Last week a ton of rumors broke about a supposed 7th Edition of Warhammer 40k being released. Let’s take a closer look.Apparently it was posted somewhere that Games Workshop would be releasing 7th Edition Warhammer 40k sometime this year, a full two years early of it’s normal four year release cycle.
No other mainstream tabletop game can even come close that many editions, so GW you have my thanks for creating a maintaining such an amazing hobby for so long.
Back to the matter at hand, BoLS summarized the whole matter in a neat article that I would love to break down for you from a business perspective to help shed some light on this whole situation.
First of all the rumor in question:
40K Radio announced this short blurt on their Facebook page:
The big 40k rumor is: This summer GW will release 7th edition 40k and 9th edition Fantasy has been shelved, for now… From what we understand the new Rulebook with incorporate data slates, escalation, stronghold assault, and some tweaks.
and regarding the source:
…same guy who gave us the marine stuff, dark elves, sentinels of terra, sisters dex, said there would be no Inquisitor game in November, and Tyranids in January, seems pretty damn creditable to me. In fact we are the only ones that have been correct for the last 6 months. But don’t let facts get in the way of your assumptions. (Kyle)
Most of the rumors 40k Radio had pertaining to the Marine release and subsequent releases since there were obviously spot on, which to me means there is a leak somewhere that may need “plugging”.
So it’s entirely possible that this rumor about 7th Edition is an attempt to ferret out the source of the leak and plug it via disinformation.
Then it started getting weird…
By late afternoon, after completely dismissing this rather shocking rumor as complete bunk… multiple sources sheepishly came forward and said that while they couldn’t exactly confirm the story, that they have heard similar product rumblings to that effect. The general tone was not so much along the lines of a “New 7th Edition”, but more of a tweaked, cleaned up omnibus edition of the rules to codify all the new stuff and FAQs into a new book. So really something more akin to a V6.1 updated and complete edition.
So what does that mean? Well let’s take a look at some of the trends of the last 15 or so years and try to apply some logic to the issue.
Every four years since roughly 1999/2000 Games Workshop has put out an edition of Warhammer Fantasy, and Warhammer 40k with the last being 2010 and 2012 respectively.
Form a sales standpoint it seems to have worked swimmingly with only a few hiccups. Third Edition 40k was revised midway via the “3.5” rules that was released in the White Dwarf, and Eighth Edition Fantasy was panned for the most part shortly after it’s release in 2010 (GW tried to patch it with a revamp to the Power Scroll a year later, but it’s possible that the damage was already done).
So if Warhammer Fantasy is languishing on the vine so to speak, it seems kinda stupid to me at least, to just shelf a game that has been around the longest, in lieu of releasing an early edition of a game (40k) that is currently their cash cow.
From a business perspective if something is failing or starting to fail, you try to fix it by injecting new capital, developing new business strategies OR releasing a new version of that product to the market amid an adverting blitz. Okay so we all know how their advertising goes, but I think you get the general business principle here.
You don’t throw away something that still has value to prematurely focus your core business strategy on one product line (i.e. 40k).
This philosophy is similar to doing new releases in December (which Games Workshop traditional avoids for it’s core lines). Sales are so high in December due to the holiday gift buying, that there isn’t a need to “waste” money by developing a release for that month.
So when the rumors broke about “Tyranids coming in December” I was instantly skeptical as well.
It’s even entirely possible that all the rumors about a “new” ruleset for 40k were actually Escalation, which from a business standpoint I would think is a huge hit for GW.
Think about it; how much did Escalation / Stronghold Assault cost to develop? I’m sure you can agree that the costs were significantly less that a normal rules release because it took mostly existing rulesets (Apocalypse and Fortifications) and expanded them into new formats.
Plus these books focus sales on existing models that have already had their development costs either completely or partially returned to the company.
I love rumors just as much as everyone else, but with all these far fetched “leaks” and doctored image hoaxes, I think we should all apply a little common sense and not jump to too many conclusions these days. -MBG