Matt's Mouthpiece: A Redder Shade of White
That bastion of tabletop gaming, Games Workshop, has come in for something of a bashing recently from its most devoted supporters. But with prices of figures and accessories rising, store reorganisations meaning less staff to hook new players, and falling profits, nothing else could go wrong - could it?
White Dwarf, Games Workshop's monthly magazine recently gave its subscribers a surprise. The magazine has split into two - White Dwarf, with its painting tips and design ideas has moved to a 32-page weekly format whilst a new glossy pictorial monthly, Visions joins the stable. And it's a move that's not gone down well with the readers.
Of course, it's not the only magazine to try this model. 2000AD has been successfully issuing its weekly comic alongside a bumper monthly Megazine for some years.
Less than a month ago, Games Workshop issued a stark warning of profits slumping by £3.4 million. Whilst not a loss or an indication that the company is in serious trouble, Games Workshop are going to have to change tactic to prevent any further profit fall.
Like most things though, it seems to have lost the one thing that made it a success - it's social side. Rapid transformations of high street stores have seen staff drop in number and social events and tutorials for new players suffer.
I can't claim to have played Warhammer, but I know many who do. Some of them have found the cost of keeping up too financially crippling, whilst others have discovered alternative table-top games. For me, the cost is a major factor of not getting involved in GW. Buying the figures, the paint and then keeping up with the rules, new units, and potentially the magazine arm is untenable.
Fans have took to Twitter and Facebook expressing their annoyance at the situation, with subscribers to White Dwarf being shifted to Visions rather than the weekly WD - as currently there is no subscription model for WD Weekly expressing their outrage.
YouTube user montysreviews was pretty damning about the first issue of Visions calling it "curious". Certainly from his extensive review, Visions looks little more than a glorified catalogue:
So why change a model that isn't broken? On the face of it, taking White Dwarf weekly isn't the worst decision in the world - it potentially leverages more money from the buyer, being approx. £3 more per month. Especially when you consider you have to either buy online or visit a GW store to pick it up - no doubt GW bosses are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of getting you to pick up other products at the same time. But the addition of Visions to the lineup is a bizarre and polarising one.
Some of the most vocal fans have highlighted the fact that they have cancelled their 10 year plus subscriptions with immediate effect. Others are using it as evidence of the contempt that GW apparently holds for it's customers. The Eternal Wargamer has a passionate summing up of feelings over on his blog.
With Games Workshop materials given ample coverage online, and such heavy emphasis placed on their product, it's difficult to see where White Dwarf is supposed to go from here. One thing is for sure though, Games Workshop needs to tread carefully to avoid alienating it's fanbase.