- where we learn to be a better painter!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Warhammer Visions & Warhammer Weekly: First reviews out!

Image Source: Bell of Lost Souls
Warhammer: Visions 
Warhammer: Weekly 

Two more days and another big change will come to our beloved hobby. 

Games Workshop discontinues the just recently revamped White Dwarf (we celebrated the new and improved layout not so long ago). 

I am a subscriber to White Dwarf. I have all of them since #1 (at least the German ones, that is). To be honest, I usually don't read them. At best I glanced through the pictures and put my collectible magazine in my collection as mint as possible. I am convinced they will be really valuable some day :P 

LOL. Such Nerd! :D

February 1st - a new beginning?

So let's have a look at what is past and gone: 

Old White Dwarf: monthly, 8€, 152 pages

New White Dwarf: weekly, 3,20€ ~32 pages (same as old WD)
Warhammer Visions: monthly, 9€, 230 pages (smaller format)

Our monthly dose of delight used to cost us 8€. Now we are up to about 22€ a month, depending on how many weekends we find in a month. The question is: Is it worth it?

Excited or not?

The New WD

I have to admit that I had mixed feelings. First of all - for a very personal and collector only reason - I didn't like the fact that the new weekly WD is not a subscription service. I am absolutely positive that I will not go to the store every week to pick up my weekly 36 pages of plastic.

And I am certainly not willing to mail-order-order an average of four 36 page publication for almost 10€ per month. So for me it was like another end of a collection addiction. Honestly, it was a sad feeling of parting pain mixed with a big sigh of relief. I guess all (good) things must end - and this looked like a good time to stop yet another life-long collecting addiction.

Warhammer Visions

One of the most inspiring
hobby books out there.
"Visions". In Germany we have a saying that 'If you have visions, you need to see a doctor." We don't claim to be the most creative people. 

But the name Visions reached the cozy-tingly-comfy-center of my brain as I am a biiiiig fan of the book "The Horus Heresy - Collected Visions".

It has just been re-released as a Collector's Edition by Black Library - and it took all my power to resist the temptation. To me, this is one of the most inspiring books that GW has ever published. 

So I kinda hoped that monthly 230-page Warhammer Visions would be similarly inspirational. Deep in my heart I feared that this hope would be smashed as so many miniature dreams of late, but we all know that hope dies last. 

Just my 50cents...
Stunning new extended pictorial style

What made me curb my high hopes and appetite for nerdiness was when I read about the 'stunning new extended pictorial style'. 

How do I say it delicately... Most people did not read the White Dwarf for its Pulitzer-prize winning articles. It shared its fate with other publications such as the Playboy, I guess. (All hearsay, not heresy!)

But too many words confuse mostly male maniac masses and pictures say more than 1000 words anyways...

So, the Old WD was full of big pictures. As painters more than gamers, many of us felt that the quality of the images was great, just the content of the images was not-quite-equally-as-great... 

So now we were told to expect a 'stunning new extended pictoral style'. And from the moment I heard that visions of a small thick magazine full of pictures and very very little text danced in front of my third eye.

So naturally, we were scouting the Interwebs for news constantly. F5, F5, F5... Until now.

Monty's Review

And the award for the first review goes to.... *ding ding ding* Monty who lives in or near the San Francisco Bay Area. We literally assimilated every word he said and every frame he showed in his 10 minute review of the new WD and mostly Warhammer Visions.

Thank you Money! Your review has hit home - smack in the middle of our soft spot for the hobby :D Best regards from Berlin!

Vision meets, well, reality, I guess... Happens ever so often ;) 

But before I have not seen it myself, I will refrain from my final verdict on the new publications by GW. I am still kinda excited about them as I think especially the WH Visions has great potential. I guess we'll have to see which direction this takes.


What do you think? What did you expect? Excited? Disappointed? Do you think this lose collection of images is 'inspiring'? What do you think about the few lines of text in three languages? (English, German, French). I have heard that other languages (including Japanese and Chinese, most likely also Spanish, Italian etc) will be available, too.

We would love to hear your opinion! Please leave a comment in the section below - one of the best parts of having a blog a reading your comments. Often times they are more interesting than the original posts ;) 

The Russian Alternative: Check this out!

The Russian Alternative: Dwarves of Fire Canyon

Before you ask: No, we don't get sponsored or paid by the Russian Alternative for this kind of 'advertisement'. We just think that they offer some really hoopy stuff that you should definitely check out. All in the spirit of 'Sharing & Enjoying'. 'Cause that's how we roll :P

We've been writing a lot about companies who kinda priced themselves out of the market recently. Then again, there are companies and people who make me us think there's still hope for the nerddom. 

Great metal miniatures at an unbelievably low price? Now seems new!

Sergey and Kati Pavlov are not only crazy about miniatures themselves, they are also the organizers of the well known 'Winter/Spring Angel' in Moscow as well as their online painting competitions. We reported from last year's Spring Angel here

And they are the hearts & minds behind "The Russian Alternative". 

