Hobby Health

Well lots of things have happened recently; here is a short overview:

  • GWS is trying to stamp out third party bits sales.
  • GWS started a legal battle with some poor author whose book name included the term ‘Space Marine’ despite specifically NOT owning the trademark of this term for novels…
    • GWS also had to limit social media at this point due to a major backlash.
  • The battle against ChapterHouse is proving decidedly rocky for GWS.
  • No more black boxes.
  • GWS stores only have display pieces if their staff BUY THEM and paint them up…
    • Not sure if this is true, but rumour has it that GWS staff get a 50% discount. If that is true they are paying what I pay from the US… Somewhat ironic.
  • GWS is trying to limit online sales to only their own website.
    • This includes not allowing stores who don’t have an actual physical store.
    • GWS is also threatening to cut off supply to anyone who contradicts these new terms.
  • GWS is claiming these are measures to protect brick and mortar stores.
  • A Tau release is coming.
  • The following was released:

Now as someone in the southern hemisphere I’ve seen the hobby slowly sickening for a variety of reasons. This is just my observations, plus keeping an eye on the GWS financial releases and listening to other sources who know more than the average punter. Anyway here they are:

Price increases, incredibly bad official retailers in almost every way (I’ll expand on this later),  destructive trade policies and poor use/acceptance of new media.

It started a while back with the European embargo, sellers were restricted from selling outside the European zone.

Some people have noted that when this happened US sales saw a boost, which coincided with consumers realising a source for reasonably priced GWS products still existed despite one source being cut off.

Then more recently (a while back now) visiting my local store I found out that they no longer supported people coming in and using their paints. Apparently this has been true elsewhere for a while…

Then my local store closed down. At this point any loyalty I had for GWS within Australia died. The store was a ‘one-man store’, it was closed Sundays! and Mondays. The guy running it had inherited the store from people who just hadn’t done it justice upon startup and had never (in typical GWS fashion) bothered trying to involve the natural potential player resources in the area.

The location was also poor, the shop small and when fantasy was released the store became even  quieter – it was always a fantasy store really…

So with the Easter Weekend coming up and with a friend showing interest in returning to the hobby I decided to check whether the biggest store in the city would be open one of the days so I could take him in and have a look around. I also was going to get other mates who still collect to tag along too.

Apparently not… the store is not open Sundays or Mondays and with the long weekend there are restricted trading hours on Easter Friday and Monday. So the shop is open Saturday and that is it… I work Saturdays so (yes this is selfish) it provides absolutely no service to me. With my six day work week and the store observing mainly normal working hours it simply does not provide anything of value to me.

Even if I wanted to pay double for product I would have to order directly from GWS because  the supposedly important brick and mortar stores may as well not exist for me.

When I first started the hobby it was because I saw the Lord of the Rings lines in a main shopping centre (mall), which unlike the Hobbit lines didn’t totally suck. In fact I convinced my parents to buy me a subscription to the Lord of the Rings magazine which included models each release.

It wasn’t that interesting but 40k caught my interest and I wrangled my parents into buying me things until I was earning enough money to support my own hobby. I have collected along with a few mates from school since then.

What got me into the hobby? The store in a main shopping centre, I could drop in and spend a few hours, meet friends there, play a game, learn rules, or just meet other players.

That store is now gone, apparently the rent was too expensive and it was moved to a secluded location, that while nearby will never draw young people in like the old one did. Sure the shops are basically used as free babysitting locations by many parents but rather than take advantage of this GWS is happy to have tiny stores that fit maybe 6 people at a painting table with a table or two for actual gaming, if you don’t mind crowded…

No one I know bothers visiting a store unless they desperately need something because you can’t go there to hobby, there just isn’t the room or facilities…

People play at each others houses, the real community is all the forums and blogs which provide so much (often cynical/critical) support. Even tournaments… a great way of building the community, not to mention motivating players to buy, build and get new people involved aren’t in any way supported by GWS.

So why are GWS wasting money trying to keep these stores alive? Surely it would be more feasible to support local gaming stores? Well no, it probably wouldn’t be… as GWS aren’t in any way competitive with the other miniature war gaming companies and don’t really support local stores, what with order restrictions and minimum amounts, no black boxes, and generally an attitude that they are the only producer in the niche.

Are GWS going to be around in a year or two? Some people are suggesting they are just taking as much money as they can from expensive book sales and releasing all the sculpts they have accumulated for releases over the last year or two… could this be true?

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