Games Workshop's Trades Policy & Community Support

Heads up, this might seem a little bit ranty to some.

Supporting The Community:
So I have some pretty strong opinions regarding community support. I fervently believe that no one person or entity 'owns' a community. This opinion comes from years working and playing in the gaming industry. As a community leader sure you end up driving the direction of way in which the community engages with each other, you provide them with resources (often out of pocket) and generally you hopefully infuse a bit of your enthusiasm into the hobby that you are supporting for that community.

I feel that thinking or saying that you "own" a community and taking the attitude of "It's my ballpark so it's my rules" just promotes authoritarian practices and sooner or later you end up finding yourself in charge of a bunch of assets but no community.

Simply put, if you get people involved in something it doesn't mean you own the people, or how those people interact. They're people. With their own wills, rights and freedoms.

Our podcast is a great example of this. We, for a brief time, got really heavily into Heavy Gear and tried to incorporate that into our podcast. The community responded by saying they didn't like the diversion of content and sure enough I saw our listenership start to drop off. So what did we do? We responded to what people said they wanted, which was more Dystopian Wars content. Sure enough we saw a huge boost in listenerships on our last podcast!

Enter Games Workshop's New Trades Policy:
So when I saw this video and know how passionate Matthew is with the community that he manages, I really felt for the guy. I'm also livid almost beyond reasoning at how Games Workshop is systematically and unapologetically dumping on both their independent retailers and community at the same time.

I Actually Know a Bit of What I'm Talking About:
Back in the day I used to work for Games Workshop when they had a Canadian Division. I used to work as a trades sales rep (The guys that would sell GW products to folks like MiniWargames.com) and was in charge of $3 million worth of annual sales for Canada. Sure that's not much by GW worldwide standards, but it was a decent amount of work for one guy.

I remember that my direct boss, the guy in charge of the entire Canadian Trade Sales division said to me that Games Workshop likes to adopt a policy where we "See our independent retailers more as business partners than buyers." I took that policy to heart and met with the retailers that were in my territory and brought the voluminous books on stats and sales figures that we had on each of them and they brought their sales figures and we worked out successful marketing and community support plans that drove sales and helped everyone, most of all the hobby enthusiast.

Now in the end I got my hand slapped for doing this, despite the fact that I saw over 25% sales increase over a quarter when my colleagues weren't seeing those kinds of numbers, but that's kind of besides the point.

The Point:
Why am I saying all of this? Because I am deeply concerned and angry at how Games Workshop, arguably the worldwide tabletop wargame leader has over the last few years continuously made business decisions that very clearly state their intention: They don't really care about the community, nor do they care about the fanbase that they've built or (with this last action of their Trades Policy) their independent retailers, whom they say they see as "Business Partners".

We've seen them introduce price increases of truly astronomical proportions all the while they've told us that the cost of plastic moulds justify the price. We all know this for a fact to not be true, look at Spartan Games' prices. They are handily of FAR better quality than GW's kits (which are admittedly beautiful) and WAY less in price.

We've seen Games Workshop completely gut their Grey Knight support, their community support by way of  Grand Tournaments and also price support for events. They've basically cut all support for Specialist Games (arguably some of their best games ever). Simply put they are the ultimate capitalism model (not meant as a compliment) and have demonstrated that they will take every opportunity to leech every cent out of their fanbase while at the same time providing as little return as possible.

Hell we see this in there game systems now. I walk by the 40k tables every week and laugh at the rediculousness that ensues. GIANT $80 models peppered with a few troops and models that look clearly to be aimed at driving sales rather than true tactics or strategy.

With this latest development with their Trades Sales Policy, I think that they have quite clearly demonstrated that they don't care about their Independent Retailers and it will in fact hurt the gaming communities in the long run.

Next Steps:
So I'm voting with my dollars. I spend a LOT of money a year on models and I know it is a luxury. We're not talking about essential services here, but I don't think that means that a company can abuse their retailers and fanbase like this just because their products (Products that ARE essential for the survival of a game store owner's livelihood) are luxury ones.

What does that mean? It means that I'm no longer supporting GW in any way. By that I mean not a brush, paintpot, model or anything. I encourage you, if you feel strongly about this, to do the same. Clearly GW seems only motivated by their shareholder obligations and I think the only way that they will listen to their customer's needs is if we respond in the only language that they seem to know: Currency.

Anyhow, all apologies to those who still find value in those games and that company. There is, of course, no offence intended. It's just that I know an abusive relationship when I see one and why would anyone want to be a part of that?


  1. Amen brother man! I am with you on this.

  2. Lord knows, I have my own issues with GW but when they cut off the big online discounters years ago, I was all for it. I saw what it did to the wargaming hobby when stores in the US could no longer compete and it still hasn't recovered. I watched and really liked the video even if I wasn't sure if all the facts were interpreted the way I would. He was so polite and Canadian. One of the reasons quoted at the GAMA trade show for some of the online changes was to crack down on some of the ongoing piracy and remolding of bits. I also did not get the impression that they had any issue with stores selling online as long as it was done at full retail (which of course we do). We'll see about the $500/month specialist limit. We've had no issues yet and are well over that number but it may bite us in the future.

    Nice post Adam. Lots we could talk about in the store about it.


    1. Thanks for your input, Gord! And thanks for coming to check out the blog. :)

      Yeah, I wonder if they aren't going to can Specialist Games entirely or not. I suppose we shall see. I do hope that their new policies don't affect your business too much. I do love the Box and it is such a great resource for Canadian gaming in Western Canada. :)