Tuesday, April 30, 2013
A Brief Opinion
Hey there folks. Professor Chaos here with a brief opinion on the whole GW vs. Faeit issue. First, there's a bit of confusion as to BoLS involvement, so I won't go into that. I do want to offer my opinion on the whole "can they put up pix or not issue".
Yes, it is true that GW has the right to protect their ideas and property. That is how all business operate, that is how they make money. They need to sell stuff and make a profit. I know we want Warhammer and 40K to be more than that, but really- GW does it for money. So do all the other gaming companies, big and small. Profit is the motivation. We must accept this. Further, GW has the right to protect what they publish- they want to sell their magazines, and no doubt they feel that the pages being shown cause people to say "well, I've seen it and now I don't need to buy the magazine". It could hurt sales, so they want to stop it. I get it, on a logical level.
However, we gamers aren't exactly logical. We are passionate about our game, our models, and our universe (fantasy of 40K). We like to see those "spoiler pics"- it gets us excited. It gets us pumped up. It makes us want to spend the money. In effect, it is like "priming the pump" for GW.
The first issue- do those pics cause people to stop buying the models? I truly doubt it. The reason people clicked to look at the Elves being released is because they undoubtedly had an interest in the models. Somebody like me doesn't play fantasy. I really don't care about the Elves. Looking at the scanned pages didn't change my mind one way or the other. It wasn't going to. I have no interest- I looked only out of curiosity. Now- a few months ago Faeit showed the Chaos Space Marine new releases- again, scanned pics. Some were blurry. Some didn't do the models justice. Upon looking, I got excited for the new releases, even if I wasn't originally thrilled with the big models (I am now, BTW). And what happened? I ran out and bought those models, or asked for them for Christmas- I bought a ton of Chaos stuff. Seeing the models ahead of time got me excited- even if I didn't like all of the models. I would have found the Mutilators ugly no matter what- the scanned pics didn't cause me NOT to buy. I suspect that's how it is for most people. If they are invested in an army, they'll buy, no matter what. The scanned pics only piqued my interest, it had no impact on me buying models.
The second issue- do those pics cause people to stop buying White Dwarf? On first glance, one would say- yes. Why buy the mag if I've seen the new models? The magazine is only an advertisement anyways, so now I won't buy it. Also, the magazine is pricey, so now I don't have to buy it.
For me, I have bought WD for years. Even when I saw the scanned pics of the Chaos Space Marines, I BOUGHT the magazine anyways. I wanted to see them up close. I am a fan, and I have always bought WD. I think many players have ALREADY made up their minds about buying the latest issue. Those that don't buy won't, whether there are scanned pics or not. To this group, the mag is either too expensive, or it IS just an advertisement for the newest models, and not worth buying (and remember what I said above, most players already know which armies they want and how they plan on building them up). Thus, again, GW isn't going to be losing WD sales based on the scanned pics, for the consumers are already pretty much decided on what they are planning to buy. Young/Impulse buyers will pick up whatever strikes their fancy, and older players have their own plans.
I UNDERSTAND why GW feels the way they do. I get it, and it makes business sense. However, GW is making a mistake. They have a RABID following, devoted fans who love the worlds and models that GW has created. But, the models inherently involve the consumer- buying, assembling, painting, campaigning- in a deep and meaningful way. These aren't just "products", the consumers enjoy these models, and since they "create"them, there is an attachment not found in many other hobbies.
GW needs to learn this, and make it work to their advantage. I would use Star Trek and Star Wars as examples. Both recognize that their fans are absolutely fanatical about these franchises. People love reading books about them, watching TV shows and movies about them, play video games, and buy action figures about them. These two behemoths maintain control of their "empires", but they also find ways to reach out to fans. They encourage this kind of passion, as they know it will generate sales and continue interest. They are models that GW should learn from. After all, isn't 40K really adaptable in many mediums, just like Star Wars? They need to copy elements of ST and SW business models- control the product, but encourage the end users, the consumers- the fans.
With that in mind, GW should try the following:
1- Turn a "blind eye" to some of these issues (companies do that sometimes as well). Let Faeit run the scans. As long as they are not scanning entire codecies, let them post a few pics. It doesn't have an impact on sales, for the reasons discussed above. Let fans feel as if they are "in on a secret"- sales will be OK, I promise.
2- Strengthen White Dwarf. For too long, the mag has only been an advertisement for new stuff. In September/October, that began to change, but it hasn't changed enough. Again, I say copy the Star Wars Insider magazine. That mag had tons of articles about the movies and such, but they also had short stories, "flashbacks" to older stuff, fan write-in sections, and more. GW should use that approach. Put in some short stories (fluff). Do a "chapter approved" format on occasion. Have a new mission/scenario. If you build a quality product, people WILL buy. No one should be allowed to scan a whole issue. But if you have a ton of features, the scans of the new model pages won't hurt sales. WD will be something to look forward to, and not just an Ad for an army you know you won't buy.
3- Lower some prices. Fans have been upset for a while now that the prices have gone up quite a bit, and that they feel they are being priced out of the game. GW can change this. Lower the costs of SOME models. Throw the consumer a bone. A special sale on their website perhaps? And by sale I don't mean a 2$ discount. Make it a special event. And, of course, settle this mess with online retailers. If GW does this, those people who are boycotting will come back. This will absolutely increase sales, short and long term.
4- Value the fans. Add the 3 above, and this should be the logical goal. Show the fanatics that GW values their adherents. That they are loved by the company. Encourage their painting and creativity. Let them know that their opinions are valued. Give them a voice. They don't have to run the company or something crazy- just give them opportunities to show off their stuff, to share their ideas, and let them know that GW takes them seriously and are important to them. This will help GW grow, both financially and in the gaming community.
This was a bit longer than I thought (so much for BRIEF opinion, huh?). I love GW. I love 40K. I want the company to grow and thrive. Above all, I don't want GW to cut off their noses to spite their faces. GW needs to restore the goodwill of fans. It can be done, as us nerds tend to be a forgiving bunch. I hope that GW can settle their issues with Faeit, without any trouble for anybody.