Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Games Workshop: Rights and Wrongs

This is not a battlefield, this is a cake.

Sometimes, I just feel like alternating between scathing criticism of the game company I love and gushing praise for the rules that I put my every effort into tearing open to expose the pulsating, disgusting, flawed guts of. That's normal, right? Well I sure as hell hope so, because here it comes.

Right: Making models

Games Workshop, you make some very, very nice models. Your plastic kits in particular are simply leagues beyond virtually anyone else in the industry, and of late they have been getting more customizable, having more parts, and been larger and more impressive. The cross-combination potential and extra bitz in the the GK, SW, and BA kits makes kitbashing and swapping parts a breeze, which is truly a boon. For so many players who only play GW games, this isn't really obvious because they don't get a lot of exposure to other companies' minis, but placing them side by side (or working in close when painting, etc), it's easy to see where GW's superior sculptors and casters are really earning their paychecks.

Wrong: "We're just a model company."

No you fucking aren't. What's that big black book the players are always referencing? Rules. What are those $30 things that everyone always carries around with them? Rules. You make rules. You also make models, but you do not ONLY make models. Your models are good- we've been over that. Now quit making excuses and clean up your rules and you'll really have a handle on the market. Good rules prevent players from getting into arguments. (Protip: "4+ it" is a seriously weak solution.) Good rules show people that you are a professional company that knows what they're doing and hires intelligent people. Good rules reinforce that this is a good game worth spending money on and not just some nerd's pipe dream that accidentally got successful.

Right: Ignore the whiners

Okay, let's face it, gamers are basically the biggest bunch of manchildren this side of professional sports. They are whiny and unsatisfiable and no matter what you do or fail to do, it will incite a chorus of "omg worst ____ evar!" bullshit responses. It is an utterly unwinnable situation trying to make them happy, and GW has taken the smart path and chosen to not even try. No, that's not sarcasm- GW has realized that what gamers say they want and what they actually want are so utterly divergent that it is simply not worth the time it takes to listen to them, and in this they are pretty much entirely correct. Now, yes, there are times when they should listen, but most of the time it's in everybody's best interest just to tune out the complaints and pretend as if everything were fine, because usually it is (or at least not broken in any way that relates to what people are saying.)

Wrong: "Interwhat?"

Some people like to act impressed by the blog GW runs on their main site; I'm not. It's not a bad blog, and they showcase some nice conversions and ideas there, but in the end it's no more special than any of the hundreds of other amateur gaming blogs I have access to across the web. Oh, you didn't realize I knew about those? Because yes, I fucking well do. Look, I don't expect you to try and keep pace with the whole internet- that's not even a slightly fair expectation. What I DO expect is that you will admit that that the internet exists and influences the hobby instead of pretending it's still 1993. A casual browse through the forums and blogrolls would yield you dozens of better FAQs (and, often, FAQ answers) than the nonsense that goes into most of your updates. We would really appreciate it if you would answer the questions that are frequently asked rather than making stuff up yourself. Also, internet retail is a thing now. People sell products through online channels, often across wide distances. You aren't going to stop this, so quit halfassedly pretending you can, or that you can somehow use magical legal powers to stop the internet from doing things you don't like. There are better ways to go about these things.

Right: FAQ updates

Fantasy 8E was the start of this, but it has spince spilled over into 40K as well. Basically, GW is using the FAQs to take a little time to update some of the older armies that are suffering badly from the edition changes, like Dwarves and Black Templars. It's not nearly as nice as an actual full new book, but it at least helps keep things somewhat in line, so you don't feel stupid with your combat-only-4++ Storm Shield and one-shot Cyclone Missile Launcher. It keeps these armies more viable and gives a nod to loyal players who stick with them, helping them limp through the worst of an edition where they're unlikely to get an update.

Wrong: Information blackouts

This goes right back to that "we don't believe in the internet" thing. Look, this is the Information Age. Every single person in the first world has a camera with them 99% of the time and anonymous channels of distribution are utterly ubiquitous. The Pentagon can't stop people from leaking secret information to the public, what the fuck makes you think you are going to be able to? I realize you don't like/want these leaks- shit, I even wrote an entire article about it. But they are there. They will happen. It is the internet, it is unpreventable. So stop chopping off hands because you get a hangnail, for crying out loud, and give us some actual previews of stuff. It's good for your business, it makes us like you, and there's no real downside other than "oh noes I wanted them to learn this on the 14th and they learned it on the 3rd!"

Right: Black boxes

The model kits in these especially are a nice way to get a look at new releases that's better than what a blurry cellphone picture from a forum can possibly provide. Many times a model looks a lot better in person than it will from some particular angle, and features that looked glaring and awkward are much less so on the table. By sending these out, you give everyone a taste of what's to come and advertise your upcoming releases in the best way possible, as there is almost always someone in the store who will assemble/paint the model early on and have it displayed for all to see.

