the construction of all kinds of racing vehicles? Platforms to go to and then jump out of the final frontier? 

So, is Red Bull's target demographic only racing drivers? Good looking people? Adventurers? 

No. It's for us miniature nerds to help us cope with project deadlines. Although the 'good looking people' part quite obviously applies. 

Contrast this with the 2005 picture above:
Less gaming tables, less visitors,
50% grey shirts, 50% sales area and registers.

GW, where have all your gamers gone?
Now contrast this with Games Days: You pay the hefty sum of 50€ to get in (not mentioning travel & accommodation), you no longer get a free T-Shirt or a collectible Games Day Miniature only to look at displays full of miniatures and entries that mostly have been prepared by you and your fellow nerds. Then you can proceed to buy full prize GW merchandize you can get elsewhere for 10-20% off.

But, of course, there are good developments, too: in recent years you can enjoy the beautiful-designed, creatively unique modular gaming boards that you can't find anywhere else - these replaced these dreadful, hand-made, IP-violating 5 story Imperial space ships some of the guys built as their gaming table. Frakking nerds. 

Need more reasons why you'd rather drink a Red Bull and stay home? 

BTW: Red Bull! Owe up to your loyal nerds and sponsor a hoopy project idea I have! If anyone who reads this knows anyone at Red Bull, shoot them my contact details :D 

Miniature nerds sponsored by Red Bull - I WILL live to see that day! Pinky swear.

Where have all the gamers gone?

These Battle Realm Gaming Boards are good.
But are they good enough to travel 1000km
just to have a look at them?
As someone who claims to be a miniature painter (who is going through some rough 'dry' phases without ever finishing much), I gotta say that painters in general complained a lot about Games Workshop focusing primarily and solely on gamers. We sometimes felt forgotten, even though especially when it comes to GW Germany, the painting community has received great support by being allowed to put up live painting demonstration booths at the event - to our mutual benefit.  

But let's face it, gamers - especially young ones - are the main focus of GW. A competition painter paints a miniature every month or so. (Except for Ben, who can do 30 of these in a month, using his not-so-secret-anymore wet-in-wet technique). A gamer buys dozens and hundreds of miniatures. So I really don't blame them. 

However, the perceived ratio of 1 serious painter or less for every 10 gamers in recent years drastically changed in 2013. I would guesstimate that more than 21% of the visitors of this year's GD Germany were painters or at the very least primarily came for the Golden Demon competition. 

*kiddie: used as a term of
endearment, not derogatory!
In addition, in 2013 you had to actively search for the typical 'kiddie'* (target demographic: 14-15 year old gamers) that flooded the halls in previous years. I would estimate the average age of this year's GD visitor was over 21 years.  And it was not only my fault! Seems that GD failed to entice its target audience.

So, where have all the gamers gone? 

I'll tell you! The very active, well organized and well networked gaming community has boycotted this Games Day - if you still don't know why, please re-read parts 1-5. 

All I can say is: WOW. GW frakked up the impossible.

GD Germany 2013: Not exactly teeming with life. 
International Games Day Codex

The official word that GW staff in Germany received was that the Games Day 2013 was a great success.

Now, I have worked with UK and US based companies enough to know that rule #1 is: EVERYTHING management does is a success. Always. If it's not successful, rule #1 applies automatically. Black snow

To be nice to GW for a change, i will disclose now that there were a lot of good developments - partly born of circumstance - at GD Germany, and even more so at GD US. But I will talk about this more in part 7 of the series. (By the way, I just decided that there will be 8 parts in total... :D). 

So, as we all know, UK HQ is only interested in profits. The HQ has conjured up an internationally binding Games Day Codex, which demands that every Games Day Event has to be at least covering its cost, preferably be profitable, or else...

I have it on good authority that these 'new rules' were the main reason why GW France, Spain and possibly Australia actively decided not to organize a GD this year. The terms were to restrictive to actually be able to reorganize a good event in the short time-frame GW allowed them after the release of the 'Codex'.

The cost of loss

I don't know how much running an event like GD US or GD Germany costs, but I would estimate something in the area of 1/2 - 3/4 of total ticket revenue (leaving a 25% profit chance, if sold out). Again, giving the size of its container, my gut feeling rarely fails me. 