Their most recent release, the 'Dwarves of Fire Canyon' is a great addition to their young and growing range of miniatures. Just look at them. Beautifully sculpted minis on which not only their weapons are great! 

Retailers & ebay Store 

Some retailers already added their minis to their assortment - stores such as Battlefield Berlin. (If you are a brick-and-mortar-store and also carry these minis, just post a link to your store in the comments below!)

If your FLGS does not carry these minis yet, asking them for these minis might not be the worst idea. For those of you who do not have a hobby store in their vicinity, The Russian Alternative have put up a convenient Ebay Store

32$ for 10 (!) metal (!) dwarves. Including (!) shipping. I am running out of exclamation marks!

I am excited to find out what's next on the list of new miniatures! What do you think? You like the minis? What do you think about the pricing? Please leave your comments below!

Buddhaleaks: Tomorrow and on Monday we will 'accidentally' leak some exciting news about our Season 1.2 & 1.3 and what YOUR incredible support already has enabled us to do! Stay tuned ;)


Friday, January 24, 2014

The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop - Part 11: *throwing minis at your screen*

The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop
Part 11: *throwing minis at your screen*

Today I will grant all of us a short breather from the many recent bad news surrounding Games Workshop. And for all of you, this will be the shortest wall of text in the whole series. More like a few bricks of text. What a relief!

The title of this series should really be called "The future of GW" for brevity, as Games Days are pretty much dead. And today's post could even be titled "The present of GW". 

Or maybe, in terms of more poetic justice, "In the grim darkness of GW's present, they only need cash!"

But that would be too negative. Don't want to be a party pooper every day :D

We all want change. GW wants yours. 

As we have seen in part 8, 9 and 10, sales for Games Workshop are worryingly down. And obviously, GW needs to do something about it. In order to avoid another 24% stock market crash, the sales decline must at least be stopped until the full fiscal year ends and the full year shareholder report comes out in May/June.

So what do you do, if there are no new 40k rulebooks or no Space Marines around the corner - two of the biggest sellers for GW? You try to sell a lot of high price items. 

"Well, that's not new" you might say. True. It isn't. 

Who put the deal in 'one-click deals'?

We still remember the Eldar one click deal which actually was more expensive than the price of its individual components, lol... 

Never again!
GW's one-click deals were famous for only saving one thing: mouse clicks.

Well, hold the phone, because Games Workshop has created new 'one click deals' of boxed army sets that actually give you a pretty good deal - compared to individual purchase prices. 

GW has put similar deals out for the holiday season at least for the last two years (sorry, lived in Japan before that, don't know what happened 2010/11), but at least to my knowledge, never did so for new army releases (especially not for new army releases!) or even throughout the year. 

GW's pain = your gain?

GW needs cash. You have cash. But you're not happy about GW recently and vowed not to buy (much) from them. What is GW to do? Of course, put up some 'irresistable deals'!

I have not even read the new Tyranid codex yet, but I heard it's pretty lousy. From what I read 'no-one' wants to buy more Tyranids or even start a new nid army. Like with other mass armies (Orks), building a swarm is one of the most expensive endeavors one can undertake in the GW universe. 

BUT WAIT, there's MOAR!

What's that - a big Tyranid Swarm box...

95 miniatures for 135 Euros. Not expecting much savings, I did the math. Then I did the math again. Then I had Ben confirm the math. 

And unless we both are not quite awake yet, the individual purchasing price of the same set is 243€. A saving of almost 45%. If your local hobby store gives you another 10% of, this gets you about a 50% off deal! 

Around 10% savings on two Carnifexes compared to the individual prize seems almost low in comparison.

The only thing that makes no sense to us is that 8x5 Termagants (64€) are cheaper than 2x20 Termagants (70€), but I'm sure GW will remove the cheaper option like they did with the Eldar Jetbikes ^^. 

Space Marines to the rescue! 

What sells better than Nids? Space Marines!

What do we need to have deals on to increase sales? SPACE MARINES! 

Like "42" for us here at Painting Buddha, "Space Marines" are the ultimate answer for GW.

So here's the Tyrannic War Veterans one-click-deal: At 193€ a saving of - if you round it up - almost nearly,.... wait for it.... 0% :D

On top of the savings of 0% you even get the chance to help GW get rid of its Finecast Tyranic War Veterans. 

JUST when I thought, GW understood how to make us buy stuff even if we don't need it... *sigh*

Dream bursts like bubble. :'(

More deals in the future?

In the light of GW's recent sales slump, a lot of people demand that GW lowered its prices. 
We all know that that is not going to happen, people. 

The only way for GW to rake in sales (by upping the sales volume) without losing face by lowering prices is to make 'real deals' like the Tyranid swarm deal. Players will like it. High price purchases get GW its much needed sales, everyone's happy. 

