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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
28/January/2008 - Black Industries Announcement
Black Industries regret to announce that Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods out in September will be the final product to be released from Black Industries.

Kevin Rountree General Manager of BL Publishing said ‘As a result of the continued and impressive success of our core novels business, which we have built around 40K and Warhammer, we have decided to focus all of our efforts on growing this part of our business. Black Industries has seen fantastic success, most recently with Talisman and Dark Heresy. This change does not take away from that achievement rather it allows BL Publishing to focus on producing the best novels we can. This is a purely commercial decision and will enable us to carry on the huge growth that we have recently been experiencing with our novels’

For the time being Black Industries will continue to post articles in support of the products on their official website, which is a fantastic resource for scenarios and gaming tools for GM’s and players alike.
Personally whenever I see a company talking about "focusing on its core elements" etc. etc. I see a company contracting. I can't see the books standing alone for long - AD&D has always thrived because of the crossover - people want to "be" those characters like Gotrek & Felix etc. Without WHFRP & DH I imagine the books will be next to go?

In tabletop terms I think there will also be a contraction - these days people can find online opponents - they don't have to keep buying umpteen new Codicies with each new army better than the last. Also there are tough times ahead in retail - running a shop is pricey - GW prices are well above the curent market rate for quality figures - and as some of the latest LOTR plastics show quality is dropping.

There was also no mention of LOTR - fair enough BL don't support it - but then neither does GW very well, they've shot themselves in the foot bigtime with the mature gamer market so I can't see the licence being renewed.

All the specialist games have gone from the shops that might get others in.

I can't see a high street franchise surviving on just two near identical systems which now cost far more than the PS or XBOX equivalents.

Of course I maybe wrong, but if I had any GW shares I'd be seriously considering unloading them ;Y
 

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things will change
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I think you are taking things a little out of proportion.

First up, while Black industries may well be shutting up shop, this is hardly a reflection on the state of GW as a whole.
Black Library (Solaris et al) is a very small team. We're talking less than 10 people here, from what I know.

Black Industries is run as an 'added extra' on top of the work the team does producing the novels etc, and as an extra is basically something that they do for fun.
This means that, at the end of the day, BL need to be concentrating on producing the best novels that they can, so that they can be more profitable, and in turn, eventually get to the point where they can be doing this kind of thing again.

Personally I think it is a better idea for them to concentrate on the 'core' of their business and do it well, rather than spread themselves very thin trying to achieve all manner of crazy things, and do it all rubbish.

While GW may not be as outwardly healthy as it was during the LotR boom years, it is still expanding in size, and it is still increasing the scope of it's games and models.

Of course, this is all just speculation.
I guess you'll be able to know for sure at the end of the financial year!

-t.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think you are taking things a little out of proportion.

....

While GW may not be as outwardly healthy as it was during the LotR boom years, it is still expanding in size, and it is still increasing the scope of it's games and models.

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Well of course the first may be entirely true ;)

I'm not so sure about the second - they may be doing "new" models for existing ranges - I think the scope of its games is actually reducing - LOTR has turned into a "power-game" series - a bit like I suspect we are going to see with 5th ed 40K - after all we haven't even had all the 4th ed Codices yet - but already we "need" a new Rulebook - that smacks to me slightly of trying artificially generate sales by making everyone's army "obsolete" overnight. OK its a plausible marketing tactic - if expensive - but once LOTR goes how long can it survive by rehyping WHFB & WH40K every 4 - then 3 - then 2 years??
 

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things will change
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At the end of the day, there isn't really much I can say to that.

What you are saying is pure speculation, and while I disagree with it, I don't know enough about how GW is run and what it has planned to make an informed guess at what they are doing, so I can't really argue sensibly.

I could go into further detail about how I disagree with you, but it doesn't really advance the topic, and will just lead to an uninteresting argument about whether or not GW is rubbish.
Personally I think GW is pretty awesome, on the whole. It may do some things I disagree with, but it's still a very good company, producing some great models and some great games.

-t.
 

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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
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GW appears at times to have a fan base with a strange sense of entitlement and a strong urge to speculate. Forums such as this seem to have a fair bit of discussion in which people ruminate about the company's financial security and future. Forums such as this also seem to be packed full of people responding to rumors about game expansion as if buying the product somehow gives them the right to have input into how the product is developed.

This is, of course, not true. Unfortunately, GW is not alone in this, as can be evidenced by reading WotC customer discussions about 4th Edition D&D. And as much as it is our right to have these discussions and ponder these issues, we should recognize them for what they are - amateur speculation.

