Monday, September 19, 2011

Mainstream Media Picks Up GW's Pricing

Last week a letter appeared in The Listener (New Zealand’s equivalent of Radio Times) from John Murie. John is the face behind Stumpy’s Heaven blog. He was writing in response to an unfair pricing which highlighted how the New Zealand consumer is being screwed over in terms of local pricing.

Here’s John’s letter:

The article on the high price New Zealanders pay locally for products they can source more cheaply online is timely, but the problem goes to extremes not included in the story. Several months ago, American company Games Workshop (GW) banned all Northern Hemisphere retailers from selling and shipping its products to customers in the entire Southern Hemisphere. The company even threatened legal action against those who failed to comply.

The reason? New Zealanders were able to buy GW products online from the UK at prices 40-60% lower than were available locally – many UK retailers even offered free postage to New Zealand such was the size of the market here. GW argued its stance was meant to protect local retailers, but it has failed to justify its massive price gouging and antiquated exchange-rate mechanisms that set local prices at rates significantly higher than those overseas. Consequently, local retailers have not picked up sales and the company is suffering.

Apart from wrongly labeling GW as American, I think John’s letter captures a lot of the points that this blog and its readers have made.


  1. Hey Pete,

    "Consequently, local retailers have not picked up sales and the company is suffering."

    Is there evidence of this?

  2. I think the evidence there is all anecdotal, based off of personal experience from themselves, their friends and other people they have talked to.

  3. Anecodotal evidence only and GW isnt American? Really? I always thought it was

  4. Yep...I think John is talking anecdotally.

    If you go to sites like City Guard you get an awful lot of vitriol directed at GW and GW products. Now assuming that these guys aren't hypocrites that must be translating into lesser sales - that's if they bought anything in the first place.

    As an aside: What is it when you pick up Warmachine? Is it compulsory to spew anti-GW vitriol? Do you sign some sort of covenant that you must adopt a public persona that denigrates GW at any opportunity.

    I appreciate it isn't everyone but it seems a lot of PP "fanbois" [see I can do it to :-)] take every opportunity to promote how superior they are. it's almost like they are trying to convince themselves :-)

  5. Well done, "Fanboi" is the highest form of fanism, "Fanboy" isn't strong enough for most PP cases lol. Happy with GW, and PP might be fun too, but not sure if I could sign the contract :(

  6. People still playing GW games are also spewing vitriol. Those 'just picking up Warmachine' are probably going there from GW games, as i haven't seen said vitriol from long time PP players or those who haven't played GW games. Amusement and bafflement yes, and the odd dig, vitriol no.

    Which begs the question from what you seem to be saying, can you only spew vitriol if you're still drinking that brand's Kool Aid, if you switch Kool Aid are you meant to stop? Or is that vitriol somehow lesser or in some way invalid because it is now down to being a 'fanboi'?

    For the record, i have no Kool Aid preference ;-)

  7. Different folks, different strokes Anonymous

  8. As a recent convert to Warmachine I'm afraid I can't explain away the so called "vitriol" (love that word!) from the "fanbois" (hate that word!).

    Admittedly I have found (in my limited time playing the game - a couple of months) the actual mechanics of the system incredibly sound, inherently balancing, continually fascinating, always surprising (in a good way). And PP does supply and support a very useful, informative and well-attended online forum. And I guess they haven't stopped Northern Hemisphere retailers from shipping south of the equator. And they update all the armies with great supplements. And they support the tournament scene. And they playtest with actual live human beings who play the game competitively.

    And I've never seen or heard anyone ask "what size base" should this model be on.

    Does GW do any of that? Maybe it's not a fair comparison...

    I really didn't see what the big deal was UNTIL I turned to the dark side and embraced my inner munchkin. The two companies (and the two systems - Warmachine and Fantasy) really are apples and oranges. It's (the game) probably not for everyone, but (in my own biased and self-motivated little way) I know I can happily agree with anyone who claims PP is a much "better" company to be involved with as a consumer.

  9. Oh, and the willingness to be flexible with IP and support platforms like Vassal for online simulated play. Vassal is awesome.

