Get a fucking clue.
Games Workshop was without a doubt the thing that got me into gaming. I never even knew of the existence of the “Gamesmaster” series in my youth, Heroquest and Space Crusade were my sample drugs which later lead me into the world of GW. There has never been another company like them; say what you want about their lack of play testing or sometimes dodgy rules, but never have there been game worlds as richly detailed and ripe with theme as Warhammer 40k and Warhammer.
One of the things I loved best about GW was how, apart from some of their really early output, their games were all set in one of their already existing universes. It was this fact more than anything which gave their settings life; would the armies of Warhammer Fantasy battle be the same if the Warhammer role-playing book hadn’t of fleshed the world they fight over out so well? Would the Tyranid army have become so loved if it wasn’t for space hulk making the genestelers so terrifying and memorable? Would Warhammer Quest have been even half as epic as it was if it didn’t have all of the Warhammer Fantasy Battle miniatures to use as its beastery?
Hell, in what other table top game miniatures game do you know what sport you army likes to watch on weekends?
It wasn’t just games that GW were fleshing their setting out with – there were novels, magazines, clothing, and even warhammer records at one point! By placing everything in the same setting each release complimented their already existing lines and made you want to spend money on the other products since you felt intimate with the world already. It was a wonderful model that some have tried to duplicate but none I can think of have really succeeded.
And then apparently some dickheads took over.
Snip snip. Off went the games apart from the core lines. Some corporate numbskull apparently thought that if you have a copy of Space Hulk you weren’t going to spend anymore money on GW products because it was a ‘closed system’ – never mind the fact that Space Hulk most likely acted as a gateway into Warhammer 40k for more people than any GW store clerk in his tackey red shirt ever did. Snip snip, off went the ‘smaller’ lines like necromunda and bloodbowl where you didn’t need to spend as much to maintain an army – nevermind that these people were still spending money on the company but would most likely stop buying GW products altogether than to switch to the more expensive ‘core brands’.
There behavior seemed to model that of an overpaid CEO in a bank or other big corporation – come in and slash the shit out of everything to drive profits up so that your end of year projections are through the roof and you get a big fat bonus. Then run off before all of that cost cutting comes back to haunt you as all the measures you took ruined the long term stability of the company. I’m certain that in those first few “down to core lines only” years GW made more money than ever, but it came at the cost of customer goodwill and a stagnation of the lines which would affect their sales and postition in the market in the long term.
Last year there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel - after several years of poor performance, GW seemed to go back to their roots and began releasing non core products through their Black Industries publishing wing. The Role playing games were back. The very sort after Talisman got a brand spanking new 4th edition. And not surprisingly this stuff sold really really well.
The success of the label made the future seem bright – people began dreaming of what other classics could be reprinted (I was hoping for Space Hulk myself) while they were saving their pennies to get the new Talisman expansions and upcoming role playing books.
Until seemingly out of nowhere came this bombshell:
“28/January/2008 - Black Industries Announcement
Black Industries regret to announce that Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods out in September will be the final product to be released from Black Industries.
Kevin Rountree General Manager of BL Publishing said ‘As a result of the continued and impressive success of our core novels business, which we have built around 40K and Warhammer, we have decided to focus all of our efforts on growing this part of our business. Black Industries has seen fantastic success, most recently with Talisman and Dark Heresy. This change does not take away from that achievement rather it allows BL Publishing to focus on producing the best novels we can. This is a purely commercial decision and will enable us to carry on the huge growth that we have recently been experiencing with our novels.”
What the fuck?
No one reads the fucking novels because they are great literature, they read it because they like the games set in that universe. To ditch the games – which were selling out! – to focus on the novels is the stupidest thing I have heard, and I dare say a flat out lie. Instead this reeks once again of some high level corperate idiot imposing cost cutting measures (see: http://investor.games-workshop.com/news/rns/2008-01-22_InterimResults.aspx) and once again ditching the stuff that they don’t see as being their core ‘mega bucks’ product.
So here is some free advice for these clueless morons: when you strip Warhammer and 40K back to only having their basic core products, they lose most of what made them interesting in the first place. After all, mechanically they are amongst the shittiest miniature games out there, their success was driven by their wonderful settings. So get your heads out of your asses and forget about turning the company around overnight by dreaming everyone is going to start playing Warhammer @3rd edition and instead make the products that people have now PROVEN they will buy. You'll reap the benifits in the long term.
Bring back Talisman, and it will bring you the future Warhammer nerds of tomorrow.
And for fucks sake make me a copy of Space Hulk so I can finally own one you bastards.