Expect huge amounts of derp and rage, punctuated by /tg/ extracting humor from it.
"A fool and his money are soon parted."
- – Dr John Bridges
"A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart."
- – Jonathan Swift
"For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows."
- – 1 Timothy 6:10
"NOTE: It's our duty to leave a better Image of the hobby for future generations, the time of the old grumpy Neckbeard that only critiques must come to an end, we must reconquer those gold moments when fun and good times, not avarice, was more important."
Games Workshop, known to /tg/ as Geedubs, or GW is a company which produces miniatures and despite their former CEO's best efforts, games. Their three most notable games are Warhammer Fantasy, Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000.
The first thing that you must know is that in /tg/'s general opinion, Games Workshop used to be good, and then it was shit, run into the ground by idiots. Thankfully since a new guy took over it's been doing a lot better and most believe it could become good again. See Mordheim, Beakie, Rogue Trader and Talisman. The second thing you must know is that Games Workshop is the reason /tg/ exists in the first place: it was originally created as a containment board to isolate Warhammer threads from the general population on /b/. Warhammer is also a massive part of tabletop gaming culture history; as such, the importance of Warhammer in /tg/ cannot be overstated.
The third thing you must know is that Games Workshop is extremely protective about their precious intellectual properties. This is funny because you can count the number of original ideas in their core games on one hand, with the original creators outright admitting they ripped off existing works wholesale. The vast majority of backstory in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 is a rehash of established fantasy/sci-fi literature, padded out with stuff the writers half-remembered from A-level history lectures. This is particularly true in the case of Warhammer Fantasy, which actually makes sense when you realize most of GW's founders actually had history degrees. 40k by contrast is mostly Fantasy IIIIN SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE, with a heaping helping of tropes from everything sci-fi that was popular in Britain in the 1980's.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Ancient History
- 1.2 Almost-as-Ancient History
- 1.3 Citadel
- 1.4 Warhammer
- 1.5 Spess: Tha Finuhl Frunteer
- 1.6 For Those About To Rock, We Sell-out You!
- 1.7 Bitch, Where's My Money?
- 1.8 Special NEERDS!
- 1.9 Learning The Wrong Lessons
- 1.10 Ringhammer
- 1.11 Short Term Gain, Long Term Pain
- 1.12 Minimize Effort, Maximize Rage
- 1.13 Dawn of the Great Derpening
- 1.14 The Fall of Warhammer
- 1.15 Age Of Skubmar: The Great Derpening
- 1.16 The Hangover
- 1.17 In Summary
- 1.18 New Games Workshop™: How Do You Do, Fellow Gamers?
- 1.19 Current Events
- 2 /tg/ Analysis Of Games Workshop
- 3 Positives about Games Workshop
- 4 See Also
The original Games Workshop was established several hundred years ago BC, originating in China. However, when the Emperor placed a commission for thousands of life-sized soldiers, this predecessor began to collapse, as with all production being geared to the creation of these soldiers and the murderous ire of the first Emperor, they were unable to introduce price rises. As one, their board of directors resolved that they must fall into hibernation, to wait out the storm, screaming defiance at the one man who ever had defeated them.
Games Workshop was established in 1975 in London as a small literal workshop that created wooden boards for public domain games, such as Chess which it sold through mail-order catalogs (not its own). The original staff was just three men in a flat in London. John Peake, Steve Jackson (not to be confused with the other /tg/ Steve Jackson), and Ian Livingstone. Livingstone was a massive games fan, and was captain of the Chess club in school, while Peake carved wood as a hobby. They soon made a business of selling boards for Chess, Go, and Backgammon.
In the same year Games Workshop put out its own newsletter, called "Owl And Weasel" which somehow wound up crossing the Atlantic and ending up in the hands of pen-and-paper-gamings' Jack Kirby, Gary Gygax. Gygax sent the trio a copy of Dungeons & Dragons to playtest for a review in their publication. Jackson and Livingstone were hooked and ordered six more copies. Gygax, thinking they were a much more established (as in established at all) company, offered them exclusive distribution rights in the entirety of Europe.
In 1977, Jackson and Livingstone accepted and began selling copies of the game straight out of the flat by using Owl And Weasel to get the word out. Gygax himself had also been selling out of his apartment at the time, and neither found out the other group was just a couple of nerdy kids selling shit out of their home. Peake left the company as he had no interest or patience in new games (yep, people complaining every time something new comes along have been in since the beginning). After he left, D&D exploded in popularity and people who came to buy a game were continually knocking on the floor-level homes in the building, before being directed to talk to Livingstone and Jackson on the top floor. Predictably, this earned them a boot out the door from the landlord.
They rented a small office to be the original Games Workshop, slept in a van in the car park, and bathed in the restrooms of a nearby sports club while pretending to be patrons. They continued distributing D&D through mail order but had absolutely no success in convincing established hobby shops to carry the product. Without alternative, Livingstone and Jackson bought a place in west London in 1978 to sell mostly imported American gaming accessories from Dungeons & Dragons to Call Of Cthulhu and more. The two entered into negotiations to merge with TSR Games to retain exclusive distribution rights, but the owners of TSR (other than Gygax, who supported the idea greatly) turned the offer down.
The new building allowed them to host gaming conventions which would later become the famous Games Day. This was followed Owl And Weasel being discontinued and replaced with White Dwarf, a small magazine (originally just black and white on colored stationery) written by the now obsessed tabletop gamer Livingstone, which covered industry-wide tabletop gaming news. White Dwarf was supposed to be sci-fi and fantasy neutral, referring both to a dying star and to, well, Dwarves. Originally the magazine was everything Livingstone felt like writing about, from movies to publishing short stories to computer and computer gaming-related articles. The letters section quickly became THE forum for tabletop gaming in
the Old World Europe, where everything from rules clarifications to personal reviews were published. Interestingly, Livingstone published letters that were critical of both him and Games Workshop.
Games Workshop's very first new product, Reaper (not to be confused with Reaper Miniatures) was a basic fantasy skirmish game for between 5 and 30 miniatures. In 1978, Citadel Miniatures was established under a man named Bryan Ansell as the miniature manufacturing division for any future Games Workshop products, which would produce them in bulk. Although initially a separate company simply owned by the same people as Games Workshop, it would eventually merge in the 90's into one company with the name only being a vestigial remainder of independence.
This was followed in 1980 by the release of Valley Of The Four Winds, a mostly forgotten fantasy game where two players fight over the fate of a realm. The side of evil consists of demons and the undead while the side of good consists of Elves, humans, and
Dwarfs Dwarves (that spelling comes later). Battlecars was next, as a Mad Max style game. The first RPG created by Games Workshop was a licensed Dr. Who roleplaying game. Fighting Fantasy was a project of Livingstone and Jackson, a fairly popular game they would leave the company to pursue.
Nothing Games Workshop made was as successful as Dungeons & Dragons, which was now being carried by competitors. Citadel sold generic fantasy miniatures for use with D&D, but players only ever made small purchases and were not in the market to collect one of everything leaving some stock hard to move. Ansell had become the primary boss of the company, and his solution was the wargaming market that had begun to catch on internationally. At this point, Games Workshop was still very much a small business with most employees putting in work as needed; a writer or mail sorter would load shipments into the building or package products.
In 1983, Warhammer was released. It was created by Games Workshop writer Richard Halliwell and his friend (former mail order department) Rick Priestley (known by many nicknames on /tg/, often "The Based"). Priestley was mostly inspired by growing up and delving headfirst into both science fiction and history, the news of the Atomic Age, and World War 2; all of which led him to the first wargames, and eventually getting a job at Games Workshop with the goal of working on his own. The requirements for the new product were simple.
- Take advantage of popular fantasy favored by gamers like Conan the Barbarian and Lord of the Rings.
- Every model must have rules, so everything gets sold.
- Use six-sided dice since almost everyone everywhere already had some they could scrounge up to play the game.
Halliwell did the first draft for the game and did most of the work on raw mechanics, Priestley did development and editing. Originally having no actual miniatures associated with it, it simply consisted of a single set of three books giving a basic rule system and scenarios. The first book, Tabletop Battles, and has the core rules plus a bestiary and list of potions to be found in addition to an example scenario called The Ziggurat of Doom. The second book is Magic, containing the rules for magic where spellcasting characters with the right equipment and wizard level (1-4, with the highest level being Archmages) can spend Constitution to use their chosen spells. The final book, Characters, adds the roleplaying game aspects including leveling up, alignment, upkeep costs, and the The Redwake River Valley example scenario.
While filled with typos, contradictory rules, and BADLY needing an FAQ that never came (so they quickly set the standard for what GW would aspire to) it was well accepted for introducing the concepts of magic failing and of the psychology of forces on the field. The setting was almost non-existent, and what little lore there was only existed in the flavor text of magic items. Of special interest is the game was originally conceived partly as a wargame, partly as a roleplaying game with actual guidelines for leveling up your general and interacting with the world— even an alignment system! If anything, the game combined the role of Dungeonmaster and player into one as a character led a force of generalized encounters against each other and looted the dead. Every group of friends had a different world, as the results of a previous battle fitted into the unending campaigns of war. A major difference between current and early Warhammer is an extra player was required as a Game Master for a battle to take place.
Ansell used the success of Warhammer to move Games Workshop HQ from London to Nottinghamshire, in what was presented as a merger but many at Games Workshop saw as a Citadel takeover. By that time there were six other Games Workshop locations, and cost appears to have been the only reason the name was not changed to Citadel. Few Games Workshop staff stayed on, as Nottinghamshire was in the midst of a nasty Thatcher-era labor dispute that saw employees harassed.
Due to popularity, an expansion for Warhammer called Forces of Fantasy was released in 1984 which began to describe the factions in the world (all still extremely generalized, mostly Dungeons & Dragons based). Once again containing three books (Forces of Fantasy, Fighting Fantasy Battles, and Arcane Magicks), it made the skirmish roleplaying game into a war roleplaying game with a fairly important magic system. The final booklet included, The Book Of Battalions, contained example armies for the game and included the favored armies of the Games Workshop staff, including the Perry Twins, Bryan Ansell, Nigel Stillman, and Based Priestley. The same year also saw Games Workshop stop importing printed books from the United States, and instead print them in the UK while also expanding into having a US headquarters and manufacturing division so as not to have to physically import goods in reverse.
