Gamers Only 20 Percent of Games Workshop's Customers

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Gamers Only 20 Percent of Games Workshop's Customers

Games Workshop sells more to collectors and hobbyists than it does to people actually playing its games.
When you're talking about a company named Games Workshop, you could perhaps be forgiven for thinking that its primary clientele were gamers. That said, if some recent percentages revealed by the company are any indicator, the people keeping it alive are far less interested in playing with its products than you'd initially imagine.

How big a part of Games Workshop's customer base are gamers? According to alleged statements from the company, gamers currently only represent around 20 percent of its current business. This number was revealed in an editorial written by Richard Beddard, the companies editor at Interactive Investor. While Beddard didn't attribute it to any one person, the percentage apparently came up "in conversation" while he was visiting Games Workshop's annual general meeting. In fact, according to Beddard, the company's staff actually became somewhat grouchy when an investor attending the meeting asked if the company would ever consider producing pre-painted miniatures aimed more directly at gamers.

If gamers aren't keeping Games Workshop profitable, the big question, of course, is who is? The answer probably isn't too hard to figure out. The remaining 80 percent of its customer base is made up almost exclusively of collector's and hobbyists that are willing to spend thousands of dollars for unpainted miniatures that they can detail and display. I'd personally be surprised by this, but then I look at my shelf full of LEGO sets I never play with and it all makes sense. You should never underestimate how much people will pay for something that looks cool on a shelf.

Source: Interactive Investor

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How many of those hobbyists actually play the game though? It seems weird to spilt some people into this odd group. What's the difference between a hobbyist and gamer? A hobbyist and collector?

MerlinCross:
How many of those hobbyists actually play the game though? It seems weird to spilt some people into this odd group. What's the difference between a hobbyist and gamer? A hobbyist and collector?

A collector might be someone who only has an interest in dealing with a particular aspect of the thing. When I was a kid, I preferred to collect MTG cards, playing wasn't of interest to me. Same thing.

MerlinCross:
How many of those hobbyists actually play the game though? It seems weird to spilt some people into this odd group. What's the difference between a hobbyist and gamer? A hobbyist and collector?

I presume a hobbyist in this case is somebody who likes building models and painting miniatures but doesn't actually play the tabletop game itself.

Makes sense to me. I buy the novels, and I've no plans at all to ever play the game. Though I am thinking about buying an info-book abvout the world someday.

I'm sure there's another group percentage for retailers, mainly brick-and-mortar outlets.

Not a whole lot of online retailers though, since they're still cracking down on that. Most sites that sell GW merchandise can still sell the products, but they are not in any way allowed to upload images of them. Even hand-photographed images of the models earns you a CND from them. On top of that, a lot of them aren't even allowed to put a price on their own website, forcing potential customers to have to call in and request that information on a per-item basis.

But if it really is people who simply buy and pain miniatures for the sole purpose of decoration or whatever, then that would explain how GW has managed to stay afloat despite the people who actually play the games getting burned out due to price hikes on already expensive models (that are cheaply and shoddily made), constant rule changes on the armies they remember they own, lack of support for the armies that don't, and a whole plethora of balance issues. Most hobby shops I've been to usually have house rules to offset the oftentimes-wonky official rules, and that only does so much to curb the bickering.

It doesn't help that the stores that are granted permission to sell GW products have some weird enforcement policy regarding the games being played: no unpainted models, no models from other games, no handmade vehicles (which really screwed over a friend of mine who hand-built an entire Titan out of plasticard using a papercraft guide), no customized models (rarely enforced), no models made from materials not plastic or metal (also rarely enforced, especially if you get really good at making resin or instamorph casts).

Really GW's games and business models can only be described as absolute bonkers. The fact they are still around despite all of this says a lot about the people willing to shell out thousands of dollars for models they aren't actually going to use. It also says a lot about how GW can bleed fans and still survive (barely, they fired most of their writing staff, including Matt Ward).