For the German GD, especially due to its really nice location, personnel expense, travel, logistics that would probably come in at around 50-75k€. With ~1100 visitors, GW would have (re)covered that cost. Add the sales from Black Library, Forge World and GW and you make a nice profit. 

Personally, I'd rather run an event with 4000 people who get in cheaper, give them some free swag and enjoy the sales they generate then limiting tickets and make sure the profit is covered by the 'cover charge'. Oh wait. That's a good one!

OH NO! Trying to make a profit at a marketing event?! Did Zaphod not warn you about this? Did he not label that big red no-no-button accordingly?


End of the line?

Gamers, the #1 source of sales for GW are boycotting a marketing event, primarily aimed at just these gamers. The Internet is full of rage about all kinds of things, again, parts 1-5 have covered that in enough detail, I think. 

A company that makes over 20 million pound profit is not willing to sponsor an event in full or even hand out a few cheap goodies for it's loyal fanbase that stood by GW even when times were (financially) bad? 

Is this the best that GW can do for an 'inspiring and memorable celebration of collecting Citadel miniatures'?

Is this the end of the line for Games Days and Games Workshop? 

No. Simply because I am sure that I am not the only fan-boy. We bitch and curse and flame and still buy our daily dose of plastic. Whether the next generation of gamers and painters will endure the same is doubtful, however. 

Citadel surely makes the best plastic miniatures in the world - but if the recent rise of beautifully designed, community driven and emotionally involved kickstarters and start-ups is any indication, there could be rough times ahead. I am not even gonna start talking about 3D printing - it's not around the corner, but I will live to see that day.

Other companies don't make the best quality plastic miniatures. They use resin. But they know how to treat their fan-base and engage them in internet based, social-media marketing campaigns. 

The real secret is, that many of these start-ups don't even do this, because they think it's a cunningly deceptive marketing scheme. The secret is, that they believe in their product, they listen to the community and they embrace their inner nerd. 

I know what I am talking about, because that's how we here at and roll - big hugs for the inner nerd :D

Part 7: Mending the wounded Giant - good things about GW. 

Build them up - bring them down - pick up the pieces and build em up again. Best advice for constructive criticism I can give. So in Part 7 I will talk about the good things of GW's Games Days 2013 - and there are some very promising developments. Maybe.

Find out why Games Days will be successful again, why France and Spain will likely be back again next year and where we will go in the future in our next exiting installment of "The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop". 

And if you would like to give your inner nerd a big 'ol hug, why don't you indulge in supporting one of the best deals for miniature painters out there: Season 1.1: Target Identified. 

P.S.: It takes hours to write these articles - and that is not because I write slowly in case some of you might not be able to read that fast. :D 

So please take a few seconds and SHARE your thoughts in the comments for all of us to ENJOY!



  1. Why we not make a protesting infinite improbability flashmob at Drakenburg.

    1. That is virtually impossible. So it is a finite possibility.

  2. Enjoying this series of articles, but I'm curious as to how you believe GW can get back into the communication game with their fan base? Putting aside for a moment the fact that GW has earned the ire directed at them, I feel like there is a community of hate boys (the opposite of fan boys) who are waiting for any reason to jump up and down on GW.

    And these guys are not exactly logical or discriminating in their complaints. Hell, I saw a FB post the other day where some guy,commenting on the release of the new SM codex, descended into an eight paragraph rant on how awful Mat Ward was and how he singlehandedly ruined GW. This has become a common theme on most forums and comment boards, where there's a slew of people who are just waiting to savage GW at a moment's notice and often on subjects not dealing with the matter at hand.

    Again though, I understand that GW has created this environment, but there are some people who take it way beyond and are relentless in their pursuit of turning the entire wargaming community against GW. I can even think of a couple of prominent bloggers (who I won't name here), who's whole schtick is predicting the imminent collapse of GW and use every opportunity they can to crow about how right they are that the company is failing.

    So why should GW have comments and FB pages that will become nothing more than fever swamps of unmitigated hate? Wouldn't that go against marketing? If I were a new fan and i went to your FB page to check you out and saw a pants load of comments all talking about how awful you are, I would think twice about purchasing your product.

    PS: I will say that GW's timing of closing down their FB page during the whole "Spots the Space Marine" fiasco was a particularly stupid move on their part.