Later in 1984, the second edition of Warhammer was released. It combined the expansions with the core game as well as suggested supplementary rules from White Dwarf. Combat was the core rules, like Tabletop Battles. Battle Magic is the same as Magic, although it reduces equipment requirements and instead adds the lores of Illusionists, Demonologists, and Elementalists plus the example scenario The Magnificent Sven. The final book, Battle Bestiary, includes the stats of all the factions and models in the game and guides for forming armies out of them as well as homebrew additions. Still having very loose rules, the game was three books although this time they were actually professionally printed rather than looking like something off a photocopier. Paper punchouts were included to represent troops rather than any miniature although Citadel produced a range of minis which were advertised in White Dwarf (although the rulebooks still said in those days to simply use whatever you want), and the very first Warhammer lore was established.
- The Empire was a vague kingdom of men in decline, Chaos was some kind of Demonic extra-planar threat that prophesied the end of days, there was some kind of ancient race that created the monsters of the world called Slann, and Elves had some kind of civil war going on although the version presented in this book was a clash of kingdoms rather than a two way war of genocide.
- Three supplements were released, the first adding the very first Warhammer villain, Heinrich Kemmler, in the Terror Of The Lichemaster campaign. The second, Bloodbath at Orcs' Drift, introduced the first Orcs to the setting (although they weren't the asexual greenskins of today, but rather generic Dungeons & Dragons Orcs and Half-Orcs). The third, Tragedy of McDeath was basically Warhammer Macbeth, involving a plot of necromancy with Dwarfs and humans who would eventually come to be the Bretonnians. "Blood In The Streets", was just rules for fighting with buildings as well as paper scenery. The final expansion, Ravening Hordes, made the army choices much specific rather than relying on overlapping options.
On the side, Citadel had acquired the rights to produce miniatures for everything from Judge Dredd to Doctor Who, and collaborated with many other companies including Ral Partha (one of their most successful partnerships, which launched Citadel into the mainstream of tabletop), Iron Claw Miniatures (which went out of business with their molds and copyrights being absorbed by Citadel), and Marauder Miniatures (technically another company owned by the founders of Games Workshop, much like Citadel itself, which was absorbed into the company in the early 90's much like Citadel would be absorbed by Games Workshop not long after).
Games Workshop saw aggressive expansion during this time, as White Dwarf went from a general nerd culture newsletter to specifically just a magazine for Games Workshop products which also functioned somewhat like a catalog and order form for new products. By opening physical retail stores to encourage gamers to meet at, they got easy advertising as Games Workshop products were on the shelves all around them. Many smaller companies began to suffer and close due to the slow death of the mail-order catalog business model that many companies relied heavily on.
Third edition Warhammer was also released in 1987, and was just a single hardback book (the ancestor of the Big Red Book of
today yesteryear). The rules were finally ironed-out although the magic system remained the same. Players now controlled large forces with specialized troops including elites and warmachines, movement was extremely important tactically as there was Charge actions, and generally the game was considered a bit more complicated to pick up and learn than your average tabletop game. Games Workshop began to push it's own miniatures more and more, and the rules for certain types of troops came bundled with them rather than in the core book. The Warhammer setting was more fleshed out, and many consider this to be the first true edition of a Warhammer game fluffwise. Orcs and goblins were not connected and had females, undead didn't really have a reason to exist, Chaos only really mattered if you were talking about Chaos, the Empire's decline was because of cultural problems rather than being buttfucked by everyone else with twelve men or more at their command every other season, Elves were pretty much just snooty Elves and douchey Elves, Dwarves had no real flavor beyond Joseph Bugman existing, and the rest of the world was just kind of assumed to be like our own somewhat.
- Even going beyond this, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was released which introduced an entire world outside the not-Europe of the Old World by touching on Ind, Araby, Nippon, Cathay, Naggaroth, and more.
Third edition had two expansions; Realm of Chaos, written by Ansell as a blatant ripoff of Moorcock, which introduced everyone's favorite (or hated) Evil Sues and established Chaos in a way it would basically remain from that point on; Slaves To Darkness, which detailed pretty much everyone in the actual physical world who wanted to kill you for no particular reason; The Lost And The Damned which continued giving reasons why living in Warhammer would fucking suck; and finally Warhammer Siege which gave scenarios. So more or less the late 80's/early 90's introduced grimderp, nicely paralleling the trend in comic books.
Also in 1983, to much less fanfare but still modest success, the board game Talisman was first released. In it, players are adventurers trying to obtain the Crown of Command and kill their opponents. In 1985 Talisman received a second edition, different only in that the pieces were printed in color. In 1986, an expansion set for Talisman, called Talisman Expansion Set (clever) was released which had an FAQ, more characters, alternate endings, and enough stuff for up to 12 players to play at once. Talisman: Dungeon came out in 1987 as well and came with an additional game board and rules for navigating it on the side of the main board.
GW also acquired the license to make Lord Of The Rings miniatures in '85, taking over from competitor Grenadier Miniatures. They'd lose this in 1987 GW, which passed to Mithril Miniatures.
Later that year, Games Workshop released Rogue Trader. Rogue Trader was Priestley's first creation, before he became the mail packager at Games Workshop HQ. Based on the idea of having a ship and using miniatures to play the game, and he'd refined the game as he did rules articles and sci-fi discussions in White Dwarf.
Conceived as a Frankenstein's Monster of of Warhammer/Judge Dredd/Dune/Moorcock/Heinlein/Lovecraft and John Milton's Paradise Lost (the latter work inspired the Horus Heresy) with a sprinkling of anything else perceived as cool, the game was functionally a combination of Warhammer 1st edition with Warhammer 3rd edition as a roleplaying/skirmish/wargame. It was mostly just an updated version of the game Laserburn by Ansell, who after the financial failure of his solo creation re-imagined it for Games Workshop.
Forces were originally just a Space Marines faction decided by rolling dice rather than listbuilding, which was added later as well as with most of the story in White Dwarf. The Imperium was given fluff, Orks were created as green skinned assholes described briefly in 3rd Edition although now with asexuality to go with it. Extremely complex rules for vehicles were added, and finally Ansell's Chaos was copy/pasted from Warhammer to Rogue Trader with the overt Moorcockyness removed. Priestley designed the Rogue Trader setting as part irony and part parody, with only self-deluded antivillains as protagonists.
It was hinted at various points that Warhammer 40,000 was Warhammer Fantasy in the future, then later than Sigmar was a "son" (its complicated) of the Emperor of 40k and thus all of Fantasy was a planet in the 40k universe, later that the 40k universe entirely existed in a box on a wizard's shelf in Fantasy, before finally the creators decided both Warhammers are reflections of each other in a multiverse.
For Those About To Rock, We Sell-out You!
Many employees in 1988-1990 left the company, unhappy with the increasingly profit-driven model of the company. Many created their own games, publications, and even went to Games Workshop's (few remaining) competitors. Notable was Fantasy Warlord, which barely sold enough to break even before shutting down. The miniatures created for Fantasy Warlord by Alternative Armies are actually still available, although some were sold to Mayhem Miniatures (which became Kennington Miniatures).
Unchallenged in the market (being the Apple of miniatures in that day), Games Workshop sought to expand its customer base into the mainstream. Television commercials were made, Games Workshop expanded aggressively into France and Australia, and the miniature lines were made less grotesque and more like the artwork. Any place that could support a major sports team was designated a potential, even eventual, Games Workshop location. Later on Games Workshop prospects were locations that could afford to support high end clothing stores like Marks & Spenser or toy store retail chains like Early Learning Centre. Games Workshop stores were designed to be friendly, with owners and employees being outgoing and knowledgeable about tabletop games while popular music like Grunge and early Alternative was played over speakers.
Ansell in the meantime had begin to expand the company into entirely different mediums, and due to his love of music had begun to use Games Workshop as a publisher for bands like Sabbat, Saxon, and Bolt Thrower. He opened a Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000-themed clothing line, licensed novels set in the universe, and funded LARP events. Ambitions that were not realized even included a gameshow set in 40k where players built robots to fight other robots (so a themed version of the television show Robot Wars).
In 1988, Talisman: Timescape was released in which players in the medieval core game could randomly be thrown through space and time into other time periods, mainly those inspired by Warhammer 40,000.
In the same year, to compete with rival FASA and their Battletech game, Games Workshop released Adeptus Titanicus, a 10mm scale tabletop game where twelve Imperial Titans fight each other in a city. Games Workshop tied the game to the 40k franchise to boost both games. White Dwarf expansions added rules for vehicles, infantry, and aerial combat.
Talisman: City came out in 1989 which added a new board, a city for players to interact with the city guards and buy/sell items. It was likewise followed by Space Marine, which was a battle between two Space Marine armies and included miniatures for vehicles as well. In the same year, Codex Titanicus was released which combined Space Marine and Adeptus Titanicus together into one game, the first edition of Epic.
Over the next year the game received major additions including Knight, artillery, and infantry models in not only Space Marines, but also Imperial Guard (1991 Armies Of The Imperium), Chaos and Eldar (1992 Renegades), Orks and Squats (1992 Ork and Squat Warlords), and finally Tyranids (1995 Hive War).
Bitch, Where's My Money?
In 1991 Ansell left Games Workshop, and sold his shares to the General Manager Tom Kirby. Kirby's first order of business was to grow the company to quickly pay off what he had borrowed to buy it, and he was presented with two choices; grow the company with more diverse games or focus heavily on the two Warhammers. Kirby opted for the latter, and pushed the idea of more games in the two settings along with much bigger editions.
Warhammer 4th edition was released in 1992, with changes to rules bringing the term "Herohammer" into the fanbase as most of any given army was simply there to protect the powerful characters the game was REALLY about. This was the first edition that had miniatures specifically for everything in the rulebooks, had specific race selection that prohibited using troops of another type in your army, and had a starter set which contained a two-force starter game which was High Elves VS Goblins. Magic was entirely redone, and was marketed as an expansion and used cards as spells. Magic had two further expansions, one for general magic and one for Chaos. Warhammer lore was more fleshed out, coming to resemble more or less the factions of today. The Empire was the human focus of 4th edition, with the valiant knights having no mention.
In 1993, Games Workshop came out with Warhammer 40,000, normally called Second Edition. Like Warhammer (now "Warhammer Fantasy Battles"), it was built around small units of infantry supporting ridiculously munchkinized special characters with complicated rules and wargear and appropriately pricey lead models, but at this stage Games Workshop actually cared somewhat about customers; models were made in plastic or wallet-friendly, Roman-Empire-collapsing lead, game sets included serviceable army lists and collections of miniatures, and paints were provided in 20ml pots, later 17.5ml. This switch was perhaps the first sign of the next age (and every other age, by the looks of things as paints are now just 12ml per pot).
