A petition aimed at Games Workshop has been making the rounds recently. Created by Evan “Gothmog” Valdyke from Florida, it is titled ‘Refocus your business model on the sale of a game and support of a gaming community vice (sic) the pure sale of collectible miniatures.‘
The basic thrust of the petition is requesting Games Workshop to change it’s focus from being solely concerned with manufacturing and selling miniatures. Instead, Evan wants the company to acknowledge that the games systems they produce are just as important as the miniatures. And at the moment, 15,693 people agree with him.
Evan raises some good points in the petition, such as Games Workshops obvious change of focus from game design to miniature sales. Recent rules, especially the Warhammer: Age of Sigmar relaunch, are obviously constructed to allow for the company to easily and regularly slot in new model releases. And of course there are the mandatory, though not completely unjustified, requests for a more reasonable pricing structure worldwide.
While the points outlined in the petition are fair observations on how the company has changed over the recent years, and many people including myself agree with them in principal, is it fair or sensible to petition a company to restructure their focus? We know that the economy worldwide has taken quite a hit in the recent years, and this must be especially true for Games Workshop, who are attempting to sell a luxury item.
This redistribution of resources to target miniature development, production and sale is obviously not on a whim. Likely it is a calculated shift in order for the company to stay viable. So it is fair to assume that if the company continued to invest and manufacture in its unprofitable areas then Games Workshop very likely wouldn’t be around for much longer.
It is important to realise, I am not apologising for Games Workshop in any way. In fact, I am furious that the company abandoned the Warhammer setting. And their current pricing policies make buying Games Workshop miniatures in my part of the world almost impossible for me. However, creating a divide between customers and the company by making demands on how they operate, whether in a petition or not, doesn’t seem productive. I would be very, very surprised if Games Workshop relents to any of the petitions demands. I would also be doubly surprised if, when the petition fulfils 25,000 signatures and is still ignored by the company, the community reacts with measured disagreement.
At the same time, Games Workshop has driven a large portion if its customer base to this point. They are hardly innocent in this scenario.
The strange thing is, Games Workshop could realistically alleviate a lot of their problems by being far more transparent than they currently are. As it currently stands, they treat their customers like mindless cash-cows, and everyone knows it. It would be fantastic if they would open up to community discourse, and that the community could respond to them in an intelligent and understanding manner.
However, I feel it is far too late for this. Instead Games Workshop and its customers have drawn battle lines, and the outcome is going to be a loss for both sides.