It’s the End of GW as We Know it (and I Feel Fine)
Let’s face it. If you are reading this article you are somehow, someway invested in the table top war gaming hobby. I would also feel confident betting the vast majority of the people reading this article play table top war games developed and manufactured by the lumbering gaming behemoth Games Workshop. I myself have been playing Warhammer 40k, and to a lesser extent, Warhammer Fantasy, since around 1997. Describing to non-players the first time I was introduced to the (then) amazing White Dwarf Magazine on a Boy Scout camping trip at the age of 13 is a lesson in futility. My years of lining up little green army men against each other and playing out mighty battles on my bedroom floor had kindled my love of wargaming long before finding the magazine, but for the first time I saw a way to interact with others and I fell in love with a hobby that I didn’t even know existed. Fast forward 16 years, several editions, and an ungodly amount of disposable income later, I find myself just as much in love and enamored with the Warhammer games and universe as I was when I was 13 years old. So why do I secretly hope Games Workshop goes out of business?
I’m going to be honest here. I love Games Workshop. I love buying all of the new models and playing with them in tournaments, however, I also want them to fail utterly and miserably. I would like nothing more than to see them go out of business. I want Jervis Johnson to lose his house. I want Matt Ward to pawn his sweet black leather vests. I want Bugman’s Bar to burn to the fucking ground! That might be a little harsh, but hey, I’m being honest. I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t read online blogs and see comments along the same lines (ok, maybe not so harsh). Go ahead, try it. Next time Bell of Lost Souls of Frontline Gaming runs an article describing a price increase or an expose regarding the closing of a GW store or some such thing, the doom and gloomers come out of the woodwork. You will find comments such as “I’m going to laugh when GW goes to out of business” or “They’re finally going to go under since they don’t realize they have competition”, and so on and so forth. I smile inwardly when I read these comments. I think to myself, “that will show them”, though what THAT is I have no idea. So why do we do this? Why do we secretly want the company that develops and produces the games we love to play to go out of business?
The best analogy that I can think of to explain my bizarre behavior is the ‘smugness factor’. Think about it. This can be the neighbor that always has the newest car or gadget, the sports team that wins every national tournament, or the sibling that garners the most attention and adulation from your parents. You like them on a certain level; your neighbor is nice enough and he even invites you over to his weekly BBQ (where he shows off his new TV or game system). The sports team plays well, and the quarterback is so handsome (I’m talking about The Patriots). Your brother is your blood relative, so he can’t be all bad? The fact is, when your neighbor’s house gets egged or the Patriots lose in the playoffs, you smile a little. When your brother calls you at 3am to bail him out of jail, you’re thinking ‘JACKPOT’! You want to see these smug bastards taken down a peg.
This is what GW has done to its customers. Year after year of unexplainable price changes due to the fact that they KNOW people will keep paying to play the hobby they love. Not releasing models that are IN THE CODEX, then taking companies to court that had the audacity to manufacture said items because they saw the demand. Matt Ward’s vest! The list goes on and on and whole articles have been written on the topic. The fact of the matter is that we, as a gaming community, have done this to ourselves. We SECRETLY dislike games workshop. We continue to let them run roughshod all over us. I feel nostalgic for the day that Games Workshop was truly into the hobby aspect of the games. Remember rough riders? Remember their partnerships with local game stores that ADVERTISE THEIR GAME SYSTEM FOR FREE? I do, and I miss those days. I don’t know how to fix it. I do know that I will continue to buy and play with their models, grumbling and writing bumbling blog posts. I’ll be the last one to buy a $125 Land Raider and turn the light off when I leave.