Unless, of course, GW thinks that their sales slump really is just a 'temporary' thing, as they mentioned in their recent half-year report. In this case, they will probably just sit it out. And be surprised that sales fell even more.

One thing I can assure you of is that someone at GW is watching those sales KPIs very, very closely right now. 

If the only thing they sold would be deals that offer us 45% more value, maybe - just maybe - something at GW would make click. 

What do you think? Will there be more 'deals' in the next couple of months to boost sales for GW? What would be your idea to generate more sales for GW? 

Leave your comments below!


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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The future of Games Days and Games Workshop - Part 10: The End is Nigh! (1)

The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop
Part 10: The End is Nigh! (1)

Dirty Socks and Dust Bunnies Blues

When it comes to our hobby, the last few days have been some sort of weird, wild emotional roller-coaster ride for many of us. I know they have been for me. 

I woke up at 5am this morning, finding myself wondering how the recent developments surrounding Games Workshop will affect our hobby and how we could turn the whole disaster into a  win for the community. Apparently, GW keeps me awake at night. It's either that or Mr. Bumpy, who seems to find a great habitat under my bed, keeps going 'bump' in the night. 

So with the luxury of being able to analyze the recent developments from the safe distance of a a couple of days, let's have a look at the "Future of Games Days and Games Workshop". 

Today I will take a look at the big picture as it presents itself to me. Again, since it's a complex matter, there's more words in this post than pictures. I understand not everyone likes that ;)
I fear there is an extremely high likelihood that not all will be well. At least not for GW. Most likely not for the hobby itself - and certainly for you - as you are in for another epic wall of text.

Sorry, there is no other way. :D

But first for something completely different - The Wamp 2013 Awards!

Before we get started, please allow us to take a little detour to say 'Thank you' to all of you!

We've been so busy working on our next DVD releases Season 1.2 ("Banners and Freehands" with Stephan Rath) and Season 1.3 ("Base Alchemy 1 - Earth" with Ben Komets and Matt Cexwish) that we completely forgot to activate our Bruddhahood to vote for us at the Wamp 2013 Awards

As a matter of fact, we were too busy to even tell you. And that makes winning 2x Bronze and 1x Gold even sweeter! :D

Best New Company 2013: Painting Buddha :)
We were nominated in three categories: Best Blog, Best Community Member and most importantly, Best New Company

With your help, we came in third in the categories 'Best Blog' and 'Best Community Member'. My personal favorites for both categories came in second: Our Bruddha Volomir's Blog for Best Blog and 'Goblin Aid' for Best Community Member

Our friends at Massive Voodoo snatched the first place for the Bloggers and Sally White took gold as Best Community Member.

Congratulations to all nominees & winners! Well deserved indeed!

The one category we really wanted to win after we got nominated was Best New Company

Our company goal is to strengthen the community, grow our hobby and make everyone a better painter in the process. All of this while applying our not-patented 42-42-16 rule: 42% of profits will be re-invested. 42% of profits will be invested in the community. 16% of profits will go to charity. 

And we are very proud that our company philosophy and the high quality of our products got your votes for Best New Company. 

THANK YOU ALL for your incredible support - without you, none of what we do would be possible. 

Season 1.2 and 1.3 are available for pre-order now at a special 'early beard bundle' price - and as a thank you for the Wamp Awards, we have decided to add a 'little something' to EVERY pre-order, including for the many of you who already pre-ordered ;) Again, thank you!

But now back to the Future of Games Day and Games Workshop 

This concerns all of us. Apparently, it doesn't concern GW. Much.

Over the last 5 days, over 110,000 of you read our epic collection of walls of text about the Future of Games Days and Games Workshops. Hundreds of you sent us messages, shared & enjoyed our articles on Facebook, Google+, forums or left comments on this blog. 

Most of you, but of course not everybody, agreed with the general conclusions and the general tone of these posts. And the fact that so many of you read and commented on them proves that this is a subject that is very important to all of us. I find all of the comments to be at least as interesting as the posts themselves - thank you for your enormous feedback! 

The downfall of GW - a year in retrospective

The series started almost a year ago, on February 20th, when we first reported on some pretty hard-to-believe rumors about GW cutting back on Games Days. This came at a time when GW was generating the highest sales and the highest profits ever.

Mark Wells left Games Workshop in January 2013
That makes him look even more clever than before.
Even more significantly, these rumors started to emerge just days after Mark Wells stepped down as CEO of GW, once again leaving Tom Kirby in charge. 

Actually, Tom Kirby left himself in charge as 'acting CEO'. Even if that is against the rules.

I always wondered why a CEO as successful as Mark Wells - a guy that turned a pile of struggling, under-performing ash into a high soaring phoenix again - would leave his post.

Five years of constant growth. Five years of growing profits. Five years of happy stock holders. 

