Games Workshop – Punters Justifying the Spend


Recently on the Warhammer Forum I came across a topic that slightly echoes what I was talking about in my Voting with your Wallet discussion. For those of you with RSI or who are just too lazy to click on links let me do a bit of TL;DR for you. The poster is asking whether people are actually bothered by how much things cost now from our capitalist Sherriff.

What really did things for me was the recent Advance Orders for the Dark Eldar Beastmasters. This is a Fast Attack choice in the army and they were pretty popular under the old Codex and are still decent and destined to be popular with the new book. The problem is that GW has released these as metals, not even a metal boxed set mind you, but individual blisters. There is £8 for the Beastmaster himself and you can take 5 of these per unit. There are three different kinds of beasts that you can then take per Beastmaster, each of these beasts are sold individually at, you guessed it, £8 a pop. Bear in mind that you are going to want multiples of these in a squad the cost rises pretty rapidly. A full unit of these guys costs more than a 1500pts Imperial Guard army!!!

In the back of my mind I think I’ll be completing my already written Dark Eldar list and that’ll probably be from discount online retailers following stuff I sell on eBay so no money is actually spent. However, looking at the thread on the forum it is really interesting to see the different responses that people have. I kind of figured all this out myself already and was going to remark on it then this post came along and gave me an even better excuse to discuss things.

Going back to my childhood (again) Games Workshop was a great place you could go in and pick up a blister pack for a few quid. It was easy enough to start your collection with pocket-money, nowadays when your Hive Tyrant costs over £30 (the price of two metal tactical squads when I started) you can’t quite see things in the same light. Things are even worse in fantasy of course. With GWs ’10 men in a box’ philosophy you’re OK in 40k as 10 is a pretty standard number for a squad, in Warhammer though you are probably looking at 20-30+ models for one regiment and now you are paying £18 for those 10 men a unit of plastics now costs more than metals used to. It’s even worse if you have a unit like Stormvermin or Phoenix Guard, one benefits from large numbers in a unit the other costs more than making them out of solid gold.

So, we have a thread asking about people’s reactions to this and the vast majority of these people are more than happy to keep paying whatever the asking price is raised too. I have to qualify this that I know a lot of people buy stuff online and from discount outlets but a lot of the people in the thread above are talking about stuff from GW stores. Some will only buy from eBay second-hand to save costs, but there are still a good number of people who will walk into a store and spend their money on full price stuff. It is now impossible to start an army on our pocket-money, for many youngsters I can imagine that parents have to pay out the significant start-up fee for their games. I know you can argue that all you need is a character and some troops, but I ask you, dear Internet, have you really ever done that? I know I tend to plan an army and buy it, I may start at 1000pts for 40k but I’ll be working to a goal of the full army and the outlay for even this size of force is not insignificant even with a low model count army like the ubiquitous Space Marines (who little Johnny is probably going to be encouraged to pick up first anyway).

The justification that people use is that other hobbies are more expensive so they feel they are still getting a good deal. Well, my car costs less than a Ferrari too… While this seems to be a prevailing feeling among those that are still happy to part with vast sums of cash to fund their habit I can’t help but think they are missing the point. The point isn’t that this is a cheaper hobby than others we could choose, it is that it is now vastly more expensive than it used to be. I would imagine the only other market in which goods have increased by a similar amount is housing! My house cost almost twice as much as my parents when they bought it in the mid 80s. In the nineties I could get a unit of metal terminators in blister packs for £15, now they are plastic and nearer £30.

It doesn’t take long for a conversation regarding GW to turn to their aggressive price rising strategy and people say that their prices should come down and people would buy more. The problem here is that while there are enough people who are willing to part with their cash in spite of these rises then there is no incentive for the Sherriff to consider doing anything about it. I’m looking at the minimum I need to do to finish off my GW projects  and then focus on other games as needed. I’ll have my armies and play them but I can see my disposable income going to a lot of other places before GW gets a share. If you’re happy to keep paying through the nose for stuff then who am I to argue, but if you are one of the people who do keep spending it then please don’t come around here complaining about the next price increase, while you continue to make a demand GW can but continue to ensure a supply.

I fear that the longevity of this hobby may be hurt by the crippling costs involved with getting into it. New blood is always good for a hobby but with all the cheaper alternatives even the high street presence of GW may not be enough to maintain their age-old dominance. Something needs to change but it needs the customer base to do it and unfortunately a lot of these people seem to have money to burn!

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One thought on “Games Workshop – Punters Justifying the Spend”

  1. I’d probably play the game if it were cheaper. When I’m looking at over $300 in startup costs just to try it out, that kills my interest. As it is, I bought about $50 worth of books for the game second hand, and I’ll simply be studying those. Maybe I’ll bust out my chesspiece army one of these days.

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