Sunday, September 27, 2015

Some thoughts on the "20%" article (you know the one)

The film that is required viewing for all students of archaeology at my institution

In the words of Jack Burton, "I don't even know what the hell that means". I don't even know where to start this article. In case you have been living under a rock in the very recent past, you will likely have read excerpts from an article posted by Richard Beddard on the UK investing website Interactive Investors about his recent experience in attending Games Workshop's Annual General Meeting in Nottingham. I would encourage everyone who has seen the excerpts on sites such as Faeit 212 and Bell of Lost Souls to go and actually read the full article. He is the link to the full article .

To say that there were some disturbing, though not entirely surprising, things said at this meeting is an understatement. Let's start off with what to me is the biggest quote from the meeting:

 "It does not mention games. In conversation, I’m told that 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."

In the immortal words of Meatwad, "do what now?" 
"Do what now?"
What the hell is that number even based on, and perhaps more importantly, what the hell does that even mean? GW has admitted in the past that they do not conduct market research (if somebody could link the source of this I would appreciate it. I think it was a financial report) so what are they actually basing this mysterious 20% off of? Sales? As others have pointed out, did some bean counter crunch numbers and figure out that only 20% of their sales come from army and rule books? Are they simply blowing smoke up the asses of their investors in order to rationalize this notion of being a "model company"? I get the feeling that the truth is a bit of both and more besides. In my personal experience as a "hobbyist" I can certainly say that I have spent vastly more money on models over the years than books,  but that is a no shit statement. Why am I buying models in the first place? Well, I suspect that my reasoning is perhaps what the average "hobbyist" follows. I buy the models because I enjoy the lore of the game worlds and game systems themselves. If GW had never made rules or background for Warhammer Fantasy or 40k I would never have gotten any of their models in the first place. Full stop. Sure they make some good stuff, but I would never have dumped the amount of time and money into these ranges (and still want to buy new stuff believe it or not) if there wasn't a compelling world, lore, and a fun game system to go with it ( I came in at 3rd for 40k and 4th for Fantasy I think). This whole article has left me more than a little flabbergasted. Are they really this damn disillusion? The answer it appears is a very sad yes.

So where do I go from here? Well, I have been focusing far more on other games these days. X-Wing and Bolt Action have gotten far more of my attention lately. The Horus Heresy stuff from Forge World has a lot more appeal to me as well. With the seemingly never ending tide of AoS (fill in your own word for the S, I do) releases and Tau up next, there hasn't been anything outside of the occasional Forge World release to get me excited for anything GW. I am legitimately interested to see what they do with the other factions in AoS model wise if for no other reason than to convert them for use with Fantasy (yeah, I plan on adapting anything cool to 8th because suck it that's why). GW just seems to be doing it's damnedest to alienate their customers, especially the long time ones.

Enough ranting for today. I thought about doing a lengthier article breaking down more of what the investing article talked about, but discussing GW anymore gives me a headache and a need for hard liquor (well, what doesn't really). I would love to have a nice and civil discussion about this article and what the future holds in the comments. Until next time, folks!


  1. My take-away from this was: what was said at that meeting was said to investors. These guys only care about the bottom line and the return on their investment. That is absolutely it. They care nothing about the opinions and woes of gamers, hobbyists, modelers, painters, tournament organizers, etc. Just their money and their investment. So, expect what is said at such a thing to be a sort of pep-rally to that cause. None of this should be a surprise, as GW will continue to make what they make and to make games, so long as the numbers are good, they will continue to talk this hard talk to their investors. Remember also, that WE, the above mentioned masses, were not intended to hear any of that, because despite our personal investment, we are not investors in the same vein as those people at that meeting. We are intended to read White Dwarf and be happy painting things. :)

    ...So I really need to get my Bolt Action guys finished sooner than later, yes? ;)

    1. And I realize that. We did hear it though and have been hearing it for years in how they operate their company. I don't begrudge them making a profit, not by a long shot. In fact I want them to make money. It would be nice if they did this in a way that includes the community. Sustaining your profits off of teenagers and preteens isn't the best business model in the world, unless you are a pop group lol. But what the hell do any of us know.

      And yes, yes you do lol

    2. Yes Screech, you NEED to paint your damned army...

    3. HAHA! Thems some fightin words if I ever heard em