Really GW? Really? This is How You Treat Your Supporters?
So this weekend I was in the Twin Cities. I stopped by the Games Workshop store up there. MANY years ago my long-suffering family took me to the one in… Seattle? Vancouver? Somewhere where it rains a lot. The place was amazing. Huge. Well stocked. Knowledgeable staff. Laid out far better than the local gaming stores nearest me. I was able to get a whole unit of Engineer Outriders, which were nearly impossible to acquire in any conventional manner available to a teenager way back then. If I was even a teenager.
Fast forward to Saturday. We get there, GF looks over the Eldar, the plan is to at least get her HQ (Farseer with retinue, or an avatar) and maybe some troops. Only… there’s no Avatar, and they only have the solo farseer sans retinue. The one staffer working there comes over, I ask him what’s the haps. Turns out they are direct order only. Even for GW stores. Now I’ve heard a bit about direct order. More on that in a minute. I didn’t realize that it applied even to GW stores. Then I started looking at the shelves. Almost NONE of the direct order line that I know of was on the shelves at all. Nothing. Period. Bupkis.
I’m not sure if this is just that store or what, but they don’t stock a TON of GW product because it’s not part of the core line. That’s lousy. Then I started to look over the store itself. I am blessed to have a place near me as good as Mayhem Comics of Des Moines. No they don’t give me a discount either. The place is big. Well lit, spacious walkways (which is important when gamers seem to grow side-to-side every year) attractive displays and a HUGE games room. The only place I think the GW store had a match was the quality of the staff. The gentleman there on Saturday was top notch. Knew the product line, had the answers, and as I observed him dealing with other customers he was extremely personable, and a great salesman and an ambassador. Seriously GW that guy needs to be doing more for you than working at/managing a shop.
But the GW shop was still smaller, less well equipped, and less well staffed with only one guy there on a Saturday, with an Army Book releasing that day. It lacked the massive game room, shelves and shelves of terrain, and additional stock that the folks at Mayhem keep on hand. When it comes down to encouraging the hobby, Mayhem does a better job than a GW store in addition to selling other products and even other wargames.
Now about that direct order system. From what I understand: Direct Order is a subset of products that aren’t as common, and aren’t considered in as much demand. Stores are strictly limited in how much they can order in a given month, and it’s a harsh limit. If you need a lot of this stuff, well, your customer will have to order from GW directly. This is in addition to GW limitations to online shopping from 3rd parties, which is effectively total.
Now lets add this to GW’s litigious nature. GW would sue a cockroach for infringement if it grew a birthmark that looked like an aquila. The very popular site Beasts of War has been hammered frequently with cease and desist letters. Their partner, Wayland Games, would be massively affected should GW hammer Beasts of War. Beasts of war is in kind of a unique spot. Located with Wayland they can probably hit GW staffers with water balloons given a proper slingshot during their lunch break, and as one of the largest and most visible online reporters of wargaming news, they are frankly very large, and very hard to ignore for GW. It’d be about as subtle as the Red Sox owners putting in a billboard showing playoff results across the street from the Steinbrenners house. Tough to ignore.
Side note: Red Sox Nation, can we make that happen?
Now I’m not questioning GW’s right to protect their proprietary information. I’m questioning their judgement. They certainly have the right and some level of responsibility when it comes to protecting their info. I’m actually not even going to question their judgement at this point. It’s a bad fucking idea to do it in the manner they do. Stores are ambassadors for their product as well as outlets for sales. Online news sites drive demand for their products above and beyond what GW manages with their own website and youtube videos. This would be the equivalent of CCP slamming every single blog, podcast, vlog, or news site that uses their copyrighted material no matter how it was used. This would be like CCP going after me, the person sitting in this chair, with lawyers and all, for linking a video of one of their trailers. Literally. GW has gone after people that linked their own public videos.
The worst ambassador for GW is GW. Their stores are slipshod affairs. Their legal team is voracious and out of control. Their pricing is nonsensical. I could probably name 50 people who could do a better job running the company than they are and for once it’s not hyperbole. Those of you that have dealt with them in the past are probably nodding your heads.
They make great games. They make gorgeous miniatures, and the stores that carry them are worthwhile endeavors. I’ve played the game since you could get 30 marines for 30 bucks. I just wish the company at the top of the pyramid was less grimdark and more open and engaging.