In the end, it's easy for us to sit in front of computers while poking and nitpicking at the very people we rely on to supply us our hobby. However, not many of us would actually have the creativity or business-savvy to make money while expanding a hobby, such as GW has managed to do for decades.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
and will just lead to an uninteresting argument about whether or not GW is rubbish..
Ah no, please don't misunderstand - I didn't say GW was rubbish - heaven knows I have enough of their stuff to open my own shop. :)

I just wondered if this retrenchment, together with rumours on the LOTR front - was sign of financial woes to come.

And of course since the shareholders expect a dividend they've got to either cut costs (drive down wages & stores) - or boost profits (increase sales & prices).

All of those could affect us and our enjoyment of the hobby - that's all I'm suggesting, rather hypothetically I'll admit.
 

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GW's stock has fallen by 30% the last year or two and they had a changeover of CEOs according to a reliable source and this press release.

PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT

For immediate release 3 December 2007
APPOINTMENT OF CHIEF EXECUTIVE

The Board of Games Workshop Group PLC (‘Games Workshop’ or the ‘Company’) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mark Wells to the Board as Chief Executive of the Company with immediate effect.

Mark joined Games Workshop in 2000 from Boots plc and has been Head of Sales at the Company since 2006.

Tom Kirby, who has been Chairman and Chief Executive of Games Workshop since 2000, will continue as Chairman of the Company.

Tom Kirby said: ‘Mark has the vision, ability and passion to lead Games Workshop in its next phase of growth. He not only understands Games Workshop’s business model and its special culture and spirit, but he is a strong advocate of the values that are so important to the Company.

‘Mark and I share the same vision for Games Workshop, and we have ambitious plans for growth and value creation. I trust Mark absolutely to do the right thing for the Company, our shareholders and our staff.’

No additional information should be disclosed under paragraph 9.6.13 of the Listing Rules of the UK Listing Authority.

…Ends…

Enquiries:

Games Workshop Group PLC
Tom Kirby 0115 900 4001

Rawlings Financial PR Limited
John Rawlings 01756 770376

Landsbanki Securities
Shaun Dobson 0207 4269000

Notes to Editors:

Mark Wells Biography

Mark Wells, age 45, MA Law, St Johns College, Cambridge [Exhibition], MBA Stirling University. Qualified as a solicitor with Messrs Herbert Smith. Next plc: Retail, Mail Order, Buying and M&A. Various management roles with Boots plc, including Director of Customer Service, Boots The Chemists and Director of Merchandise and Marketing, Boots Stores, Netherlands. Games Workshop General Manager UK Sales and Hobby Division CEO.
 

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The appointment of a new C.E.O. Clearly points towards the company not doing as well as it might like everyone ot believe. And this is coming from a peron involved in running a hobby based buisiness, if you get someone in charge who does the job, and does it well? You keep them there.

GW has three problems from a fiscal and proffessional point of view that support the idea that the company isn't doing as well as it could. (And yes, this DOES relate to yoru average gamer in a dozen different ways. Support of the product, expansion, pricing, etc. to name a few.)

Problem 1: Prices

I think it's clear that G.W. has the right ot charge whatever it wants, as someone pointed out. One can say however that abuse of a right can result in more damage than good.

If you look at other Mini Lines, Reaper, Privateer Press, WoTC, Clix, etc. You would be hard pressed tof ind anything priced as steep as GW products. You could also find many examples where-in the work and the sculpts of these minis FAR exceeds the common grade of work on the G.W. lines. To say nothing of the scope and range of models and products offered.

Look at he GW cases. ALL their competition offers (mostly Sabol) cases of equal or better construction and versatility ALOT cheaper.

In stopping their mainstream support of some of the Specialist Games lines, and of saturating us with LoTR products, relases and White Dwarf articles they have decided to banka l arger percentage of their success and profit on a game that has LESS of a niche' than say, BFG, Necromunda+Mordheim or Epic. The faulty thought here is that LoTR has a huge fan following, and that GW can cash in on that. The LoTR fanbase is hugely diverse and multi-demographic where-as the Tabletop Wargaming and particularly Warhammer followings do not spill over os much as they would like into the LoTR Fan Base. The same people who buy and prmote WHFB and WH40K with casha nd word of mouth would also play other games based within the fictiona nd framework of their favored Warhammer system. THis cannot be said about hte LoTR lines. And as anyone ont he inside can tell you? GW and GW stores take a huge hit on the LoTR lines. THey ar enot worth carrying cost wise VS. Profitability. The biggest problem this presents for you and I? Whent he lose money on LoTR, they have ot make it up From us and those products we purchase.