In the same year the very first of what would later on fall under the label of "Specialist Games" (anything not Warhammer or Tolkien) was released; Man O' War. Warhammer Fantasy setting, but rather than commanding an army the players were heads of an armada on the high seas!
1993 also saw the release of the final 2e Talisman expansion, Talisman: Dragons. It added new characters, locations, spells, and items, all themed with dragons, into the game.
In 1994 the third edition of Talisman was released, adding miniatures, experience points, alterations to the board, and the biggest change of all; it was set in Warhammer Fantasy. Later that year, White Dwarf contained mini expansions to the game while the first true expansion, City Of Adventure, reintroduced the city board as well as a forest. Dungeon of Doom came next, adding the dungeon and a mountain. The year also saw the launch of Second edition Epic, still consisting of two games. The first was a rerelease of Space Marine that had Space Marines, Orks, and Eldar. The second game was Titan Legions which had the same factions.
In 1995 Dragon's Tower expanded Talisman 3e as an alternative end goal as players climbed a tower and killed a dragon (duh). It came with another White Dwarf expansion.
In 1996 Necromunda was released. Priestley was inspired by his meetings with the creator of Judge Dredd during the days of Games Workshop licensing the IP, and used it to resurrect the forgotten RPG aspect of Rogue Trader.
Fifth edition Fantasy was released in 1996 as well, along with its magic expansion which rebalanced and simplified the magic system and included all three 4e expansions. Cards remained available to buy, although all the Winds of Magic-based magic spells were included in the core rules (meaning you still had 20 more spells you had to buy cards for).
Of particular note is the Slann finally being fleshed out, creating the Lizardmen army with the starter being Bretonnia VS Lizardmen. Campaigns were released which were heavily involved in the lore; The Grudge Of Drong featured a conflict between Elves and Dwarfs which lead to the War of the Beard, Tears Of Isha involved the bitter war between the High and Dark Elves, Idol Of Gork was the first time that Orcs were truly Orcy as known today with the introduction of Gork and Mork (or was it Mork and Gork?), Circle of Blood as the Vampire Counts (then still one army with the Mummies) VS Bretonnians as the first introduction of the Blood Dragons, and Perilous Quest as a war between the Bretonnians and Wood Elves during their introduction to the lore.
Each campaign came with multiple endings decided by player involvement (becoming the precursor to Warhammer events and one of GW's biggest fuckups), paper scenery which defined the architectural styles of the featured races from then on (although this was sadly the last time these races got scenery before everything simply became Empire and Chaos), and a campaign book summarizing the story.
At some point it was determined that the stock army lists weren't enough, and so "Army Books" (for Warhammer) and "Codex Books" (for 40Kl, later simply "Codex:(faction)") began to come out, each bringing new models and rules into the game. The last round of these for 40K (Codex: Tyranids in particular) tended to make the army ridiculously overpowered and make everyone else want a new Codex to rectify the balance. Perhaps the ultimate example of Second Edition philosophy was the last book, Codex: Assassins, which consisted of nothing but four hideously powerful special characters. These included this asshole who caused the psychology effect Terror to all psykers, regardless of anything, meaning Greater Daemons and Hive Tyrants would occasionally shit themselves and run for the hills when faced with a normal-sized human.
One notable aspect of this period was that Games Workshop hated trees, and would thus include several million cards in every boxed set if given the slightest provocation; the core sets for Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 both received an update governing the magic / psychic system which consisted solely of cards and templates (which were card). Some entire games (Doom of the Eldar, Battle for Armageddon, Horus Heresy) came out in this period which consisted of nothing but a board and lots of high-density card counters to lose down the back of the sofa or inside the dog.
Gorkamorka came out in 1997, and was Priestley's answer to Mad Max meets 40k, featuring Orks in different groups crashed on a desolate planet using vehicular weapons to slaughter each other. Third edition Epic was released as well as a single game with simplified rules, but it was a financial failure after barely moving any units in six months and was recalled. This is unfortunate because Jervis Johnson and Andy Chambers consider it the greatest game they ever made. Most of the planned models were never released.
Mordheim, the Fantasy version of Necromunda set in the ruins of an Empire city where all factions are scrambling for control was released in 1998.
The last Specialist Game was Battlefleet Gothic, essentially Man O'War in space using massive battleships.
And did no one think of Blood Bowl?
Learning The Wrong Lessons
Despite the Specialist Games being massively popular, Kirby had expanded Games Workshop incredibly fast into unknown markets and as a result a massive amount of Gorkamorka sets in French, Spanish, and Italian were left unsold while English demand was high. Games Workshop was left almost on the verge of bankruptcy, causing a new sales philosophy to be decided upon. Rather than one based on restraint and market research as one would expect, the new direction was "only sure things, minimize risk". Suddenly, the irony of the 40k setting was dropped. The Imperium suddenly WAS the heroes, and Chaos was the evil that always wins in the end rather than these things being the punchline at the end of a sarcastic joke.
One of Bryan's policies for the company was that the production studio and creative minds must always be kept in charge of marketing or the company would die. Kirby, after Gorkamorka, decided the opposite was true. Given today's hindsight it turns out Bryan was right and this was one of many of Kirby's bad decisions.
Plans were made to phase out all of the Specialist Games, and over the next few years the only things available were simply unsold stock. An excuse was made for the first, Man O'War, that the molds had broken and somehow couldn't be fixed (bullshit for many reasons). The rest were quietly and unceremoniously dumped while all references to them were dropped as well.
Sometime in the run-up to Third Edition, it was decided that models should switch from toddler-murdering lead to safe, pointy pewter (or "white metal" as the industry (not just GW) insisted on calling it). This led to a 25% cross-board increase in all metal mini costs, even those ordered through Citadel's back catalog (because those figures from their back catalogue were cast up, when ordered, in the new white metal). At this point, it seemed something clicked in the heads of GW's management; they had just made a ton more money without actually doing anything. Perhaps they could do that again.
Third Edition 40K came out in 1998 and Warhammer Fantasy Battles 6th Edition (featuring Orcs VS Empire, and the last edition to come with paper scenery) came in 2000, both reducing the dominance of single munchkin characters in favour of large armies, conveniently meaning players had to buy far more models. Then along came the fucking screw-tops, and proof that any pretense of caring about the customer had been cast aside.
Games Workshop had begun to suffer financial troubles in the late 90's with competition from the surging (and independent) Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, Magic: The Gathering, and Pokemon (no seriously, Pokemon was THAT fucking big back then).
The answer? Huge cash cow intellectual property. Priestley suggested to Kirby they cash in on the upcoming Lord of the Rings movies with the Lord Of The Rings Strategy Battle Game. Kirby was unable to see Priestley's ulterior motives through the dollar signs in his eyes and approved the project at once, so that particular series moved away from large and complex kits back to the roots of single characters and groups of soldiers.
Alessio Cavatore, a major developer of Mordheim and supplement materials, was also put on the project and it was applauded by the gaming community. Games Workshop blew through the movie material and even began making miniatures based on things from Tolkien's works that weren't in the movie such as Tom Bombadil and Goldberry. Not only that, but they also expanded armies that were barely even mentioned in the books or seen in the movies (the Easterlings in particular) and then bragged about it in White Dwarf.
The miniatures were required to be produced in 25mm scale by contract, rather than the 28mm heroic scale used by Warhammer. Its been theorized by fans this was to keep the Tolkien miniatures out of Warhammer and keep their IP from becoming an expansion to GW's existing IP.
Short Term Gain, Long Term Pain
The issue is that as hype from the movies diminished, so did sales. Kirby by this point had expanded sales and marketing into autonomy, and when the interest in the game died down (something creative teams said would happen but marketing had shrugged off) the result was marketing attempting to drive up profits with unpopular schemes, the first among these being a major change the range of paints sold.
The "problem" with the older flip-top paint pot designs that had been sold up until this point was that they actually kept paint usable for a long time. While the Citadel flip-top pot suffered from shit hinges and opening tabs which would both break after about four uses, a real man opens paint with his teeth anyway so that was not a problem. Obviously, these flip-tops were no good to GW, and so a new pot, the Screw(you)top, was designed which would gunk up its own thread and either glue itself shut forever or prevent an airtight seal forming after a couple of uses.
Apparently forgetting every other company in existence that made model paints, GW also raised the price of these new and terrible things; clearly justified, since they contained a mere 30% less paint than the old design. It was also around this point that photographs of the 'Eavy Metal studio started to vanish from the pages of White Dwarf (along with all other content that could be considered useful for anything at all other than advertising models) since they kept forgetting to hide all their non-Citadel gear for photoshoots. Even though, of course, everyone had known for years that the painters didn't "mix Snot Green with a little Chaos Black" to get a paint shade that was in Tamiya or Vallejo's stock range. Nowadays of course we can get the good stuff for cheap from Privateer Press (problem, GW?), but back then it was just fucking terrible. GW managers and staff also suffered a change in personality, pushing the idea that anything other than GW was a plague, and it was to be treated as such. "Saw you just bought some Knights of Minas Tirith, well, what about a Stompa?"
Games Workshop, highly resistant to change (ironically), began to see the shifting face of tabletop gaming towards electronics as unimportant with Kirby even calling video games "a fad". Just as Games Workshop had crushed their competition with physical stores, the internet distribution saw many new companies begin to emerge as they brought their products directly to the consumer via the internet. Games Workshop attempted to compete in this regard, although they never moved past having anything more complex than a digital version of a catalog and a little-moderated forum (which was closed down to much rage in the 2000's). Games Workship kneejerked and made White Dwarf exclusively Games Workshop products, allowing longtime competitor Dragon Magazine to reign triumphant as the source of tabletop gaming news in the last age of printed publications. Meanwhile a new market had emerged of making miniatures specifically designed to look like Warhammer models and be used in the game. This...did not go over well, and Games Workshop came to be known as ready to sue anyone at the drop of a hat, even once famously attempting to copyright "Pauldrons" and sue over the concept of a wolfskin cloak on a viking-looking warrior.
Prices began to ramp up ridiculously as GW realized they could charge whatever the hell they liked and their longterm fans would still pay. While GW was never particularly cheap, their chunky kits ended up in the same price bracket as top-quality scale miniatures by other companies; today, a Citadel Space Marine Hunter( 125-parts entirely cast in opaque plastic) costs about the same as AFV club's Churchill mk3 (400+ parts with 2 vinyl tracks, 22 metal springs, 29 Etched Brass pieces and a turned aluminium barrel). At some point, someone remembered that back in Second Edition days they actually had people willing to pay for gigantically expensive, limited-edition lead Thunderhawk Gunships. To hit this niche of "people with more money than sense," Forge World was created; all you had to do was get mom and dad to sign that second mortgage and stop being so damn selfish and a 40K-scale Titan would be yours.
