Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Implications of the GW Reseller Decision

So this morning sees another round of rage-quitting from the GW game – not inspired by a reluctance to adapt to new rules this time but in response to the change in GW trade policies.

In Australia I expect there will be some gloating from those that have left WHFB to play other genres, however I suspect that it may be a little misplaced. This story isn’t over it is only just starting to be played out. The next 6-12 months will tell the true story.

I suspect there will be a lot of resentment to local GW staff but before you vent I think it is worth remembering that the pressure has been building from the independent retailers for GW to make this change. Even by offering discounts of up to 20% (and free postage) Australasian retailers haven’t been able to compete with Wayland and Maelstrom.
Now the dragon has been slayed do you really think that there is much reason to keep offering these discounts? I know I wouldn’t. I’d be offering the minimum I had to do to ensure I got sales rather than GW stores. These guys have been lauded (particularly on the WAU, where the “Buy Australia” mantra is a religion) but these discounts have been business decisions, first and foremost. So I suspect they will be the next “casualty of war”.

The next question I’d be interested in is “How much profit did Maelstrom make from this?” If the answer is a lot then I wonder what impact its removal will have on their other ventures e.g. The Eye of the Storm, Bane Legions etc. I can’t help thinking that profits from the ROW were subsidising these ventures. So maybe there will be impacts for UK gamers?
A big question is where do locals now buy? The local GW? The struggling LGS? The Warstore or equivalent in the States? eBay? How the cards fall on this is going to be extremely interesting.

And what does it mean for boutique brands like Warmachine/Hordes? Malifaux? Spartan Games? Will they see benefit from a shift in sales away from GW (if this in fact happens)? For all the hype in Oz, Warmachine is stillvery much a fringe game. Its supporters are very vocal – which is great, it’s nice to see some passion. But let me put a question to you – Do any of its supporters see its sales alone supporting a LGS? I’d be very surprised if it was a viable business proposition by itself. It needed the LGS to sell GW economically for it to be viable – Bluntly, local stock of Warmachine only occurs if the LGS is profitable, it don’t pay the bills.

And what of GW? Will they see overall sales volume (units) drop?
Personally I can’t see how it won’t. I know from my own point of view the removal of access to GWUK in November last year meant I no longer buy those GW Direct figures I used to. However I’m not a target GW customer so any spending by me and my ilk may all be a pimple on the backside of their sales figures. There seems to be an inbuilt contradiction here though. If the veteran gamer is not a target market, why shut down access to Maelstrom? I don’t expect little Johnny was your average internet reseller’s customer.


  1. Maelstrom and Wayland must have been putting the hurt on local suppliers, I know my purchases have been an order of at least 10 to 1 in favour of the UK.
    So GW must have been getting hounded both by independents and their own store owners “to do something”. It seems to me that the only options then are:
    • Increase GBP prices to match Australia
    I don’t see how a 30% price increase can be made palatable to GW buyers in the UK
    • Decrease AUD prices to match current GBP rates
    This would theoretically cause a considerable profit decrease and GW is then at risk of currency the changing in the other direction
    • Force resellers to only sell in their territories.
    The GW have only gone and done the “obvious” easy fix and hit up the suppliers that look like they are causing the issue.
    To me, GW have shown their resellers that they are trying to help out and not taking that theoretical profit hit. I bet GW are hoping that the lockin they have with copyright over the games rules themselves will be enough to tide them over until currencies “stabilise”.
    To my mind the assumptions they are making about long term currencies and consumers willingness to take a 30%+ shafting are incorrect.
    Me, I intend to not give GW any of my money until their prices are better.
    Buying second hand is okay as GW does not get any money.
    Now how to stop my leccy supplier treating me that way as well.

  2. Wonderful news this Maelstrom no longer selling either of the two games I play WHFB and Flames of War - just great :(

    Its a bad decision that will make life very very difficult, and I agree with your earlier post young gamers can pretty much forget getting started now unless they pick up bulk collections cheap on Trade Me

  3. At this point I'd pay slightly more just to go out of my way to support an overseas supplier such as the US, rather than support the local market, out of spite more than anything.
    I'm beyond the denial stage, and definitely slap bang in the middle of the anger stage. Don't see myself ever reaching "acceptance" though. More so my purchases will just cut right back, which I find disappointing.

  4. I'm guessing that GW will see a spike in sales through Wayland and Maelstrom up until 31 May, which will then drop to below their year-on year average. A corresponding increase in sales through NZ shops will not happen, though I guess this is what they're expecting. From the small sample I see here and on other forums, the key impact is that many of us are not going to expand into other WHFB armies; I know that I'm not.

    Overall, I'm guessing that their sales volumes will decrease. The only question is, how much of the market are we (along with our Aussie, South American et counterparts)? If it's measurable and turns up on a balance sheet, then maybe there might be some price corrections in coming years, to better match UK prices. However these'll take a year or three to filter through to us, and will probably take the form of smaller increases rather than true price cuts. Given that they've used the change from metal to resin to increase prices, I'd be very surprised to see any price cuts from GW.

    The fair way, and even the smart way of doing things, which is to adjust NZ prices with effect 1 June to more closely match UK prices, is not something I'm expecting. I'd love to be wrong on this though.....

  5. It might be tough on 40k players, but Fantasy players can fairly easily make up the bulk of most armies using non-GW figures. It's not like 28mm Orcs, Humans and Dwarfs are hard to find.

    I do feel sorry for young gamers, though. If veteran players with disposable income find the loss of discount online options daunting it must be a tough blow for young guys saving up their pocket money to get a box of figures.

    I guess the silver lining is that fringe games like Dystopian Wars and Malifaux will see a pick up in sales.

    I agree with Pete though. What we're seeing from GW is just the opening salvo in the war. What comes next will be interesting to see.

  6. Well to finish my Ogres, finish making my Woodies 8th compatible (both minor buys) and finish the High Elf army I've started (all projects I planned to do over the course of this year) I've had to speed up my ordering...good thing I can JUST afford to do it haha...who needs food anyway.

    In terms of supporting LGS, I tend to buy terrain and painting/modelling supplies from Wargames supplies-now I have an even bigger incentive to avoid GW.

    Though in terms of "business sense" I've noticed how 2 of my armies will get updated this year/early next year (hopefully they remember the woodies...) so I see myself now "forced" to get the new armybook etc through GW (well, Wargames supplies). Add to this the Nth Hemisphere summer release of the winds of magic...GW know they will still get the sales

  7. New hardbook books have gone up by GBP 3...suspect that means NZD 80