I think that it is pretty fair to see that if we looked back two years Games Workshop was suffering a lot of "bad press". Visit any gaming site, forum or blog and the main message was one of complaint. People hated what they were doing, felt unappreciated and were commonly predicting the demise of the industry leader.
This attitude can best be illustrated in reaction to two infamous comments by then CEO Tom Kirby, paraphrasing:-
- "We are a model company, not a games company"
- We don't do market research"
Fast forward two years and things could not be more different. Yes, in that time GW did destroy the Warhammer game system (and the Old World) alienating a lot of Fantasy gamers - including myself - but other than that it has been home run after home run.
The change is most evident in the past 12 months - but no doubt started the year before - with the replacement of Kirby as CEO. Kevin Roundtree the new CEO has been a breath of fresh air.
First and foremost, GW have reestablished themselves as a "Games" company. You can see this in the conveyor line of boxed games that GW are bringing to market. Whereas Kirby mothballed the Specialist Games division as an expensive indulgence, the new GW has embraced the IP that was encapsulated there. So we have had Warhammer Quest, Blood Bowl, re-releases of Space Hulk along with a plethora of new standalone games (the two Heresy games, Gorechosen, Lost Patrol and the upcoming Gangs of Commoragh).
Secondly, you seen the introduction of discounting through their "Getting Started" army collecting boxes. The contents are often at a 30% discount to buying the kits individually.
They have launched a new mainline game Age of Sigmar to replace WHFB. While it personally doesn't scratch my itch - being a skirmish game in what I see as a massed ranks genre - it has developed a loyal following (particularly in the U.K.) - and is by all accounts an enjoyable game. When its lack of points caused some resistance it released an update via its Generals Handbook. More than anything this was symptomatic of the "new" GW.
The quality of sculpts remain the industry leader in plastic kits.....daylight second. The continue to introduce new and innovative technical paints that make the hobbyist's job easier. Forgeworld remains a licence to print money and has picked up the LOTR range as well.
After many years they have acknowledged the internet and social media with great Hobby videos, new community content etc.
And they have finally admitted their mistake and given me "Traitor Legions" back!!!!
All this has been reflected in their share price. Six-seven months ago it was around 4.60 and looking fragile. Today it is 7.90 and looking solid. Much has been made of the recent profit numbers....and yes they are good. However over 50% of the improvement is a result of GBP weakness in the light of the Brexit vote, however the rest is operational.
Yes, they still have problems. Their cornerstone game is corpulent and bloated beyond belief. It's force construction mechanic is a crime in the face of its fluff. However I remain hopeful that the game mechanics will get a major reset mid-year as it gets Sigmared. A 216 page rulebook supported by up to four plus FO tomes is a joke and the hope is that the rotten edifice topples in 2017 ushering in a new era where games are decided on the table rather than in the list exploitation phase.
Similarly it would be great if it could finally address the Colony tax issue. Why far flung former colonies have to pay up to 60% more for the product is particularly galling. Coupled with the embargo it seems vindictive and certainly encourages people to pursue other manufacturers. That you can get around it with a free Youshop account reinforces its pettiness.
However all in all the last two years have been truly transformative. The turnaround in attitude and performance is nothing short of stellar