Minimize Effort, Maximize Rage
In the year 2000, Warmaster was released. Designed by Based Priestley, it was essentially the Warhammer Fantasy version of Epic.
Fourth edition Warhammer 40k was released in 2004, and was more an advertisement for more models than an actual edition. It was advertised as being "backwards compatible", mostly because by itself it was barely a game. The rulebook was mostly sections of painted licensed plastic terrain and large models than anything else.
In 2005, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was given a second edition which was largely the same but was up to date with the lore, and had a better magic system. It was used more to advertise the wargame however than as a frontline product. This came with a single unified rulebook for Lord Of The Rings that included the (greatly) expanded line in the form of the One Rulebook to Rule them All.
Around this time the bulk of plastic Warhammer scenery was released, with almost all of it in Fantasy geared towards the Empire or Chaos (with some trees maybe representing Elves?) and 40k towards the Imperium or Chaos (with a few Necron and Tau pieces from Forgeworld). Games Workshop had seemingly decided who the main characters were, and some factions in either game from this point on only were mentioned in passing while receiving no support or updates.
Seventh edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles in 2006 luckily avoided this, with Battle For Skull Pass as the starter set between Dwarfs and Night Goblins. This marked the last major change for Warhammer Fantasy, as the next update only really changed by adding more models and having minor rebalancing. Many fans of armies like Bretonnia and Wood Elves were left very unhappy their army was not updated in 7e, relying on outdated rules and thus being extremely underpowered all in favor of an event. Looking to resurrect the dying Lord Of The Rings game, Games Workshop released Legions Of Middle Earth, an "expansion" suggesting buying larger groups of models to use in a theme force using the existing rules.
Storm of Chaos was released as the major event of the 2000's to much pomp and circumstance, supposedly being the canonical transition from the old into the new as Chaos made its great attempt to destroy reality while every faction strapped on their wardrums and marched into the clusterfuck. Players were selected to actually play the factions to drive the narrative, and the community was kept informed of what was going on. There was a problem however... Chaos couldn't win. The bulk of the story for the event was driven by the fact a fuckhuge Chaos army was invading, but the players for Chaos couldn't even manage to scrape out of the starting gate. So the narrative kept going that Chaos was a fuckmassive force that made all the other fuckmassive forces pretty much not worthy of note, and every time a player on another faction beat a Chaos player before turn four the story would state that the other player had barely delayed the forces of Chaos for only a brief time and at great cost, sometimes their complete destruction occurring anyway despite the actual battle report results saying no Chaos survived the battle and almost none of the other army was killed.
In the end, Chaos was given one last chance in the very last match as the defenders (meaning they had the advantage) in the last battle. Even this, they lost. Badly. In a phone-in result where Games Workshop made a desperate bid that fans would choose for Chaos to win and make all the actual promised narrative unnecessary, players chose to let Chaos deservedly lose. So the event ended with a single crazy fucking Orc headbutting Chaos Darth Vader in the balls, laughing at him, and walking away and thus saving the world in an ending befitting a Saints Row game. Games Workshop quickly stopped promoting the event and from that point on pretended it never happened. Combined with their Eye of Terror campaign for 40k, where Chaos conquered Cadia but lost their entire fleet in Battlefleet Gothic games (leading GW with nowhere to go aside from 'Chaos sits on a planet until the Imperium shoot them off of it') caused GW to lose faith in player-driven narrative, due to the fact that the players were driving the narrative.
In 2008, fifth edition Warhammer 40k was released and borrowed heavily from 7e WFB as well as implemented a HEAVY emphasis on cover rules while making shooting much more important. In 2009 Games Workshop launched released War Of The Ring, which made the skirmish game into a full-fledged wargame. The rules were highly simplified to enable quick games with larger groups of models.
Dawn of the Great Derpening
The early 2010's could generously be described as GW's UNHOLY FUCKING DISASTER.
To start with, in 2010, Based Priestley left Games Workshop forever, saying that "the creative team was no longer doing anything creative" and "game development and game design wasn't of any interest to them. The current attitude in Games Workshop is that they're not a games company, that they're a model company selling collectibles."
Additionally, all metal models were on their way to being discontinued, to be replaced with much more expensive Resin kits which were INCREDIBLY unpopular with the community due to low quality casts and high price without the sense it was worth it. Unlike the pewter kits (which are basically tin), the resin kits are loaded with carcinogens; strange, since last anyone checked the reason for switching to pewter in the first place was that lead was toxic (and nothing to do with hiking the price). The quality of the product could lead one to believe it was much much cheaper, but resin damages the mold more than pewter because it sticks to the mold more. It gets expensive when you have to replace molds more often, and they also break fairly easily so that all the little ten year old Smurf players have to buy new ones when they snap them in half. So essentially, Games Workshop not only ruined the quality of their models, they jacked up the prices and made it nearly impossible for anyone outside the EU and 'murrica to obtain it. Kinda like going from fine French wine to your corner-store cheap beer... and the beer is more expensive than the wine. And the beer gives you cancer.
Then-Chairman Tom Kirby mentioned in a 2011 press release that they were increasing cost cutting measures and making more products while avoiding mention of actual profits (note this is a summary, not his exact words). Given their charts, it was easy to see why he chose not to disclose the company's profits (or lack thereof).
In 2013, Games Workshop decided to transfer their sales restriction to Canada, just as they had to Europe. As the United States had already had international sales cut back in 2003, this had lead to a large online market for Canadian retailers, selling their products at discount sales to US customers. However, with this new change, all international sales in North America are now completely gone, as GW once again decided to fuck over long term customers and local retailers in favor of luring more small children with disposable income to their overpriced, neckbeard-run stores.
MiniWargaming, a well known FLGS with an extensive online store, decided to close shop because of these new rules. Their store manager made an entire video explaining their reasons and going over just how asinine Games Workshop's new rules are. Between jacking up prices, locking down international sales, and screwing over online sales and bitz sales, Games Workshop intentionally set itself on the fast track to running itself into the ground in the eyes of long term followers. Possibly due to their apparent belief that removing the entire world (excluding European Economic Area and Canada) from their consumer base is a good idea.
As far as games went, they at least made a dent on that front.
Eight Edition Warhammer Fantasy was released in 2010, introducing 40k-esque large models (and pretending Storm of Chaos didn't happen). Many fans hold that this is the most balanced the game ever was, despite some particularly nasty cheese existing and some factions STILL not getting long overdue updates and having to rely on 6th edition books in a system that had nerfed the core mechanics their models relied on. It was also best not to think about how a number of the situations that could arise would realistically play out or else your head would explode, since this was the edition in which fuckhuge orcs on boars would charge a unit of skinks, and they'd all die before they could even attack. It also had units dedicating their entire lives to protecting a weak frog turn and flee, while the weak frog stayed back and fought to the death in order to ensure his guards escaped. In 2011 it was expanded with Storm of Magic which introduced fuckhuge monsters from Forgeworld that could be summoned, as well as a redone (and pretty broken) magic system. This did poorly however as the magic was terribly balanced in the main game anyway, the additions here just made it worse and the additional spells/bonuses meant to help the weaker lores were only useful to a small number of armies/situations, while the prices of the monsters were laughably high and the rules for them were not worth taking over basic infantry.
Blood in the Badlands came out in 2012 and added siege combat and advanced scenarios to the game, strangely echoing the early days of Warhammer. As Lord Of The Rings interest had largely waned, it was rereleased with updated rulebooks, new models, and licensed The Hobbit miniatures in 2012 as well.
Between all that in 2012 came sixth edition Warhammer 40k, borrowing even more heavily from Warhammer Fantasy with psychic powers becoming a clone of Fantasy's magic phase while scenery became interactive. Furthermore, armies were no longer exclusive with mixed-faction lists being possible.
In 2013, Sigmar's Blood came out with a campaign between the Empire and Vampire Counts lead by Mannfred von Carstein, introducing advanced diplomacy rules mostly involving misfortune, and The Desolation Of Smaug expansion to Lord Of The Rings finished off 2013 releases.
In late 2015, pop culture business site ICv2 reported that X-Wing had dethroned Warhammer 40K as the top-selling miniatures game in the United States. GW could have tried to sue George Lucas and Disney over the concept of a fascist galactic empire with fully-armored soldiers who enforce the Emperor's will, but sadly even they weren't that stupid, and they instead retaliated by refusing to renew Fantasy Flight Games' licences to the Warhammer IPs. (It could also be due to FFG being bought by Asmodee, a company GW views as a direct competitor to their new line of "Boxed Games".)
The Fall of Warhammer
In 2014 the End Times event was announced for Warhammer Fantasy while Warhammer 40k got its seventh edition. 7e 40k removed restrictions even more on armies and simply allow you to mostly take whatever you want if you are okay with not getting some bonuses, although you get advantages for sticking to groups existing in the canon. Otherwise it added a lot more to the game, not all of it good. Notably Gargantuan Creatures and Super-heavies were added into the game and the world was introduced to the horrors of Unbound lists (as well as GW's obsession with formations). They also added even more Warhammer Fantasy-esque psychic and terrain rules.
Meanwhile, End Times... ended Warhammer Fantasy. Billed as the next big thing, the event consisted of staggered releases of extremely expensive books, nearly as much as a new starter set, and new (very large and expensive) models. The books contained scenarios, massive amounts of lore, and also removed a great deal of restrictions on how armies are built; first by allowing an army to be 50% low-level characters (Heroes) and 50% high-level characters (Lords) so long as the default core requirement of 25% of your army on basic troops was fulfilled while turning every spellcaster into a master of magic, then by making magic even more fucking insane by diddling with spells and giving a metric fuckload of dice to cast them, then in the final book simply throwing all listbuilding rules out the window and saying "take whatever the fuck you want and put it on the table". Meanwhile the story consisted of nearly everyone except the Undead and Skaven taking it up the ass HARD from Chaos as it slowly meandered its way through all opposition to the heart of the Empire (read: what they wanted from Storm of Chaos); the undead got forcibly united under a reborn Nagash and the Skaven trolling everyone who was fighting Chaos. In the end the final faceoff occurred between Chaos (joined by the Skaven) and the "heroes" of the setting (both including and joined by the Undead). The "heroes" all failed miserably and were consumed by black nothingness filled with plagues, gnashing teeth, evil intellects, and naughty tentacles as the world simply ENDS. Fantasy fans were left feeling cold and full of hate, and for nearly a year simply assumed their setting had been completely and unceremoniously raped to death while all the resources and time they'd invested into the hobby had become worthless.
