No wargaming blog would be complete without referring to Games
has as many fans as detractors, but it can hardly be denied that GW has had an
enormous influence on the wargaming hobby. Many current wargamers started with
GW games, even if they no longer play them. And a large part of the "new
batch" still enters the hobby through GW's products. Still any topic
dealing with GW in general terms, their products or their policies risks
erupting into bitter disputes very soon.
as many reasons why this is so as there are people discussing GW, so I will not
attempt summaries and analyses. Instead, I will just examine my own opinion. It's a blogger's privilege.
real wargame (as in playing with figures on a tabletop) was a GW product. If I
skip Spacehulk, which was a boardgame after all, the game Necromunda was the
first tabletop wargame I played. And I played it with all the gusto of a GW
noob, buying White Dwarfs, rulebooks, Citadel miniatures and rulerstm
where I could find them (and if I had
the money for them) and painting and building away on my "gangs" and
terrain. It was a lovely game, full of athmosphere and supported by great
background fluff which I did not even connect with Warhammer 40K all that
consciously. We played campaigns against each other for years, or so it seems. I
had never played Rogue Trader or 40K so it all looked pretty original to me.
And before that I enjoyed games like Talisman, Spacehulk, Dungeonquest and
Mighty Empires. In later years, when historical wargaming drew my attention, I
had uncountable hours of fun with GW Warhammer Ancient Battles and later
historical offspring from that game.
It was not
the periodical re-styling of army lists for Warhammer Fantasy Battles or 40K,
always a rather thinly veiled way to get people to buy new rulebooks and
miniatures. I never played either WHFB or WH40K because the rulesystem did not
really appeal to me. I always considered it a rather simple min-max game that
drew a lot of very competitive players, who were not my preferred company. So I
never stepped into those but still enjoyed the rest. Price increases are
connected to any hobby and when the price becomes unacceptable to me, I just
stop and start looking for alternatives. I don't like the sculpting style that
much anyway, so it was an easy choice.
Neither was it the "We are The Hobby" approach that attempted to exclude all
non-GW influence from any GW game ("kill the mutants!" is not just
40K fluff, apparently) since, well, in the age of Internet it is really very
hard not to find other sources for the hobby and even before that I never paid
much attention to people who told me how to experience my hobbies. I am in it
for the fun, so it is only logical to do as I like playing with the people that
I like who also like to do what they like.
is a case of murder, committed by GW. Murder, you say? Yes. Murder.
founded in 1975 and I encountered them around 1984 when I joined a RPG group that
regularly read White Dwarf and used Citadel miniatures in their games. Around
1986 a game store opened shop in my hometown and I stepped on the Yellow Brick Road
and have been on it ever since. It was a halcyon time, where everything was new
and fresh and a new and totally innovative game seemed to be published every
two months or so. GW appeared an everlasting source of fertile creativeness
that just kept on producing great gaming stuff! But over the years that source
slowly began to dry up as management gradually took over from game design.
to turn inward. Cost cutbacks started to exercise their influence on the design
process. The board games and RPGs disappeared near the end of the 20th century.
White Dwarf turned from a more or less general hobby magazine into a GW
commercial ad collection. Still the range of tabletop wargames was impressive.
But then these too, started to dwindle. More cutbacks slowly pushed them into limbo
through the status of "Specialist Games" which increasingly turned
out to be a euphemism for "nearly out of print". More and more
resources were poured into the WHFB/WH40K lines, reinforced with the Lord of
the Rings franchise, which was essentially a simple WHFB-variant with different
miniatures. All at the expense of the "non-core lines" as it turned
During the first
decade of the 21st century GW killed off the Specialist games one by one. Profit
maximizing "transferred" them to Forge World where they were very
sparsely supported and eventually just disappeared. Gone were Necromunda,
Warmaster, Mordheim, Bloodbowl and many others. The entire Historical branch
was scrapped in 2012 when GW simply tossed away WAB, one of the most successful
historical tabletop rulesets ever produced without even attempting to license
it, because it did not make enough profit. It took all the historical games
with it into oblivion.
on GW completely focused on the WHFB/WH40K/LOTR lines, which were essentially
branches of the same game engine-tree and served to sell ever more rulebooks
and figures. Or, in other words, GW made a business policy out of endlessly
re-hashing variants of the WH engine and the miniatures associated with it and
has been doing so ever since. Something not immediately apparent to new
players, but painfully clear to all of us who have been around a while.
their beautiful origins and the many, many remarkable games and game
accessories that sprang from the original GW-source, the gradual and total decline
of this growth and realizing that nothing really new has been produced by GW
for over a decade, leads to the conclusion that GW has murdered Creativity
sometime around 2005.
So yes, I
proclaim GW guilty as charged. Not for taking our money, not for making a
profit, not for attempting to monopolize the wargaming hobby and not for
developing devious (well, what's in a name?) marketing strategies.
nonetheless for developing that vast potential for creating for us so many lovely
games and then murdering that potential for the benefit of the shareholder,
robbing all of us, old and new gamer alike, of what could have been.
As an add-on here is GW's Half year report
for the latter half of 2014. Revenues sink and profits sink even faster.
Kevin Rountree, CEO of Games Workshop, said:
“Games Workshop’s core business model remains strong. Our current initiatives of ever better weekly
new product releases, the low cost one man stores in retail and the stockist programme in trade, are
designed to lead to growth. The board remains confident in the future growth and profitability of the
Time will tell (but I'm afraid it does so already) if Kevin is right....
Based on GW's 2014-2015 report
revenues fall a further 3 million (-2,5%) but profits stay on last year's level. No reassurance, given the significantly lower costs for this last year.
So far, no growth...