Financial Analyst – Falling Out of Love with Games Workshop

out of love GW

This market analyst is not optimistic about investing in GW…

This week company financial analyst Mr. Richard Beddard did an interview with Lee Wild – editor of Interactive Investor –  to talk about the most recent numbers. You can check that out that video interview here:

Falling Out of Love with Games Workshop

beddard investment games workshop

 

You many remember Mr. Beddard from his previous columns on Interactive Investor:

interactive investor-logo

Games Workshop: In Denial

 

“Operating profit was flat too, although it was rescued by royalty income from other firms, for example app and computer game producers who use Games Workshop’s fantasy worlds. Profit from the sale of miniatures and games, the company’s core business, fell 15%. Irritatingly, Games Workshop didn’t provide an explanation, which is surprising since, in its previous full-year results, it had promised a sales drive.”

 

“Maybe that’s all there is to it. But maybe the company can’t recruit managers of sufficient calibre because running a one-man store is too much work for one man. Maybe one man cannot show people how to model, run games, and serve paying customers at the same time. Trials of larger multi-man stores in Sydney, Munich, Paris and Copenhagen suggest, at least for locations where there are lots of customers, one man stores are not the answer.”

 

“Perhaps by focusing too much on maximizing profit through cost cutting, the company is neglecting the recruitment of new hobbyists. Or perhaps the much smaller armies of rival fantasy wargaming and modeling companies and the armies of illegal clones sold on the Internet are chipping away at Games Workshop’s franchise.”

 

~Have at it folks…

 

  • Dave Scammell

    All very good points, many of which I know BoLS readers will have already raised before.
    Highlighting the one man stores is interesting in regards to “neglecting the recruitment” aspect. I can only speak for the UK but hobby centres used to be much more bustling than they are now (helped immensely by having staff on hand whose job that day was to help you to play not help you to buy) and there was a real community feel to the stores. Now as their monopoly on the hobby loosens and more non-GW FLGS are popping up they’ve got serious competition that they’ve just ignored in favour of cutting every cost possible. Once upon a time Games Workshop felt like it worked WITH its fanbase and embraced them, then over the last 10/15 years they turned to milking their core audience instead, do using all their attention on harvesting every penny from those suckered into the hobby too deep. Now in 2016 that that audience has been frightened off into other, more financially valuable, games GW’s core audience is dwindling and not enough attention’s been made to growing it. The stuff they’re doing these days is a step in the right direction (Fantasy-killing aside) and hopefully in five years or so the kids they hook into the hobby will still be able to support GW, just enjoying the games, models and community and not feel as shafted as this generation has.

    • Justin MacCormack

      That’s because, in the past, GW stores focused on growing a community. Now they focus on hard sales, which drives away customers. I should know, I avoid my local GW store like the pague.

      • Erik Setzer

        That’s the reason my friend doesn’t want to go in the local GW store. Still a few people playing there who are cool, but I get that when you have no money, you don’t want to go in and hear the manager trying to push the latest products and acting unhappy when you don’t buy anything. I also kind of get the manager’s position… He’s in the unenviable position where he’s expected to maintain sales from a high peak when people were a lot more excited to play, but locally a certain event in the middle of last year killed a lot of interest in GW games entirely, which kind of wrecked the sales. Given that previously even limited edition releases would see multiple sales in the store, that’s a long way down. Even if the store was profitable, though, it’s not enough. It’s expected to maintain its peak numbers, which is just insanely stupid.

        • Justin MacCormack

          My opinion has always been, and continues to be, that the best way to maintain sales of a hobby/gaming product is to provide a hobby/gaming hub with enough local-based activities to keep people involved. Things like regular campaign games, painting evenings, the like.
          In the last 12 months, my local GW store has done the following –
          – Held a ‘contest’ to win a poster that the store got as part of the AOS release. To win, you had to spend the most money.
          – Ran an AOS ‘campaign’ over January. You got a point for every 2 battles you win each week. And 5 points for every box of minis you buy. Not pay-to-win at all.
          – Tried to sell me a stompa for my new speed cult ork army. When I explained that I was looking for fast, they kept insisting. The stompa is the most expensive ork item they had, and they hadn’t thought that two boxes of bikers might actually be a better option.
          – Run an event in which you get a ribbon. To get the ribbon, you make a pledge to complete a goal, like paint a vehicle or kitbash something. If you succeed, you win the ribbon. Cost for entry is £50. That’s a £50 ribbon. Woo.
          – My other half went in to get the last 300pts for his dark angels. Their hard sell for him? The £80 DV expansion box which was wildly off in terms of point value. Why? Because, and say it with me, it was the most expensive DA item they had.
          – Run a ‘buy 1000pts of models from us over three months’ event. To win this, you buy and paint 1000pts of models and, if you complete this, you get your name on a plaque on the wall of… oh no, wait, you don’t. You get nothing. (technically if you took part, you were allowed to challenge the staff to a match at any time during that time, just like you could do at any other time ever)
          There are some great way to make and maintain sales. If your store runs enough events of a varied nature. Run vehicle-only events, troop-only events, ‘in the air’ flyer-only events, and the players will buy the models they need for those events. Do painting days, let people try out the new paints and try new techniques and airbrushes. This INVOLVES the customers.
          I don’t feel involved in my local GW store. When I go in, I want to be free to browse and maybe have a friendly game, like I can have at my FLGS. When I go in there (Fistful of Dice, Portsmouth UK) the owner says “Hi Justin, how are you today?” But when I go into the local GW, the owner says “Hi money, how can I money money money?”