On a side note, multiple video games for Warhammer Fantasy were announced with some being released in this time, leaving fans tearing their hair out in frustration at the idiocy of killing a setting, then FINALLY making decent video games for it. This games include Total War: WARHAMMER, Mordheim: City Of The Damned, Man O' War: Corsair, and The End Times: Vermintide.
Age Of Skubmar: The Great Derpening
When it seemed it couldn't get any worse, Games Workshop then decided that since it had made 40k mostly like Fantasy, it would make Fantasy into 40k. A happier, LSD-fueled version of 40k.
That version, believed by some to have actually been made with Skub mixed directly into the material, was Age of Sigmar which removed literally ALL limitations on army building (as in you can take any models in the game from any faction in any number and call it an army, with rules for your opponent to play the game with an easy win condition if your army is x3 the size of theirs) and consists of a skirmish game which only has four rules, officially making it even less of a Warhammer than Warhammer 1st edition.
If that wasn't enough, almost everything was arbitrarily renamed to be trademark friendly. Zombies became "Deadwalkers", Elves became "Aelves", and Lizardmen were given the hilariously terrible name "Seraphon" which, if googled, brings up the career work of a furry tickle-fetish artist (in their defense, the name already existed as the name of Elf Darth Vader's dragon in Warhammer, although the connection between that and Lizardmen was never actually given so its a moot point). The only faction that escaped the renaming was the Bretonnians and Tomb Kings, but that turned out to be foreshadowing akin to seeing a huge silver line on the horizon on the day you plan to go to the beach.
The story was worse still, consisting of Norse mythology mixing with superhero comics in an awkward combination where Chaos Gods can be kidnapped by Elves, Warhammer Darth Vader becomes the master of the Dark Side rather than the other way around, and characters introduced and given importance in one book immediately die in the next.
The advertising for Age of Sigmar was the rules (all four pages of them) and the stats of existing models being free on launch, followed by outrageously expensive digital content that updated the game, the core lore advancement being contained within scenario books that are ludicrously expensive, and a requirement for many scenarios to have specific models which includes the expensive as hell new terrain, the rules of which can only be viewed by buying the model. To put it simply, Games Workshop managed to take the hated practice of DLC content in video games and push it fully, hard and deep into tabletop gaming.
To top it all off, Games Workshop, almost overnight, took down their iconic Space Marine statue that had sat in front of their headquarters for years and replaced it with a giant statue of a Stormcast Eternal (the
Sigmarines Space Marines of Age of Sigmar). They also replaced the Imperium Eagle with Stormcast-style wings and a Ghal Maraz replica to really hammer the point home (pun intended). The beloved servant of the Emperor was relegated to being hidden under a staircase and behind an advertisement for Age of Sigmar. We... really wish we were making this up.
Games Workshop had promised their investors in 2014 that 2015 would be a massive year of financial returns, although by the time of the Half Yearly Report they had grown a mere 1%. To make matters worse, this included the ample revenue from their new video game licenses as Age of Sigmar had been largely rejected by large portions of the gaming community as many stores were completely unable to even move starter sets, resulting in a few months of them being at clearance prices online through third party distributors. Further still, many FLGS dumped all Fantasy Warhammer stock, some even dropped Games Workshop stock entirely.
Considering the 2015 Financial Report of Games Workshop, Age of Sigmar was going nowhere and GW outright stated they do no market research and did not plan to start. They believe that only 20% of their fans actually play the game or give a fuck about the story so in their eyes the plot and rules are not to blame for any major decrease in sales and anyone who doesn't like it can fuck off. Like it or not, Warhammer Fantasy is dead and buried while Age of Smegmar is here to stay.
Games Workshop plugged on ahead regardless by rebranding themselves, changing the names of Games Workshop Hobby Stores worldwide to Warhammer Stores after the deathrattle of The Hobbit merchandise.
Following the disastrous launch of Age of Sigmar, Games Workshop announced a plan in December 2015 to resurrect the Specialist Games division and the games Blood Bowl, Epic, Necromunda, Battlefleet Gothic, "And Many, Many More" while resurrecting the Tolkien games.
In February 2016, it was believed that Games Workshop used a Cease And Desist order to shutdown Warseer, the largest Warhammer community forum other than /tg/, but thankfully that turned out to be a simple virus and database corruption (but to be fair, one could hardly be blamed for thinking GW responsible). In more substantiated dick-move news, Josh Reynolds, a freelance writer employed by Games Workshop known for actually answering fan questions about the setting and filling in plot holes in End Times (as many, MANY characters and plots were forgotten in the event even between books) and attempting to assure fans Sigmarines and Space Marines are totes different, was essentially told to shut the fuck up about GW IPs on social media while his entire list of lore mending was declared non-canon via being told to say nothing he writes reflects GW outside novels.
Going even further into community-souring, the popular Tomb Kings line and faction was squatted unceremoniously in the same month (worse than Squatted, at least the Squats got an explanation in-fluff as to why they disappeared), putting an end to Warhammer Egyptians and axing the faction that gave rise to all remaining Warhammer Undead. Needless to say, this was NOT well-received by fans, especially those who played Tomb Kings themselves and those sick of Age of Sigmar Stormstormed Stormbolters and their leader, the Celestial Primarch. This doesn't make sense, even for GW given their love of copyrights and patents, since the Tomb Kings faction was one of GW's more original creations (an Egyptian-themed non-evil undead civilization) and thus are easier to copyright (they could even have patented the name unlike with Space Marines or elves).
The only positive of axing the Tomb Kings is that it somewhat toughened the fanbase to endure when GW continued their douchey warpath by axing the Bretonnians faction and a large chunk of the Warhammer Fantasy models still in production. This included almost all named characters, while survivors of the purge were renamed to be generic (in a horrifying twist of fate, the very first Warhammer character Heinrich Kemmler was reassigned the name "Necromancer"). This wave of axing was mixed with wave after wave of Khorne Chaos, Archaon Chaos, and Sigmarine updates leaving everyone either with balls bluer than Tzeentch's ass (and Slaanesh's imprisoned everything) or dreading when their faction book came out and gutted classic and beloved models forever.
To sum up - GeeDubs started to fix their shit, but decided it was too much effort and went back on being raging dickmongers as usual.
A report that the 30k boxed set Betrayal At Calth had outsold the entire Age range coupled with a stock value steadily dropping down to their 2012 status in early/mid 2016 may have shocked stockholders, because the armies of Order that were squatted had selected models returned to the store for a "Last Chance, for reals this time guys!" sale on 4/18/16. Within the day most of the models had already sold, leaving the newest Sigmarines to remain collecting dust in their place.
It is the 3rd Millennium. For more than a hundred months Games Workshop has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Nottingham. It is the foremost of wargames by the will of the neckbeards, and master of a million tabletops by the might of their inexhaustible wallets. It is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with business strategies from the early Industrial Revolution Age. It is the Carrion Lord of the wargaming scene for whom a thousand veteran players are sacrificed every day, so that it may never truly die.
Yet even in its deathless state, GW continues its eternal vigilance. Mighty battleforce starter-sets cross the online-store-infested miasma of the internet, the only route between distant countries, their way lit by a draconian retail trade-agreement, the legal manifestation of the GW's will. Vast armies of lawyers give battle in GW's name on uncounted websites. Greatest amongst its soldiers are the Guardians of the IP, the Legal Team, bio-engineered super-assholes. Their comrades in arms are legion: the writing team and countless untested rulebooks, the ever vigilant redshirts, and the writers of White Dwarf, to name only a few. But for all their multitudes, they are barely enough to hold off the ever-present threat from other games, their own incompetence, Based Chinaman - and worse.
To support Games Workshop in such times is to spend untold billions. It is to support the cruelest and most dickish company imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of sales discounts and Warhammer Fantasy Battle, for so much has been dropped, never to be re-published again. Forget the promise of cheaper digital content and caring about the fanbase, for in the GW HQ there is only profit-seeking, Space Marines and Sigmarines. There is no fun amongst the hobby shops, only an eternity of raging and spending, and the laughter of former employees who left GW to join better companies.
New Games Workshop™: How Do You Do, Fellow Gamers?
It was not expected, we couldn't have known, since the resignation of supreme leader Tom Kirby and the ascension of new CEO Kevin Rountree there has started to appear a pattern, sporadic reports of real discounts at Forgeworld and Black Library, and then, in the last days of 2015 it has been revealed that major changes are coming, the sudden resurrection of specialist games, Games Workshop releasing starter sets with real saving, all around the internet neckbeards are discussing and watching, wondering what's going on, perhaps the new guy in charge has decided is time to take some contingencies for the inevitable demise of tabletop gaming with the ever increasing development in 3D printing and the emergence of new alternatives. It seems like the boxes are a replacement for the old Battleforce packs, and while you don't get as many units as the old box, they are cheaper and usually come with a good mix of units to start a small army.
And now, there's an official (as in hosted and ran by the almighty GeeDubs themselves) Blood Bowl tournament going on at Warhammer World on May 21st. Truly these are strange times. GW also appears to be preparing to start selling their product in toy stores (Toys-R-Us Etc.) as well as producing various Warhammer Merchandise such as pillows and journals (For Some Reason). Also now they've made a 40k starter set with simplified rules and all the paint you need to assemble the models. Clearly the sky is falling. (Also they've started making conversion tutorials and stuff, for some reason).
They also actually maintain their Facebook page now, and the other night they had an Age of Sigmar live tournament...
Also a number of the staff now have twitter accounts.
They've also taken over the internet leak game. When a sprue for the new Ahriman model was found on E(vil)Bay, GW not only showed off the sprue, but also the upcoming Kharn model. And recently, they've shown not only Daemon Primarch Magnus, but also new artwork, teased the Thousand Sons sprue, and made a reference to plastic SoB. Strangely, they had the Magnus video up and running mere hours after the model was leaked. And the red trashcan seen in the video looks similar to the background of the leaked photos. Is GW leaking their own products to get the Hype train up and running? Just as Planned, so it seems. Discussions with my local GW guy indicated it was a rogue employee, as nobody else would be allowed anywhere near the new models, probably a cleaner, who leaked the pictures.