    PPS: And so did Wall of Text post begat Wall of Text comment

    1. Thanks for that response. Yeah, there are a lot of baseless accusations - I mean Matt Ward, for example. Turning emotionless, logical Necrons into a pompous group of aristocrats did not sit well with me, either, but hey, that is just personal taste. Don't like, to don't buy.

      But I think that this is a phenomenon, that is a result of missing Internet etiquette in general.

      I do believe GW can turn this around, but it would take some significant amount of 'really wanting to'.

      For them, right now, it's much easier to roll in the dough than to accept there's something 'not right' with them.

      That happened before, Tom Kirby. Early 2000s, remember? And it took you 15 years to recover.

    2. I would think the first thing you would want to do right now, if you want to avoid the shit storm of abuse that comes from open people being keyboard tough guys is get out there and talk to people. There are a number of large podcasts out there that would love to talk with you. Get on their and meet and talk to your fans. Being on an episode or two of Bad Dice or Garagehammer with a writer of a new book when they do an army review will go a long ways to enticing the audience back at little cost and it makes marketing sense! Heck, you can even then use that podcast's forums and social media to your benifit to glean and communicate with an all ready captive and generally positive audience.

      Once GW can turn the corner I think they can start looking at hosting and running more with their own social media tools.

      I also think GW should embrace the competition a little rather then trying to squash it. A lot of the competition is doing things that they simply don't have time or money to do themselves and often requires their product to make it work. Can you imagine how awesome Games-Day would be if it was instead of just being GW centric became the biggest wargaming con there is with many companies there and embraced it's inner geek. Look at Gen Con and what TSR originally started back in the day and how huge that is. Games-Day could be that and people would be all over it. Not to mention, talk about the repair that it would do for GW's image and the cash cow that it could be. Not only do you get to charge for tickets, but you charge for vendor space and tournament/speaker halls to those that want to put on events. It's a double win.

      Finally, I would mention that I was a huge fan of the Outrider program and virtually every minis company of any size has their variant of it, but somehow GW squashed it. Nearly free labor for events, plus their out there trying to get new players going and help FLGS stores get more interest. It's a big win with little cost. Yes, there were a few bad outriders back in the day, but I never met a bad one.

      That's just a start for how GW, IMHO, turns the corner and gets the ball rolling. I remember the old Rogue Trader tournament packs they made available to Independant Retailers and they said right in the pack to US retailers that you aren't going to make money on the day of the event, but rather by your regulars buying product in preparation for your event. Let's get back to that kind of mentality.

  3. I see the point you make about many haters, who just hate because they like to hate. And I am sick and tired about reading through shitstorms, who are often completely pointless. YES GW Frakks up a lot of stuff, but YES they do other things right. How stupid to say" Gw ruined my hobby" If it wasnt for GW, there would be no hobby. Yes there are many new systems with sometimes way better rules out there, but who always had and still has the most well known, background driven Fantasy and Sci Fi Game with a big time ruleset? GW! Dont compare them to Warmachine. The Ruleset is better but totally different, the Minis has a complete different style ( which I dislike hardly but thats just my thoughts). I also see the point Zaphod made abou this crazy "Love/hate" relationship.

    I love Warhammer 40K, I love the background, I love my beloved tyranids. What I hate is the whole feeling, if you call it like that, coming from GW towards the fans. if I want to discribe it in one short sentence what I am feeling from GW I would say it like this:

    " I dont care what you think, I dont care what you like or dislike, I dont care if you like me or not, just buy my frikn products, keep your mouth shut and give me your money already"

    This is what I hate. The common GW dude in the store is not the problem, the desicions are the problems. I dont feel like a valuable customer at all. Not one bit. And thats why everybody is hating on GW. A good marketing quote, I dont know from who it is: "You dont buy a product, you by a feeling, you by an attitude."

    Do I wanna buy an attitude from Games Workshop? HELL NO!

    1. That sums it up rather nicely :)

      Don't give us your attitude, GW!

  4. I used to be a fanboy. I remember when this was OUR hobby. I ran games at GD UK for 10 years (until the volunteer support dwindled to virtually zero). Contributed to many Town Cryer magazines and couldn't wait for the Journal each month. I used to order bitz, 2-4 times each month from Mail Order and had a good relationship with several of the MO Trolls, including the Complaints Manager (yes, GW used to have one).