Problem 2:

Someone posted earlier that the people who buy the products have no say in how the company is done or the products presented. Well, I can point out to you hundreds of hobby based business's that followed this thought process. I can also point you to the Bankruptcy department they have all benn too.

The bottom line in a hobby based buisiness is that you aren't going to get rich. Not unless you have a buisiness model and managament team that works like a flawless machines and can ballance all the requirements of said buisiness against the desires of your chief investors and customers. For example let me point you towards a more easily made example. Online Videogames. hobby based buisiness's that rely on a Non-Neccesity product of leisure.

Final Fantasy Online:
The Final Fantasy franchise has,a nd always will be a cash cow of Square Enix. The games are always wildly popular blockbusters with al most instant immortality in the eyes and heart sof their fans. At least the Non-Online version. While always setting an industry benchmark in presentation, quality and innovation of design, even this company can falter if not supportive of its' fans opinions, and if not responsive tot heir demands and opinions.

-Final Fantasy Online:
Released withW onderful Graphics, an engrossing story and a control scheme while, if not intuitive, rewarded and enhanced the gaemplay. However, fans had their own opinions about it's pro's and cnon's after playing it for a while. PvP, Questing, LEveling Etc. By and large these opions were heard, and not listened too. As a result the game of FFO has become a niche's product of it's genre that supprts it's cost of contiuance, but is not profitable int he degree a buisiness would like.


World of Warcraft:

I am sure everytone knows about hte game, plays the game, or knows someone who does. Why did a game with mediocre graphics, a relativly trivial story/fluff element, and roughly the same fan base as FFO become a Financial and Industry Genre GIANT that has set the benchmark for success?

1) Fans, Fans, Fans: The company asked the fans, what od you like and dislime about the game? And regardless of what one or two higherups whined about, (Jervis, Alessio) they gave the fans what they wanted and balanced it into the game.

2) Support: The amount of support given aspects of the games be they new or old,(GW F.A.Q.'s could not BE more out of date), recieve prompt support and constant attention and tweaking to facilitate not only performance of the game, but make the customer feel important.

3) Quality: Nothign is rushed. No Project is given over to one or two people and a team of gophers. Everyone involed must sign off on the new aspects, features, add-ons and improvements to the game on a very constant basis.

Because of these simple tenants (ALL of which are absed aorund lettign the fans input matter) The game makes a over 250,000,000 Dollars a month (Before the costs associated with upkeep, payroll a,d staff are taken out) Versus the Under 1,000,000 A month FFO makes.

Point here is that:

FFO: Creates what htey want, how they want,w ith what additions they want. Unpdates whent hey feel like it, and allows fans VERY little int he room of authority over direction of the game. less than 12,000,000. A year.

WoW: Is built aorund and for it's fanbase. Almost 100% of the directiont he company and games takes ina ccordance and relating to the game is determined by the fans and customers and what they want to see. Yearly Earnings? 3,600,000,000.00 A year.

THat I think should be an example of a hobby based company that listens and gives fans at least a certain amount of authority and power as far as where the game heads, versus a company that has a product that sells, but constricts it within the parameters of what THEY want.


Problem 3:
Advertising

GW doesn't advertise by and large. It's aniche product with a niche'demographic. 85-90% of new gamers and players that are introduced to it come by the hobby through world of mouth.

How many of you have friends that would like ot get intot he game, but when your asked about say?

'Yeah it's a good game, but they did this and this and this. And things cost this much, and get MORe expensive. Yada yada"

Those who play KNOW the good points of hte game and hobby, are passionate about it, but it is not accsessible to newcomers much at all, nor attractive as it should be. So when the great percentage of fans have an opinion? It should be listened to. We are after allt heri number One advertising reps.


Allt hese things said, I do NOT think GW is doing as wella s it could. I do thinkt hey are fiscally and profesionally under strain and I DO wish they'd fix it so that we could feel not only relief, but eagerness and anticipationt owards a brighter day for the hobby.
 

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And as anyone ont he inside can tell you? GW and GW stores take a huge hit on the LoTR lines.
I'm sorry to start with such a blunt assertion but this is outright untrue. GW have, and continue to generate a massive amount of revenue from LotR.
Hell the fact LotR was so popular and profitable caused GW to make one of it's biggest mistakes, they expanded massively on the back of increased profit due to LotR and then when demand (as was inevitable) decreased they were massively over-sized.