BUUUUUTTT... They rehired Matt Ward. May or may not be responsible for the return of Roboute Guilliman (which ironically has earned a lot of character development thanks to his return to 40k), or maybe Bobby G's return it's a symbolic gesture that they have finally decided to start fixing everything.
While some people will never be happy, there are few than can deny that GW has been making a massive improvement in the last year or so with their products, content, and relationship with the community. Genuinely good deals, well received releases and ad campaigns (the recent hero bases one is positively goofy, but in a "that's the GW we used to know and love" kinda way.), combined with actively encouraging and showing off fan input and content (even producing a house rules data sheet for a conversion AAAAAND putting pictures of Your Dudes ON THE MODELS PAGE ON THE ACTUAL WEBSITE!!!!!!!!!), altogether it's almost as if, dare I say it, GW has remembered how to be... fun! They even made a new model for slambo!
Hell, GW is even straight up asking fans what they want brought back in the next made to order wave. Answer: Warhammer Fantasy (Well, at least we still have Total War: Warhammer as a consolation praise)
As of January 2017, Games Workshop stock spiked 41% from November of 2015, bringing the stock's value higher than it was before the crash in 2014. Secret surveillance done by some fans reveal that after the crash a new board of directors was formed, it includes Sigmar and Roboute Guilliman (Matt Ward and Mortarion are teaming up), this may explain the sudden influx of good policies.
Games Workshop has been announced as the biggest riser in FTSE All-share index.
On a tragic side note unrelated to business, one of their most esteemed writers, Alan Bligh, died in May 2017. He will be sorely missed. In his absence the HH released have drastically slowed, probably because this leaves just 3 people in rules detachment for Horus Heresy and FW WH40k (two of those has little to no experience as rules writers, by the way). New releases still come out here and there, but they're about as common as they delays.
By the middle of 2018 Games Workshop has gone through many changes, the first indicators were not mere bluff, it seems the company is now in a new phase of expansion and successfully recovering terrain both in the skirmish, tabletop and specialist genres, let us see the list of achievements:
- Necromunda is back
- And the Squats with them, or at least a remnant in the form of a beardy mercenary, effectively killing the 20 years old meme (although they were at least mentioned again as far back as the 2012 6th edition rulebook). Not only that, but when they revealed his return, they referenced the meme themselves, making fun of the "Squat Clock" joke.
- in Warhammer Fest 2018 they released a photo of one of the new Sisters of Battle plastic models, the level of detail is exceptional, and it's just a line trooper.
- Adeptus Titanicus came back, in plastic, which, while it may be expensive, lets you use your knights, which mean it may be accessible even to people which "just" can buy knights.
- While Dawn of War 3 didn't go as well as expected, a new line of videogames are here, including the aforementioned Total War series with legacy tomb kings and Bretonnia, Adeptus Mechanicus, Vermintide 2 (which has sold over a million on PC), a videogame version of Titanicus, an enhaced edition of Spacehulk: Deathwing, the strategy game Gladius and Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 (which is set in the Gathering Storm).
- Duncan Rhodes and Chris Peach painting tutorials and tips of the day have become recurrent.
- Forgebane has become the first starter set with factions other than Space Marines, featuring Necrons and Adeptus Mechanicus trying to out-geek each other.
- Did we mention Kill Team is coming back?
- With Warhammer Community and Facebook GeeDubs has fully taken into the web and social media, with regular updates as well as regular, if controlled, interaction between the admin and the people posting in Facebook.
- Most units and armies of 40k can give now a decent fight, with long-time dead loads like mandrakes, Pyrovore, flayed ones and the likes now being useful.
- Age of Sigmar is bringing quite original factions such as the Kharadron Overlords and the Idoneth Deepkin, with less emphasis in Tolkienesque armies and more in "let's try to make this faction unique", also they have toned down the noblebright with Malign Portents, which gives a lot of focus on Nagash and his centuries-old plans to take over the Mortal Realms.
- Black Library has worked out to give more deep to the characters and settings of 40k and AoS, the former is exploring the aftermath of the Noctis Aeterna and the Indomitus Crusade, while setting some of the books in Holy Terra itself and its denizens, in AoS there has been more focus in exploring the background and personality of the Stormcast Eternals, their former lives, as well as giving some much needed focus to other mortal races and establishing potential new characters.
- On that note, Gotrek is back, with his first novel Realmslayer, looking for Felix in hopes he has reborn in this new reality.
- Some models from the squatted factions, Bretonnians and Tomb Kings, have been briefly returned for the Warhammer classic range.
- GW has gotten fully aboard laughing at themselves, with much of their recent media awash with memes, jokes, and jolly good humor. The reveal trailer of the Stormcast Eternals Sacrosanct Chamber, for instance, has an opening animation that looks for all the world like something, well, we would make.
- Age of Sigmar has gotten a 2.0 edition that looks pretty good so far. The only big downside is the May 2019 Sylvaneth release was delayed with the merchandise stuck in customs, but that's due to Brexit related political and economic problems, which Geedubs acknowledged with good humor. The new Sylvaneth release came out late July and has proven well-received, so all quiet on the arboreal front.
We are not sure how long this may last, but it seems like, for the recent years, GeeDubs is keeping a nice record, for a time, we may look to the immediate future with optimism (now go get more money, what you think they are, social charity?).
/tg/ Analysis Of Games Workshop
In a meeting with shareholders, Games Workshop exhibited their attitudes quite plainly.
- "- the word “Game” in Games Workshop encourages the misconception that games are its business, but that only about 20% of Games Workshop’s customers are gamers. The rest are modellers and collectors. Maybe half of them think about playing now and then. The other half have no intention. People actually walk into the stores because they’re curious about modelling fantastic armies."
When asked "-if the company would sell games with pre-painted easy to assemble miniatures like the popular Star Wars themed X-Wing game" they said:
- "It wouldn’t be a hobby business then, it would be a toy company."
- "-introducing products at new price points is different to reducing the recommended retail price, something the company resolutely refuses to do. It’s considering “putting more value in the box”, discounting in other words, when people buy in number. That ought to encourage gamer-modellers."
- "Potentially lucrative income from licenses granted to video games producers like the much anticipated and soon to be released Total War Warhammer will always be incidental because video gamers do not become modellers, and Games Workshop doesn’t know how to make good video games."
In their 2015 Financial Report, they stated:
- "The Group does not undertake research activities."
In the same report, the words "market" and "research" never referred to the same subject. They claim their main audience is teenagers, although they also state that the hobbyist crowd is their main fanbase. Furthermore, they make assumptions about their fanbase despite admitting that they do not research about them.
So what can be learned? Games Workshop has absolutely no long-term plan other than to make more expensive models, and cater to those who can drop thousands in a single impulse buy. Rather than expanding and reaching out to new customers, they are intentionally becoming a niche market for an elite crowd. In other words? "Fuck you, you smelly hatless Irishman."
The Digital Age (And Completely Missing the Point)
Games Workshop would sign a deal with Apple to sell eBooks on the interwebz, instead of Amazon (the largest retailer worldwide), because then the books would have to be cheaper. Games Workshop refused to understand the fact that eBooks almost always cost less than what they would if bought from a book store. That 1 pence discount doesn't count. (From GW point of view, even tho it's stupid to put the same price on eBooks as the Hardcover Army Books/Codices, it makes sense. Because if they were to sell them cheaper, they would sell much less books, meaning they'll lose money from the traditional books. Yes, it cost $80 in Australia for both the eBook and the Hardcover, which again is bullshit.)(A load of crap, 90 dollars for Hardcover Codex, 70 for ebook, in Aus.)
Though in this regard, GW does seem to be slowly figuring out what works: Dataslates are a cheap effective means of deploying models without committing to entire armies/detachments. Essentially like microtransactions. While around £3 might seem like a lot of money for only a few pages of crunch and only two or three new units/formations, they are some of the cheapest products GW have released in a good long time and they do also use these to repost entire rules sections dragged out of the codices in addition to the product itself, so you never needed the codex if you never owned it in the first place.
Some of the Dataslates are extremely high quality (like Cypher) and are virtually must-haves, while some others are complete dross (Reclusiam Command Squad?) that were dreamed up over a 5 minute coffee break just to sell something. But with the advent of 7th Edition, armies can be made up entirely of dataslates (or just go unbound) so they are no longer telling you how to build your army any more and you can keep it cheaper by bringing only a few models to make up your chosen formation.
Oh, and they sell them in various formats so you don't need that iPad if you don't have one since eReaders can be downloaded for free and if you still don't have anything to read them on, then have a think about how you got onto the Internet.
Why Games Workshop is Bad and Should Feel Bad
One anon's perpsective on why GW hasn't collapsed in on itself yet. Keep in mind that was written some time during the Derpening when reading this.
Never mind that large groups are often less efficient due to the fact that most people like to agree and be part of a group, even if the group is wrong. Forget that the burden of hard work is often shrugged off thanks to the assumption that everyone else will be carrying enough of the real challenges to pull things through (and that when things go wrong, it's a flaw of human nature that people don't like to admit and accept when they screw up). Instead, focus on the fact that the people heading GW – or most large corporations for that matter – are successful, rich, ordinary men who are blessed by good fortune in an unfair universe and probably don't realize the reality. Further, examine the knowledge that, according to Sun Tzu and a variety of psychological studies, successful rich people with the aforementioned profound luck are the folks most likely to make stupid mistakes out of anyone!
Now you know why GW (or the entire world, for that matter) is run the way it is.
A source of some debate on /tg/ is whether or not it is actually charging prices that make sense for the hobby. All logic points to a resounding “no”, but another interesting social phenomena is this: fanboyism is an inbuilt human process. Whenever money is spent on a good, especially a luxury item, man has a way of increasing the illusionary worth of that item.
Imagine buying tickets to see your local team play football, and they lose. It's not even a good game, to be honest. People around the country were disappointed. However, those tickets cost a lot of money, and having spent all that money for so little in return makes a person feel stupid. We grope for other things, then, to make the tickets worth while rather than admit we were wrong (even if we were only wrong due to events beyond our control) and learn from it. Yes, it was cold, but your wife was there, so you bonded! The beer was too expensive as well, but they sold your favorite brand! You had an experience! It was fun! Yes, those tickets were worth it in the end.
We'll even do this with soft drinks. Even if brain probes reveal a man likes Pepsi more than Coke, going back and telling the man what he was drinking can actually alter his memory so that he remembers liking the Coke more. It's amazing.