Did he know that his policies reached the end of the line (chart)? Or was he unhappy with the situation he found at Games Workshop? 

Business Lingo vs. No Bull

Well, let's play Sherlock & Watson for a moment and dissect this press release issued by GW back then: 
"For the past five years, Games Workshop has had the best CEO it has ever had. Under Mark Wells’ leadership we have become better organised, clearer thinking and commercially more robust.
The needs of the business over the last few years has meant there has been a gradual overlapping of the roles of Chairman and CEO. Recently this has become so complete that, after discussions together, Mark and Tom have agreed that the CEO’s role, as it stands, is redundant.
Tom will incorporate the role of Acting CEO into his position as Chairman and, whilst it will undoubtedly come as something of a surprise, Mark has decided to leave the business."
Political correctness and fuzzy language at its best!
Do you really think that this accurately describes what happened at GW?

Let me give you my personal, as far as I am concerned likely more accurate translation into 'no bull'. 

All of this is conjecture, of course. 
"For the past five years Games Workshop had the best CEO it ever had. Under Mark Wells' leadership we have become better organized, clearer thinking and financially more robust. We lost some fans as collateral damage, but oh well.
Over the last few years, the chairman has increasingly interfered with the area of responsibility of the CEO. Recently it has gotten so bad that, after several heated arguments, Mark slammed the door, yelling "If you think you can do this better than me, do it yourself!
Even though it is against GW's own rules and a simple Google search would have revealed that combining the role of CEO and Chairman is generally considered a pretty stoopid idea, Tom decided he knows it best. Despite his usual clairvoyance, it came to his total surprise when Mark told him to 'not call him when everything went FUBAR' as he slammed the door one last time."
Old kid on the block - the return of the Kirby.

So Mark Wells is or was great or something. 

Well, he really was great when it came to making GW profitable again and pleasing the shareholders. I wrote in Part 1 and Part 2 that GW has done pretty well - at least from a purely financial perspective. You know, the stuff that is cool with shareholders.

Unbeknownst by Games Workshop - even to this day - however, his era unfortunately also ushered in today's strategic problems for Games Workshop. Somewhere along the way, Games Workshop forgot the fans, the retailers and in general the market - or as some call it 'the customer'. By default, other miniature companies do not exist. Ooops. (see Part 3-9)

Anyways, Mark Wells made success look so easy. Cut costs drastically, and made big profits. Surely, Tom Kirby could do that even better. So almost exactly 1 year ago on this day, Tom Kirby put his rightful crown on his head again. By himself. The king is dead, long live the king. It's really good to be king!

And here we are - not even 12 months later. (You should really read this sentence twice. Well, not this, the one at the beginning of this paragraph!) Yes, not even 12 months later, Games Workshop has lost 12% of sales, 30% of profits and 24% of its market value. Kirby's fault? Of course not!
Hitting the news, Bilbo style.

A year ago, in his first half-year report as responsible CEO and chairman, Kirby emphasized that "Games Workshop's core business model remains strong. The initiatives we have implemented are designed to lead to growth whilst maintaining the hard won efficiencies" (source)

That, my most esteemed nerds, was a mere year ago. 

This year's half-year report seems somewhat less bold: 
"Our costs are well under control and margins remain strong. Cash management is good and our capital expenditure continues as planned. Following the implementation of the structural changes just announced we expect to benefit from the more focused selling operation across all channels against the background of a materially lower cost base.”
The 'No Bull' strikes again

Now let's look at these two statements again. A year ago, 'initiatives' have been implemented, 'designed to lead to growth'. 

Now, I am not entirely certain which initiatives they refer to. Was it the shutting down of 'free advertising' sites such as Faeit 212 that led to growth? Was it the great press you got from legal maneuvers like GW vs Chapterhouse? Or was it the systematic killing of community events such as Games Days that were focused on generating more sales? Are you FRAKKING kidding me? You can't be serious!

GW's glorious sales initiatives where trying to sell more product at higher prices. Because if quantity x price = sales then higher price x higher quantities = higher sales... D'oh! It's math, stupid!

Oh noes, wait! -12% sales! Why is the market not responding to basic math? DAFUQ? Let's find a culprit... Oh, cool! The half year 'highlights' list TWO, maybe even three of these suckers!

It's all the store's fault
"During the first half, the rapid transition from multi-man stores to one-man stores and the reduction of trading hours across the Group caused disruption in our retail chain."
Oh! The cost saving move to one-man-store has lead to 'disruptions' in GW's retail chain? How strange is that? This is so surprising, too! Who in a right mind would have expected that!

IS GW REALLY SAYING that opening hours of stores that only have one person working are LESS than of stores with more than one person? Are one-manager-stores really not open 7 days a week? THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! 

