Not opinion; just fact and history.
Hey people and things posing as people. It is I! The inglorious bastard called Pimpcron, ready to open hearts, mend wounds, or maybe just tell you something you don’t want to hear. I’ve been thinking again (I know you warned me not to) and I realized something that is sad, or awesome, depending on your view.
Nobody Can Beat Games Workshop, And It Isn’t Even GW’s Doing
Like I said, this is a fact, not opinion. I can already hear you hemming and hawing; your mouth is saying ‘fanboy’ while your face is saying ‘triggered’. Those pudgy little fingers of yours are just a twitchin’ to comment below and tell me how wrong I am before hearing my point. Well go on, I’ll wait …
Now that we got that outta the way, I realized something the other day. As most of you know, I’ve made my own skirmish game (link button below my signature). But from a game designer’s standpoint, you are making a game that will literally swim in a sea of brand new games. And thanks to Kickstarter, many of these games are super-high quality with miniatures, art teams and everything. You could have just finished the very best game mankind has ever known, and probably nobody will ever see it due to the sea of other games. It’s like dropping a priceless diamond into the sea, it doesn’t matter how much it is worth if nobody ever finds it.
But, There’s a Problem
All of these other games are also struggling to compete in an ever-more saturated market. I’ve written before that Kickstarter may have ruined the gaming industry but won’t go into again here. So how do you get people to try your game? As a rule of thumb, you need people already playing your game to get others to play your game. Which is just as ridiculous as it sounds but it is true. That is where Starter Sets came into play. Two friends jump into a game together using both factions. But now everybody has a starter set: that no longer works in this day and age. I have seen so, so many games crowd funded and then flounder in the real market because nobody plays them. How many games do you have at home you never play?
So Why is GW So Omnipotent?
They won’t be easily beaten because they were *first*. It sounds silly but it’s true. Why are Coke and Pepsi always going to be the top brands of soda? They made it out front of all of the others and captured the market. When the vast majority of people think of an RPG, what name comes to mind? They think Dungeons and Dragons, because they were *first*. Why are DC and Marvel comics the top brands? They got out and became popular before others had a chance.
… Not many …
You see, I’ve come to realize that when you are the first big name in a market and break out as “the” game of a genre, you will probably always be the top dog. Of course this isn’t guaranteed and Games Workshop looked like it was going to lose that title a couple years ago. It almost seems that if you are a late comer to an industry, you will never be able to get enough of a foothold to become “the“ game unless the big company really messes up or goes out of business. GW has the biggest group of players, which in turn makes it the easiest game to get into for new players, because there are so many existing players. It’s like a self-fulfilling situation: “they eat because they’re sad, and they’re sad because they eat” to quote a famous philosopher.
Coke and Pepsi are everywhere, so it is really easy for you to find it and drink it. This, in turn, makes it easy for people to like the taste of those and/or grow accustomed to them. Sure, Dr. Pepper, 7-up, Cheerwine, Mr. Pibb, A&W, Sprite, Sierra Mist, Mountain Dew and countless others exist. But I don’t foresee any of them ever becoming #1 because of this self-fulfilling cycle of human laziness and routine.
And I am not a GW fanboy or apologist or hater. I really like their games 40k and AoS, so I buy stuff from them. But I have no love or hatred for the company itself. Of course that won’t dissuade anybody from calling me one or the other, but ah well.
Have you ever seen real-life #1 top dog companies fall from grace?
None come to mind for me, but I’m sure there are some. Please add some in the comments if you know of some. From what I’ve seen, it is rare.
Check out the awesome hand-made terrain kickstarter of terrains4games here.
I’ve bought a lot of it for my convention. Beautiful.