    I returned to GD UK two years ago as a run by volunteers were few and far between. Queue's for anything interesting were very long (well over an hour) and the event was generally boring and uninspiring. An out and out market-place, with few redeeming features other than looking at the pretty gaming boards for uninspiring scenarios and playing video games. Well, I could do that in my PJs, in front of my own PC, and I wouldn't have to pay for the privilege (travel, admission, over-priced food) or get up at OMG-o'clock on a Sunday.

    GW needs to engage with us, their customers, once again. With all the negativity they have generated by their actions over the past few years I have no idea how they will do so...but withdrawing, hiding behind their Citadel's walls, with their siege-like mentality will not get the job done.

    1. In the old days, Kings had a Jester. The Jester's role was to make sure that the King stayed in touch with reality. He did so, by belittling the King and making fun of his (or her, in case of Queenie) every decision. It kept things in perspective for the King.

      I would volunteer to be GW's Jester :D

      Travelling to GD UK this year, e.g., will cost me around 500€. I wonder if they will actually let me in after all of these articles :D

    2. Gobbledigook and Nibl need to come back. At least Black Gobbo.

      Sense of humor is usually the first to die when we become Big Serious Company with Expensive Lawyers.

      This is partly because when Big Serious Company wants to be playful, they must pay Expensive Lawyers to examine planned humor for threats to Big Serious Reputation or possibility of competitor or regulatory response. Then Expensive Lawyers write expensive memorandum where they say "Planned humor has the possibility of diminishing Big Serious Reputation, Competitor Legal Response, or Regulatory Investigation" followed by 10 pages that you don't read but you do pay for, and then the conclusion: "Planned humor has the possibility of diminishing Big Serious Reputation, Competitor Legal Response, or Regulatory Investigation. For these reasons, Having Fun may have costs that outweigh any benefit. We recommend not Having Fun."

      Complex Legal Analysis Memorandum will cost more than 500€ per page.

      So will Complex Contractual Agreement regarding scope of activity permitted to Jester, extent of Jester's authority as agent of GW, and remedies available in case Jester acts outside scope of agreement.

      Then will come the Insurance negotiations. These will be expensive and protracted as there is no standard "Company Jester" insurance policy to obtain and insurance agreement will have to be negotiated de novo.

      Walls of text. Very expensive walls of text. "Planned humor has the possibility of diminishing Big Serious Reputation, Competitor Legal Response, or Regulatory Investigation. There is additional need for insurance policy which will have to be negotiated directly with insurer. For these reasons, Having Fun may have costs that outweigh any benefit. We recommend not Having Fun."

  5. OMG

    Okay Michel. I see your Points and i accept your Opinion and also ireally respect you and im sure you have been very successful in your times with ALDI

    But you do a big fail in the General Point of view cause you talk about normal market Business all the time....the Point is, that GW is no normal market the N-Word called NICHE-Market...and the Terms in that section are defo totally different from the Standard trade market things like Red Bull or Aldi etc.

    think about that, if you did your Business studys very intensiv then you should Know that Niche has ather rules than noNormal....with that Knowledge lean back and then write a new article

    And BTW: The Games Day is nor Marketing Thing in the eyes of a employes big Party Weekend allowed to get visited by some nerdy fanboys...


    1. I disagree. And the response made me shake my head a little, even made me slightly aggravated.

      ESPECIALLY niche markets need to work on customer relations, even more so than Red Bull, ALDI and the like.

      There are just some basic rules of conducting business, best practices, if you will, that are beneficial for all businesses. Seems you think that a niche market player does not need to communicated with their customer or make them feel appreciated? Which glorious marketing strategy is that?

      What you talk about is not a niche market, it's a monopoly. That means they do not need to give a frakk.

      I think my research in this (plus 21 years of professional life) are more than sufficient to talk about a niche player that sells plastic miniatures.

      If you don't like the article, then why don't you sit down and write the correct version. How a 'niche player' follows other rules - I would like to hear those rules so other niche market start ups can copy and leech of GW's grand marketing skills.

      And the last sentence tops it all. Games Day is not a marketing tool in the eyes of GW? It's a employee big Party Weekend? And we get to pay to be part of that momentous occasion? Seriously?

      You can seriously only believe that if you as a long time GW store manager only read and believe the official store memos from HQ.

      I'm not even going to go into what these 'party animals' have to say about the great party they are 'invited' to.

