Games Workshop Bungling 9th Release and Redemption?
The last 10 days or so for Games Workshop have been a roller coaster, testing the limits of fan goodwill the company and its products have built over the last five years. Most of the drama was caused primary by the slowly devolving pre-order release of the Indomitus box set. It all started couple of weeks ago when the Indomitus pre-orders dates were released, in the announcement everyone would be able to order up to 6 copies off the Games Workshop website. Games Workshop though started to realized just how popular this set was going to be, with the price being a surprisingly “inexpensive” $200 for the sheer amount of stuff you got in the box.
A week later Games Workshop backtracked to state that anyone could get three copies off the website, in a world where most gamers still got 40k models from their local shop or off discount web stores, this didn’t seem like a big deal, but it was certainly harbinger of things to come. Then the week before the pre-orders release, Games Workshop sales reps started contacting LFGS and distributors that they would severely cut the amount of Indomitus going out. This lead to rage posts on social platforms, as angry small shops owners and online retailers freaked out. While many people rallied behind their local shops, it was clear that some of the blame would be aimed at the shops themselves. To have pretty much blatantly broke the “rules” by have pre-pre-orders, while taking people’s money without knowing how many boxes your store was going to get, kinda says more about the store than about Games Workshop over promising.
Either way, this would cause two things, first people decided to developed elaborate conspiracies; like this was Games Workshop trying to drive traffic to their own webstore, to Games Workshop playing favorites, or just general hype demand generation. The second worse outcome was the rush by scalpers and price gougers flooding Ebay, and other 3rd party sites; jacking up prices to astronomical heights, with some folks trying to get upwards of $850 for the box. The overall insanity lead many to flood social media to demand Games Workshop do something, along with some creative trolling targeted at the bad actors.
This all came to a head on Saturday with the actual pre-orders, as one by one Games Workshop country locked webstore buckled under the pre-order storm. So, lo and behold by the time it got to America the set was sold out in 10 minutes, at the same time people only being able to get one copy of Indomitus, instead the three promised days earlier. Making matters worse many people could not get the special edition objective markers by the time United States was up for the pre-sale.
By the time dust settled it was clear that Games Workshop hadn’t created some grand conspiracy; it was just a basic incompetent business and product launch. Slowly, as the weekend wore on, rumors were floating around that Games Workshop would do the right thing and release more Indomitus. So it was on Monday the good news broke; allowing anyone to get copies who didn’t, with a slight warning of having to wait up to three months to actually get Indomitus. The 120 day possible wait for the box set, did the extra job confirming Games Workshop didn’t anticipate the demand and rage. The statement by Games Workshop was a mea culpa of sorts and seemed to also imply that LFGSs would also get additional boxes.
What though was lost in this entire lead up to the Indomitus, was the stealth firing of one of Black Library’s authors Thomas Parrott hired in 2018 and was just starting to see his work published. Thomas took to twitter to announced he was let go by Black Library, with the following tweet…
Black Library has decided to terminate their association with me on the grounds that I am a poor representative of their brand. This is obviously devastating for me for a lot of reasons. I don’t consider it a fair decision on their part, but fair rarely matters in life.
— Thomas Parrott (@parrotttd) July 10, 2020
In his description of the events, he says the firing came about because of political statements and defenses against hate speech, as it related to Games Workshop fandom and lore. In addition, Thomas makes reference to a possible other reason/excuse for his firing, by him being behind rules and images leaks back in May. He does admit that he did get advance 9th copies for novel research. Oddly, this comes on the heels of Games Workshop very strong statement about Black Lives Matters and discrimination in general. Games Workshop has also recently started attacking toxic YouTube personalities with copyright and trademark strikes in an attempt to get them shutdown.
The story of Thomas Parrott in that context is very strange, but not unheard of as Games Workshop has basically forced other employees out of the company who share political views; as seems was the case with Rob Symes from the early WarhammerTV days. It should though also be noted that Thomas does have an admitted history of mental illness and other random things that could make one think their is more to this story than it appears; either way Games Workshop behavior has certainly been all over the place this year.
This is the problem with a company that appears organized into silos, with interactions between departments is often limited, and where one hand often doesn’t know what the other hand is doing. I though always err on incompetence before malice, but Games Workshop does have some strategic issues it needs to resolve as it continues to grow; especially entering the high stakes game of billion dollar IP management, where they are one of the few independents not having been gobbled up by a giant international conglomerate.
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