Is GW maybe insinuating that a one-person store may not have as much time for the customers, for test games, for making awesome gaming tables, for acquiring more customers or to make sure the inventories are in line as mayhaps a multip-person store? Maybe - and I am almost afraid to write this out loud - they might not even be as effective in selling STARTER BOXES? Oh, the KPIs! I am agawk, I am aghast! 

No, one-man-stores don't lead to increased sales. Of course not. How could they. (Yes, I understand that you can open a hand-full of stores with the saved money, I still stick to my estimation that this is not going to significantly increase sales).

Getting rid of multi-person stores has the same reason as firing your HQs worldwide. It is a solid way of lowering the highest cost of doing business: Manpower. Or personpower. Or beingpower, to be Universally correct. 

And frankly, from a pure financial perspective, I have absolutely no problems with that - even if it sounds heartless. If short term profit maximization is your goal, this is EXACTLY how you do it. I wouldn't do it this way, but as we have seen during the reign of Mark Wells, the stock markets applaud these actions. The one thing it is not is sustainable. That means it does not offer a long term perspective. Especially not for increasing sales.

Whether the scheduled 7 new stores (1.6% of 420) are able to make +12% in sales remains to be seen. One-man or not, I find this questionable at best.

It's all the HQ's fault 

Don't be fooled. Closing HQs won't increase sales. It only saves cost. And don't for a second think that we won't feel a difference - because we all will. 

With the closing of a HQ, Games Days in that country are effectively dead. Read my lips. No more Games Days. 

No more GD France, Spain, Italy or Germany. USA hangs in the balance right now. So in the grim darkness of our community's future, there is only GD UK. And if you saw our report from last year, someone will have to drag me there - because my idea of a fun event is somewhat different. Well, let's give them the chance to make it fun again.

Closing HQs means centralization. And don't get me wrong, it is a valid strategy, mostly designed to minimize cost. I am not a big fan of it, as I don't think it's fit to maximize sales. I personally believe in decentralization and in giving more autonomy to countries HQs, but what do I know. At least I can see that this is a trend GW is consistently continuing to follow. 

And on a side note - we are talking about quite a few fired people here. Many of them have been with GW for a very long time. Many of them are hardcore GW nerds, too. I feel bad for them as they were sacrificed on the altar of failed leadership. 

The only comforting news for me was that two of them told me that being let go was "actually a relief. At least we don't have to deal with that nonsense anymore. It got really old". 

It's all the stockist's fault
"We also experienced some decline in sales through independent stockists." 
I can literally visualize the surprise on some analyst's face as he got the Independent Stockist KPI in. On first and second glance, it appeared to be lower than before! 

Immediately, the analyst tried turning the report upside down, but that didn't help - it just made him dizzy. 

Then he hesitantly assembled the big shots for an emergency meeting: "Hey guys, we've been screwing the independent retailers over year after year and made sure that we make their lives as difficult as possible. We even send our Inquisition to check on their books. How the frak can sales be down? Wasn't this one of the many initiatives we implemented to increase sales growth?"

In the long run, we are all dead

As Keynes said, in the long run we are all dead. No surprise to find Games Workshop not really thinking about the long run at all. 

Let's see if they have a general problem with declining sales in their stores and with independent stockists: 

Disturbance in the force there is.
"We view these as short-term issues and expect to see growth return in both channels"

Nope. No problems here. A fluke. It's only a flesh wound!

A short term disturbance in the Force... Carry on!

GW, I sincerely hope you are right! As I have tried to show in now 10 epic walls of text posts, I beg to differ. Personally, I think you are not totally screwed at best. And that only in the short run.

GW really believes that these are short-term issues. The same way as they believed one year ago that the 'initiatives' they implemented would 'result in growth'. Problem is they didn't. 

Surely, this time their prognosis must be correct...

As correct as Keynes. In the long run we are all dead. Games Workshop, too. I have the feeling that there is a chance that some of us will live to see that day. Maybe most of us.

Supernatural powers & Crystal Balls

Well, while we are at it, let's see how Games Workshop themselves sees their prospects: 
"Our costs are well under control and margins remain strong. Cash management is good and our capital expenditure continues as planned.
The principal risks and uncertainties for the rest of the financial year relate to sales and the implementation of the structural changes we have just announced.
Whilst profit will remain under pressure during the implementation of the structural changes mentioned above, the board remains confident in the future growth and profitability of the Group"
Basically what this remark says is: "Our costs are low, everything else is sketchy, but we feel pretty good about ourselves."

Let me give you my personal 'prospect': 

Costs will remain low. Personnel cost will not be lower by the next full year report as terminating tons of people unfortunately also incurs a lot of cost, such as severance pay and so on. Centralizing some functions in UK will also cost a nice stash of coins. That is what GW refers to 'principal risks [relating the] implementation of structural changes'. 

Sales. That is the big one. 'The principal risks and uncertainties for the rest of the financial year relate to sales.' THAT is at the core of the half-year report and nothing else. Sales are down. And that is scary, because shareholders don't like it (as we have seen with the 24% drop at the stock market). 