If you look at other Mini Lines, Reaper, Privateer Press, WoTC, Clix, etc. You would be hard pressed tof ind anything priced as steep as GW products. You could also find many examples where-in the work and the sculpts of these minis FAR exceeds the common grade of work on the G.W. lines. To say nothing of the scope and range of models and products offered.
Again this seems like a case of rose tinted glasses to me. I love PPs Warmachine but cheaper, and with more variety?
If anything it is the lack of unit upgrade options in Warmachine that GW are beginning to emulate with newer releases (and something 40k gamers dislike). I do how ever agree that PPs models look wonderful :)

I also play AT-43 by Rackham, which I think is a great game. And although some of the models are great overall they are no better than GWs range and actually work out more expensive!

- - -
Their are lots of things that GW does that I find frustrating, and that seem to me to be mistakes, and this is something that seems to be true for a lot of hobbyists. How ever the volume of moaning their is about anything that GW does probably is a lot of the reason why their games designers etc avoid fan forums.
Jervis, Alessio and even Gav (for all his sins) are actually nice people, and although they have to balance GWs interests with other things, I have no doubt having spoke with them that they want and try to create fun fair games. You can argue, and I would agree that they haven't really managed it but I don't think it's anything malicious.
 

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Sparta!
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Actually, GW have been losing money due to the LotR lines. They paid a lot for the licensing and while the movies and dvd's were being released they were a massive boon to GW, but the range is now going out of fashion quickly, and all the money that they invested in it is slowly but surely going down the gurgler.
They have to recap their lossess somehow, and this gets passed on to us with dramatic price hikes (on already premium prices) and a reduced content in box (sure the number of bits per sprue may be up, but the number of models per box is starting to fall).
They have to seriously reconsider their pricing, marketing and sales approach otherwise they will continue to alienate customers - long term customers - and in a few years will be filing for bankruptcy.
As a previous poster mentioned most of the advertising for GW comes from word of mouth - it is very much a niche genre. Maybe some mainstream advertising will pull in a few sales for them, maybe not, but surely it is worth a try.
 

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Their share prices have hardly been any too shiney recently.

GW hasn't recovered well from the slump after LOTR sales dropped off and didn't react quickly enough to balance with other products.

Also they need to recognise that they have more competition from other entertainment formats nowadays, not just from inside the tabletop gaming industry, such as (as faustian pointed out) MMOs like World of Warcraft, but also games like halo.

With the way GW have priced their products they put themselves in direct competition with brand new release games, "What would you like son this brand new computer game or this box of little plastic men and a tank that you have to stick together, paint and read a book before you can use them?" I mean, what do you think the pick is gonna be?
 

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Actually, GW have been losing money due to the LotR lines. They paid a lot for the licensing and while the movies and dvd's were being released they were a massive boon to GW, but the range is now going out of fashion quickly, and all the money that they invested in it is slowly but surely going down the gurgler.
Again, in the interest of getting to the point quickly. The facts your basing this on are what exactly. Insider information? careful analysis of the extensive financial information GW publishes yearly (2008 not being available yet)? (all on their investor site).
I'm sorry but both the publically available figures, and the conversations I have had with GW employees simply don't reflect the reality people seem to paint.

LotR sales are of course down, but they are still sizeable, and the profit it was generating still exceeded both their other core games less than 6 months ago (unless the guidance and figures given to store managers were some elaborate lie to hide the truth :?and frankly I rather think not).
One thing that was pointed out when this was queried was that LotR causes less store activity for its sales, meaning that people use store facilities (like gaming tables) less when they buy LotR products than WFB / 40K products. Thus the fact you see more 40K in stores, doesn't equate directly with greater 40k sales.

I'm not saying that GW is a good company, or that LotR is/was a good move for them (hell I think they made it too central to their strategy and expected it to run for too long). What I am saying is that LotR is not a loss leader and has never been, and that although everyone on online forums likes to share their invalueable opinion on how GW should run their international operation none of them (myself included) have any idea exactly what is being considered by GWs senior management when they make decisions.
 

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Charitably Tables People
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Revise and update rules for existing games, making sure to do so in a fashion that forces hardcore players to purchase new stuff. Charge more and more and more every year for products, forcing hardcore players to pay more and more and more.

Produce no new games, release no new armies, find few ways to actually charge a reasonable amount less for miniatures or products.

GW will be in financial trouble of a sort so long as they take an approach of milking their base while appealing not at all to potential new participants in the hobby. Whoever came up with Dawn of War and Warhammer Online needs a medal, b/c that's the only intelligent business decision they've made in a while.

/flame on
 

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The deep down truth
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Anybody who believes that GW are not having problems, have a rosy future and are not in trouble financially needs to remove their heads from the sand.