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            well said. That sounds very familiar. Even the veterans evening campaigns at my local GW now have a buy in of some sort, so I don’t go any more.

            Like you say, make good events and people will buy the stuff they need, or simply make impulse purchases because they are in the store. But make purchasing a core part of the event, and not only do you not sell anything but you actually drive people away.

            Lucky you having a partner to play 40k with BTW. I can get my wife to play Space hulk, but thats as far as its got!

          • Severius_Tolluck

            It’s a shame because in the early 2000’s when the store boom happened this is exactly how they were ran, and had the staff to ensure they could! Why they decide to keep one man stores open blows my mind.

          • Justin MacCormack

            At the risk of sounding hipster, you should have seen them in the early-mid 90s.

            I used to go into the one in the middle of Glasgow to play with a bunch of friends from school. I was only about 12 and the chap at the store once taught me how to make some scenery from a lump of packing foam. We played a few rounds of blood bowl once as well, and I got completely confused by the rules for Mordheim, and one time bought a copy of the Drachenfels novel simply because it sounded fun. The manager would play “We are the noise marines” or whatever it was over the store sound system, and entertain us with his nasal impressions of a chainsword… okay, that part wasn’t so great.

            Currently, my other half wants to paint his dark angels white. Not sure why, but they’re his models and he can paint them however he wants. But white is a tricky colour to paint, and we could use some hands-on advice, someone to show him in person how to get the result he wants. I think we both agree that the GW store SHOULD be the perfect place to do that. But what use is it if it’s a store that we’re literally uncomfortable to go into? The kind of place where we are afraid that we won’t get proper help and assistance, and instead just attempts at upselling? Surely that’s the exact opposite of what this kind of store should be?

          • Secundum

            As someone else who frequents a fistful of dice, I agree wholeheartedly. Asked the owner for some advice on modelling clippers the other day, and ended up buying a mid-price set.
            From experience, I know that going into a GeeDubs store will have them trying to sell you a £30 hobby set with a bunch of stuff I don’t need.

          • DeadlyYellow

            I got my GW clippers for free from a box of promotional goods they gave to the shop I was working for at the time. The small profile is nice, but those things are damned uncomfortable to hold for prolonged periods.

          • Erik Setzer

            Yikes. The worst I’d heard locally was a 30K campaign where you had to buy a BaC set to enter, and during the first couple weeks any models from that set got free upgrades… which gave a good start to people who could afford multiple boxes. (The manager also initially wanted to use the 40K SM codex with some modifications because 30K rules are an FW purchase, so he wouldn’t get credit, but eventually opted to just load a copy of the army lists from someone for everyone to use.) Not sure if he did anything like that for the Path to Glory campaign/event.

            The prior manager did events that didn’t come with a cost. Things like Tanksgiving (all vehicle Apoc), other Apoc games, Triumph & Treachery, etc., but also encouraged people to make up their own ideas for campaigns and leagues, which fostered a sense of community, and people felt they should buy from the store that was providing them a place to play.

            Then again, the prior manager also got promoted to some major position in the US’s retail division, so he was probably an extreme case of someone who knew what the heck they were doing…

          • General_Seedykay

            I didn’t know you were on here! Guessing that’s Portsmouth? You’re spot on the mark. I remember playing a loosely thrown together Dreadnought Arena game there. A member of staff thought it would be fun and they put together a little colosseum. Anyone could chuck a Dread’ in and join the fray. It was great fun, and quickly drew a fascinated crowd. The audience began adding clusters of their own minis to the colosseum seats, and soon there were lots of little loyalist, heretic and xeno sections of the stands. Staff and onlookers took to making small fan banners and taunts out of scrap paper and attaching them to the miniature spectators.

