Games Workshop – Castrating the Customer Base


As many of you Internet punters may be aware, we are rapidly approaching the month of June, traditional territory for the Sheriff and his posse to increase the prices of their range of luxury army men. Queue Internet outrage as once again the powers that be at Space Marine towers seem to unaware of the phrase “inflation busting” nor of the way that economics tends to work.

At the start of this year the UK government increased VAT, meaning that across the board prices went up, in this case GW increased their prices and I cannot blame them for this, I can blame them for the fact that they increased some prices beyond the 2.5% rise in VAT.

What happens now is that those prices have been rounded up to the nearest pound, not too much of a problem there, however, what is a problem is that some of the existing plastic kits are being increased in prices by as much as 25%! I am well aware that this will probably mean nothing overall, there are people who will continue to pump their money into the Sheriff’s coffers regardless of how increasingly expensive this hobby becomes, the principles of supply and demand are no doubt alive and kicking in Lenton.

We are still awaiting to actually see the Finecast system that has been announced and there is already outrage over those models getting more expensive due to the shift in materials. I don’t think that any amount of outrage will actually change the stance that GW has towards its customers. While there are many that I have seen argue that GW owes nothing to its customers, it is after all a business and its primary focus should be making money I would also like to counter that by saying that without customers it will not make money.

I was looking at the new Tomb Kings, I was probably going to wait for the Octogre release of the new Ogre Kingdoms book for Fantasy too as I already have 3000pts of them. However, both of those projects may now be shelved due to yet another massive price hike (plastic Ogre kits are among those going up by over 20%). Luckily I think the majority of us ensconced in the floating citadel have the models we need, I have a couple of purchases left I’d like for my Dark Eldar for sure but I can’t see any of us starting new armies or making large purchases when there are other systems out there that have better models, better rules and don’t shaft you annually.

I do worry though, that for all this outcry, even those vehemently expressing their disgust, will be back buying the same amount of stuff they always have in a few months once all this has blown itself out. I just cannot think of any other company that will abuse customers by increasing prices at over 5 times the rate of inflation pretty much every single year.

Gone are the days when you had sales in your GW store to shift old stock or old models. I liked those days, when a metal Terminator was £3 in a blister pack and you could get three Rhinos for a tenner. I miss the really good games, like Necromunda, their inevitable destruction once they are relegated to “specialist” status and such. Games Workshop have had moments of brilliance, it’s just a shame that these are overshadowed by moments of incredible stupidity with how they treat gamers who have been with them for 30 years.

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2 thoughts on “Games Workshop – Castrating the Customer Base”

  1. It’s mind boggling how they cannot see that lowering their prices would not only increase demand among their existing customer base, but would bring in new customers.

    The GW store in my local Mall (here in California) closed a little while ago, and it’s hardly surprising. Sure the painted models and detailed terrain look great and it’s a fun game to play when you’ve got a knowledgeable employee officiating, but aside from their 20+ regulars, most of the customers they attract are pre-pubescent boys.

    Mum & Dad see their kids having a good time playing something other than video games, then they look at the prices on the boxes, and how few models they get for…HOW MUCH?! And we have to buy paints on top of that???

    Come on kids, let’s go.

    Several years ago I had to get my car serviced, and the mechanic was across the road from the mall, so I figured I’d take my paints & some models in with me, drop off the car, then head into the GW and do some painting at their tables.

    I was using my own models paints (official GW paints, btw) and the Manager-on-duty did, eventually, let me hang out there and paint, but I really had to talk him into it. Apparently they have a certain day of the week for Painting, and “today” was not that day.

  2. I’m oddly reminded of PC wargaming. It’s become a high end luxury niche market, and is seeing some of the similar troubles. Those already in the niche don’t care, but the proprietors are cutting off their futures.

    That’s just not smart business.

    …but maybe I’m just bitter, because I’d be one of those to buy some WH stuff if the prices weren’t stupid.

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