Refocus your business model on the sale of a game and support of a gaming community vice the pure sale of collectible miniatures.
This petition had 17,205 supporters
As competition from outside organizations grow and GW revenues and profits fall, your company seemingly continues to pursue a business model not in alignment with your customer base's desires and expectations.
Your business model states "We make the best fantasy miniatures in the world and sell them globally at a profit and we intend to do this forever". What it should say is "We make the best wargame in the world accompanied by the highest quality and best fantasy miniatures in the world." Realize that you produce a game, and that the models are playing pieces in that game, not the end product themselves. Without the game, there is no need to purchase Games Workshop models. They are not collectible in the same sense as scale military tanks and aircraft, nor are they as utilitarian as historical wargames miniatures, applicable to multiple game systems and supported by real world events. GW models are only useable in the context of GW games, the primary of these being Warhammer 40,000 and the now defunct Warhammer Fantasy Battles, replaced by Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.
I and many others collect your models to play the game. Only a fraction of the community do so purely for the experience of owning, building and painting Citadel miniatures. This is why when rules and armies are timely updated and released, model sales for those armies jump. It is not because of marketing through White Dwarf and Online Stores. It is because people want to play with the newest "Toy". Collectors continue with these factions to keep playing the game, not just own miniatures.
Your fanbase and the dedicated gaming and hobby community ask that you adopt the following policies
1- Support gamers, conventions, and tournaments, primarily through well-developed rules, frequent FAQ and Errata updates, and supporting both relaxed and competitive play. Despite GW's desire for Warhammer to be a "Beer and Pretzels" game that is simply a reason to buy and collect GW miniatures, there are gamers that want a system that can be used for competitive play as well. Just because this is supported does not mean that fun, narrative driven relaxed play is not possible. Appeal to both sides of the gaming community, not just the one you want to more. It is OUR hobby and you should enable the player to choose how to enjoy it, not determine it for them. Tournament play alone should not be the only option, but it should still be a viable option. As far as supporting organizers, tournaments and convetions goers, your company cannot interface directly with the small group playing a campaign in their homes. It can with the 100+ players at a tournament, massive game convention or independent retailer event. Doing so will improve your corporate image, impassion your playerbase and ultimately encourage the playing or your game which directly correlates to the sale of your miniatures. All of this means sponsoring/participating in independent events, releasing fairly balanced, well play tested rule sets, and timely FAQs which address the issues players are encountering. The relaxed narrative players will appreciate these clearer and improved rules just as much as the cut-throat tournament gamer. Develop new rules with both styles of play in mind, and if they can not agree, decide on a case by case basis if that particular rule should be more subject to fair play or the proverbial "rule of cool". And if you wish to encourage a relaxed form of play alongside tournament play while still reaching out to players, the old global campaigns and narrative driven campaign supplements can foster this and provide gaming groups with a fun alternative to tournaments and competitions.
2- Reduce the number of "Direct exclusive models" and support the FLGS/independent retailers. Game Stores are where your community exists. It is not in their home, alone, painting. Most of the hobby may occur there, but it with the objective in mind that on the weekend they will travel down to their local friendly game store and set up across the table from someone and play a game. That is why they put all the hours into building and painting their army. Sure it may be fun to build and paint it, but for most of us it is a means to an end, not the end itself. Since the objective of collecting is to play a game, game store owners are going to promote games they can sell in their store. If majority of your product is exclusively available from your webstore, game store owners will not push your product as they lose potential sales. Without that push or those sales, their gaming community abandons GW games, and without the game they abandon GW/Citadel models. Additionally, there are far more independent retailers than GW stores, and they are more accessible to many players. Increasing presence there will not only promote your game, but it will actively compete againt other wargames available at these retailers, and potentially increase your market share while reducing your competitors.
3- Competitively price your products. You have some room to charge a slight premium because of the quality of your miniatures. But since the ultimate objective is to play a game at the end of the week, players are going to financially invest in what they can better afford to accomplish this objective. All wargaming is a luxury market. If a player can get the same amount of game time for less with another game and have just as much, if not more fun, then that is where they will invest their dollars. This is a big factor as to why so much competition now exists whereas very little did before. A potential aide to this point would be to allow sales of bits, aftermarket 3rd party add-ons, and online purchases through 3rd party retailers. This all encourages throughput of your products, and for players to gather larger or more forces for their games. Don't think of it as loosing $15 to a 3rd party conversion kit, think of it as gaining the $45 for the box set I bought from GW to use said conversion kit. Sales for GW have only become worse over time with the policies that eliminate these possibilities.
4- Change your website to be hobby and gaming driven with a webstore section as a single component of the whole. This used to be the way it was. Your website should not just be an online marketplace. Your site should be the one stop shop for painting, tactics, gaming communities, upcoming tournaments, etc. etc. The webstore should then be a feature that a player can access after reading a tactica article or a painting guide. Performance, not just appearance, drives sales of models, so discussing the performance and ways to use particularly models in game can only benefit you by swaying consumers to purchase it. Beautiful photos and well painted models help, but a vast majority of your playerbase knows it cannot paint as well as your webstore and White Dwarf images, so they fail to be lured in by that trap. Develop a community rather than just a queue.
5- Conduct market research and increase player involvement. With the advent of social media this is easier than ever. Rather than just having youtube videos for new releases, have discussions of in progress design concepts to allow hype to be generated and discussion to occur, then systematically feed this back into your development process. Release trial rules again and gather important commentary from the players to fine tune them. Furthermore understand your consumer base and what they need and want to continue collecting, converting, painting Citadel miniatures and playing GW games rather than just assuming another huge kit or wacky limited edition gaming aide is what they need to be fed. With a generation thriving off constant connectivity and insight into early product development in virtually every market, particularly the growing tech and video games industries which manage to steal potential hobbyists daily, a policy of secrecy and blind assumption only will accomplish an alienation of the consumer. Forge World is able to build massive hype by previewing models, sometimes years in advance. They also make great rules and provide experimental rules often. These have not hindered sales and only serve to please their customer base.
In short, rededicate your company to supporting the selling of a game. This is your main product. Your models are the key playing pieces of this game, and will make you the most money. Without the game though, they are worth nothing.
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