            Eventually, some cheeky git threw a carnifex into the mix. It set about chewing its way through every dreadnought that could be thrown at it, like so much gooey-centered crunchy candy. This thing was unstoppable. In a fit of villainous showmanship, the kid wielding the monster kidnapped a large miniature Otter that someone had inexplicably added to the crowd. Storing the otter in the rows of plates rising from its back, the Carnifex took back to the field. The staff found this hilarious, and added Polos to each fex arm (this is back in the classic screamer-killer days) and had them as incentives to desperately snatch a wound off the damn thing.

            As the ‘fex continued to ignore demands that it please die, the store manager started throwing a pool of random bits and minis together as a grand prize for anyone who could finally kill it. I never did find out if anyone actually did. When I left, the ‘fex was still stomping around the stadium, still taking any foolish enough to challenge it.

            This was just a random occurrence alongside the two other full games going on. There were at least forty people hanging out in the store gaming, watching, browsing, painting at the (free and fully stocked) station, with at least another dozen people or so hanging around on the benches outside.

            That was close to the end of 2nd Ed. Nowadays I go in there on a Saturday with my wife and we snark at the minis we don’t like, drool over those we do, grab a paint or two, and spend the entire time awkwardly trying to avoid conversing with staffer because he may as well be holding a sign saying ‘this is a sales pitch’. There are four other people in the store.

            I’m pretty sure which of those two atmospheres is the most likely to hook kids on GW.

          • Erik Setzer

            The first describes a company that knows they sell toy soldiers and actively works around that.

            The second is a company that sells toy soldiers but does their damnedest to convince everyone they do anything but.

          • Jospeh Boster

            It would also be fun to do a circus maximus type event with bikes and such.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      I’m sure the stores are important, but it wasn’t the change in store policy that drove away existing customers, but a combination of price rises, quick edition changes and unbalanced gameplay that panders to That Guy.

      Its a ‘double whammy’ effect, editorial decisions drive away existing veteran players and one man stores reducing the recruitment of new ones.

      • Dave Scammell

        Exactly! A complete misunderstanding of what customers want across the board.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          it must be a tough job managing GW, but I think they really overdid the use of game balance as a marketing tool.

          Better for things to sell because they are cool, than because they are really overpowered. For each bunch of sales you make to a WAAC power gamer you probably drive a narrative gamer or a gamer with less funds or without the desire to constantly adapt to the ‘meta’ out of the hobby.

          Considering the emphasis on narrative gaming in the BRB, and in GWs editorial content in WD, they don’t do anything to promote it in their actual releases or codex rules.

          Perhaps they genuinely intend their formations to be fluffy, but their play-testing is so bad they end up being a tool for the WAAC gamer. Its hard to know.

          • euansmith

            It seems to be the combos of formations that are the real killer. If they clearly stated that you can borrow special rules from other units or factions to cut down on Super Friends, they would go some way towards mitigating their rather louche approach to rule writing.

            It would be great if they followed up their “Getting Started With…” boxes with some similarly priced, “Expanding Your…” sets.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. That’s be awesome. Sadly if anything GW has been moving away from clarifying rules. I just don’t get it…

  • Axis Mundi

    I suspect GW have created a “lost generation” with their business practices over the last five years – I certainly know quite a lot of gamers who are thoroughly disenchanted with them, to an extent that’s hard to imagine healing any time soon.

    But there is no doubt that GW are doing things differently now – some (AoS of course) terribly unpopular with the above ex-customers, but some hard to argue against, such as the Start Collecting sets. If Kirby was still in charge, I’d say this analysis was spot on – but I think GW have one last roll of the dice in them.

    • euansmith

      Is that 120D6, re-rolling 1s?

    • Erik Setzer

      Kirby’s still in a position of serious influence (and getting paid nicely for it).

      Start Collecting! boxes are nice, sure… but then you look beyond that. Okay, so a new gamer can play a very small game with those, theoretically. Hmm. But to actually be able to play, they still need a rulebook ($85, doubling their investment) and a codex (anywhere from $50 to $66 depending on faction). So that $85 to get started is now $180+ just to have a very small army that’s clearly the extreme minimum to play a game. (Plus templates, if you need them.)

      Rountree promised they wouldn’t reduce any prices, which means he’s vowing not to correct bad prices like the Witch Elves boxed set, which left a lot of people looking for alternatives… including converting Dark Eldar Wyches that are half the price. So he vowed to hold by existing decisions that were stupid. Ditto for the price of books. These things only get more insane looking when a new product comes out with a better price, i.e. the codex-sized Death Grand Alliance book for just $16.50 (1/3 the cost of a standard codex!), or the massive Chaos GA book for $33 (three times the size of a standard codex for 2/3 the price). The refusal to then adjust the price of existing products looks ridiculous. And, of course, we still see new units released with silly price points (Archaon, the 3-for-$100 cavalry unit) or models repackaged to require a more expensive buy-in (Bloodcrushers repackaged to be a $100 box).