No matter how much we all may like GW, the simple fact of the matter is they have been running the company badly (successful companies do not have falling profits year on year), decisions have been made that have affected the companies performance over the last 3 or 4 years. The affect in performance has been downwards and this is not supposition or speculation, this is stone cold fact which is illustrated in their year on year reports. Profits are great, however what is not great is falling profits, you really want the opposite.

Ask the shareholders how healthy GW is at the moment and see what sort of answer you get.
I hope this situation can be turned around because I would hate to see GW sink any further, but they need a radical re-think of business strategy, because what they have been doing for the last few years is obviously not working that well.

There seems to be this idea that because we play the game and are passionate about it, then we cannot be critical or make observations (valid) of where the company is either not performing or quite frankly are letting us the customer down. Lets remember one thing, it is us as the customers who are the most important thing for GW's survival, if they continue to raise prices, reduce the quality of aspects of the companies output (web, White Dwarf, FAQs, no more e-mail support for queries, etc etc), yet continue to up prices way above what other comapnies do, then they will drive us the customer away and they will fail. Without us 'the customer and fans' the company is nothing.

This idea that we have no input on what GW do is ridiculous, if they do not listen to us they fail, simple as that. We buy the stuff they sell, they rely on us to survive.

I know many may not like what I have said, but facts and figures do not lie and I think it is just silly to pretend that GW are doing well, while their profits are reducing year on year.
 

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one thing the fail to realised is that most of use have enough figures, paints, rules and what not to play this game for the rest of our lives if GW went bump tomorow.

I don't need to buy anything from their shops. I have most of what i need already and most other stuff I can get from ebay....or even proxy or convert myself.

I don't need another edition of the rules or a book about how to play 100,000 point battles.

When I bought my first blister pack of figures they were £2.50 for 5 marines. what are they now?? £6 for 3?? I think that was in 1987 maybe? the first imperial guard box set that came out was £10 for 30 chaps. You can't even get a box of 10 guard for that price now.

I realise that things increase in price and now 21 years on it matters little to me what the cost of their stuff is cause it just goes on the old credit card....BUT its a matter of principal. If they pursue this course of penalising US, the gamer, by increasing costs without increasing their support (upto date FAQ's, online staff help ect) then people will just carry on doing their own thing without the need for GW.
 

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I hope no one is getting the impression I think GW is doing well, truth be told I don't know enough about their finances and know nearly nothing of what their primary concerns are, but absolutely their falling profits are a worrying sign.
It is possible to both think GW are doing poorly, and think that the financial advice of forum users with no involvement in the company is not automatically worth following.

As an example of this, the company I work for is being bought by a competitor. For a while as the deal was being agreed most people were not aware of this (insider trading regulations) how ever it did lead us to make some decisions differently.
A LOT of the people who worked for our company, even low level managers weren't aware of the reason for these decisions and to them the decisions seemed very poor.

- - -
The last thing I want to do is tell people on an online forum not to discuss the things that GW is doing wrong, and the things they can improve. I was instead expressing my feeling that far too many people like to think of themselves as 'armchair CEOs' and so bad mouth every decision they make.

Their are 101 things I wish GW would do differently, the first to jump to mind being:
> Release regular and extensive FAQ/Errata.
> Give Specialist games even the slightest bit of exposure.
> Be more transparent about changes to their customers (For example the dropping of bits on the online store, which has been staff knowledge/rumour since before Christmas).
> Offer hobby supplies, and do so at a none eye gouging price. Why don't GW stock Plasticard or pink foam, and why is everything like glue so over priced. But obviously people will pay the prices :|
> Either make White Dwarf a proper magazine again, or release a 'vet' centric monthly mag. I'm not asking for gloss etc, just a decent battle report, conversion, interview with a designer (like the one Alessio did for Skavenblight Gazette). I used to buy WD every month when it wasn't just an expensive advert.
 

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Games Workshop have posted their half-yearly results for the period from July 2007 to December 02, 2008.

Highlights from the document include:

Revenue at £54.6m (2006: £54.6m)
Pre-exceptional gross margin at 69.9% (2006: 70.9%)
Exceptional items - cost reduction programme £(0.6)m (2006: £nil)
Pre-exceptional operating profit up £0.6m to £1.1m (2006: £0.5m)
Operating profit at £0.5m (2006: £0.5m)
(Loss)/earnings per share of (0.4)p (2006: 0.2p)

More info at the link:

WordPress › Error

GW's poor 2006 and 2007 are continuing into 2008. The sales drop in Europe is a little disconcerting as well.
 
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