Friday, August 26, 2011

Scorched Earth or How GW Managed To Destroy $1000 of Sales

So it is now three months since Games Workshop issued its edict to suppliers, shafting customers in the rest of the world. In preventing retailers such as Wayland or Maelstrom, GW effectively increased the prices to internet-savvy customers by approximately 40% (in local currency terms).

Obviously this caused outrage at the time but I thought I would reflect on what effect it had had on my buying practices. Since June I have bought the following Games Workshop products:

o Tomb King Army Book – GW Wellington (in the past I’d also buy from GW Wellington so I’d get it on day of release.
o Tomb King Magic Cards – GW Wellington (as above)
o Caledor Novel – Wargames Supply – 5% off (normally buy BL novels locally)
o Finecast Empire Captain – GW Mail Order (using electronic gift voucher supplied by GW)
o Age of Darkness – Wargames Supply (as above)
o Storm of Magic Cards – GW Wellington
o Storm of Magic Cards – Wargames Supply – 5% off
o Nagash Immortal – GW Wellington (as above)
o Seven paints or washes from GW, WS and Toyworld (bought locally as always)

Therefore since the ban I have transferred $51.00 of my buying from offshore to local outlets. Typically prior to this I would be spending between $300-500 per month on GW products. I have bought some Forgeworld instead ($250 total) but as you can see GW has probably lost sales from me of around $1000 – yes, I know I spend too much. Hoards O’Bits has also got a couple of orders as I can customise my models AND source the offshore prices.

Local GW Staff Oversee The Successful Implementation of Their New Sales Policy

Last weekend I sold items at Call to Arms that raised $500 for my “war” chest but it is unlikely that this will go to GW locally.

So what have I been doing? Painting some of the unpainted material I had stockpiled. In the past I would have been an absolute sucker for the new GW terrain – Garden of Mor, Fulcrums etc – but GW have lost those sales. Similarly apart from the Storm of Magic Cards (I wanted the containers – gave away the cards) their whole summer campaign has passed me by. Similarly the Finecast revolution.

On any level it is hard to see any winners in the GW “Buy Local” strategy.


  1. Unfortunately....about $100 a week. No other real vices ;-)

    Well, besides supporting sporting losers who promise me the world

  2. Yes, but the $1000 is only a small part of the full picture.
    A full analysis should take into account that while you have temporarily stopped spending, GW have not lost market share based on thier move. You are still heavily invested in GW 's IP, including thier back story fluff, existing models and ruleset. This combined with thier superior model quality and aggresive release schedule (not to mention your continued promotion of GW products via blog readership) would leave me betting that you will be back and spending once again. I would guess that your budget is based on what you can afford, not what GW has produced, thus if GW can entice you to buy fewer models at a higher profit using that same amount of money, they win.

    Therefore, the only real danger to GW is that you start playing some other ruleset. So while scorched earth is a strategy of desperation, it can be regarded as reasonable in the correct circumstances.

  3. I.e. they still have you firmly gripped by the "models", it's just that you have noticed them squeezing a little more than usual :)

  4. @nat: but the problem is it's not actually making us buy locally, it's making us buy gray market. The prices in NZ are simply completely out of control when you look at the cost of global shipping and the current (current being the last year and a half) exchange rates.

    All this has done is made me go to a freight forwarder. It costs me 20-50$ on a large order but saves me literally hundreds of dollars.

    if instead of banning other regions from reselling to us they fixed their broken price model, it wouldn't be an issue, but where there's upwards of 40$NZD difference between UK/US retail and NZ retail, it simply reeks.

    and to be honest, it has definitely made me look at other game systems.

  5. >I would guess that your budget is based on what you can afford, not what GW has produced<

    Not really. TBH I can afford whatever GW produce.
    What has happened is that I have not started buying local as GW intended. Therefore there strategy is a failure. The only winner has been my bank balance.

    As time goes on I will buy from overseas through other channels.

    So the key drive that I buy local has not eventuated.....and as an aside I haven't bought at all.

  6. I find it hard to imagine it was ever about making people buy locally. Surely it *must* have been about appeasing local suppliers without actually changing the assumed exchange rate. Nothing else makes any sense.

    It is a pretty major fail for GW if you, Blaise, have even considered a different game system and that is the real danger for GW.

    I personally hate the feeling of being ripped off and also have not spent locally either and I had a pretty serious monthly $ habit as well (moving this weekend and packing all that plastic has been a major).

    I do shake my head at the way public companies are run, the decisions are made so far from the customers point of view you begin to wonder (not really) if the anti-globalisation morons don't in fact have a slight point.

  7. At Maelstrom prices I would have bought Storm of Magic by now, however I have balked at paying even close to full RRP for something I'm not sure I will use. I might also have been eyeing off some of the new monsters, but as it is, I haven't.