Profits will remain under pressure and I expect them to go down further. But not because of the 'implementation of the structural changes mentioned above'. No. Profits will remain under pressure because sales will not recover.

At the end of the day, the yearly report for 2013-2014 will not look better than the half year report. Personally, I fear it is going to be worse. GW will remain profitable, but I would not be surprised if we saw another big chunk of GW's stock value disappear in a puff of disbelief.

Good thing I own no stock. Nor do I plan to acquire any. If I ever did, I'd buy 51% of them. And I'm sure they won't cost me 545 pence a pop :P

OH, and my final prediction, of course, is that the Board will remain confident, no matter what.

Bigger Bubble Boys

Sales broken? No shit!
With the centralization of its operation, GW is withdrawing further and further back into their bubble. It's nice and cozy inside the bubble, you don't hear the screaming fans, the crying retailers or have to actually look at and acknowledge the existence of other market players. On the inside, snow remains as black as the board remains confident.

Inside the Bubble there is only GW. And there are two buttons. One labeled 'cost' and the other one labeled 'sales'. One of them is not working and the other one becomes less and less effective.

End of part (1) of The End is Nigh 

In part 2 I will take an admittedly deep and very fuzzy glance at one of my personal crystal balls and tell you how I expect the market to develop over the next five to ten years, how this will influence our hobby (for better and unfortunately for much worse) and whether we should try to do something about it... Stay tuned!

What do you think?

I would really like to know how you all feel about this. After all, I might be the only one who feels this gloomily about GW's sales. 

So let me ask you: Given all the 'sales initiatives' that GW implements, do you expect

a) more sales
b) equal sales
c) less sales

in GW's future? Please vote and leave a comment below! 

A word from the Painting Buddha board².

We are considering to buy out Games Workshop. We estimate we need to raise about 500 million of a currently undisclosed currency to be able to buy out GW. We have put initiatives into effect that should result in us raising this amount in the short term.

Our plan involves selling 10 million copies of our new Season 1.2 and 1.3 DVD set. We apologize for the unexpected and apparent high quality and value of this product. 

The Painting Buddha board members are confident in their ability to buy out GW in the next 42 days and the board remains certain about the sanity of its bored members.

² Dear GW legal department. We don't mean this seriously. Please consider it satire. Just sayin', cause it is. 


Saturday, January 18, 2014

The future of Games Days and Games Workshop - Part 9 - That escalated quickly!

The future of Games Days and Games Workshop - Part 9 
Well, that escalated quickly!

I know, it's another wall of text. But I believe you really should read this if the miniature and gaming hobby is close to your heart. 

I am old and slow. And apparently I have at least one working crystal ball.

Two days ago we simply reported about the dramatic decline of Game's Workshop's value. On a single day, the Company lost 24% of its value. This followed the release of their half-year-report in which they showed -12% lost sales, -30% profits....
It is unlikely you have not heard of it,
since our post about this yesterday has become our 2nd most read post ever And it's even just a little over a day old.
Two days ago, I promised that I would release some of the 'rumors' I heard on our blog this weekend. Little did I know that the ones I couldn't believe (or didn't want to believe) seemt to turn out to be true... 

DISCLAIMER: I first heard about this 3 days ago. More and more sources report the same story. At the moment I would qualify this as rumors, even though I have no doubt GW is 'clever' enough to do just this. 
I got all of the following information from sources inside and outside GW. 

Oh, and I am going to give it my personal twist, because I'm in denial of reality. Kinda like the GW management really. 

Initiating downward spiral. ENGAGE!

Sometimes, when you think to yourself, "Smile and relax, because it can't possibly get any worse" you just lean back, smile and releax. And it get's worse.

And when talking about our glorious leaders at GW Management, I tend to find myself thinking this in shorter and shorter timeframes. 

I have a red spot on my forehead caused by excessive facepalming. Ouch!

GW closes down most of their international HQs, fires HQ staff
Apparently Games Workshop has learned from the bankers. What do you do when you frak up and your business goes south? You make less money? No! You kick and scream and fire the people who's fault it ain't. 
Too big to fail?

Games Workshop closes down all international HQs. Management of all affected stores will be centralized on the Golden Throne of Terror in Nottingham. 

One possible exception could be Germany which is said to remain independent according to at least one source inside GW. 
France, Italy, Spain - not really a surprise here. You read the articles on this blog (part 1 of 9 is here) and with the neglectful death of Games Days pretty much everywhere it's not totally weird for GW to do something like this. 

The big surprise is the USA. WOW. If this is true and GW really closes down their US HQ,.... Doublewow. Last year they claimed they can open stores in the US until all eternity. And now they close the US HQ? Yeah, good luck running expansions from the UK. I hope this is not true. Not sure what this looks like from inside the management bubble in the UK, though...[Update Jan-18 - 6:42pm] From (now former) GW HQ staff I got this information: HQ USA will remain intact. HQ Germany will be closed with the possible exception of a skeleton crew.

