Games Workshop rant

Ivan Sorensen

Amiga fan
Validated User
Eh. I like a lot of the games they did. I love the settings.

My interest was lost with the atrocity that was 40K 3rd edition, and how it kept getting steadily worse, as well as the utter mishandling of the Epic gameline.


Retired User
I would vigorously dispute GW being bigger than the RPG industry - there's 3 million D&D players in the USA, at $30 books, if they each bought three books apiece last year, that's $270 million to GW's $300 million (using current exchange rate, roughly, which was much better for the US in 2004). Sure, most D&D players didn't buy three books in 2004, but I know quite a few who bought more than that, and we're not even discussing White Wolf, SJGames, or the entire overseas market for RPGs, just the US vs. GW's global sales.
Important question, is that 3 million D&D buyers or 3 million D&D players. You can run a D&D game with only one set of books between 5 people, and IME the ratio of buyers to players is something under 50%.

If that 3 million figure is buyers, then you argument stands as is. However I suspect it means players, in which case we should half it to estimate actual money spent. In which case GW probably is at least as big (by amount of money spent) as all RPGs combined.

Ken Finlayson

Small But Vicious Dog
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I've been hearing rumblings about warhammer 40k roleplaying material coming out. Probably mis-interpreted, but what I thought I heard was that they were releasing three products in succession, starting with Inquisitor and moving through an intermediary stage to a full paper-and-dice rpg.
Yeah, probably misinterpreted. The first game to come out will be Warhammer 40,000: Dark Heresy, in which you play the role of a member of an Inquisitorial retinue. It doesn't seem it will be a reprint of Inquisitor. Instead, it will reportedly use a ruleset very much like that of the latest Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

Jilly Hoo

I will screw up your life
My beef with GW is that they re-release the same Warhammer game once every few years, with enough fundamental changes to ensure you have to buy it if you want to play against opponents who have done. they then re-release the same Army books to fit the new game edition, followed by the re-release of the same miniatures.


I have a (small) army of nasty ol' Dark Elves who are firmly in a previous edition and show no sign of wanting to be updated (even if I had a spare £500 to buy the new army). It was about five years ago I lost the faith.


Warrior Kobold
RPGnet Member
Validated User
We've been over this ground in OGO too. :)

Personally my hope is that management takes the company private and focuses on building up a good, fun core game rather than flogging the latest releases (generally Blue, Black, Green or Red Space Marines) to try to boost quarterly results.

Probably a bit naive, but I think it would be better for the company in the long-run.
I got into wargaming and miniatures when the new Wood Elves came out. They were pretty. Sue me. :p

About the same time, I moved to St. Louis. There is a Games Workshop store here: you'd think I'd hustle over to see what it was all about.

I haven't.

My hometown store is small, caters to a variety of players and playing tastes. Even if I'm in there with miniatures, someone's running Vampire or D&D, there's something else for me to listen to or do. By contrast, the insular quality of GW is a total turnoff: I can buy better paint online from Valejo, better brushes from most hobby stores, better miniatures from Rackham and Privateer, and while I'm delighted with my army, I don't expect to update it. My hometown store doesn't care if your army's all up-to-date with the rules. The GW store will. And, as someone else noticed, paying thirty dollars for a miniature the size of my hand --that *I* get to assemble-- is not my cake.

Point being --I am just a very casual wargamer, and I feel alienated by their product and marketing scheme.

Successful? Well, sure. I shelled out a hundred and fifty for that box of miniatures once. They were pretty miniatures, too: not much flash, quick to clean, (for the most part) dynamic sculpturing and posing.

But in the long run? They don't have a customer in me. And as long as the company remains so limited, they won't.

I get the sense it must be very different abroad?


RPG Historian
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Last I heard, GW expected to keep their average customer for 2 years, so they weren't really that worried about chewing them up and spitting them out, because they already had the next generation coming in.

Jilly Hoo

I will screw up your life
Last I heard, GW expected to keep their average customer for 2 years, so they weren't really that worried about chewing them up and spitting them out, because they already had the next generation coming in.
And that is their marketing strategy in a nutshell.

Target the youngsters because pester-power will drag mum or grandma into the store to buy the "must-have" box of new Wigglesmurfelflings who are guaranteed to kick arse against Joe's new Dark Munchkins.

Get them young, bleed them dry and spit them out.


Fan of Many Things
RPGnet Member
Validated User
And that is their marketing strategy in a nutshell.

Target the youngsters because pester-power will drag mum or grandma into the store to buy the "must-have" box of new Wigglesmurfelflings who are guaranteed to kick arse against Joe's new Dark Munchkins.