GW products are exactly the same way. They're ludicrously expensive. Even people who support GW fervently wish they weren't. It hurts. In a rough economy, it's hard to play the game. You spend months, years – who knows how long waiting for that new codex, it turns out to be awful compared to expectations (hello, Tyranids!) (UP YOURS ASSHOLE.), and now you've either got to suck it up and keep playing (got to buy the new Trygons, I guess, even though they aren't that great), or take a huge monetary loss and give up. Fanboyism steps in and makes it all okay. You're not just buying the models, but the game and the network utility too, so 40k is still totally fun and cool!
Big corporations, and GW as well, are predators. They feast on fanboyism. Like the Dark Eldar, they prey on your suffering and write sick, stomach-turning poetry about the flowing, green streams of vital wealth they siphon from your being. You are a toy (moreso than the articles they sell). That cute girl at the convenience store you see all the time? Thanks to GW, you have to choose between inviting her to the theater and buying that new squadron of Guardsmen. Those of you scoffing at the dilemma, shut up; those Guardsmen are not going to nag nearly as much after you've had them for a little while, so it's
totally a tough call.*BLAM!* HERESY!!! NOT CHOOSING THE EMPEROR'S FINEST IS HERESY!!!
But putty in their hands you may be, there are still some principles of basic economics that imply GW might not be earning enough revenue, and surprisingly, they can only lose more money by raising prices! There's no real way of knowing how things really are within GW without a look at the delicate, inner machinery of their business. But it does all come back to our first consideration: GW is run by the type of person most notable for making poor decisions – lucky, successful people, and a group, no less.
Whatever idiot wrote the following has no _actual_ business sense. Revenue ≠ Profit. Profit = Revenue - Cost... yes, but still give you a good idea about GW policy.
The situation is thus: there is more to money flow than just the bottom line, though often it's all we think of, but basically there's income, cost, and revenue. What is of most concern is revenue, which could also be thought of as profit. GW sells their models for a greater amount than what they cost, and the amount they make is revenue!
So now, there's revenue, and then there's marginal revenue. Revenue is just how much you make. Sell a thousand Guardsmen and make ten thousand dollars? Your Guardsmen revenue is $10,000! Marginal revenue, on the other hand, is how much you make compared to selling one less of the item. In this case, the Guardsmen have a marginal revenue of $10. Each Guardsman made a profit of $10, and if you sold one less Guardsman, you'd make $10 less. See? Easy. Well, for this simplified example anyway (in reality there are a lot of fixed start-up costs, but point made).
Now let's raise prices. From now on, we'll sell half as many Guardsmen per box, and the boxes will cost the same. Now marginal revenue is $22, because every time a Guardsman is sold, we bring in $20 per Guardsman plus an additional $2 gets saved thanks to the Guardsmen we didn't make! This is cool – we're in business, just like GW, /tg/! Let's do that again – our customers are fans, they'll bear it! Now we'll sell five Guardsmen to a box, and we have a marginal revenue of $45!
Okay, wait, wait. I've got it. I'm a genius. Let's sell one Guardsman. Sell it for the same price we used to sell twenty of them! We're going to be rich! Marginal revenue is going to be amazing! Like, what, over a hundred dollars a purchase?
So what's our profit in the end? What! Negative? How!? We're making so much per model! The marginal revenue is so high!
The answer is simple. Not enough people are buying one crappy Guardsman for $200 dollars. A few of the fans are sticking it out, hating us relentlessly, but newcomers to the game see the price tag and run screaming. People who can't afford it leave because they have no other choice, but they're happy in retrospect. Even some of our most loyal customers finally decided to just date that girl after all – one gets more of their money's worth from her (one way or another) and they'll deal with her constant bitching. Actual revenue is at an all time low.
Believe it or not, lots of other companies really do make this mistake, albeit not often to this extent (unless you check out Forge World, anyway. Anyone want a Tau Manta? Under £1,000). It's because maximizing marginal revenue is very easy. It's simple arithmetic, and if your market base is rather inelastic (and GW's market base certainly is due to the high investment requirements of their games), a lot of times price changes won't have a huge impact, so it's easier to focus on. GW is at some point in the middle here, where it has started to become questionable.
It's hard to say if they're making right decisions or if their pricing makes the most sense. It's becoming the status quo that their games are really a hobby of those with absurd disposable income, which is not a quality described of the young men who are presumed to make up 40k's primary demographic. It's possible that they're targeting young teens with parents who will buy the models for them, but that's hard to say as well since parents will lack the dedicated fanboyism to continually invest in the absurdly priced hobby.
Mix in unbalanced rules that unfairly favor certain factions, long wait times between army updates, inferior model quality compared to what's provided to model hobbyists outside of the wargaming industry, and GW may have a recipe for a failing market.
In fact, by using some math and basic market theory, we can actually take a look at how much GW is supposedly spending to bring our hobby to us.
The list below will give us some basic numbers to work with. We know that GW currently sells its rule books at $74.25. What we don't know is GW's actual costs or how many books they're selling. These things have an impact on the math, but we'll sort of fudge it. Now, based on that alone, we want to price our book at twice what it costs to make the thing. In the real world all this nice math has the tendency to fly apart, but generally speaking that's the ideal manner of doing things. For example:
Quantity sold: 0 Price of book: $0 Estimated cost to GW: $0 Marginal Cost: $0 Marginal Revenue: $0 Total Revenue: $0
Quantity sold: 1 Price of book: $74.25 Estimated cost to GW: $37.13 Marginal Cost: $37.13 Marginal Revenue: $37.12 Total Revenue: $37.12
Quantity sold: 2 Price of book: $74.25 Estimated cost to GW: $74.25 Marginal Cost: $37.13 Marginal Revenue: $37.12 Total Revenue: $74.25
And so on. Since we're assuming that every book has a fixed cost to produce, we just get a rough idea of what it's actually costing GW to make rule books for us. Or so such is true only if we figure they're trying to price things according to a competitive market where the consumer sets the price. Basic economics says we want to have a marginal revenue equal to our marginal cost if we want to work with a price we can't really control, and that's what this does.
See, there's a few things to consider. The first is that, in a competitive market, people are just going to buy the cheapest product. That means whoever is selling cheapest kind of wins the day, but while GW could maybe sell their rule books at $20 each, they'd be suffering huge profit losses that are not directly proportionate to the change in price. Instead, they'll try to follow along with what the market is doing, and to their very best possible effort, they'll try to lower their costs so that the marginal costs equal the marginal revenue (or, again, their prices are basically double their production costs per item). That just simply maximizes revenue, since if they raise prices their competitors will undercut them and GW will be able to sell nothing.
But honestly, if you've read this far, then hopefully you're braced for this shock. According to estimates from a few publishers, it only costs about $3 per book to publish 5,000 hardback books, and that cost decreases as you publish in greater bulk. 40k books do have a lot of pretty pictures, so maybe that increases costs somewhat, but again, costs generally tend to get smaller as you order more of an item, and it's pretty likely that GW is not just settling for a measly 5,000 books internationally. They sell all over the world.
So where are all these other costs popping up that should cause GW to spend $37 on every single book they produce? In small production quantities, we'd consider the cost of labor. Who knows how much Matt Ward demands to be paid to lick every rule book before it leaves the factory! What do the photographers want in compensation? Actually, stop. At GW's production rates, those expense considerations become almost completely negligible. You pay Matt Ward a salary to lick all the books. It's a yearly thing. You pay him once and you're done, so by the time you've produced a million books, even if you paid Matt a million dollars to slobber on every single page, Matt is only increasing the cost of the books by a dollar each.
Margins are all that matter. GW talks about overheads and so forth as an excuse, but that's insanity. In a perfectly competitive market you don't increase prices to cover overheads. You reduce the overheads because they're predictable annual costs that you more or less established on your own! Besides, you shouldn't be able to arbitrarily raise prices like that, seeing as how your competitors are supposedly keeping you in check! So really, what we can infer is the following:
A. Basically, GW has no competitors controlling their pricing right now. (This was especially true in the old days. Nowadays, this is less of an excuse as wargames and miniature companies branched out into all sorts of different fields. Thus, the monopoly GW used to have is no more.)
B. They are price gouging their players to fill the pockets of the people who run the company. (This scares off a lot of players, especially ones who have to buy a bunch just to keep up with the inconsistent update schedule or wish to start with a full army. Thus, the only people left are the people rich enough to afford it and those too ignorant to really think otherwise/the GWIDF)
C. Their pricing is not directly related to their costs, and anything they say to the contrary is a big fat lie. (This particular argument is used by Recaster supporters and proponents of 3-D Printers as they slowly advance in complexity to begin making more accurate and good-quality resin models.)
D. You could play another game, but all your friends are playing 40k anyway and you don't want to feel left out.
E. Fuck Games Workshop. FUCK THEM WITH A FUCKING CHAINBLADE. NO. MAKE THAT A DAEMONHAMMER.
This article also explains the problem with Australian prices, in a slightly less detailed manner; 
Games Workshop have sat pretty at the top of the miniature wargames shit-heap for many years (indeed, the scale models industry tries to ignore that they're the biggest single seller of miniatures) and have abused this position to increase their own profits. However, fortunately for the long suffering gamer alternatives are emerging. Privateer Press for example produce the games Warmachine and Hordes and offers slightly cheaper models and starter sets. In the market for wargames Privateer Press and Coolminiornot are rapidly emerging as a viable challenger to GW's monopoly while Reaper Miniatures takes them on using the same tactics that made them in the first place; licensing IP's, and making things for other games. They are the Tau, Dark Eldar, and Chaos to GW's Imperium.
Also worthy of note is Mantic Games who produce Kings of War, a fantasy battle game in a similar vein to Warhammer. The rules system was even written by former GW man Alessio Cavatore (essentially succeeding at what every frustrated ex-GW employee since 1988 has dreamed of) and it is fast, fluid and a lot more "fun" than Warhammer. The company is pioneering the use of plastic-resin alloy (or 'restic') as a cost effective alternative to pewter. Oh, and equivalent plastic models cost about HALF what GW charge (e.g. GW High Elf Spearmen (16 models) - £20, Mantic Games Elf Spearmen (20 models) - £13.99) the trade-off however is that Mantic models look like hammered dogshit. Mantic are basically the war gaming equivalent of Asylum films.
One can only hope that these new upstarts will beat down GWs monopolistic hold on the wargame market.