      Sorry, but your post makes no sense to me. And also sorry that I had to answer in such a harsh way, it's not usually my style.

    2. calm down brother :) You oversee the sarcastic way of writing i did....i agree with you in all Terms...i just wrote like a Long life GW employee...brainwashed would answer to your series....

      got it ?

      ist not that easy in english to Show the Intention when typing oioio

      *hugs bro*

    3. I think that Red Bull is a useful comparison.

      Red Bull started out at the "what the hell is this thing?" level of product awareness and created a new product category where it remains dominant, partly by engaging in massive marketing efforts.

      Turn back the clock to the early 1980s, and you have TSR in the US with the paper-and-dice market sector and GW with the little metal men market sector, establishing and dominating market categories, again partly through massive marketing efforts. Then you get to the "I don't give a shit what you think" level of success, and the remoras start to eat the shark.

      And the Chinese take your fins and sell them on ebay for much closer to the cost of the material, without making you spend $50 to get free shipping.

  6. Michael like this series and this particular article hit the nail on the head, and the fact that GW still produce the best plastic minis in the market and that we "fans" are suckers for punishment.

    At the end of the article came to me a question...what would happens if the savvy fans of GW decide to stop buying for just a month?The internet is a simple tool to use to coordinate this? would that demonstrate to GW the determination of their fans? Most people would be happy to wait for a month to have the next "fix of plastic"

    Just an idea and me suspect that this series will go on and on as new article open new areas of discussion......

    Keep them coming!!!

    1. Yeah, that idea has been around for ages - at least every price increase and maybe the Finecast stuff prompted these calls.

      It's not gonna work. Mostly, because that's how we act already anyways. We don't buy anything for a month. And then we buy the new release.

      Also, I am not a big fan of boycotts - to which end? I am even sure that GW does not really care about any of this, no actually, I am sure they don't - as this series shows. And that's OK.

      If GW's management is cool with 21m£ profit and they don't want more, good for them. I would not be happy with that, because their potential is beyond the 42m£ profit frontier - with and because of a happy gaming community.

      As I wrote in part 5, I think it was, "Bubble Boy". Inside the bubble the world is good. So why go outside?

    2. Thanks for the answer. ...that was me thinking I was original! !!!

      But I think that the 'spontaneous' boycotts of the past were of little impact.
      I was wondering if a bigger more widely organised event will attract the attention of GW and realise that is not the product but the attitude what is going to kill their business! !!!
      Don't like boycott but what else is left to the fans?

    3. Thanks for the answer. ...that was me thinking I was original! !!!

      But I think that the 'spontaneous' boycotts of the past were of little impact.
      I was wondering if a bigger more widely organised event will attract the attention of GW and realise that is not the product but the attitude what is going to kill their business! !!!
      Don't like boycott but what else is left to the fans?

    4. We can smother them with our love :D

  7. Great series of articles, I have enjoyed reading then and look forward to the next part, regardless of what no grammar troll above has to say I think you have hit the nail on the the head. I also agree that GD events being cheaper and enticing more people to them would be a great idea. This is why Adepticon etc are becoming bigger and bigger.

    1. I totally agree. Many 'privately' (I mean this in a very lose sense) organized shows show how it's done. Again, I don't think GW realizes their full potential here, either. Kinda sad, really.

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  9. Great series of articles. Altough I still think you are being too nice to them :), but as fanboy #1 that's ok.

    last time I attended GD-Germany was in 2010. It was really not for my liking (except the painting 'tutorials' and GD entries I found it to be extremely boring and all that 'buy now, buy here' attitude wasn't for me either.

    Still what you wrote (line of 37 people at the entrance) and the pics from GD2013 I found extremely 'frightening'. Even in 2010 you could hardly move around, and it was a bit of a workout to get to the GD entries through the people, but the images for 2013 show... almost empty halls there.
    I thought GD went downhill. I read that there won't be too many people there, but those pics show, that it was extreme.


    1. With regards to miniature painters, the 'politics' of GW had some pretty good effects - of course that's not necessarily what GW wants, as we painters (maybe with the exception of me :P) don't buy loads of stuff.

      I'll talk more about this in part 7.

      But yes, the empty halls were frightening.

      During GD Germany, I had the song "Empty chairs at empty tables" from Les Miserable in my head.

