Wednesday, May 18, 2011

GW, what did you do now?

So I've been quiet for the last couple of days.  The blogosphere and the hobby community exploded with the news of GW's finecast and annual price adjustment.  I talked to a ton of my buddies.  I've heard what people are saying.  I've read the blogs.  I figure that the news is now a day old, which translates into a decade old in internet years, so I'll finally pipe in.

If you haven't heard or read the news, I'm gonna post the Bell of Lost Souls links below so you can catch up.  Especially useful is the converted price list for this year's price adjustment.

What's the deal?  Well, there's three things happening right now:

First is the announcement of GW's new Finecast Line.  This is basically the metal models being discontinued (including hybrid kits) and some of them being recast in resin and re-released.  GW says there are a ton of new models, which I believe are just replacements for old models.  The official announcement will be on the website May 23rd.

Second is the release of the new price list for this year's price adjustment.  Every year, towards the beginning of June, Games Workshop re-evaluates and changes the prices of current and recently-released products.  I've dealt with this change for many years already and it's routine at this point.  Just as every other annual adjustment, there are a few things that dropped in price and the vast majority increasing in price from 25 cents to 5 dollars.

Finally, and far from mattering to us in the northern hemisphere of this great planet of ours, GW has decided to stop selling to most markets outside North America and the EU.  The only information right now comes from various bloggers in New Zealand and Australia that have expressed legitimate concern.  If you live in the US/Canada, Europe, or Britain, you have no right to complain about this.  For all we know, and we plebes know little to be sure, it's a matter of legal issues that GW has had to address in an excessive manner for reasons beyond our understanding.  This issue can be found here (again, BOLS.  I happen to like them quite a bit for my hobby news.  Thanx, BOLS!):

Okay, now I get to actually say my part about the two REAL issues here.

I think I'm gonna be just like everyone else here and just rage against the machine.  After all, we know that GW is the most evil empire to ever sell games in the history of mankind, and these decisions prove it.  I mean, when the entire blogosphere and every hobby-buddy I've ever made says the same thing, it must be the correct opinion.  GW has consistently, for years and years and years, made decisions that directly screwed over their customers.  Let's look at these things:
1987- GW released a poorly-bound book called Rogue Trader, followed by 4 years of the most horrendous models ever made.  Luckily, they were cheap and made of lead...
1991- GW released the 2nd edition of Warhammer 40k, forcing people to buy more than 12 models and actually play large-scale(ish) battle games.  The rules were better, the models were better, but every damned thing released was red.  Everything. 
199x- GW completely halted production of all metal models.  New international laws regarding lead and its use in manufactoring forced GW to switch to bright pewter.  The lack of supply was long, and then everything was increased in price.  The age of 'Price Creep' began.
1998- GW releases 40k 3rd edition, which completely slaughtered the game and destroyed any hope of good rules ever again.  The codices were thin and useless but the models actually became good.  Really good, especially for plastics.  Unfortunately, the size of armies increased again and, along with prices, made the hobby super-expensive.
Early 2000's- Models started the switch to plastic.  Gone were the days of walls and walls of metal blisters for heavy weapons troops.  The plastic squad boxes increased in number and price.  New codices were released that completely destroyed the balance of the game.  I can't believe anything survived.
2001- GW makes the fatal mistake of purchasing the rights to the Lord of the Rings for a new wargame.  The rules are elegant and perfect for all scales of gaming, but only nerds like LotR.  GW makes tons of money and holds onto LotR many years later after nobody plays it. 
200x- GW stops selling to online retailers, forcing trade accounts to maintain 'brick and mortar' locations.  Although GW's lawyers and reps defined it as an attempt to get retailers to support the product properly, customers still see it as a money grab.  Add the constant increase in prices and GW just can't do right.
2000s- GW continues to release new editions of the 40k game, codices, and models.  Players see straight through the ruse to force people to buy new models and rules and ebay/discount websites gain popularity.  The age of 'Codex Creep' began.
2004- GW decides to stop openning mall shops in North America and focus on hobby centers with tables and hobby space for customers.  Unfortunately, the hobby centers focus on running skill-building and non-competitive events.  Customers see this as GW trying to get rid of veteran gamers by not running tournaments and such.  And now that customers have to drive somewhere other than the mall the effort isn't worth it and the few customers left complain bitterly about the price of gas...
2008- GW stops selling bitz.  Although less than 2% of the parts cast are ever ordered in any real quantities, customers are sure that GW is throwing away a huge revenue-earner.  Without bitz, GW's model kits become more important than ever.  Again, another attempt at forcing customers to buy more models, and again the community sees.
2008- GW stops running Grand Tournaments in North America.  Despite nearly 0% satisfaction with the years of GTs running up to now, customers are angry.  GW claims that they couldn't afford to run them anymore, but it's quickly pointed out that the tickets for a GT are $100!
2009- GW shrinks all staff in hobby centers and relocates Gamesday to Baltimore only. 
2010- GW's North American Headquarters is moved to Memphis.  The staff are almost completely wiped out, leaving the Hobby Centers in a new state of affairs.  Huge swathes of the community, most who hate GW's stores, see this as an attempt to get rid of veterans.  
2011- Gamesday is moved to Chicago.  Metal models are stopped and replaced with resin to be sold for more. GW stops selling to the southern hemisphere. 
See?  Obviously evil.  I mean, it's obvious that they're only after cash.  And not in the cute way that this cat is after cash:

As to the Finecast Line, I've known about this for months now (it's nice having friends).  I've been pumped for quite some time now.  GW claims that this move is because metal is just too expensive and the price is difficult to project (being one of those dagnabbin' commodities and all).  By replacing the models with resin, they'll save money in transportation weight alone, much less the cost of materials.  Here's the bad part:
When the Finecast and resin-replacement models get released, they're more expensive.  Your average HQ character will now cost $20 rather than $17!!!  How is it that the cost of resin is cheaper than metal, but the resin model will be more expensive?  Hmmmm....
There is a good part though:

Now that so many people are selling their entire GW collections on ebay and just downright dumping the hobby, GW did them a favor.  By increasing the cost of the models a bit, that makes the resale value a bit higher as well!  Think about this- when I bought Lord Dante, he only cost 12.99.  Now he'll sell for $20.  I don't mind that one little bit...

As to the Annual Price Adjustment, I just don't care anymore.  I'm one of the few that had to change those price stickers on 14,000 blisters in my shop every damned year.  I've seen the prices change since the good 'ol year of '91.  I've watched the Space Marine Tactical Squad change in price from $19.99 to 24.99 to 29.99 to 30.00 to 35.00.  I've watched the Land Raider change in price from $45 to 49.50 to 50.00 to 55.00 to 57.75 to 60.00.  And now it's gonna be $66?  Yeah, I don't care.  Once it left the realm of $50, it became expensive.  
What is good is that these price increases slowly inflate the value of the products as well.  Some don't transfer over (usually models that are ancient and finally get redone.  Think Grey Knights) but most models don't change in a decade.  Each 10% price increase is also a value increase.  I still have a $45 Land Raider that now retails for $66. That's an increase in value of 47% in only 6 years! Why do I have so much stuff again? Mmmmm, investment...

When I finally looked at the list to see the price changes, I was neither surprised nor shocked.  I DO believe in the Evil Empire theory (to an extent), but I don't think GW is trying to screw the community over.  So the stuff is more expensive?  It wasn't before?  So resin is going to be harder to work with than metal?  Were the metal models easy before?  C'mon, it ain't that bad...

Of course, if you think about it, there seems to be alot of merit here.  The Hobby Centers are no longer staffed to be effective community centers.  That was to make the retail division profitable finally, but it did result in the termination of a few hundred jobs.  The models are becoming so expensive that only middle-class adults with expendable income can afford to play.  And the resin models will be too difficult for young kids to manage.  Is GW trying to make this hobby more elite?  Is GW tired of all the customers and the troubles they bring?

Final thought:  For those of you that are selling off all your GW stuff and are refusing to ever follow GW again- way to let the terrorists win!  The irony is that the loudest bitching about the price increases is from people who own everything GW ever made.  The sad part is that the people that are selling off their collections and dumping the hobby have many huge forces.  Just remember this: you don't need the company to play the game.  You don't need to buy more to enjoy what you already have (except books)...