  10. I have picked up warmachine recently, almost directly as a result of the GW embargo. It not a case of showing GW the finger, but merely GW providing me a massive incentive to see what else is out there. Wargaming is my hobby, and I want to continue it for years to come. Playing new armies, new models. If GW is going to raise prices every year and force me to buy locally, I'm going to check out the competition. I like both systems now, for different reasons and I hope to continually play both for many years.

    I probably could simply buy half as much from GW for the same cost, but as a student where every purchase is a tough decision, I cannot justify continual purchases from GW anymore. There is a bit of GW hate, but I think they're earning it.

    I really can't stand my local GW store. It almost put me off the game entirely when I moved from a small NZ town to the capital. All my games are at homes or tournaments (which GW doesn't sponsor or help) as they were when I lived 300km from the nearest store. So why should I pay for the stores? Is my purchase of their models not good enough for GW?

    This isn't 10 or 20 years ago when GW was the only kid on the block, they have big, quality competitors like PP and Mantic. Even now as I move into warhammer fantasy, most of my purchases will probably be from Mantic. Can anyone really justify 5 VC Blood Knights for $194 NZ? I don't have any empirical evidence, but I can add to the anecdotes that out of the dozen or so 40k players I know well, only 2 are still buying from GW, and even their purchases have drastically reduced. We will have to wait until next years financial report to really see if everyon is just internet hating or actually voting with their wallet.

    Despite all this, I don't hate GW. It may sound like it when I talk about them, but I'm more sad than angry. Sad that the company that got me into wargames, and makes such amazing models, is making it ridiculously hard for me to continue updating and expanding my current armies. For now, I'll keep what I've got and work with that. I'll still have fun playing 40k, fantasy, and warmachine. Aside from sad, I'm confused. I'm not corporate bigshot, but what corporation in its right mind would drive customers to their competitors?

  11. The internet is fantastic, in that angry 'letters to the editor'can be expressed way too easily, to a much wider audience, without the cost of the stamp!

    Regarding PP - sound mechanics and customer support just can't make up for the fact that the Old World is what I enjoy, which is why I'd stick with GW despite the price-tag, and why I am unlikely to be drawn in by Cygmar and his warhacks [sic?] This does make me a fanboi by many definitions, but as has been stated, different strokes, different folks, eh. Being critical of others regarding their preferences is does not make a lot of sense.

    I applaud John M for his letter to the Listener! I was very excited to see that in there when looking through it a few days ago. Though not exactly the same situation as the AB jerseys (NZ surely being the major market for them, and the market being shafted) it is still great to make people aware of similar cases. At least importing GW is still possible for those with the right channels. Things are still whole lot worse for Exporters, and in times like these, pricing anomalies are to be expected for a while I guess.

  12. I don't have a problem at all with PP. I think people should play the game they enjoy.

    Unfortunately jump on a site like Wargamerau and click on a discussion of Dreadfleet and over half the responses are from people with warmahordes avatars spitting bile about the game. It makes me wonder if they have a quota system when they must buy three box sets and instigate six trolls.

  13. To be fair PP is a fairly new company whereas GW has been around for a long time, so comparing the two isn't as fair as it may seem.

    At the moment PP is young and eager to please, whereas GW is old and complacent. Someday when (or if) PP reaches the same heights as GW marketwise, we may well find that PP are really no better than GW.

    It's easy to say young people are full of positive energy and enthusiasm. Wait until that young person becomes a pensioner and then see how much positive energy and enthusiasm they have.

    Hopefully you get my point. Not trying to sound like a GW fanboy, because they annoy me no end.

  14. Pete - I think it's a bit unfair to tarnish a playing group because of the actions of half a dozen to a dozen people on Whinegamer AU...

  15. That's the beauty of writing a blog james. you can make all sorts of sweeping generalisations and remove any dissenting opinion.

    Of course you are right is a minority of people.

    However the Warmachine community seems to attract them....the proportion I'll label "The Disaffected".

    Strangely it is a rare day when you see GW fanbois trolling Warmachine forums.

  16. I guess GW fanbois are too busy trolling in their own forums.

  17. Exactly Dave!!!!

    The one key difference I notice for "The Disaffected" is that either PP have no faults or there is a Rule #1 - Never Talk About Faults.