      That’s before you get into the issues with stores, or the game rules, or White Dwarf being turned into a sales flyer they actually charge you for.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        well said, the Start Collecting boxes are great but barriers to entry are still high.

        The new kids game is good, as are the stand alone games, but they are not a substitute for a skirmish 40K variant.

        • ZeeLobby

          Really hoping deathwatch fills that niche. But I’m sure it’ll be another boardgame.

        • Mr_Pickles

          Maybe GW could look at Spartan Games’ Taskforce venture with their Firestorm Armada game, it’s a quick version that is geared to play within a 30 to 45 minute range instead of the couple of hours a normal game can take. 40k really needs that short/ small investment that would bait people into the game and for GW to promote that. a small starter set that is around $60 to $80 that has something like 20 models and a quick play rules-set. But, that would require GW to think in terms/context of a game making company…

      • Axis Mundi

        You’ve used two different game systems to make your points – in the first case, with AoS, none of the downsides apply. You can buy a Start Collecting set for AoS, and that’s you – good to go. No rules to buy, no army books that you “have” to get – for any game system, let alone GW, that’s not a bad starting point for a new customer.

        As for the wild price differences – it’s a really odd situation, but what exactly are they meant to do? You suggest that all the prices should fall to match the new Grand Alliance books – but these new books are (a) soft back and (b) just printed versions of what you can get for free online. The army books are totally optional purchases in AoS, so can be premium priced – I don’t need them, but maybe I want it, and if so, maybe I’m happy to pay £35? It might seem crazy, so is buying an iPhone rather then it’s far cheaper HTC equivalent – if you are being perfect rational about it.

        • DeadlyYellow

          Anecdotal: I own 3 PP faction books, the two large main rulebooks, and a supplement. None of these are required to play Warmachine or Hordes.

        • Erik Setzer

          Sure, AoS has free rules. But go outside of the few Start Collecting! boxes for it and you have a game charging $50 for five guys, or $100 for three cavalry, emphasizing larger, more expensive models where possible, and $30 characters. So that issue remains.

          What are they meant to do? Lower the prices back to a reasonable level. Sure, the books are softcover, but they’re still pretty sturdy, and the pages aren’t cheap paper. People claim the codices and army books are priced like they are because they have to be in order to make a profit, but that means either they’re taking a serious loss on the GA books or that excuse is now shown to be nonsense (it’s the latter). Even when codices have been converted to softcover, they’re still $41, as opposed to a similar sized book for $16.50. The excuse that they have to be cheap because the rules are free is silly. Similar reasoning could work for the Battletomes. Sure, they can’t exactly overcharge or they wouldn’t be able to sell them, but considering the $74 books aren’t flying off the shelves, perhaps they should take a hint from that.

          Your phone comparison also doesn’t work. One is proprietary software and hardware, the other is using an OS used on multiple other devices. Comparing two differently priced Android devices works a lot better than comparing two devices where not only is the hardware different, but the software as well, meaning there’s also a difference in availability of apps. (That difference, especially as pronounced as it used to be, is the only reason I have an iPhone. Also, my plan with my mobile dealer cut out most of the price. The existence of such methods of slashing the price also makes it hard to compare phones to books, especially when said books are produced by the same manufacturer.)

          • Commissar Molotov

            Back when the codexes were $20-30, I’d pick up codexes for armies I didn’t even play, just for the background and so I wouldn’t run into any “surprises.”

            They might be surprised how many more they’d sell with a reasonable price point.

          • Axis Mundi

            Wow, I can’t really argue with such a negative point of view. Yes, Warhammer is quite expensive – cant argue with that! I do think that AoS is quite a radical experiment in bringing in fresh players, and that the varied pricing structure is part of that experiment – you don’t need to buy ANY books, or any expensive models to play it. That’s different – lets see if it works, eh?

    • blackbloodshaman

      Titanic deck chairs meet our new start collecting kits

  • euansmith

    I don’t know about the quality of his financial advice, but I certainly wouldn’t ask for his help selecting office furniture.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      they are a pair of stools.

      • steelmage99

        Maybe his business has different faeces they present to the public at different times.

        • Aezeal

          Yeah it’s important to present your faeces in the right way. Tell me more 😀

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            just put them in a box labelled “Space Wolves”…

      • WellSpokenMan

        I’d assume those stools are just samples.