  10. I wished that somebody over at GW would actually READ it. THIS, sir has the potential to change something!

    1. As I posted on FB a few minutes ago, I was shocked to see on Google Analytics Real Time report that someone from Nottingham actually read part 1 of our series.

      I downloaded the full content of the blog immediately.

      Paranoid? Possibly :D

  11. The haters will always be there, whether it's GW, or a football team, or laundry detergent. Some people just have too much time on their hands.

    GW, with a minimal budget, could rekindle the love affair with their fans in no time. Maybe someone up there should read "The Thank You Economy" by Gary Vaynerchuk, and then get the ball rolling.

    GW does awesome stuff. But they behave like A-list celebrities. But they are not. They are a company, with a few awesome brands. Sure, GW is light years ahead of the competition, but they have a 30 year head start.

    Don't let Privateer Press be the tortoise to your hare.

  12. An excellent article, well written, although with some assumptions/apocryphal stories I'm sure your university tutors would frown upon :P

    The boycott is an age old suggestion, but here's one that I have never heard shares.

    Games Workshop is a PLC, and so is available to anyone with the money to purchase it. Rather than nerds of the world uniting to do something negative, why do we not form a consortium and buy a stake in the company. In this way, representatives of the consortium would be allowed to access the actual figures for things such as marketing budget, Games Day profits etc, and GW would be legally required to produce these items. As shareholders we would also have a say in the running and direction of the business, not impotently whinging from the side lines...

    I know it's radical, I've certainly never heard it discussed before, and I would genuinely welcome any feedback on it as a suggestion. It feels like a positive reaction to some very negative treatment...

    1. It's not so radical outside the gaming world. But it is extremely tough to buy enough shares to have a meaningful impact on company direction. You run into the same problem as with buying the products: if you don't like the way the company is going, you can sell your shares just like you can stop buying stuff.

      If you look at the information in Part 2 about shareholders and do the math, to have a 1% interest in GW by shares, you'd need approximately 324,000 shares. At the 800 pence peak, that's 2.6 million pounds. 500 pence, 1.6 million pounds.

      But that's just basic shares. There are other types of investments that may exist. I don't know if GW has them, but they can radically change the ownership structure.

      There could be levels of preferred shares, which may have voting rights equivalent to multiple standard shares, such as a 1 preferred share having voting rights equal to 10 regular shares. It is common for these types of shares to be retained by senior management. Or by banks and large mutual funds or other private investors who don't care about anything but the value of their shares.

      There may be convertible bonds, meaning that the bonds can be exchanged for shares or preferred shares if the bond holder want to exercise that right.

      There could be stock options out there, again frequently possessed by senior management. Exercising the options could add a significant influence on company direction.

      As shareholders, you would have the right to see additional financial information. But it may be possible for a company to reduce the ability of shareholders to do this by placing limits on where and when you can do this, such as limiting it to inspection at corporate headquarters during normal business hours only.

      But there is another thing about the information in part 2 that isn't mentioned. The top 4 shareholders in July 2012 sold about half of their shares by July 2013 (the 5th in 2012 dropped off the list by 2013).

      This is not a good sign.

  13. I think the problem are not so much the hateboys - if you hate something you still have a strong emotional connection to the subject - in this case I'd guess frustration - but when you hate something you still care about it. Emotions can be turned if you really work on this - often quite easily if you are good as history shows us (especially German history I might add). I think a much bigger problem are the folks who didn't turn to hateboys but simply turned away because they are not interested in this circus anymore - they have cut their emotional band and reestablishing that is way harder than turn around a still strong emotion.

  14. GW are currently in the process of monetizing their pre-existing position. I'm not sure if they know they are doing this, but it is a combination of an aggressive "if it doesn't show a profit, kill it" approach, equally aggressive pricing policy and a focus on customers who will buy the product, fail to paint it and move on, as opposed to long-term hobbyists. The former are more numerous, the latter are a capricious group that is more difficult to please. Obviously, profiteering strategies angered and alienated the hardcore gamers... So GW's marketing strategy is quite simply one-sided communication targeted at younger people, reminescent of a "super-hyped-up toy ad". Any marketing strategies which are two-way, such as social media or games day events, are increasingly pointless - they only expose the target group to whining from the abused hardcore wargamers. Also, they are facing heavy competition in the hardcore wargamers demographic (who are "aware" of other titles), but they can still exploit their relative market dominance in the newcomers segment. Granted, this strategy is short sighted in the sense that it actually helps their competition rise up on the hobbyists' money and start competing for the kiddies in the future, and will probably lead to a slow decline of GW's market share. It does, however, make money... for now.