Guys... in this case gamer =/= videogamer

They refer to gamers as people who actually play their table top game systems

And hobbiests as people who simply collect, paint and modify the minis.

So from all their customers only 20 percent aparantly actually play warhammer 40k and that new abomination age of sigmar as tabletop games.

Heck they said themselves they are a hobby... and not a toy company (when compared to the new star wars tabletop games like Armada)

Queen Michael:
Makes sense to me. I buy the novels, and I've no plans at all to ever play the game. Though I am thinking about buying an info-book abvout the world someday.

Dont bother if its the fantasy world.. because they nuked that one in favour of a setting that seems to be inspired by your run of the mill heavy metal album cover art...

First, you need to understand the games... Which can be more complicated than DnD2nd edition.
Then, you need the capital to buy the products. For some gamers, this results in a minuscule army squad.
Third, you need the capital for the peripherals. Nono, not dice, I'm talking paint and glue.
Fourth, you need an arena to stage the game in. Either prebuilt ($$$) or custom, which I'm about to get to...
Fifth you need the time investment to assemble each soldier, paint each unit, and possibly build the parts for your arena. Remember: Time is money. Spend 12 hours working, or 12 hours playing a game?
Sixth, you need to find a community of people to play with you, which is often small, and has to be local. No friends who play? No bueno.

I would be way more inclined to play some of these games if the pieces were simply pre-painted cheap plastic parts. Or even discs. But the thought of going into a Games Workshop looking for that amongst the people painting figurines, wheezing either from inhaling too much spray-paint or impending cardiac arrest is more than just intimidating when I recall the glares I got from those very people when I went in there looking to see their sets of dice for tabletop games.

Honestly, I'm not surprised. These are not good games. The cost to get started is mortifying, and what if I don't like it?! On top of that, I've got prior commitments. I don't have time to assemble and paint 50 little people for a game I might like. I've no interest for another community that looks to new people as outcasts and filthy casual outsiders, let alone one where these people are treating me this way in person.

Aren't they referring more so to people playing the tabletop game itself because yeah actually finding people to play against, having a suitable area to play on and following the ever changing rules and so on is quite difficult regardless of if you collect the figures themselves.

I have to assume that's what GW is talking about as its blatantly obvious anyone who buys video games regularly can't also support a hobby like this as those figures were and still are very very expensive. Which is why I had to give up finishing my space marine army many many years ago, the simple act of having a rule-appropriate set and having them all painted is a monumental task to undertake.

StewShearer:
The remaining 80 percent of its customer base is made up almost exclusively of collector's and hobbyists that are willing to spend thousands of dollars for unpainted miniatures that they can detail and display. I'd personally be surprised by this, but then I look at my shelf full of LEGO sets I never play with and it all makes sense. You should never underestimate how much people will pay for something that looks cool on a shelf.

I think you're fundamentally missing a point here.
The people who enjoy the painting, converting and assembling in my experience rarely want to actually display their models (the people who line shelves and cabinets are a minuscule minority). Their fun is in actually being creative with paint, glue and modelling putty, and once finished they jump to the next project, whatever new mini or idea has caught their imagination, previous work largely forgotten (and often sold on).

Personally I think everyone is missing the point. Clearly they make money franchising their product out. Think about just how many warhammer related games there are (some of which are pretty popular). It is easy to see that being a good stream of income. There are likely a few other similar streams like novels which were mentioned, the white dwarf magazine.

Obviously there are still a lot of people buying models just for their shelves but there would be lots of other stuff too.

JSoup:

MerlinCross:
How many of those hobbyists actually play the game though? It seems weird to spilt some people into this odd group. What's the difference between a hobbyist and gamer? A hobbyist and collector?

A collector might be someone who only has an interest in dealing with a particular aspect of the thing. When I was a kid, I preferred to collect MTG cards, playing wasn't of interest to me. Same thing.