    At the recent Call to arms there was a ginger Warmachine player heckling the 40k players "That he played a grown up game".

    Oxymoron or just plain moron?

  18. Just 'plain moron' I suspect - it is still toy soldiers after all :P

  19. There is talk about faults with PP games, they generally take place on the PP forums though, so are not visible for those who don't go there. There is always debate about power levels of new stuff (isn't there everywhere? every game system always has something considered 'broken') and there have also been complaints about availability of stock etc.

    The difference is, with the stock production thing, PP have responded in the forums to the complaints and stated what they will do to remedy it. They also explained it wouldn't be a quick process. Rightly or wrongly, this approach gains them kudos, unlike GW's wall of silence to all but share holders.

  20. A bit off topic but why not.. After playing Warmachine/Hordes for a solid 12 months I found it was a good game but it definitely has its flaws.
    - there is a strong rock/paper/scissor element to it which only is only partially offset by the ability to take multiple casters at tournaments
    - while fairly balanced, there is still a definite range of top end stuff that you will always see on the top tables (eg casters such as eHaley and eMadrak, mercs such as eEiryss in every warmachine list etc).
    - the game is very punishing in that if you miss even one rule that something has then chances are you'll lose even if you outplay your opponent for the rest of the game (eg if you forget that something can be moved an extra 2 inches due to some ability). While this rewards those players that practice regularly and read up on all the books etc, I found it a bit frustrating.

  21. I quite liked warmachine, I loved the figures, and I even liked the encouragement of a competetive approach from the game.

    In saying that, I found this prohibitive in learning how to play "ok, so if I go here, I definitely can't get hit right?" "right!" *moves to that spot*
    "Oh, yeah, forgot to say I can do this - annnnd you're dead, I win, thanks for the game".
    Not exactly an encouraging experience, especially when repeated again and again and again.

    Also, the comments that Pete observes can also be found all over Dakka etc. The reality is, GW has the much larger playerbase, and is much better at getting wargamers earlier. As such, a large percentage of the PP playerbase will have played GW games in the past, and unhappiness for various reasons will have driven them away. Some of those people will be very vocal, and it can be quite detracting if you're not looking at making the exclusive swap yourself.

  22. I've just started playing Warmachine and I've got to say, I really hate that everyone I play keeps trying to sell me the game, and how good it is. They do carry around an inbuilt superiority complex. Frankly, both games are great and I don't see why people can't just play both...

    I also find it odd when Warmahordes players mention GWs pricing. Frankly so far, I've found Warmachine to be pretty similar in price per model.

  23. I recently had a chat with a senior GW manager in the UK and he had some interesting things to say. I trust the source and sincerely believe that is not indoctrinated.

    However, he said that the blame for high prices for GW products is not the US dollar or the strength of pound or anything like that, it is the Australian economy. GW prices are largely determined by prices in Australia, why, because it is the market that is showing the most growth. Despite whining about prices etc. the Aussies are still buying the product, despite increasing price. Effectively the product is somewhat price inelastic, that is increases in price only produce small decreases in total spend.

    Why might Oz be driving the global GW price? Because GW believes that if they can get those types of returns in Australia there is no reason to suggest that they can't do the same elsewhere. Is it a winning strategy? To be honest I am not sure. Older veteran gamers are very price sensitive because they have experience with lower price points, new gamers with parent's wallets are not very price sensitive. As the latter have always been GW's mainstay audience/target maybe what they are doing is working for them.

    The embargo created a lot of bad blood that may have made a lot of veteran gamers leave the hobby, GW will feel this eventually. I don't think they will do anything about it though.

    As someone who is trying to like Warmachine, I am not sure I like a fanbase who seem to be very extreme. I have seen many who believe that dice aren't random and will only play with and against opponents who use casino dice, or that bending your tape measure gives you an unfair advantage. Sure maybe I picking on some online (not real-life) antics from a select few, but the koolaid on the Warmachine side of the fence is just as strong as GW's is.

  24. Just to let peeps know. The local stores are performing better since the embargo, im not sure if the two are directly related, but this time of year was not strong when i was working there, and recently the local stores were under some hard times. Looks like it was a success in gws eyes.

  25. That's interesting Nikola.

    As you say it will be seen as a victory.