Thursday, April 28, 2016

Age of Sigmar Analysis from Warseer

I don't frequent Warseer very often but with the hype around the new "Three Ways to Play", earlier this week I visited both it and Dakka Dakka. There was the usual internet hyperbole both pro-AoS and anti the system - and not much reasoned analysis.

However I did find the snippet below from Hastings who is one of the GW rumour oracles (generally he and "Harry" have a view into both the company and future releases.

I have reproduced it here because I think it is a good read. How true it is I'm not sure but as I said in the past Hastings has proved to have his finger on the pulse.

Be aware I am open to charges of confirmation bias here because it supports my view that AoS is doing very poorly.

I guess the important question is:

Why would GW change tack so dramatically nine months after the product launch and travel down a road they had previously been so dismissive of?

Remember all the lines around "our customers are collectors" and "we don't do market research", well I think a few chickens have returned home to roost.

Have a read of the below and then I'd be interested to hear your take on it.


Let’s look at Age Of Sigmar (AOS) vs. WFB “spending”.

Let’s imagine the costs for development were GBP 5 and the cost of production of each box after development were GBP 1 and a box retails at GBP 10. That means if you only sell one box you have made only GBP 4, i.e. sale is GBP 10 minus GBP 5 for development and GBP 1 for production. If you sell 2 boxes your profit becomes bigger, example GBP 20 to buy 2 boxes, minus GBP 5 development, minus GBP 2 production costs equals a profit of GBP 13. Obviously the more units you sell the more profit after you have paid for that initial development fee.

This is where GW got greedy, initially not so much, but towards the end of WFB they certainly made starting out in WFB harder.

A basic unit for WFB was say 40 infantry (4 boxes)(certainly under 8th) that would be a total spend of GBP 40, minus GBP 5 dev, minus GBP 4 production, that’s GBP 31 profit on the 4 boxes, or GBP 7.75 per box. Now let’s look at AoS, a unit no longer needs to be large, in fact as a skirmish game you are probably looking at say 20 models, that’s 2 boxes. So that’s GBP 20 sales, minus GBP 5 dev minus GBP 2 prod, that’s a profit of GBP 13, or GBP 6.5 per box.

Herein lies the problem, to support the AoS business model you either have to:

A/ sell in much larger volume, however as a skirmish game it is not promoted in game to buy multiples of each box, it serves no real purpose or

B/ increase the sale cost of a box from 10gbp to say 15gbp to account for less sales of each unit.

However GW are reporting reduced sales DESPITE having raising the sales cost, this makes the model unsustainable where the outcome is one of three things. You end up selling very small amounts of units at a very high price or you reduce dev costs to maximise profit but at the expense of quality or you find a way to start selling multiple boxes of the same product again, it’s almost a vicious circle and one that outpriced WFB players which in turn then goes back round to reduced sales. Without the sales volume improving I cannot see how GW will be able to continue supporting AoS, either that or they end up with a very small customer base that will pay whatever they ask . Neither is good for growth or sustainability.

AoS is selling worse than WFB did, it’s popularity is much lower, if GW don’t reach out and get someone to start buying/playing do you think GW will support AoS for very long if it is actually making them less money than WFB did???

That’s what this 3 ways to play is all about, they have got to try and appeal to a bigger market, because the market they selected (picked at random) is not spending enough money. Hence the very very early warning to shareholders despite having 2 very popular launches (BaC and DW:O) AND some well received 40k releases….. this should at least be some kind of indication of how much AoS tanked even for the most ardent fan of it.

…I don’t like AoS but that doesn’t mean I’m going to make up that it isn’t selling well because I don’t like it! As I posted before my brother bought it and does quite like it (although struggles to find a game). I am reporting back on poor sales of the product, and there is LOTS of evidence that supports that, here are some examples:-
  • Any polls run on this or other sites come back with the same/similar results 80% negative to AoS.
  • The game and indeed in some places 40k have been dropped at clubs all over and replaced by KoW etc.
  • Many stockists still have much of their original launch stock of AoS.
  • Limited Edition books fail to sell out even in very small print runs WORLDWIDE, WFB sold out bigger print runs sometimes in hours.
There are obviously more coincidental occurrences but I really can’t be bothered to justify that I am reporting accurately that AoS is not selling well.

By the way for those asking I do not have information on how other products sold or why this or why that, I will happily share with you all the two things I was implicitly told:-

1/ WFB was still making profit before end times, just not as much as some people would have liked. This is kind of ironic because IMO the reasons it didn’t make more profit is it was largely put on the back burners behind anything that had power armour (i.e. space marines/40k) – and I guess because of popularity that is understandable. And the cost of entry. However the making cost of entry so high is directly the fault of GW, the costs per army towards the end of WFB were beyond crazy, a small unit (one of many in an army) costing between GBP 50-100 is just crazy when there are so many alternatives out there. What is even more unforgiveable and moronic is that there would have been an easier fix to boost sales of WFB, release an entry level/skirmish game, get people buying the very same models you already sell for WFB but in smaller numbers, you’ve already paid for the development so any extra sales add to profit. Then once people have built a small force under skirmish rules let them add to it for the main WFB, they’ll have spent the same amount of money (if not a little more when you take into account the cost of the skirmish game) but it wouldn’t be in one big stupid hit!

2/ Sales of AoS are poor, and it doesn’t have a strong sales/customer base anywhere world wide. In some countries it is all but dead already, in others there is a small and slowly growing community, however these are not near the levels WFB had before it was decided to be scrapped (and this means sales BEFORE end times spike). The reception of the game from the wider community has been overwhelmingly negative, from the ruleset, to the background material.

Normally new systems get a sales spike, and last a few years, not require change inside of a year to try and broaden the appeal. This is not the fault of AoS though, more so the lack of an original target audience. It wasn’t intended for the existing fantasy crowd as they weren’t buying enough, yet no research was done as to who would buy such a product, and even worse no external advertising was done to bring in any new blood, they were effectively advertising the product to a market of existing customers who they had just lost well over half of.

So we can also suggest that as BaC was only in it’s “crib” it shouldn’t have sold well either? When you have over 30 years experience and are considered the market leader the “in it’s crib” argument doesn’t stand up.

I hope GW do turn things around though, but with poor sales of AoS AND a very early shareholders warning I think it is too late.

1 comment:

  1. I read that with interest as well when Spikey Bits reported on it - hard to believe its only been 9 months since AoS dropped seems longer