Collector for something you have to build sounds weird though. Or does GW sell to people that turn around and pay someone else to build it? Or does a hobbyist sell what they made online to a collector? Sounds like they could get more money selling premade models to the collectors.

And really they probably aren't counting the overlapping of these types. That and maybe trying to save face after the response by players(mainly) over changes to Fantasy Warhammer.

TheRaider:
Personally I think everyone is missing the point. Clearly they make money franchising their product out. Think about just how many warhammer related games there are (some of which are pretty popular). It is easy to see that being a good stream of income. There are likely a few other similar streams like novels which were mentioned, the white dwarf magazine.

Obviously there are still a lot of people buying models just for their shelves but there would be lots of other stuff too.

How can anyone "miss the point" when GW doesnt care for videogames made about their franchises?

They specifically said that their mission statement is to sell minis and that they only care about selling minis. They dont care about their own game systems and they dont care about their IPs aslong as you pay them to use them (if you dont they will send an army of lawyers after you even if its just a fansite) and see IP licensing as a "nice to have" little side income and nothing they want to heavily invest into or even expand.

To them IP licensing is commercials THEY get paid for and nothing else.

They have absolutely no interest in getting involved into videogames anymore then they allready are, cause to them a customer is only a customer when they buy GW minis.

They piss away their IP licenses for rather cheap too if you take a look at all the shoddy mobile and tablet games that where made lately.

Its crazy GW logic allright.

If by detail and display you mean sell on eBay for nearly x3 the base price, then spot on.

Let's see 1.advanced your fucking story 2. Reduce your fucking prices. 3. Treat your customers better

Well that isn't surprising for a number of reasons.
The "beer and pretzels" approach to their games (read as AoS)now means they they really are trying to cater to that sort of thing. have this massive army, get together with non-gamer friends. lob models on the table. Laugh.
In full their rules have really suffered as of late, more designed around pushing models than balance or competition.
More importantly they stopped pushing the creative weird things that they did in ages past, like generation tables, guides to designing vehicles or models, things things that made the splat book worth while as opposed to having the 'dex be a fluffed up page you used to get in the rule book (up till 4th they gave you the basic army lists in the rulebook, extra texts focused on different lists or were more fleshed out splat books).
Competitive players in a word shifted off to warmachine and hordes and to a lesser extent infinity (superior game), the mantic games (Exgw is best GW), Malifaux (no really, wanna see my resser crew?)
Oddly enough they removed their specialists games (epic, Battle-fleet gothic, gorkamorka ,mordeheim, bloodbowl, nercomunda and i guess inquisitor)
And As i meantioned with Malifaux but also with any of spartan game's stuff,dropfleet and drop zone commander, there is a market for these things.
Further more as a gamer and a mild tourney player the meta models are more expensive, like fuck tons more so why would gamers actually want to play if you have to drop say for the case of orks $30x5 (mech guns)for one heavy slot.
Because of that now my ork army is fucking casual(that and the entirety of 7th ed).
They made unbound armies, added more allied rules that pissed everyone off, because now all that matters to 40k is budget not ability, when you can take any number of good units, have like the entire Smash-family as ironhands or field a baneblade regiment with some blobguard in the back or fucking pull out a primarch and wreck shit means the game is just not fun to play competitively.

More importantly this comes across in their sculpts which are getting progressively more busy or weird.
I checked out of 40 when dark eldar came out and now fucking logan Grimir rides a hover chariot while space marines fly in their own winged BAWKS (though I like new skitarii rifles, even if the Brotherhood of steel [not the fallout models the knock off admech by mirco arts] just pulled off the admech better). Chaos is even more of a clusterfuck and there has been nothing more ugly than the new stormtrooper tauros thing.
They really are pulling out the stops here.
Like fucking nagash, that shit was wack.
It feels like the company is just trying to wring money out of the hobby as fast as it can before it goes under.
Because in all fairness, their sculpts aren't all that interesting.
Places like Kromlech, scibor or titianforge make better models and in some cases cheaper too.

