The Long-Term Effects of the Games Workshop Lockdown

by | Mar 24, 2020

So it has finally happened, after the British government did its best to postpone the inevitable, the country and thus Games Workshop is in Lockdown for at least the next three weeks. It took Games Workshop less than 24 hours to tell the Warhammer community what they can expect:

Friends and fellow hobbyists, it seems it’s finally time to stay at home and tackle that pile of sprue you’ve been stashing under the bed and finish that half-painted unit that’s been languishing on your desk.

The safety and wellbeing of all our customers and staff are paramount to everyone here at Games Workshop. In response to the developing global situation surrounding the spread of COVID-19, and following the advice and instruction from both the government here in the UK and throughout the world – we are closing Games Workshop sites around the globe.

This means that all our Warhammer and Games Workshop stores will be shut from the 24th March until an initial date of the 14th April. We’ll also be closing our factory and distribution centres – so our online stores (Games Workshop, Forge World and Black Library) won’t be selling or shipping any physical products during this period either. If you’ve recently placed an order and are waiting for it to arrive, please give us 48 hours to contact you. If you’ve still got questions after that, then please drop our Customer Service team a line via email, they’ll be valiantly working from home to ensure you’re supported over this period.

This does NOT mean you’re on your own, though. Now, more than ever, the wonderful spirit of friendship and cooperation that binds Warhammer hobbyists together is needed. With that in mind, the Warhammer Community and Warhammer TV teams are bunkered down in their hobby rooms at home ready to update with fun Warhammer news, articles and content each and every day. We’ll be sharing our hobby with you, and we hope you’ll share your hobby with us, with #WarhammerCommunity, on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, and we hope you’ll be joining us on Twitch, too.

You’ll also still be able to keep yourself entertained with some cracking ebooks and audio dramas from Black Library’s digital offering, so we can finally catch up on all those books we’ve been meaning to read.

Most importantly, everyone stay safe – be supportive to the people around you, and keep your mind and body happy and healthy. When this all blows over, we’ll get back to throwing dice together soon enough!

As laid out in the statement that means no orders will be sent, but for stuff already on their way to independent retailers that happen to magically still be open. It means right off the bat, the most people won’t be getting Saga of Beast related orders and if recent timelines hold, it also means we won’t be seeing the next Psychic Awakening: Engine War on time, which was supposed to give us all those wonderful new Ad-mech models teased the last six months. 

The bigger issue though is what happens after we all get through this and Games Workshop is back up and running? Well first off for those that don’t know Games Workshop gets its books printed in China and much of its terrain made, everything else is done in Nottingham. Since China is out of the crisis and manufacturing is running at almost full speed, Games Workshop should be able to get any new books out. 

The only problem is Games Workshop always ties at least one model to go with any new rules release, so no matter how many piles of books are stacked, Games Workshop will sit on them until the models are ready. We have no idea how far ahead Games Workshop plans out model production, but maybe we can assume at least a month’s worth is ready to go? That means what was ready to be shipped in the next four weeks should be collecting dust. This is all assuming the British government allows people to go back to work right away, which could be unlikely, but luckily Games Workshop is one of those rare birds in Britain, that actually manufactures something inside the country. So we could see Games Workshop be one of the first companies up and running, especially if the Nottingham region showing low infection rates.

Regardless of the even the rosiest futures, we have no idea how this will effect future releases for the rest of the year. Games Workshop is awash with money, but the cash reserves on hand might be a problem as they constantly issue dividends at the expense of savings. Games Workshop could react a few ways; slow roll out of products to build capital while waiting to see how the purchasing market recovers, or a rush of products to get through dusty inventory. 

Most importantly, Games Workshop is going to be very careful now on the timing of the worst kept secret in wargaming: release of Warhammer 40k 9th edition. We would have expect a 9th edition release in mid-July where hordes of heliophobiacs typically buy models. Now like many blockbuster movies this year it could moved to a future date, the same could happen with Games Workshop. There isn’t just an infinitesimal chance that 9th edition might actually be pushed back to fall right before the Holidays. It could give people a chance to recover economically and give the community a signature event to rally around. It just depends if Games Workshop has enough things to release between now and then to keep people excited and be economically feasible. 

If I had to bet though, things will just be moved back a month, with a August release for 9th edition, with just enough weeks before kids have to go back to school. I also hope Games Workshop makes sure every release week will now be filled with things we actually want, unlike the weeks where we get OOP model reprints and Lord of the Rings releases. No more drip, drip, drip of models, like they did with Sisters of Battle. My little hope though most likely won’t come to fruition; as the bean counters most likely will be in full control of the release schedule for at least the rest of the year, which in these uncertain times makes the most sense for Games Workshop once they can feed our plastic addictions again. 

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