Firing squad

Apparently, Games Workshop has already terminated the employment with affected employees at the respective HQs. Allegedly some were offered a Job in beautiful Nottingham. How many actually consider moving their families and their lives to Sherwood Forrest, I don't know. 
At least all terminations seem to take place fairly and to the letter of the law. Severance Pay and sufficient notice and all.

Of course that leaves some other people hanging, right now.

As of now
, for example, the stores in Germany are said to have no contacts. Probably some fun discussions in the stores going on right now. Not. 

Assorted facticious rumors

White Dwarf

The weekly 'replacement' of the White Dwarf (4x 3,50€ instead of 1x8€) is already a fact and no longer a rumor. Someone at GW apparently REALLY thinks that people will go to the store to pick up their favorite hobby magazine - and a Space Marine or two while they are there anyways...

Where is the facepalm image, when you need one... Ah there. So management. Much facepalm. Very ouch.

Finecast is dead. 

LOL, that one we actually knew months, if not years before the GW management. And they just quietly let it die. No announcement, no sad goodbye. They just stopped production of Finecast.

Finecast just became extinct. And no-one noticed nor cared.

REMEMBER how they let Finecast die, because you'll need this for a glance into the future, below!

Until Death do us part

Games Workshop and Forge World will 'fuse' on an operational and sales level. The Forge World site will be integrated into the GW site and FW product will be available in the GW stores.

This makes sense I guess - as long as GW's management let's the FW do their thing. As soon as they start meddling in design affairs at FW, all bets are off.

An Unexpected Journey

LotR and The Hobbit IP will be handled by Forge World. It's like: "Hey, we messed this up and don't know what to do with it, will you have a look?"

Like that's gonna change anything, lol.

If Forge World is clever, they stop making gaming miniatures for LotR and The Hobbit and start going into busts and stuff - kinda like the poor man's DIY alternative to Sideshow stuff. This idea is free for you, GW! No, no need to thank me. Just don't spend another Pence on the games. If you build them, they will buy. Damn, even I would.

All products are created equal.
Some products are more equal.

I don't know if they had you read Miniature Farm in school, but I seem to remember it vaguely.

30% of all GW product will be available as Web-shop exclusives in the future. So on any release, you will most likely have to go to a store OR conveniently buy everything from the GW site. How nice of them! 

I will take a deep look into the crystal ball for this one. And I don't like what I am about to see there. Brace yourself. The future is indeed grim.

This in connection with everything I wrote about independent retailers in future articles might very well be another gigantic blow to the hobby. And increased profitability KPIs for the shareholders. 

Mass Extinction of entire Races

Remember the Dinosaurs? A wild comet appears. It uses deep impact. It's super effective! 

Remember Warhammer Fantasy Battles? A wild management authorizes one horrible rulebook after another. It invokes mass exodus of gamers. It's super effective!

Games Workshop will not produce, update or support entire WHFB armies. The first to go are allegedly Wood Elves, Bretonnia, Beastmen and Khemri. And IF YOU believe that this will save WHFB, YOU MIGHT JUST be delusional OR a top manager at Games Workshop, likely both. 

We are witnessing the first events in a Finecast-esque death of WHFB, people. 

I would not be surprised if you can buy the remaining armies at 50% off at some point in the future, following in the glorious death-traps of Bloodbowl, Gothic, Necromunda and Inquisitor. 

Yeah, writing good rules would have been much harder than just killing a whole gaming system. 

I often think: "What are they smoking?' but more and more I realize they ain't smoking anything at all. They are not even drunk enough to go home. They just used up all the air in their management bubbles and their brains seem to be suffocating.... And the fans are even trying to poke holes in their bubbles to save them... To no avail.

I dont think this particular one is true

Now there are one or two rumors that I don't think are true. At least not yet. I am actually quite convinced that we are looking at something that might happen in a year or two, but not now.

The rumor(s) go something like this: "Games Workshop is closing all their stores in <insert here>". The concrete rumor I saw repeated on a couple of sites, including our friend at Faeit 212, is that all stores in Germany are going to be closed. 

I simply refuse to believe that, I guess. It would make no sense either.

HOWEVER, I am almost certain that in the grim darkness of the not-so-distant-future, this is EXACTLY what GW is planning to do.

[Update Jan-18: 6:42pm] This information from a former HQ employee: [Quote] "GW is not planning on closing the stores. But they will send 'Men in Black' to evaluate the store performance - and if they don't meet targets, they might shut them down or replace the staff".

This would fall in line with the fact that GW is aggressively searching for new staff (e.g., "Store Manager for Store in XYZ" while the store is fully staffed. Designed to put pressure on the staff - not the finest move of them all....