    • ted1138

      You would? Bit minimalist for my taste…

      • euansmith

        I missed out the “n’t” at the end of “would” 😀

  • ted1138

    They really need to rethink the purpose of their stores. Do they really need them? Are they being run correctly? Are they doing more harm to the company than good? Will opening more of them fix anything?

    • Malisteen

      They’ve grown a lot of ill will over the years with flgs establishments through various hostile policies and practices. Switching from first party stores to relying on general game stores to sell their products now may no longer really be an option for them.

      • ted1138

        They just need to learn to play nice with others. Or start stocking things that will get new customers through the door.

    • Jospeh Boster

      I don’t know has the apple stores hurt the sales of apple products at best buy?

  • wibbling

    Surely the change of management and the drive to present genuinely good value products – the start collecting series and the Battle of Vedron(?) starter sets are a genuinely good step toward egtting new players in and encouraging those who’ve been in the hobby longer to invest?

  • Nicholas D Western

    I feel gw is starting to get back on the rite track. The get started box sets are an amazing buy for new players. Woth aos rules being free I would expect to see the same with the next edition of 40K which woll bring more new players in. I just hope they keep the point system in play. A little balancing wouldn’t hurt either. If gw would just let whfb aka aos die for a little while and focus on their top seller I bet their numbers would increase.

    • Malisteen

      The starting boxes are alright, but individual unit and character releases are more ridiculously priced than ever.

    • A.P.

      The only reason we think the Get started Boxes are a good price is because we have been conditioned over the last few years to think these prices are reasonable in the first place. Yes they are less than buying the kits alone but at the end of the day they are still inflated beyond reason.

      • blackbloodshaman

        amen painting up a napoleonic historical army atm and had to check my math a few times when i realized the 250 or so minis i need would cost me 1/3rd of what a new 1850 pt gw army would cost me. best of all metal ney costs the same as metal colonel costs the same as metal dragoon

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        They are on par with the old Battleforces which were 90 bucks a pop.

  • Aezeal

    I don’t mind destorying the old world. I don’t mind the new worlds which are less… traditional. I certainly don’t mind the Stormcast models and lore. I don’t even dislike most changes to the rules they made (I think I liked 8th better but it has it’s merits).
    I just wish they’d admit that having no point values is not smart. While I’m happy to use comps I think it’s still not a good idea and it’s the most important reason some/a lot people dislike AoS as a game.
    ow.. and summoning ofc.

    Now some get started boxes for all AoS races and I’m happy.

  • Thomas Gardiner

    Honestly, with what I know about business and microeconomics (did a couple of years of it at uni) I’d feel pretty wary about investing in GW right now too.

    Ignoring the (correct) comments that their recruitment and marketing practices are bonkers, they operate in a market in which they used to have a near absolute monopoly. The wargaming market was saturated with GW products.

    When you’ve achieved that kind of saturation, where everybody in that market has at least dabbled in your products, the only way is going to be down. Competition will chip away at sales, customers will naturally fall away as customers are wont to do, and at the end of the day you just don’t have room to grow your market share much more.

    As much as operating in a niche market can be a blessing (fanatical fans, premium pricing opportunities, relative stability), it can also be a straitjacket that limits your ability to grow. The clue’s in the name: it’s a NICHE market. You’re only going to have so many customers.

    Really, a large part of GW’s problem might just be that there’s just nothing they can really do to grow. They’ve reached the top of the mountain and all they can do is start climbing (or falling) down.

    • Erik Setzer

      There’s always room to grow.

      But they still act like they have that old monopoly, as if they aren’t aware the competition exists… so of course they can’t properly counter said competition.

      • ZeeLobby

        The problem is they aren’t acting like they still have that monopoly. The death of fantasy, harassing store policies and continued price hikes are all signs that they’ve recognized the struggle and are attempting to combat it. The problem is, being publicly traded, that they chase the yearly profit. A good CEO would tell shareholders that there will be several years of net loss, as the company renews good will and open communication with its consumers/fanbase, which will result in much higher growth several years from now. Instead, they do everything they can to milk profit every year with limited concern of the long run.

    • ZeeLobby

      Which is why I hate publicly traded companies. The stockholders demand growth yearly. Growth may not be an option. The company enacts dumb policies/rules/changes to try and promote growth. The company, consumers and stockholders suffer.

      • Thomas Gardiner

        Exactly. Instead of trying to foster a healthy customer base that will promote growth in the long run, GW are enacting stupid policies in the name of short term growth bubbles (which inevitably pop, see the fallout from Lord of the Rings).

      • Defenestratus

        Just because a company is private doesn’t mean it’s shareholders don’t demand growth. There’s no point in owning a company if it’s not making money as an investor… Public or otherwise.

