Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

Space Marines and market signals

Games Workshop has had an interesting year.

In the first half of the year they finally wound up their ailing Warhammer Fantasy game, replacing it with a product named Age of Sigmar, set in the game’s future.

The response was not positive.


Age of Sigmar faced many criticisms. These centred around the price of the game, which was given to be too high. There were too few models, and many of them were simply armoured humans. The rules were too simplistic.

In time this response may change, as the new range for Age of Sigmar becomes more apparent with a year’s worth of releases.

In the meantime, a new game has appeared for the Warhammer 40,000 universe. It doesn’t replace the current game, but is set in the game’s past and introduces a new set of models.


The response to Betrayal at Calth was both similar and different. Similar because it has been loud. Different because all the flaws of Age of Sigmar became meaningless when applied to Betrayal at Calth. Because space marines.

The price is irrelevant. Look at all those marines! The rules are irrelevant. I don’t care! I just want all those marines! The low model count is irrelevant too – just look at all the marines!

The same voices (many I suspect belonging to literally the same gamers) have moved seamlessly from yelling about flaws to yelling about features they want, even though these features are identical.

Market signals is a term for information generated by people acting within a market. For example, if your customers buy a lot of one particular product, that is a signal they would like to see more of that kind of product.

That may sound simple, but the corporate graveyards are full of companies that refused to respond to what their customers were telling them. I wonder what Games Workshop has heard in 2015.

If Games Workshop choose to move forward as a company focused on making different types of space marine, don’t complain. It’s what we have asked them to do


4 comments on “Space Marines and market signals

  1. Azazel
    November 21, 2015

    The reasons behind the difference in reception are numerous and easy to understand.

    The Calth models fit seamlessly into people’s existing 40k and 30k armies. They represent a significant cost saving against buying essentially the same sculpts from Forge World (one arm of GW that has managed to retain significant consumer goodwill). It’s both a “Space Hulk” style side boardgame, and a source of more models for Space Marine armies. The price isn’t so bad for those outside of AU, either (once again, we get the sharp end of the stick.) People can literally discard everything in the box that’s not made of HIPS and call it a cost savings from buying the equivalent kits from the GW shelf – especially as all of the Marines and Terminators are true multipart and the characters are of the same style as the current wave of HIPS character models. The only “starter kit” level model is the Contemptor, which is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying from FW, so there’s your swings and roundabouts.

    Conversely, AoS represented a shuttering of 30 years worth of WHFB, right on the heels of quite a few really expensive End Times books sold to the last of the WHFB players – replaced by a pointless 4-page rule system featuring rule cards with bonuses if players “do a little dance” or “try not to smile” and so forth. They binned their established world and fluff to the point of blowing up the world as a final exclamation point. I personally treat the End Times and AoS fluff like Highlander 2.

    Calth on the other hand fits neatly into the already-incredibly popular Horus Heresy as well as into the most popular faction(s) of 40k. It also doesn’t “end” 40k – either figuratively or literally which is what AoS did.

    If AoS were a fantasy side-game with models that also fit neatly and easily into WHFB, it would be a more apt analogy.

    I’ve got no interest in playing AoS in any serious capacity, but I did buy 4 boxes. That’s what I plan to do with Calth as well.

    Aside from both being GW boxed sets with nice models inside, they’re incredibly different products with incredibly different baggage and context around them.

    • davekay
      November 21, 2015

      Agree with you 100% on the differences in setting – the Heresy is loved by many.

      I think what these products have in common is that people who like the models will buy the box regardless of any rules, which is the point GW’s chairman made at a recent investor event.

      • Azazel
        November 21, 2015

        They do, but one has put the final bullet into one segment of their market while the other adds more to the other one. It seem that this particular choice of drastic change was the wrong move for Fantasy, but with model prices ever on the increase, other options were probably not considered on the table.

  2. Azazel
    November 21, 2015

    Ergo – one had a negative impact on goodwill and sends customers elsewhere – KoW, Frostgrave, etc, while the other has a positive impact – cheaper HH models.

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This entry was posted on November 21, 2015 by in Industry, Miniatures, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .
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