Games Workshop’s Big Mea Culpa

by | May 2, 2017

Games Workshop is clearly back in the driver seat, with rising sales, a robust social media outfit, and amazing new models. Now the biggest game is about to get a new edition and unlike every time before the public is in on the roll out. Everyday we get a new reveal; with it comes discussion, ranting, and anticipation. It is clear the Games Workshop has decided to shift game design to a more streamlined accessible approach. The fall and now rise of Age of Sigmar has given Games Workshop confidence a similar approach (with the help of hindsight) will be successful with Warhammer 40k.

The community has long suffered at the hands of a non-communicative Games Workshop, but over the last 18 months everything has changed. Having talked passingly with a few Games Workshop corporate employees, it is clear current CEO Kevin Roundtree has spearheaded all the changes. Kevin’s vision has been implemented by Robert Dekker the Marketing and Merchandising manager who was Kevin’s first big hire.

This has all lead to dramatic change in culture at Games Workshop, with the stodgy models come first before rules crowd being sidelined. More amazingly Games Workshop has admitted to this culture change, and no where is it better illustrated with one singular question Games Workshop posed and answered.

Why should I trust you?
Come on! This is New Games Workshop™

Seriously though, everything we’re talking about now is just an extension of all the community engagement work we’ve been doing over this last year and a half. We’ve learned a lot from you guys and gals, and we’ve tried really hard to make sure everything you’ve asked for is included. And if we’ve missed something? Drop us a line on the Warhammer 40,000 Facebook page and let us know. We’ll make sure your requests are given proper consideration.

My jaw dropped after reading this, did Games Workshop just admit what came before 18 months ago wasn’t working? Now how far back do they consider “old GW” is anyone’s guess, but I have feeling they are referring specifically to Tom Kirby’s time as CEO. You remember the Dark Age of Matt Ward’s 6th edition debacle? Lawsuits everywhere and the sacking of top lawyers and tons of middle management? I am fairly confident they are referring to those lean times.

It is hard to imagine any time in the history of Games Workshop where they have looked so introspectively. Games Workshop has always been known for the special kind of brainwashing they inflict on their employees, and now for them to non-direct way out themselves is quite shocking.

Games Workshop is also acknowledging the community had lost trust in them, even posing such a question should make you stand up and listen. Should we trust Games Workshop, well how much can you trust any corporation?

You can’t help but see much Machiavellianess in their behavior, for instance they have selected specific people to do play-testing. By dangling the biggest carrot for any enthusiast, a hand in game design and access to exclusive knowledge. Besides what everyone hopes is a better game, GW will also insulate themselves from potentially powerful critics. Not one play-tester is going to badmouth GW now, and better yet they will most likely go out of the way to support any GW decision. You can already see a bit of this in the way Frontline Gaming talks about the game and play test process. This could become dangerous if testers trade in objective criticism for sycophantic nodding.

As I have talked about many times, GW has also destroyed the rumor market, and in turn traffic is slowing being sucked away from typical rumor sites to the Warhammer Community page. GW is taking full control of how we get our information and for the moment everyone is loving it, at some point everything won’t be rainbows and kittens, but for now we should encourage the New Games Workshop™, with a critical eye for the Old Games Workshop who can return at any moment!

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