        • ZeeLobby

          Not all private companies have shareholders. And many private companies that do, have shareholders with a unified goal. Once a company becomes publicly traded, unified vision goes out the window and $ rule. So you either need a CEO who says screw profits, I know what’s best (Steve Jobs, Google/MS’s experimental projects which reduce profits) or you go back to being private and improve (Dell are doing much better now). In a niche market being publicly traded only compounds issues. You only have so many customers to alienate in the race to profits before you have no customers.

    • Charon

      I’m quite sure there is place to grow. When I look at my KDK army for example, most of the models are from a 3rd party supplier and even the “original” gw minis are modified by 3rd party bitz. They could also make me expand my DE force if they had better rules. Or expanding on Chaos Daemons if the Formations in Curse of the Wulfen were any good…
      Expansions for campaigns could be a thing too.

      • Thomas Gardiner

        Yes, but making those products would only be selling to the same, diminishing niche of core customers is my point. It’s just cranking out more and more products to sell to an increasingly small customer base and it’ll have diminishing returns.

        • Charon

          It will always be a niche but your core customers broaden the niche a bit. Recruiting new fans of the IP does lead to growth.
          Lets have a look at (yes, again) X-Wing. It is not only popular for wargamers but also for Fans of the IP who did not know anything of wargaming. They tried it because they like the IP and have friends that also like the IP and play a cool SW game.
          It would also help if GW would do something about their negative reputation. They are basically sumed up with “Yes they do pretty plastic toys (but only if you paint them expertly or they somehow look not very good) but do not interact with their customers and increase prices every few months.

    • Jospeh Boster

      THis is true. In 2015 miniature games sales were flat. with all the new players gaining market share, GW has to be down. Right now the growth areas are card and board games, which helps FFG a lot more than GW.

      • Azrell

        Flat? not even. X-wing brought allot of new players into table top games.

  • ZeeLobby

    I’ve responded with this below, but I feel like it’s a major issue. The problem is they aren’t acting like they still have that monopoly. The death of fantasy, harassing store policies and continued price hikes are all signs that they’ve recognized the struggle and are attempting to combat it. The problem is, being publicly traded, that they chase the yearly profit. A good CEO would tell shareholders that there will be several years of net loss, as the company renews good will and open communication with its consumers/fanbase, which will result in much higher growth several years from now. Instead, they do everything they can to milk profit every year with limited concern of the long run.

    Life long customers are much more valuable to GW then a quick one and done. The problem is that none of their current policies support this as an option. God forbid they have an actual sale for once. I mean it’s something other retail companies do very often to get people in the doors. I mean it’s actually quite shocking that they haven’t lost more money then they have, but again it’s the long term buyers that have so far prevented that. If they plan on making sweeping changes like AoS that push those buyers away, they really need to be nicer to new comers, and its something I’ve rarely seen in a store besides “You know what would go well with that Imperial Knight? Two more Imperial Knights.”.

    • DeadlyYellow

      I do get a laugh out of their “Get them before they’re gone forever!” tactic to pushing clearance rather than just dropping price down near cost.

      I half wonder if distributing to Big-Boxers would change their “No sale” mentality, but the cynic in me very much doubts so.

  • Svenone

    It’s only now attempting to make entry level products for people to get into.

    The main vessel outside of actual hobbying to sell models is the game. Over the last year they have watered down their rules and system to the point of irrelevance. Confounding veterans in the process.

    Playing 40K went from “let’s play!” to “what’s the point” for a lot of people. It all started with the Imperial Knights if you ask me.

    • OolonColluphid

      Actually it started earlier with the introduction of the Wrathknights. Maybe even further back than that to the Ward era.

      • Svenone

        I’ll give you that the Wraithknight may have started a trend but the volume of Eldar players is significantly less than Imperium-based (including Chaos in that) armies. The Wraithknight hasnt changed much since it’s release, but look at all the different flavors of Imperial Knights there have been (and continue to be).

        While Ward era rules may have been a sore subject for some (remember that tournament players are still representative of a small% of players, they just all happen to congregate here), they were all at least contained within a codex to which there were few. Honestly, I don’t even know what we call them anymore. Armies went from having just a few rules, to having multiple different groupings with multiple different rules.

        Most of my gaming group has moved onto other tabletop systems with more airtight rules (Infinity is incredible), though they still hobby with GW models. No one buys anywhere near the volume that they used to, which when hearing about a 15% decline in sales makes sense. I used to spend on average probably about $1000-$1500 a year on games workshop products if I was building a new army (including paints/rules/etc). I think the last thing I purchased from GW was maybe a pot of paint sometime in summer of 2015.

