Monday, 20 May 2013

Opportunity Lost

Most people who care would already know that Games Workshop has canceled its production of its Specialist games.
Apparently the speculated reasoning behind  this decision is that they were unprofitable. Now I don't have any idea how much it cost to produce, store and ship the diminished quantity of models they would sell to the public.
It must be significantly less then what they make out of their big three games Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and Lord of the Rings/Hobbit strategy battle game. Perhaps they think that redirecting their resources towards the big 3 will reap higher profit margins.
However there must be some money to be made, there has been a surge in the last ten years of other games companies moving in on GWs turf. Some of these companies compete directly with GW fan-base while others have moved into the margins that GW has abandoned.
Tiny cute 40k perfect for roleplay.

Spartan Games is a company that produces some very nice games.  Their three most popular are Uncharted seas, Firestorm Armada and Dystopian Wars and are very similar to three of GWs specialist games Man O' War, Battlefleet Gothic and Epic Armageddon. Spartan Games has not ripped off GamesWorkshop, their games are fully realised creations with their own unique rules and back-story. But would there have been room in the market had not GW abandoned its share of the customer base?

Another very popular GW specialist game is Blood Bowl and another Company that has found a receptive market in the space abandoned by GW is Mantic Games -  their DreadBall has become quite popular. I wonder if people will stay loyal to Blood Bowl when DreadBall has a slew of teams and with more on the way?
In the grim darkness of the far future
there is only gang war!
My last and favorite GamesWorkshop Specialist game is Necromunda.  I never got a chance to play but the time for that may still yet come. The image of Necro/Goth Punk gangs battling over turf in the twisting foundations of a hive like mega-city has haunted my dreams. It seams that the idea of a SiFi skirmish level game, dominated with dense terrain is a popular concept. There are numerous companies that compete for this sliver of the wargaming market, a pair of the notable are Corvus Belli that produce Infinity and the upcoming DeadZone by Mantic.

While the percentage of profits of these smaller and less popular games may be a lot less then the big 3 they also were never supported like the big three. Some were given new rules and campaign supplements and the odd WhiteDwarf article. But there was nothing like the host of new editions, rules revision, FAQs and the army book/codex system for faction specific updates. The specialist games also helped newer customers enter the hobby who would otherwise be excluded because of the high cost of starting one of the core games. I myself was lured in by playing HeroQuest and SpaceCrusade. Another aspect is the specialist games with their often radically different play-styles, which helped prevent gamers from getting burnt out or bored with the core systems.

The main reason I am currently upset is the Epic & Battlefleet miniatures work great for role-play especially since Rouge Trader has some nifty rules for spaceship, ground vehicle & aerial combat. Also one of the recent acquisitions of my players was an Aquila Lander. I have loved the unusual look of the Aquila and the utilitarian style of the Arvus Lighter since I first saw it on the Forge World site. I have longed for a reason to purchase one of each but it seems it has been removed from the Forge World site along with its more reasonable prices Epic scale incarnation.

So many links