Making the case for Games Workshop

Here we go again; again.

It's that time of year. The Games Workshop price increase has struck our wallets once again. While there are now a myriad of articles that explain the logistics behind what many of us consider to be price gouging, I wondered if there might be some unseen factors that affect the logic behind GW's decision. After some pondering, I came to a fascinating realization: Saturation.

The very nature of GW's product causes an odd paradigm within a consumption based market. It's odd, you see, because it never expires. Any other product you buy, with few exceptions, go bad. They can go bad in many ways. Maybe it's something you consume bodily, or something that breaks, or even something that goes out of style. In any of these instances, you have to buy replacement product. That is not the case with Warhammer.

Any model you buy is will still be legal/acceptable in fifteen years, just as fifteen year old models are still legal/acceptable now. You can see this in occasional glimpses of older models that veteran players will bring out from time to time. While they may look a little different at times, they're still just as good. One of my personal favorites is the 3rd edition Space Marine holding a Missile Launcher. I love the look of the model, and have one in my army now.

It can, of course, be argued that GW can change this by writing new rules and Codexes that make older units (and their models) useless or even obsolete. However, this rarely happens and even when it does, the models are usually still usable for something else. But, you may ask, how does this affect price increases? Well, allow me to go a little further. When you build out an army, you only need so many of each unit. Once you have a certain number of unit x, y, or z, you've got enough to suit your play style, or the maximum you can use. For instance, I have 3 Land Raiders. Two of them were given to me, so without those, I may have only ever bought 2. The need for them isn't great, and if you magnetize or proxy, you can get plenty of use out of 2. So, I won't likely by any more of them. Eventually, every player reaches this point with any given unit/army. So here's my question, where does more money come from?

New players. We see cost increases mostly in Tanks, Monstrous Creatures, and Special Characters. These are all things that are primarily bought by new players. Once you have the number of transports and big monsters you need to play the way you like, you don't typically wind up with extras. New players, therefore, have to take up the slack. Where we see prices increase the least are in Troop units and supporting units.

It seems to me as though there is a method to GW's madness, even if I really disagree with it and am somewhat hurt by it. When you step back to look at it though, it just seems as though the price increases may have a dual role in partially compensating for the increase in used model exchange and online retail sales. For each of us that flocks to a cheaper method of obtaining big, expensive units, there has to be someone paying the difference. As we all know, it can never affect their bottom line.

At this point I think I'll stop myself before I take off on a rant about the management of GW twisting their mustaches in their white tower. What do you think? Could market saturation be a big factor in price increases, or is it simply gouging? With the price of video games almost up to $150 dollars a piece and a maximum operating span of about a year, I still think Warhammer is an excellent form of entertainment for its price, but tanks going over $60? Yikes!


  1. I'm sure there's some truth to new players making up a large percentage of income (I've heard the same from GW redshirts), but a couple of counterpoints to your argument:

    1) With each new edition of the army, they seem to change things to require purchasing of new units. 2nd > 3rd caused prices to drop by 1/2, but point values to stay the same. Average point value games have steadily risen since the start of the game. In 5the, the rules were designed to make vehicles better (to inspire people to buy transports), in 6th, they opened up allies, and the ability to double your FoC, addition of flyers, etc.

    Ok, that's only one counterpoint. I do believe it's definitely gouging (we're a captive audience, right?), though saturation is most certainly a problem for them. They need to keep new players coming into the hobby (which is why they allow great deals on the starter set--to get them hooked). There is something to be said for us vets expanding our armies, or buying other forces as well, but the bulk of their monies surely come from newbs.

  2. Well thank you for your insightful comment! ^_^

    You do present a great point. I would say though, that despite shifts they've made, none of them have ever invalidated what had come before. Everything ever produced before those events still had value and still do now. :)

    While we vets do love to expend, sometimes unnecessarily so, we do know the easiest ways to do it. I've spent a great deal more on resin analogs for GW bits and used items within the last year than within the last 3 years combined.

    It's not the end-all-be-all of their sales issues, but definately a factor that I felt was under represented. :)

  3. Some things that have been invalidated as editions changed (that I can think of off the top of my head):

    Genestealer Cult (Patriarchs, Magus, Hybrids)
    Imperial Guard Bikes
    Imperial/Marine Speeder Bikes
    Squats (entirely)
    Mole Mortars, Thudd Guns, Rapier Laser Destroyers (FW brought back the former)
    Harlequins (including most of their characters--though they've come back now)
    Misc. models - Grynx, Ambull, Zoats, Fimir, Slaan

    They've also invalidated many items that never had a model, but some people have converted (or other companies made models for):
    Imperial Termites
    Scouts with Autocannons
    Cult Terminators
    MM armed Razorbacks
    Tyranid Hunters & Deathwatch (depending upon arms, could be considered vanguard/sternguard, but would likely need drastic weapon changes)

  4. Those are good instances, though still rare. With the rumors abounding right now though, we could see a return of Genestealer cults, Zoats, Hrud, and Squat armies with their references in the new rulebook :D Word around is that there will be WD supplements with rules for using these groups as allied detachments :)

    I bet one could still use the other models with some decent weapon swapping. And heck, I'd LOVE some Tyranic War Vets or Deathwatch. They'd be fun models to throw in as veteran units :)

  5. They aren't as rare as I'd like (seeing as I have a bunch of those models). Personally, I retask many of them as "counts as" units, including my Arbites as IG Vets, my Imperial Beastmen as Penal Legion, and my Tyranid Hunters/Deathwatch as sternguard.

    Zoats could be 'counts as' hive guard in a pinch (Well, assuming you have the ones with guns). It takes some creativity, and a friendly opponent, but yes, they can be used. I was just trying to prove that GW does invalidate many choices over time. Sometimes they bring them back, some have yet to make another appearance...

  6. Yeah. It's very true. I didn't mean to detract from what you had said, but I had JUST read that rumor about them all being reinstated as allies. It seems very exciting that those old models could all see fully legitimate use again! :D I just hope it's true.