From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
Games Workshop’s one-company crusade against the internet continues. The latest company to feel the GW force choke is The Combat Company, an Australian internet retailer. Their missive reads like the primal yell of someone poked once too often, as this may be true. But there are deeper truths below the surface that bear examining.
We are well beyond the “how to fix Games Workshop” discussion now. They are the company they are, and they behave the way they behave. Rather than expecting change it is wiser to base one’s behaviour on the idea that they won’t change. That tomorrow will be just like today, only more so.
Games Workshop don’t like the internet. Strange but true. While on the face of it, the internet has served to let communities based around niche activities such as wargaming grow organically, feed off one another, and put hobbyists in contact with one another and also with a wider range of suppliers than would otherwise be the case.
Choosing to see this as a threat rather than a boon is the path Games Workshop are boldly treading along. Rather than engage, they pursue the opposite strategy, pulling back in order to protect their own rather inefficient operations. Australia is one of those countries that has seen Games Workshop, who control their own supply chain, choose to price things at double their home territory rate. Where individual retailers elsewhere are able to supply Australian gamers for less, they choke off that avenue rather than improve their own operations. Whatever works for them.
Games Workshop is a company. Wargaming is a hobby. It’s useful to avoid confusing the two. In the case of The Combat Company, they find themselves denied the products they (and their customers) have ordered, only to see product sitting on the shelves of GW’s own stores either unsold or restocked where sold while their own orders go unfulfilled.
Anyone should be able to see the writing on the wall at that point, and this explains The Combat Company’s visceral post. It’s baffling when a supplier actively tries to stop you selling their goods. It is also good practise to warn your customers that supply of something may be patchy.
So where does this leave people? It really depends on who you are; a wargamer, or a retailer.
If you are a wargamer in Australia then what the hell are you doing buying GW product at all? This is a company that actively rips you off, and even more actively ensures that no one else can stop them from doing so. Reach behind yourself and get the meat hook out of your back. There’s a whole wide hobby out there to explore. Knock yourself out.
For retailers, only look abroad. It’s a definite risk to have Games Workshop’s product represent any significant portion of your sales or profits. The company is capable, as a they did in the US, of cutting off internet sales other than their own at a stroke. Work proactively to reduce their importance to you and your customers. Don’t be shy. Aggressively promote other game systems, and also promote other miniatures ranges as direct substitutions for GW’s. Want an Empire army? Let us introduce you to Perry plastics. One way or another you can’t afford the risk of GW as your major revenue source. They company are predictably mercurial, as impossible as that seems.
It takes a sustained breakdown in relations for a retailer to act this way towards a supplier. This situation bears watching, and will doubtless develop further.