Like a wreckingball

Like a car accident, some interesting roadkill or Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball, it is hard to look away from the damage the Games Workshop Senior Management causes to themselves. 

They radiate the same morbid fascination that some people get from watching those shows that run in the afternoon - you now the ones that show people who you think are so much dumber than you. The ones you never quite know whether they are casted actors or whether people that dumb really exist. You know what I mean. It's painful to watch and you kinda can't stop. Yeah, that sort of fascinating kinda thing...

So is Games Workshop dead?
No, of course not. First of all the fact that they lost about a quarter of their value on the stock market, has no impact whatsoever. 

Do you think the shareholders will kick Tom Kirby & his Gang out of management? They haven't done that in 20 years and they won't do it now. 

Even Tom Kirby doesn't care, I am sure. He could retire comfortably at any minute now. And I wouldn't even blame him. From his perspective he has done everything right. 

GW will continue for years to come, but some of the old timers among us might not recognize it anymore. I guess I will have to put my predictions into another post - this one is too long (again) as it is ;) 

Games Workshop is not dead. Not YET. Like my Ultramarines who are undefeated at 56-2-0, even from this almost un-winnable position, I am sure it could be turned into a glorious recovery. 

Unfortunately, the current Games Workshop management has no experience on how to win tabletop games, and a track record of wrong moves and misunderstanding of rules, so I am sure they will frak it up. 

Hint: Throwing yourself into cover or fleeing to the nearest table corner has never won anything in the history of table-toppers. Neither has sacrificing your own troops turned out to be the best possible course of action in almost all scenarios.


Can Games Workshop be saved?

I know there are a lot of new people reading these blog entries. Some might think "who is this guy anyways?". Well, in the words of Gag Halfrunt: "Zaphod's just ziz guy, you know?". 

First and foremost, I am a nerd. In my life before making my life-long dream true by starting our company Paintingbuddha, I was Global CIO of ALDI South, one of the most successful global discount retailers worldwide. My credo: High quality + low price = mass sales that kinda thing.

Works amazingly well, who would have thunked. Even works for our own miniature painting instruction DVDs. And if you are not greedy and don't even wanna make profit for yourself, there's very little that can stop you.

Anyways, now, at 42*, I am a full time nerd. 

And if you read our complete collection of epic walls of texts about the Future of Games Days and Games workshop, one might think that when it comes to Games Workshop, there would have been other options for running your business.

The only thing that would have been necessary for GW was to step out of their frakking bubble and have a look at the real battlefield. And then you draw some clever conclusions and carry on conquering the frakking universe. Like a true nerd would.

Anyways, if you STILL have not read them yet, take off for a few hours (yes, they are LONG), and read our epic series here:

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 7.5

So long and thanks for all the fish. 

Just for once, I agree with Tom Kirby who repeatedly summarized the problem and only risk of Games Workshop to be themselves. "The problem is us." It's not the designers. Not the concept artists. Not the authors. Not the workers. Not the staff. Not the stores. Not the fans. Not the world. Not the Universe. It's Games Workshop's Management.

The problem: Games Workshop's Management. 

The cause: Not taking responsibility
The effect: Making wrong decisions

In Germany we have a saying: "The fish starts to smell from its head". It really does, folks!

Games Workshop smells from its head for quite a while now. We can all smell it, some of us are holding their breath, some are covering their nose. But that won't make the stench go away. 

Still, some you might say: "I don't know what's wrong with your whining - I kinda like the smell!". To each his own.

"I believe" - Games Workshop's problem in ONE sentence 

We often say, "Games Workshop's management doesn't know what the frak they are doing" - and I showed in part 1 and 2 of our series, I don't think that's true. They know EXACTLY what they are doing. 

The problem is more that they are not working for us. They work for shareholders. And at the end of the day, they work for themselves. The do not give a frak about us fans and everyone who says anything different needs a reality check, imo.

Games Workshop's problem is the same problem that the rest of the world and most likely the Universe suffers from alike: It is run by bankers and accountants and not by nerds, visionaries and dreamers who understand the value of community and also happen to know how to run a global business. Oh, and common sense is pretty helpful, too.

I believe tabletop games, board games, miniatures and games in general have the potential to change the world
I believe that companies like GW could make hundreds of millions and cultivate an unprecedented global community for the good of everyone, including their employees, partners and competitors. 
I believe I could do a better job than the current GW management, even though this may sound arrogant. 
And I believe it should take about 42 days to turn Games Workshop around. Because that's how I roll :D
I believe that this is not going to happen because I believe that Games Workshop's management believes that Tabletop is dead. 
What say you?

I would really like to know what you think about all of this. Is Games Workshop dead? Who shot the Emperor of Mankind? Whose fault is everything?


Please leave a comment below - and I will try to incorporate it in the next - and possible final installment - of our exciting series about the Future of Games Days and Games Workshop! Maybe I'll do a video and comment on your comments to my comments ;)

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