Games Workshop: A Love/Hate Relationship

Have you ever known someone that you both loved and hated at the same time? Someone that at times would do everything right and made you love them even more, and at others seemed to go out of their way to get you to loathe them?

That's my relationship with Games Workshop. In the span of 2 days, GW seems to be doing everything it can to enrage and alienate their players.
  • Monday 5/16/11: "Finecast" A cheaper solution that will cost you more.
As discussed earlier it was confirmed on 5/16 that GW has ceased production of all metal miniatures and will be replacing these with a new resin material. Whether or not you will miss metal, it was pretty much assumed by all that this move would help keep prices down, as resin is a significantly cheaper and more economically stable material than metal. That's why so many eyes widened in confusion and anger as GW announced that these new "Finecast" models would cost more than their metal predecessors even though they were made out of a cheaper material. Perhaps the increase is only temporary to cover the cost of changes to existing molds, or new safety measures and training for employees working with a potentially hazardous new material. Or perhaps these prices are here to stay and GW is simply taking advantage of a customer base they perceive to be ignorant walking wallets with eyes. We don't know. Unfortunately, as always GW remains silent behind closed doors while their customers rage outside.
  • Tuesday 5/17/11: Price Increases and GW's Embargo.
As if wanting to strike while everyone was already pissed, the following day GW announced that, once again they were annually raising prices by an average of about 19%. Dark Eldar and Grey Knights, models that have been out for 6 months or less were even getting an increase. Again, no explanation as to why. Now GW has done this every year in recent memory so it wasn't a huge shock, but coupled with the Finecast increase and what I'm about to discuss, this run of the mill price hike becomes as much more complicated situation.
On the same day, rumors were confirmed that GW would be placing restrictions on all retailers in the northern hemisphere. Retailers based in the EU could not sell GW products outside of the EU and retailers in the northern hemisphere could no longer sell to customers in the southern hemisphere. What this basically means is that, as of May 31st, you will only be able to buy GW products directly from GW or a FLGS unless you are in a country with it's own retailer that offers discounts. If you live in the EU, not much will change. Gamers in North America should still be able to use great companies like The Warstore and Mini Wargaming and might even buy from their FLGS a bit more. (probably the overall goal of the change but again, who really knows?) For other gamers, namely those based in Australia and New Zealand, things looks very bleak.
GW will be forcing Aussies and Kiwis to pay their prices. Between poor exchange rates and exorbitant shipping costs, Australian and New Zealand gamers can expect to pay about double the cost for the same items with no options for discounts of any kind.
How can Games Workshop do this and still expect to retain their customers, let alone bring in new ones? True to form, GW remains tight lipped as ever. Complete lack of communication and a "head in the sand" approach to public relations remaining their strategy.
How far can they continue to push us (their customers) with price hikes and baffling business decisions before they push too far? How long can they offer no explanation as to why they do the things they do before we all move on to companies that actually communicate with their players?
The complete lack of communication is probably my biggest issue with Games Workshop. It just shows an utter lack of respect for their customers. A "deal with it and shut up" attitude to everything they do. If GW would do us the smallest courtesy of treating us like thinking, rational human beings rather than piggy banks, a lot of this outrage could be lessened or avoided. For example, earlier this year (and even now) Privateer Press was having severe troubles keeping up with the vastly increased demand for their products. Customers were getting angry that they were having so much trouble getting their hands on PP models. Rather than take the silent "shut up and deal" GW approach, Matt Wilson himself, the Creative Director of Privateer Press came onto the PP forums and explained the situation, apologized for it, and explained the steps the company was taking to make things better. This forum post, which maybe took 20min of his time to write, did wonders in stemming the tide of customer rage and made PP gamers feel valued and appreciated. Forum posters who earlier were complaining, later thanked Matt Wilson and expressed how much it meant to them that the company cared enough to address their concerns.
A simple e-mail GW. I'm not asking for much. Here, I'll help.
"Dear valued customer,
We apologize for (insert stupid business practice here). This change is necessary due to (blah blah give me something, anything just at least pretend that you give a crap about your customers!)
We hope you understand why we came to this decision and that you stick with us in the future. We have some truly exciting releases in the works and the remainder of 2011 and beyond will prove to be a great time to be a Games Workshop hobbysist.
Thank you for your understanding and continued, valued support.
(Corporate douche Tooly McToolserson)"
That small, simple act would do wonders for many people. They can't even extend that tiny courtesy.
  • I love/hate Games Workshop.
I love Games Workshop. No company produces better miniatures or has better universes for us to use them in. From their ever more impressive model kits to black library, no company offers the "complete hobby package" like GW does.
I hate Games Workshop. The way they interact with their customers is disgusting. Complaints and concerns are ignored, prices continue to soar and unscrupulous practices continue with no explanation. Their corporate motto should be "Bend over and keep quiet".


That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? I can deal with a lot, and as someone who handles accounting with my business I can understand the bottom line, but there is a point when too much is too much... I would have no problem in the world in we merely had a bit of customer relations, but seeing as how we have none I can find my fault in the people who are even more upset than I am.

I can only once more think back to the above-mentioned actions of Privateer Press in dealing with hard issues with the consumer. They have and continue to handle things like true professionals with respect to their consumer, and I think GW could learn a thing or two from them.

What is going to become of all this? Probably nothing... But only time will tell for sure,dear readers.