Wrong: White Dwarf

Who even buys this anymore? The only time I ever see WD mentioned is when someone makes a post saying "I used to buy White Dwarf, but I just stopped/haven't for a long time because it sucks." It's a terrible, ad-filled glossy piece of shit with nothing of value in it. Remember what I said about the internet existing? There is better painting advice available EVERYWHERE on the internet, in literally hundreds of varieties. Also battle reports. And showcase models. And actual previews of things BEFORE they come out. In short, the only unique feature of White Dwarf is the GW employees talking about how they play the game wrong and giving us their insipid insights into how "Eldar are a really strong army, I run 60 Storm Guardians and do pretty well with them." There is no possible way this magazine is still making money; either turn it over to someone competent and put some actual interesting content in it or drop the whole damn thing and admit that physical hobby magazines expired half a decade ago.

Right: 5th Edition

The current edition of 40K is basically a godsend- its rules are far and away the best ever in the game's history and balance and playability are at an all-time high. Moreover, they have been updating codices to avoid leaving anyone stuck in 3rd edition (and are almost finished) and have taken several old, uninteresting, niche armies and turned them into exciting and viable tabletop forces. For all the whining, for all the weirdness in some places in the rules that still remain, for all of the issues with codices, 5E is still the pinnacle of the game so far. Don't fuck up 6th.

Wrong: Tournament support

GW does send out prizes to stores, which is good, and does host... some tournaments, which is better than not, but they still refuse to have any kind of direct hand in most of that sort of thing, resulting in an awkward "who knows what you'll get" experience for players new to an area. Moreover, their view of what tournament players want is... well, it's bad. Who likes Ard Boyz? Not many people. Who likes Throne of Skulls? Certainly not tournament players. Who likes the GT series? Some people, but not because of anything to do with it being some kind of "official tournament circut." Stop getting your fluff players to organize tournaments, GW. Tournaments are good for your game.

Right: Switching to resin

I'm gonna say it: metal models are fucking awful. I don't like them, I never have. They're hard to convert and assemble, they're hard to transport, they break easily, the paint chips and rubs off at the slightest touch unless you seal them, and any kind of metal-plastic hybrid kit is basically doomed to be a nightmare to assemble. Switching over to resin was an excellent move on GW's part, because it lacks most all of those issues and is cheaper on their end to boot.

Wrong: Finecast

The Finecast launch was a disaster. While not all of the models are flawed, a very large (~30%) number of them were, which is just unacceptable for a company the size of GW. They knew there were problems and they tried to pretend there weren't and the internet (remember the internet, GW?) called their bullshit right out in the open and told everyone how much it stunk. What could have been a genuine improvement instead turned into an awkward sidegrade; and don't tell me it's because they didn't have experience with the new medium, Forge World has been making resin models for years now and it would not have been hard to tap those resources. Trying to pass off an inferior product because "we're new at this, give us a break" only works when you are guys doing everything out of a basement- when you are a multimillion dollar publicly-traded corporation recognized across the world as the largest producer of miniatures wargames, you cannot fall back on that sort of thing.

Right: Starter kits

Assault on Black Reach and Island of Blood are both excellent ways to get a player into the game- they contain a variety of models in different poses that show off what GW can do with even simple plastics and they have everything you need to play a fairly balanced game; just as importantly, they are (comparatively) affordable, giving new players an option to start the game without completely breaking the bank. One big thing though - bring back starter kits with terrain!

Wrong: Startup costs

With all of the above aside, this game is expensive to get into, in terms of both money and effort. If you're lucky and get one of the starter box factions, yeah, your first 700pts are pretty cheap, but outside of those you're paying through the nose- and if you can't find someone to split things with, it ends up looking like a lot less of a deal. The Battleforces have been getting worse and worse with each new release- they're still technically better than just buying all the kits individually, but if you weren't planning on using every single thing in that box, you're better off not buying it. Oh, and you'll still need to sink $30 for a codex and $50 for a rulebook and at least another $100 of models (because a Battleforce alone is really not enough to play any kind of game with) and suddenly that hole is looking really, really deep. Look, we understand that this isn't Magic- you can't just buy a $15 starter and get down to the game. But try and make entry a little easier- maybe have free mini-codices and rulebooks for people to start out with that are free/cheap and just contain what you need to play a basic game with the battleforce? And make the battleforces cheaper and more "basic" so you have something to suck in new players (but also won't just be the only thing anyone buys). We know you need to make money, but if you can't get someone started on the game, you can't make any money off of them, and convincing mommy or daddy to spend $100 is a hell of a lot easier than $300.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...