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Editorial: A Tale of Two Games – 40k vs WFB

2 Minute Read
Aug 9 2011

So we’ve all heard the talk – that slowly but surely, Warhammer 40000, has been muscling out Warhammer Fantasy, and becoming the largest crown jewel for Games Workshop – but why?

I’m sure this is the 125 million pound question over at Nottingham, but have we as a playerbase ever debated the topic directly?

Wargaming is now a global market, and regional and country specific traints come into both customer expectations, and buying patterns.  Lets dive in…

1) Sci-fi vs Fantasy  – You would think that in our current high-tech culture, and generations of kids growing up on everything from Star Wars, to Star Trek, to Battlestar Galactica, and everything in between that Sci-fi would win this battle over “oldschool Fantasy” any day.  I still think that in this day and age, Sci-fi as a general category beats out fantasy, giving 40k a leg up over Fantasy.  There is however that one little loose end, what’s it called…. ah yes – World of Warcraft…
bonus – Warhammer 40k

2) Age of System – In general, the longer a game system has been around, the more established its playerbase is, and the more polished its rules system is.  In theory, this one should go to Fantasy hands down with both a longer lifespan and more editions under its belt.
bonus – Warhammer Fantasy

3) Complexity of Rules –  Also a general truism is the more complicated a set of rules are, the higher the barrier to entry is. Yes we all say that we crave super complex rules, but it does make it hard to get in the critical new folks to keep  a game’s playerbase healthy over the long run.  When is the last time you tried to teach your little brother how to play Star Fleet Battles – I thought not…
bonus – Warhammer 40k

4) Uniqueness – Everyone loves that cool shiny thing they can’t get elsewhere.  While we all love to vivisect Warhammer 40000’s inspiration (Starship Troopers, Star Wars, Star Trek, Dune, Tolkien, Asimov, Bradbury, Orwell, Atwood, Soccer Hooligans, the list goes on…)  GW has managed to mix it all up into a unique stew all of their own.  Warhammer Fantasy – not so much.  Fantasy still reads visually as rehashed Lord of the Rings, and has aesthetically similar competitors growing like weeds around it.
bonus – Warhammer 40k

~Those are my off the cuff thoughts on why 40K is continuing to grow, overtaking its older stablemate, and to be honest I have no good ideas as to what it would take to turn things around.  The overall sales and reaction of the videogame demographic to Warhammer Online, compared to THQ’s Warhammer 40000 games are certainly not to be ignored in this…

What’s your take?


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