Queen Michael:
Makes sense to me. I buy the novels, and I've no plans at all to ever play the game. Though I am thinking about buying an info-book abvout the world someday.

I'd go for the older ones if you need a physical copy. Ever since I left 40k the 'dexs have been getting a bit worse.
Now adays they're all hard cover so about $60 a pop and a lot of them are very light on the fluff or just poorly writen when Matt Ward was still around.
They also are just straight up kinda bland.
It's really just strained versions of the old fluff in a lot of cases.
I suggest looking for the old 80s splat books, like 'ere we go (orks), slaves to darkness or lost and the damned(chaos).
really in a lot of cases they have some of the best and weirdest lore pieces.

Karadalis:

Dont bother if its the fantasy world.. because they nuked that one in favour of a setting that seems to be inspired by your run of the mill heavy metal album cover art...

One more reason why age of smegmar is 40k but in fantasy, like ironically fantasy was just 40k in space.
Man I miss those noise marines with guitars
image
At least they brought back the usual suspect.

Cartographer:

I think you're fundamentally missing a point here.
The people who enjoy the painting, converting and assembling in my experience rarely want to actually display their models (the people who line shelves and cabinets are a minuscule minority). Their fun is in actually being creative with paint, glue and modelling putty, and once finished they jump to the next project, whatever new mini or idea has caught their imagination, previous work largely forgotten (and often sold on).

The best part of the hobby really.
Reminds me I got a ton of vehicles i need to convert.

I really enjoyed playing War40k when I was younger but eventually the price of the models became so ridiculous I just couldn't afford it anymore and used that money for computer upgrades. I think it makes since that only 20% are actually gaming cause I can tell you from the tons of people I met in the local hobby store that they love to paint and modify the models far more then they loved to play. Many of them didn't even know half the rules and would usually just have painting competitions over campaigns.

I personally love the 40k video games myself and am perfectly happy just playing the games that are available then collecting a 2000 point army that I may not get a chance to play very often.

Tyranicus:
Let's see 1.advanced your fucking story 2. Reduce your fucking prices. 3. Treat your customers better

^That, do that and I might be able to take an interest again...maybe.

How many people are buying Amiibos, Skylander figures, or Disney Infinity figures? Many are buying them to put on shelf, sometimes with no intention of cracking open the package. Anything collectable, but with an extra purpose, will have a group that will buy that stuff up just to have it. Some are even doing the "paint and customize" thing just like GW's products.

GW is just in the predicament described by many posts above. The games' rules have gone downhill. The miniatures have hit premium prices. The collectors, hobbyists, and the few people with both a group to play with and money to burn are the people sticking around.

Tyranicus:
Let's see 1.advanced your fucking story 2. Reduce your fucking prices. 3. Treat your customers better

Speaking of advancing the storyline you might like this
http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Story:The_Shape_Of_The_Nightmare_To_Come_50k

StewShearer:
Gamers Only 20 Percent of Games Workshop's Customers

I'd personally be surprised by this, but then I look at my shelf full of LEGO sets I never play with and it all makes sense. You should never underestimate how much people will pay for something that looks cool on a shelf.

I have no idea what you are talking about......*Looks at full sized replica of Glamdring and Sting hanging on wall*

OT:
Honestly I am not surprised to hear this. Of my few friends who still play the game they all use older rules and codex as to quote a friend of mine 'GW could not keep a set of scales balanced witch two identical weights'. The other people I know how used to play either moved to simply collecting or just stopped completly.

MerlinCross:

JSoup:

MerlinCross:
How many of those hobbyists actually play the game though? It seems weird to spilt some people into this odd group. What's the difference between a hobbyist and gamer? A hobbyist and collector?