    I'm looking at all the forthcoming Ogre releases rather covetously, but whereas in the past I would have rushed out and ordered a swathe of the stuff to have it sitting in a cupboard, I guess now I will wait and see if I ever get around to needing it (having a to-do pile the size of mine, this could mean years).

    At this rate I might actually *improve* the painted vs unpainted ratio of my collection. GW have changed my spending habits, but probably not the way they had intended.

  8. Maybe that is what the press release should have said:
    "GW cares about the hobby and it's customers and will be raising our prices until you have painted more of the models you have actually bought."

  9. Great post Pete and interesting in Canada we also pay far more than our US hobby brothers...but were not as bad off as you are. I thought Wayland Games had some sort of work around in the planned?

  10. The promised 'workaround' has yet to be seen, I check the website regularly but it has said the same thing since May. Despite the fantastic PR they received through combating the evil GW, we still can't get delivery to NZ. Clubmates have tried to order since May but have had their orders canceled, losing the credit card fees. Luckily they have family over there to send it to.

    I've found that it is just as cheap ordering from the US stores, with the exchange rate as it is. They do not have the same export restrictions as the UK stores.

  11. Like many of you, I'm annoyed/offended/really farked off with the NZ pricing policy. So, I've made a decision to not buy any more GW products until they bring NZ pricing in line with the rest of the world. As Pete said in an earlier post, it's all about the money, the rest is conversation. I figure if I don't buy their stuff from anyone, that will send a small message to them. Combined with others in a similar mood, this might possibly have some impact. Maybe not too, but at least I won't feel like I'm being booted in the jinglies just for being a Kiwi.

    Of course, that's easy to say now, when I have a mountain of Dwarves and High Elves to paint and I don't really need anything. The test for me will be when the new Dwarf book comes out, complete with big shiny kits and new models. But if I can maintain my sheer bloody annoyance, I'll be able to overcome it. Hopefully the models will suck, more new Phoenix Guard/Manticore than Arachnorak/Ogre Firebelly....

    At the very least, I'm considering future armies on the basis of their non-GW model ranges. Possibly Warriors of Chaos, using Gamezone figures, or Orcs, using Mantic. Not to everyone's tastes maybe, and the Gamezone figures are on a par-pricewise with GW, but at least it's the same price as the Brits and Yanks pay.

    Finally, one thing to consider for the GW-disgruntled, is the Kings of War ruleset. I haven't looked at it in detail, but it does tick my box for massed-fantasy combat (i.e., not a skirmish game). Mantic are very clever-clogs, and have designed it so that Warhammer based figures are compatible with it. So if it becomes a ruleset that's as good as Warhammer, it might be where some of us end up. And unlike Warmahordes, we can play both games with out existing armies. Two games for the price of one army. Not a bad place to be.

    And that's what GW should start thinking about. Because if Mantic's rules start to look good, and GW's pricing policies continue to be poor, then they might start to lose players (and therefore revenue).

  12. To me this is the crux....GW want us to buy locally from either their Hobby Centres or local retailers and I am happy to do that BUT not at a 40% premium to UK customers.

    I believe that GW products are a commodity and given they are not perishable price should be largely equalized. I do not buy GW's argument that NZ has a higher cost structure than the UK hence the difference. I feel sympathy for local retailers but the problem is not mine provided I can access offshore. The problem is the local price structure. For me the survival of GW HC and local retailers is not worth a 40% premium. Why? Because I'm a selfish bastard and also I don't rely on either to "maintain" my hobby for me. If GW and the local shops provided for the community then I'd have more sympathy.

    So in my eyes I am purely paying GW a premium. As an old trader I like to think I know the difference between price and value. In this case that difference is not being provided.

  13. I'm mostly just buying Forgeworld now. With FW still being buyable from the UK the relative cost of an FW army (Chaos Dwarfs in my case) compared to a regular GW army is not as bad as it once was.

    The downside is that since GW own FW i'm not really hurting them financially.

  14. @Pete. I think you hit the nail on the head there, and its the underlying issue that is probably hurting GW all over the world not just NZ (which it is if you look hard enough, volume is down across the board). In the longer term its probably a bigger issue, the price difference is a pain and banning the internet resellers is treating the symptoms not the actual problem, but if sales keep falling in the really big areas (i.e US and UK) then we will start seeing real issues. Essentially GW stores which are selling the 'hobby' offer almost nothing for gamers (past that initial hook to get people in the first place) other than a place to buy models. They don't support tournaments, there is very little support for larger games in store, a less welcoming attitudes to veteran players and I've found the social/friendly attitude which was around when I started has been replaced by a business only attitude (clearly apparent when they hire guys who are salesmen and know nothing about the games). When the only service I get from GW stores are the models and it really makes no difference where I get them from, then going offshore is a no brainer.

