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In mid-2015 Warhammer, a miniatures wargame that had been going for 25 years, ended. The company that owns Warhammer, Games Workshop, took the game, threw it out, and replaced it with a different title with a vastly different setting.
The question of whether this was the correct decision is one I can only answer with “too soon to tell,” but there were certainly reasons behind Warhammer’s demise.
It wasn’t selling
This is the big one. Despite its longevity, the game was simply not doing well. Other games were drawing audiences in; Warhammer was busy driving them away. The game tottered for years, but the 8th edition saw sales sink to levels where the company simply couldn’t justify the resources that supporting the game required.
Turning this around may have been possible, but none of their efforts were achieving this effect.
It was too generic
Warhammer Fantasy battles had all the fantasy archetypes. Noble arrogant elves, Arthurian knights in armour, roving bands of orcs, tunnels filled with goblins, and anything else you care to name. The problem with ‘borrowing’ from other sources, in many cases heavily, is that it becomes difficult to create and protect a recognisable IP (Intellectual Property) of your own. In this day of IP protection and exploitation, Games Workshop weren’t in the business of creating demand for other companies to fill with more competitive offerings. If the company wanted to fix its falling sales and move forward, it had to produce lines of miniatures that players could only obtain from them.
The Warhammer setting was not giving them the ability to do this.
It couldn’t go anywhere
Warhammer was set in the Old World, and ultimately the setting was fixed. The various nation states and races were known as were their allegiances. Catastrophic events weren’t about to be represented through the game. Allow the destruction of Athel Loren, and your Wood Elf players will simply walk away. Since they couldn’t change the setting, they had to change the setting.
Right or wrong, it is done
What do you think? Were you a Warhammer player who walked away long ago? Or did you watch is despair as your beloved setting went down in flames? Was it inevitable and a long overdue refresh of fantasy wargaming, or did GW make a terrible mistake?
For another view, read the companion article: Why Warhammer should have stayed.