A collector might be someone who only has an interest in dealing with a particular aspect of the thing. When I was a kid, I preferred to collect MTG cards, playing wasn't of interest to me. Same thing.

Collector for something you have to build sounds weird though.

It's the entire point behind a model kit.

I can only attribute this to the fact that Games Workshop has watered down and abandoned so many of their games that no one takes them seriously as a gaming company anymore. They're just a model company now and it shows. The shit show that is age of sigmar shows how much people really care for their games anymore.

I skimmed the thread but I didn't see this mentioned before: That 20% stat is complete hockus pockus. Tom Kirby has stated in previous documents that Games Workshop does 0 market research. A grand total of nill. They have absolutely no clue what their audience likes, wants, or desires. I'm far too tired from class to link to this, but look for it and you will find it.

Someone in the hobby for modeling will happily buy one cool tank for his collection, maybe two. A gamer will happily buy six at once if the rules are good and he wants six in his army on the table.

Gamers keep them afloat, and with each edition of the rules the armies get crazier and bigger, as do the models. They seem hellbent on making it impossible to play with smaller scale models. It's go big, or go home. This approach prices more and more people out of the hobby, as not everyone can afford the cold war style arms race with the other people in the community. I'm a student, and I love playing Warhammer 40K. It is what gets me to buy, build, and paint the models. I used to love playing at my local Games Workshop here in Ottawa, but as new rules came out, I was priced out. I simply can't afford to go into the store to play random pick up games because I simply cannot fight the big expensive models with my own armies. On top of that, the rules started to go down hill. They become increasingly unbalanced with each release, and me and my wallet simply can't keep up. I can easily coincide my decrease in time spent at the local GW with the new company policies and the new rules. And as I play less and less, I spend less and less. I haven't bought a model in forever, and lately I don't even make the effort to get the newest army books for the armies that I play.

I'll finish by saying that I always wanted to start playing fantasy, but one look at the Age of Sigmar rules stifled that feeling completely. That's easily $1K and more they have lost in sales. The AoS rules are abysmal - no one in their right mind would play it. It really does look like it's designed for frat boys, to be played with beer and pretzels. Perhaps what bothers me the most is that there is no reason why AoS couldn't have existed beside WH Fantasy. They got rid of WH Fantasy for really no reason. And with it, they completely alienated every fantasy player I know in my city, who can now no longer play in the local store.

Edit: I forgot to mention that while I am interested in Total War: Warhammer, you have to keep in mind that when they released AoS they completely axed Warhammer Fantasy, which it is based on.

BeerTent:
Remember: Time is money. Spend 12 hours working, or 12 hours playing a game?

Time is life. The question if time is also money, which would mean that life is money, depends on where your priorities lie. In fact, you can have the time of your life with little or no money at all.

1. Their rules are/were over complicated and broken, while the enjoyable games aren't printed anymore.

2. Their models are/were very detailed and high quality, and many of their kits are cross compatible.

GW: PEOPLE ARE BUYING OUR STUFF BUT NOT PLAYING OUR GAMES, WHHHHHHY!?

20% sounds a bit generous. We used to regularly have a packed store during 6th edition, now I think 40k is basically dead around here, a victim of 7th edition model creep. It's fortuitous for them that they don't consider themselves a games company, as if they were their business model would make no sense. Jacking the prices up AND throwing balance out the window is a great way to alienate people. I mean, I loves me some Orks, but I can't justify shelling out that much cash on a bunch of new stuff, spend tens of hours assembling it, and still get stomped by my friends artillery because Imperium.
At this point, it's basically come down to enjoying the licensed products made by Fantasy Flight Games, and maybe looking into playing some of the out of print specialty products. Balance be damned, Blood Bowl looks like tons of fun, and only needing to build 10-20 models from scratch beats the hell out of the hundreds you'd need to MAYBE have fun in 40k.

BeerTent:
I would be way more inclined to play some of these games if the pieces were simply pre-painted cheap plastic parts.