    @Tane. Kings of War was made by Alessio, who left/was kicked out of GW/Warhammer development after a number of codices etc which didn't really make the grade. Its incredibly similar to 7th edition and I'm guessing its basically his vision for 8th which clearly wasn't the direction they wanted to take it.

  15. @Powerguy,

    I know that Alessio is the main developer for Kings of War, which I'm not yet sure is a good or bad thing, given the little I know of him (used to be renowned as a power-gamer....?) The main thing for me is that it is an alternate rules set for 28mm mass, ranked fantasy combat, which would allow me to take my current armies and play with hopefully minor modification. It may not be an improvement on 8th, and if it's a copy of 7th then it won't be, but I'm hoping it might be something that is worth playing.

    For GW though, if Kings of War does work out, even as the second string competetitor to Warhammer, it will represent a real threat that Warmahords may not. Especially if Mantic branch out from the generic Elf/Dwarf/Orc fantasy races to ones that don't have a Warhammer analogue (the human races in particular). Time will tell, and I think it will be a couple of years before we know whether Kings of War is a worthwhile game, or a missed opportunity.

  16. Great points here and a great discussion!
    Living in Tokyo I had shared my money between the local GW operation and also international suppliers until the recent imposition of martial law by GW. I have to say that since then I have become less and less sympathetic to GW recently for two reasons.

    1. The "FineSHAFT" debacle. So far I haven't seen a single decent explanation from GW about the price increases for the vast majority of these items. (Jervis could have addressed this in his White Dwarf article about Finecast, but chose instead to repeat the party line.)

    As examples, (and this is where I am similar to Pete in his feelings about local pricing)
    - Queek Headtaker is 18.34 GBP in Japan, or 74% more than the UK. (UK price 10.50)
    - Skaven Jezzail set is 55.81 GBP in Japan, or 86% more than the UK. (UK price is 30.00)
    Both are more expensive than NZ (which also suffers from grossly inflated prices.)

    Yes, getting these things to Japan is expensive, but hey, now that GW don't use a commodity like Tin, and considering that the materials used are so light etc. shouldn't prices be MORE reasonable? Don't tell me that the incremental increase in the definition of FineSHAFT models justifies that price increase? (Although I guess the new material may had had millions of pounds-worth of R&D poured into it.
    ("Poured"...Geddit? Oh, nevermind.)

    2. I recall that part of the GW initial argument about their "Scorched Earth" policy was about supporting local gaming bricks and mortar etc. What a surprise then to find that they have recently closed around 5 GW stores around Tokyo, retreating to their two main stores, including my local.

    So, LESS support and MASSIVELY INCREASED prices.

    All of this would probably be bearable if GW actually treated us like customers, rather than suckers.
    How? Explain openly the ACTUAL underlying business reasons for these increases rather than pump out the marketing BS and spin we have seen to date.
    OH, wait, that's RIGHT, the underlying business reasons are GREED and OPPORTUNISM, rather than better models and supporting the community, so I guess they have to resort to the party-line they have used so far.

    Even if I am totally wrong, I still can't shake off the feeling that I am being played by GW, and I don't like it.

    (Takes deep breath) Wow! Even if I am totally wrong, I at least feel better having said this now!
    Just want to finish by saying that I always valued the support of the GW shop staff, their overall friendliness and passion for the hobby, so this isn't actually directed at them.

  17. I'm a UK gamer and I don't like the way GW has turned on our worldwide colleagues and seemed to have abandoned veteran gamers as alluded to in previous comments. I won't be buying GW products for a good long while and although am chomping at the bit to buy D/Elves will instead be channeling my hard earned and often hoarded game tokens (£'s)into other game systems. Loving historical gaming - Napoleonics, I fancy some FOW as well. As for the fantasy itch that will need scratching occasionally, I will make do with what I've got till I stumble on a new gaming system blows my socks off! (guess I may have to change the title of my blog...)

  18. Just to add to this has anyone taken note of the NZ prices for some of the new Ogre Kingdom stuff.

    Bragg the Gutsman, a single ogre finecast model, is $73...

  19. I must admit, since the changes you mentioned regarding GW and Maelstrom et al, I haven't been back to GW Wellington. Silent protest? I dunno. I've still bought from Maelstrom and other online suppliers, but my buying has switched away from GW products... but I long ago left 40k and WFB behind and was only still buying LOTR stuff. I've managed to get most of what I need through trademe and ebay and have only using Maelstrom for GW LOTR new releases, of which there have been bugger all for months now... We'll see what happens when The Hobbit comes out. The FinecOst saga didnt help GW's cause either - double whamey if you ask me... Prices for GW stuff here in NZ is just rediculous, and so long as you dont need to follow their IP and fluff, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives out there; Mantic, Warlord Games, Wargames factory, Perrys - all quality plastic sets, that have me gearing up for Black Powder & Hail Caesar related gaming.