        Me, a veteran of the hobby, has no incentive to purchase, and I don’t think I’m really alone in that.

        • OolonColluphid

          I’ve only spent money on Forge World stuff last year. As many 40k players in my area have already abandoned it for the more balanced rule set of the Horus Heresy books.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      at least its a start. If they can sort out the barrier to entry thats 50% of the problem. The other 50% is the rules imbalances and lack of FAQs, and extortionate prices, also all issues relatively easily remedied if there was the will.

  • Old zogwort

    GW is one of those companies that really should not be publicly traded. It is way to vulnerable to short time profit type of investors who hurt the company in the long run.

    • Ed Butlar

      I agree, didn’t it get bailed out though? Sure there are issues, I’m just hoping they will come round and sort things out.

      • ZeeLobby

        I think they went public first. Then started suffering. Then were bought out by a conglomerate that’s focused purely on yearly profits and stockholders. Shame. I knew some of the head up guys that used to run US sales. They were a great group to game with. Most moved on to other miniature companies before things headed south.

    • ZeeLobby

      This. 100 x this

    • benn grimm

      Bit late now.

  • surfpenguin

    This is how many articles that this guy has written ragging on GW? I don’t know what they call it in your neck of the woods, but back home in Upstate Wisconsin we’d call it ‘someone with an axe to grind…’

    • Thomas Gardiner

      Or they’re legitimate criticisms of a company that is increasingly struggling to stay relevant.

      Nah, it’s totally “ANTI-GW BIAS ZOMG.”

  • ChubToad

    i wonder if this will ever reach GW Central..

    • Ed Butlar

      I am pretty certain it will.

      • ZeeLobby

        I don’t know. Nothing so far has seemed to reach them as far as player desires go, and this will just be rehashing what they already know.

    • Beddard attends investor meetings with the board of directors.

  • Ed Butlar

    I think the only issue I have is the hassle when I go into the stores. It is like being spoken to by clones and I find it very off putting. Its a shame because I don’t think that approach is how you get people in the door long term.

  • standardleft

    It appears GW is trying new things, with specialist games, lowering the cost of entry and targeting a wider market.

    I feel it might have been more insightful to find out what a FA thinks of the recent moves of GW and its potential to drive profits.

    Other than that it seems a fair assessment of the recent years, and potential pitfalls for investors.

  • SacTownBrian

    Their stock is rated a buy by a different financial analyst. These guys are not Carnack…

    http://markets.ft.com/research/Markets/Tearsheets/Forecasts?s=GAW:LSE

    • That’s because it’s falling.

      Buy Low, sit on it and wait for it to rise. Then Sell.

      What dude here is saying that it’s not a viable plan.

      • SacTownBrian

        Fascinating that you automatically assume you are smarter and that I didn’t understand the clip. Well trolled.

  • Captain Raptor

    Since I read his first article I think that GW have made some baby steps towards addressing the problems that they have. Unfortunately they dug a huge hole for themselves over the last decade or so. It will take time for them to get out of it. I think the first priority ought to be regaining the good will of the community. The specialist games re-releases should do some of that if they are well handled, and good value sets like the “Start Collecting” can go along way.

    GW needs new customers and the customers it lost over the years to come back if it wants to properly grow again. There’s still tons of people who care deeply about the setting and the game(s), even if they no longer buy from GW. Those of us who are angry and negative about the company are that way because we’ve watched GW dismantle nearly everything that made it unique, interesting and truly special. If GW can regain some of that magic and fun of it’s early years, then it will start to succeed again. Make us want to support the company again and you’ll see those sales that have been so illusive. Community support, sane pricing, good games. That’s all it would take to regain a massive amount of support.

    • davepak

      Agreed!

      I like your list, will add one more;
      * Community Support
      * Sane pricing
      * Good games
      * Great models.

      They think they can be successful with just the last one.
      This, this is why they fail.

  • Grumpy Scot

    Personal anecdote:

    They really pissed me off as a consumer with AoS. Lost hundreds of pounds from me, at least. I now purchase items with extreme trepidation. How could they repair that damage?

    1) Sisters of Battle. Stop rereleasing Space Marines in different hues and actually update my damn army.

    2) Classic Warhammer. Give it to Forge World if you have to. Accept that Age of Sigmar went calamitously wrong and simply make it the ‘third game’.

    • Commissar Molotov

      “They really pissed me off as a consumer with AoS. Lost hundreds of pounds from me, at least. I now purchase items with extreme trepidation.”

      Me, too. Anecdotal, but my purchasing of GW stuff has gone down from a sizeable monthly amount to almost nothing because my joy for the hobby is pretty much dead – and AoS was the thing that killed it.