This is why I will be forever disappointed that Havok never took off.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havok_%28wargame%29 )

But... then why would they even bother messing with the rules if such a small amount of their player base enjoys it? Don't they know they're more likely to scare off those who enjoy it for gaming than they are to bring in a new crowd?

I like the implications here that I can't afford 40k because the vast majority of GW's customers don't care about the price, and they don't actually play the game.

[obligatory "fuck GW"]

These thing are basically on the same level as artwork and other decorations one would put in their house. Also, most gamers don't have the spare money to buy such items.

This doesn't surprise me at all, for three main reasons.

1. The models are extremely expensive, and collecting Games Workshop stuff has become a hobby for people with quite a bit of disposable income. The people who really care about playing the game often just don't have that kind of money, because the players tend to be younger than the collectors.

2. The game itself simply doesn't mesh well with the collector and hobbyist side of things, because building a competitive army rarely ever allows you to buy the models you personally think look cool and ends up with you having to paint way more grunts than you feel like. Even if none of that scares you away, the time and space required to actually play can be a dealbreaker for lots of people. On top of that there is a competitive aspect to the game that runs completely contrary to the nature of most people who get enjoyment out of painstakingly painting tiny miniatures.

3. There are a ton of games by companies that are just better for gamers. All of the Fantasy Flight stuff pretty much comes with pre-assembled, pre-painted miniatures that just look a thousand times better than anything the average person can produce with a brush. You just throw the pieces on the table and you're ready to play. Games Workshop stuff is twice as expensive when you factor in paints and brushes and you have to build it yourself so you can fuck it up and your models are ruined. (And no, you can't use the same brush for 200 minis and you can't use the paints you used for your last army, not understanding how huge of an impact worn out tools and globby paint make will make your models look much worse)

It's such a shame that Creative Assembly has essentially adopted the DLC method of sale.

If Games Workshop was going to breach the divide it would be with Total Warhammer (I refuse to call it Total War: Warhammer, that's just terrible marketing).

Space Marine not getting a sequel is a fucking travesty as well. There was SO much promise and SO much personality to it.

I think over the course of my life I've spent or been gifted about $750 worth of Games Workshop products and only ever actually played about five games in any of the rulebooks. I can believe these stats.

Wait, does this mean that 20% of their customers are Gamers or that 20% of their sales are to Gamers? These are two very different things.

ccggenius12:
20% sounds a bit generous. We used to regularly have a packed store during 6th edition, now I think 40k is basically dead around here, a victim of 7th edition model creep. It's fortuitous for them that they don't consider themselves a games company, as if they were their business model would make no sense. Jacking the prices up AND throwing balance out the window is a great way to alienate people. I mean, I loves me some Orks, but I can't justify shelling out that much cash on a bunch of new stuff, spend tens of hours assembling it, and still get stomped by my friends artillery because Imperium.
At this point, it's basically come down to enjoying the licensed products made by Fantasy Flight Games, and maybe looking into playing some of the out of print specialty products. Balance be damned, Blood Bowl looks like tons of fun, and only needing to build 10-20 models from scratch beats the hell out of the hundreds you'd need to MAYBE have fun in 40k.

10 years ago I and my friend were really into 40k, we used to regularly visit the GW shop in Gothenburg and on weekends it was always packed with people who were either there to play/paint or shop. Then we stopped playing and I haven't visited the store since 2007. Until last week when I was in Gothenburg and recalled that I had read on a Flames of War forum (a 15mm WW2 miniature game) that someone used a GW paint to create some neat looking, yet simple to make, dirt caking on his tanks. So I stopped by the store around noon on a Saturday... And there was maybe seven people in there, of which two were employees. Gone where the 30+ people that I remembered from my active days, replaced with an almost empty store.

I've heard a lot about how GW has lost market shares since I stopped playing, but the sight of a nearly empty GW store was what really drove it home for me.

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