Get them young, bleed them dry and spit them out.
also remember that the army with the latest book out will be the BEST because they'll have implimented new mechanics that break the game.
unless it's something that can trhash the space marines, then they'll nerf it unto oblivion in the next army book.
Games Workshop is failing to succeed due to a number of reasons. As for my credentials - I am a GW gamer over over 12 years and worked at the GW US HQ in the Studio (I was not an order taker - I was in the middle of things happening on the creative/editing side of White Dwarf) for about 15 months.

GW is failing, that's plain to see. Fewer games being played in my area, fewer new gamers being brought into the fold, fewer painting competitions, fewer everything.

The question is, why?

Reason #1: Fire all the creative people.
GW's made it a habit in the last four years or so to purge themselves of valuable employees. Andy Chambers was one such, and there are other big-name developers who went as well, but I'm also talking about other folks who helped make GW succeed before. They got rid of the guy in charge of the Outrider program. They got rid of most of their events staff (and got rid of the last guy in charge of it recently, I'm not sure who replaced him). They went through several purges at the US HQ targeting marketing, editing, modeling support - no department was safe. I myself was cut along with 14 others, including some of their best modelers and painters who made the displays in White Dwarf and on the web so eye-catching and memorable.

Reason #2: Raise the prices sky-high.
GW's been through a period lately of price "adjustments" that have pushed their products right out of the "hobby" niche and into the "luxury hobby" niche. The price of a box of 10 space marines has increased something like 300% in the last five years. These price increases have pushed things to the point where you have to pay around $10 per model for an individual piece, when you need a minimum of 5 models to fill the unit (the example I am using here is the Wraithguard).

Reason #3: Make sure everyone knows you don't give a damn about the games.
GW's upper echelon made a decision sometime around 2001 that they would no longer sell games. GW was in the business, they decided, of selling miniatures (and paints, brushes, carrying cases, and modeling tools) - but not games. Therefore, everything began to revolve around selling the miniatures at the expense of the games themselves. Support was pulled from making the new and interesting games GW had been famous for in the past (blood bowl, necromunda, etc.) and focused instead on marketing. FAQs and errata became things of the past.

"We don't need FAQ's, because our games aren't the reason we're in business." They were heard to say over and over. Veteran gamers became frustrated with a rule set that badly needed attention. One reasonably proficient editor could have cleared up dozens of rules issues, but GW refused to address this problem. In fact, GW expressly came out and said "NO MORE FAQS" in 2006.

Reason #4: Make sure you don't give a damn what your customers or fans think.
GW made it a policy in the last several years to ignore and belittle any criticism from its loyal fanbase. The official GW forums, for instance, agressively deleted any critical comments, leaving only a "love fest" and a few unanswered questions. GW eventually got rid of its forums altogether in late 2006, preferring instead to carry on as if everything were just fine and dandy. Over in the UK, a similar condition existed, as the once-popular White Dwarf feedback forum was reduced to "positive comments only" and then eliminated altogether.

Reason #5: Take your flagship, internationally recognized magazine and turn it into crap.
White Dwarf has gone over 300 issues worldwide and is translated into quite a few different languages. It has gone through many changes over the years, but up until recently, it was a good magazine for a GW fan - battle reports, new rules, exciting fiction, backstory for the 40K and Warhammer universes, gorgeous paintjobs, and featuring armies played by other GW fans just like the reader. Unfortunately, GW decided that the magazine was not serving its purpose of selling miniatures. Therefore, the company made the following changes: No more rules in the magazine, ever. No more battle reports produced anywhere but in the UK. No more submissions by fans or freelancers - everything to be produced in house (by the reduced staff). No more fiction or backstory information. The US White Dwarf staff has struggled valiantly to try and carry on the previous tradition, going so far as to split the US edition into "US Content" and "International Content", but that effort has been curtailed as well. Now, the magazine is primarily a catalog, shilling paints, brushes, army cases, and miniatures with a few paltry pages dedicated to a UK-generated battle report or painting article.

There are more reasons - I could go on at length about the company's failures with its yearly worldwide campaigns, or how the chain stores strangle out FLGS competition. I could discuss the low pay, long hours, and upper management attitude. I could talk about how the UK management stifles anything not created in England. But all that's for another time.

GW's successes these days lie in their fiction arm - Black Library is doing fantastically well - their video games (Dawn of War, specifically) - and their miniatures still for the most part are very well sculpted and dynamic. What they're lacking is some good games to use those miniatures in, or at least well-supported games. They're getting their tails absolutely stomped over in Europe by Rackham's Confrontation game and in the US by Privateer Press, who seems determined to do right everything that GW has done wrong...and continues to do so.

When GW got rid of their fan forums, I was tempted to say that they've fallen into a death spiral. Time will tell.
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