      • ZeeLobby

        Ditto, honestly since that release it’s just been a non-question for me.

      • Justin MacCormack

        AOS pissed off a lot of people, and a lot of that is down to one simple thing – it wasn’t WHF.

        The thing with AOS is that is a very flexible system, because it is so rules-lite, and what many people don’t realise is that you can use that to run many, many, many different types of games.

        I run some rather successful events down at my FLGS using AOS, each one quite different. With the way that the rules are set up, you can bring along and add your own systems to it, adding and setting up campaigns, doing one-off events, establishing army lists… Our next event is a Mordheim-like Kill Team arena battle. After that, I have an event planned which is essentially a light comedy capture-the-flag game, substituting a flag with a magical tankard of Bugman’s finest ale. Players can come along and use any models that they have up to each game’s army setlist, using square bases if they prefer, using movement trays if they prefer… in short, the flexibility of the game has a lot of potential.

        BUT…

        It is down to the local gaming communities to see what they want to do with this. It’s a new game, and if GW want to get the most out of it, they have to do as much as they can with it on a local level. They have to run the same kind of varied events that I’ve mentioned above. They have to show people how many different ways there are to have fun with this product. The local stores need to get the people around them excited about it.

        Have they done that? Well, my local GW store has a Friday night AOS, but they close at 8. They didn’t do an event for it last summer (the time of the big push) because, and I quote, they got busy and forgot to. Their first big event was this January, and it was as I described earlier, a pay-to-win campaign. Their next one did look promising, but they’ve no rulesets for it. In short, it’s utterly anemic.

        If GW want to succeed with games like AOS, they have to remember that it is a new game, not WHF, and they therefore need to be leading the way on a local level. Show people that it’s not just four-pages of rules that kill their old armies. Show them that it’s a wide open canvas. Show people that it’s okay to get excited and play in that sandbox. They could have done that. They have not. That is where AOS has fallen down, and it entirely rests back on the shoulders of the way GW want their local stores to pursue hard sales instead of fostering the local gaming community.

        • davepak

          Good prespective, thanks for sharing.
          So, its not so much what AOS is or is not, it how gw failed to demonstrate it.
          Again, they fail to realize that the game is important.
          A pure hobbyist buys one dragon/knight/carnifex – a gamer buys six.

          • Justin MacCormack

            Yes, exactly. No matter what your product is, it won’t sell unless you have something for people to DO with it. And when the stores that you have aren’t catering to that, you’re going to struggle.

        • Commissar Molotov

          Not only is it not WHFB, it KILLED WHFB and gave the old hobbyists the finger on their way out…

          I shouldn’t have to rub my head and pat my tummy and sing “Ave Maria” in order to use my old WHFB models.

          If you can find joy in a pseudo-skirmish game with freaking Aelfs and Orruks and fat guys in matching armor, more power to ya.

          • Justin MacCormack

            Uhu, cool.

          • Commissar Molotov

            thx, bro.

    • silashand

      Same here. Used to buy GW stuff on a regular basis. Now I just picked up what I was missing from my old WFB armies so I can complete them for KoW. I made certain to get them from eBay or other third party so GW did not get anything directly from the sale. They went from probably $200+/mo to essentially zero (I still buy the FW Horus Heresy books because they are good reads). AoS killed any desire I have to purchase models from them and I am now looking for alternate uses for the models I already own. Maybe Warpath or Gates of Antares will work, who knows. What I do know is it won’t likely be a GW game.

    • benn grimm

      So much this.

    • chuck_lapine

      I agree. They would have to work as hard recruiting new gamers if they didnt keep alienating veteran players/collectors with stupid decisions.

      AoS was a good idea that was implemented badly. Now they are starting to “squat” whole armies. How many folks with Tomb King armies are going to feel like giving GW more of their money?

  • C326

    Congrats GW, you’re the Atari of the millennial generation. The memory of my dear, departed Dark Eldar wish you well.

  • Maybe if they bring back sisters and make some female guard, they can open up their range to a whole 50% of the human populace…

  • davepak

    This:
    ” neglecting the recruitment of new hobbyists.”

    Part of that problem is them losing the previous players. With so many former players leaving (bad rules, prices) its hard to get new ones – they see the expensive buy in (yes, you can buy one kit a month….but how many months before you can play) and hear other players who are not happy about lack of support (faq,s etc.).

    They are a vertically integrated company with an great IP, and a few high quality products, but at boutique prices. Yes, few, the models are good but they don’t realize the game is a product….

    GW still does not understand what they sell, who they sell it to, and how to sell it.