A Sobering Look at GW's Near Collapse
On top of all the other financial considerations involved with a company like Games Workshop, there's one major concern that was probably gravely overlooked by the company as it raised prices and cut smaller retailers out of the picture: a concept called "network utility". A lot of products are useless unless they're used by a ton of people. A fax machine is a good example - if everyone owns a fax machine, then one person can use his own fax machine to send pictures of his ass to everyone on earth. That's a good value for a single person, and really makes the fax machine worth buying! However, if fewer people buy fax machines, it becomes less and less desirable to own one. After all, why buy a machine that's only capable of sending a picture of your butt to your grandmother, the only other person who still has a machine? Grandma is never impressed, anyway.
A similar concept exists with GW, and they've ignored it over the past couple of years, especially as they've cut models out of starter sets to reduce costs. If you go down to your local game store and everyone is playing Warhammer 40k, not only are you more likely to get into it because of friendly recommendations, but you're also likely to start playing because you know everyone has an army and everyone can play with you! Even if you aren't personal friends with the folks at your local game store, you know that anywhere you go, the people you meet at the FLGS can play the game with you!
Well, several things have happened to the hobby. First and foremost, the models have gotten more expensive; granted, many models only scaled in price with inflation, but since wages have largely stagnated in a lot of markets these past couple decades, to the typical consumer the costs still feel like they've gone up and the players notice the hikes. When a product gets more expensive, people naturally quit buying it. This thins the herd.
Meanwhile, GW also drags its feet when it comes to codex updates, and when it does update, there's no telling whether or not a new codex is going to be a complete load of shit. The Tyranid codex being a huge let down for two editions running is probably one of the most critical examples. Anyone who collected Tyranids as a main army has pretty well given up hope by now, and they've quit collecting. Other players with armies in similar straits, likely feeling abandoned during 5th edition when GW focused exclusively on Space Marines, have also probably drifted away from the hobby. Of course, there have also been a few people who just quit playing out of disgust because their local meta was a bit too hardcore and there was no way to win games without exploiting the broken, disjointed lack of balance.
Although Games Workshop continued to hike up prices and showed fantastic profits in the short term, these issues probably alienated too many people, and as they roll along with the next edition and new codices, they're probably discovering, with great horror, that there aren't enough players buying into it anymore. Worse, the effect can snowball out of control, and GW will probably lose their market control in one big flash of failure. Almost overnight, it'll suddenly seem that 40k has evaporated.
When there are too few players in the game, it's no longer true that you can go to your FLGS and play with any stranger in the store. There's always that one guy - that rich asshole who owns every army in the book and consequently has some of the most boring, broken, frustrating army lists to play against. But do you really want to play against that guy every single weekend? Eventually, you quit showing up to play 40k as well, and once you're gone, even that dick with all his money has no more reason to play. The final pillar falls, and Games Workshop is no more.
In other words, the player base has always been the most important foundation of the company, and it was always GW's greatest strength. Not the model quality, not the rules, not the setting or any of the IP that they keep suing their fans over. The reason Games Workshop dominated was because everyone played their games. As soon as that's no longer the case, the company can't save itself by releasing new models or updating the rules. Their reign is over. They topple, because the foundations have shrunk.
GW The Bully
Games Workshop has long had a history of being one of the most litigious companies in regards to its IP in existence. One needs look no further than our own Pauldrons article to get an idea of how bad it is, in that it uses its designs to openly fight any company that dares have any remote similarity to its own models in any way, shape, or form. You have any wargame with armored dudes with big pauldrons? Lawsuit. You run a company that makes third-party components for existing models? Lawsuit. You make anything remotely resembling any GW IP ever and aren't a massive company that could actually contest the giant copyright stick GW is swinging around and make them look like the idiots they are? LAWSUIT.
Whilst GW has a lengthy history of overstepping boundaries in its war to enforce its copyright, it only recently decided to go nuclear. In 2013, GW launched the claim that it owns the phrase Space Marine, ignoring that sci-fi has used the terminology for the better part of eighty years (and showing their hypocrisy as Games Workshop shamelessly stole the term 'Eldar' from Tolkien; yes, he invented the word 'Eldar'). The story in question "Spots the Space Marine" is about a middle age housewife, nicknamed Spots, being recalled back to the Marine corp (ie a Real Marine, in space) to fight giant enemy crabs (in space). It had nothing to do with GW's Space Marines or the Warhammer 40K setting.
- The History of the term "Space Marine"; The term 'Space Marine' was made famous by sci-fi author Bob Olsen (real name; Alfred Johannes Olsen, 1884-1956), who may be the true creator of the term. He first used 'Space Marine' in his short story "Captain Brink of the Space Marines" from his "Amazing Stories" series, first published in 1932. Warhammer 40K started as the Second Edition of Rogue Trader and was released in 1993, while Rogue Trader itself was released in 1987. Games Workshop was founded in 1975; even its oldest founding member (Ian Livingstone) was born in 1949. Therefore the term Space Marine was in use for forty-three years before Games Workshop existed (even James Cameron has more right to trade mark the term than GW, as his 1986 movie 'Aliens' came out one year before Rogue Trader did).
Clearly GW needs to sue Bob Olsen. Sarcastic jokes aside, seeing GW fall on their ass for trying to sue Bob Olsen, the rightful owner of the term 'Space Marine' (also remember he died over fifty years ago), would be hilarious. Even in 2026 (seventy years after Bob Olsen died) when the term Space Marine should become public domain, that doesn't help GW as they can no longer trade mark it then.
This means that what GW tried to do was plagiarism, which is a direct violation of copyright law. Games Workshop's strategy to make "space marine" less generic involved launching high profile, bullying attacks on every professional author or artist who isn't associated with a huge company who uses it, so that there may yet come a day when people hearing the phrase immediately conclude that it must be related to Games Workshop, because everyone knows what enormous cocks they are whenever anyone else uses the phrase. These attacks were not, again, targeted at any opponent that could credibly fight back; this is because if it actually came to attempts to litigate over the phrase, GW would be laughed out of court. It wasn't not going to stop GW from being cocks, though. In fact, as of 2014, Games Workshop's website still has 'Space Marine' listed as one of their copyrights. This copyright backlash made them rename the Imperial Guard "Astra Militarum" (This is not the correct Latin declension for "Star Military." If it was the correct declension, then it would be just as hard to trade mark as "Imperial Guard"), but their hard-on for Space Marines stopped GW from renaming the codex something original, such as "Adeptus Astartes".
After the failure and fiasco of the suit against Spots the Space Marine, GW would post a lengthy and self defeating rant on their own Facebook page, which basically displayed the ignorance of those writing the post. Shortly afterwards, the Facebook page went down after the backlash it caused. Several who queried GW over the pages removal were told that GW wished for the experience with the fanbase to be more personal, thus people should be following their own GW stores.
Their bullying came back to bite them in the ass after a failed attempt at suing third-party manufacturer ChapterHouse Studios; when they refused to back down from GW's threats to sue them for making unauthorized models (specifically Mycetic Spores, the Doom of Malan'tai, and the Parasite of Mortrex), the lawsuit went to court- which GW failed to argue the majority of alleged copyright breaches. Apparently, just writing up the rules for a model doesn't give you the sole rights to making that model after all. Undaunted, GW did the next best thing-they removed the offending entries from the Tyranid codex, cutting off its nose to spite its face. Way to put the customer first, GeeDubs.
Now, despite their changes for the better, their hypocrisy has also come back to haunt them, as of August 2017 Games Workshop is being sued in the US to the tune of 62.5 million for, among other things "...stolen Intellectual property of others to establish it’s Warhammer 40,000 game in the 1980s" Fans either feel bad, worry about the future of the hobby or cheer that what goes around comes around (the latter since GW sued people for far less; see "Spots the Space Marine" above). However, given that the lawsuit is bizarre, poorly written, has some truly shaky legal understanding (H.R Giger does not own the idea of aliens who use other species for their reproductive cycle), and makes some truly outlandish accusations such as unironically calling a corporation like Games Workshop European Communists in what can only be said to be the most stereotypically Americuntish thing ever put in a lawsuit; Moore's case is almost definitely going to fall apart. And did. Case dismissed as of October 2017.
Of course GW's early copyright mistakes have also bit them in the ass; Tony Ackland still owns his Daemon designs as discussed above, and Kev Adams was only ever sculpting generic greenskins which he still owns the molds for. Both lend their talents (and IP work) to the company Knightmare Miniatures, who produce Daemons based on the original Realm of Chaos art, the scults of Kev's greenskins both new and old, and a number of 40k-related works as well. If you're wondering why GW never went after them, the two are VERY popular among the tabletop gamer community so they could easily raise the funds needed to defend themselves in court (Kev himself has already demonstrated that given the money the community raised to fund surgeries for him after he got stabbed in the fucking eye by a burglar), and since GW themselves ripped off their work the same way most 3rd party companies rip off theirs then there's always a chance they could lose the rights to make Daemonettes/Plaguebearers/Horrors/Bloodletters/Black Orcs/Night Goblins and so on in a countersuit.
In the grim darkness of the near future, there are only price raises.
GW is infamous for their steep prices, and they would have been replaced by a more reasonable company for gaming dominance if their popularity wasn't XBOXHUEG compared to their competitors. These price hikes have been around forever, as the rise of video games (people buying fewer models in general over time) and currency inflation have necessitated "adaptation to a more niche market". The infamous price hikes that /tg/ will remember (and be ass-mad about) forever occurred within the decade span from 2005 to 2015. Between these dates, it is safe to say that every model kit raised its price 150%, with some kits doubling in price. Note that /tg/ came into being during the price hikes, and spent most of it's lifetime (and all of it's formative years) suffering under them.
Games Workshop also have a nasty habit of making prices proportional to how good a model/unit is in-game, rather than the actual cost of materials and manufacture.
Of course, if we really want to stop the price hikes, /tg/ should probably start a legitimate campaign to give perspective and shine the spotlight on other wargames like Warmachine, but /tg/ can't get REAL shit done!
Positives about Games Workshop
Take this as virtues that outshine the bad, being damned with faint praise or anything in between as you will...
- Their art departments are (usually) top notch.
- GW has legitimately good customer service. If you order something from them and it gets lost in the mail or it's got a botched cast on the sprue, they will replace it without hesitation, and stick a warp drive on it to make sure you get it as soon as possible.
- They have influenced the entire fantasy genre from staples like green orcs and Meso lizardfolk to evolving wargames and creating the modern fantasy miniature market.
- The current Games Workshop stock values, and articles on their financial status.
- Counts As
- C.S. Goto
- Matthew Ward
- Black Library
- Citadel Miniatures
- Forge World
- This Video
- A measured response to changes in the Trade Agreement
- Citadel Combat Cards
- 40K Rules Blooper Reel, for GW's long history of shoddy editing
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