  15. Oh, and one more thing, concerning your "red bull sponsoring warhammer events" comment. The biggest WFB/40K tournament event in Europe is the annual European Team Championships, hands down. We can all guess that the list of sponsors never included GW. In 2013 it did include the Star Alliance (airlines) and Mantic Games. That would be the biggest Warhammer tournament event in Europe (and maybe the world) with a huge impact on national tournament scenes via its comp score.

  16. As a former GW fan, I would like to step in on behalf of the perceived 'haters' as mentioned here. 99% of people who rail against GW and throw their allegience behind the likes of PP, Mantic, Corvus Belli or whomever are just disenfranchised GW players. They all (probably still) love the models, the setting and everything that goes along with it.

    The difficulty is when those fans are feeling like thet have been repeatedly beaten and bullied by GW (as well laid out in these articles) they have found what they are missing with other companies. So the transition for them is to throw their loyalty behind their new company-of-choice, and (often loudly) complain about GW to their former peers, often in the hope of getting them to 'see the light'. The biggest problem with this approach, some people dont want to be 'converted' and it just ticks them off. I just wish people would leave each other to make up their own mind. Everyone has a different threshold for how much they can put up with when they are unhappy about how they are treated as a customer.

    A couple of posters have mentioned the remaining superiority of GW.
    It doesnt exist any more.
    Other companies have the same or better quality of sculpts, game rules, models, modelling material, paints, scenarios etc now. If GW still believes they have a monopoly, they really do live in a bubble. 30 years experience means nothing if you cant keep your customers and havent learnt anything in that time. GW are the biggest company of the lot, for now, but lets hope they can turn the customer-losing trend around. Many of the haters just need an excuse to pull their 5000pts of Tyranids/Marines etc out of the closet. Unfortunately for GW they have let the wolves circle for too long, and many customers (such as myself) are gone for good.

    In saying that it is unlikely for me to return to the fold, I still care about a company that I have spent a small fortune on, and so many hours dedicated to.

  17. Really a great read! All in all, I also consider the GW management have been good what they are supposed to do - satisfy shareholders. The GW community is really great in sweden, with lots of tournaments, many gaming clubs that are more or less dedicated to GW games and great forumes (one which you actually can see and get info about each 20+ participant tournament in 40k as well as 90% of all gaming clubs that plays 40k).

    Sadly we are loosing people. In sweden, many gaming clubs have money from the goverment to keep youngbloods going in the hobby. They get money to rent, improvements and help with organizing themselves. But most of these clubs are based on a GW game. The problem is that for 40k my basic Nid army costs about 7200 swedish crowns to purchase. A typical swedish salary can be assumed to be around 20 000sek so the kids have a hard time getting the money to buy up and playable army. And this is when they know exactly what to buy. It should amount to at least double that if you don't know exactly what to buy. That means that it takes several years to some kids to be able to enjoy playing massive battles that looks really cool.

    I have started with Dropzone commander, a game that I really like, I think the models are beautiful and the total cost of my army is 3000sek. Including terrain, rules and about 1000pts extra models. GW has much more (much more) plastics in their price included. Much more of painting time and so on but I'm a gamer - I look into a model and see it's worth depending on the amount of gaming fun I will have. So for me GW prices are extra expensive.

    Also, as I am one of the main character in our gaming clubs (that is, one with a lot of power in the club) my opinions affect new players. But games workshop only focus on kids and not the people who help them into the hobby (remember the downsizing of stores where the people who dedicate their time to introduce players to the game are?) so a kid might get into 40k, come to our club and see that fewer and fewer are playing 40k, the parents are informed that there are perfect substitutes to the game that are as much as fun at a third of the price. Also, the time until the game can be large and cool are much lower for a kid. This is where GW has a problem. So many people want to play 40k but decide to go for other systems.

  18. i miss the fixed like to part 7 >__<
    other than that? very good blog ! to bad its all in english and that my german army painting buddy of choice isn't into english this much ... maybe his wive can help him, because i know he would enjoy this whole story as much as i am.


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