Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Travails of Games Workshop



GW is having quite a few problems, it seems. Worldwide sales down 8.2%, North American sales down 7.5%, profits down about 50%. The company has slowed down the sales drop from the first half of the year but, geez, the company is still hurting. Opening 10 stores this year while closing 23 leaves the company at 87, just over 10% fewer than the company had a year ago and about 70% of those stores remaining are “one-man” stores, which only employ one person, put them on salary and let that manager, within restrictions, set the hours for the store (incidentally, according to Glass Door, the typical Games Workshop one-man store manager makes about $34000 per year, with just over another $7000 in bonuses). This is a far cry from the Battle Bunkers of days of yore, with a dozen miniatures tables set up and half as many staff members, ready to demo a game at the drop of a Squig. I don’t care how devoted they are to the hobby, one staff member cannot give customers the same attention that a staff of 3-4 can, and getting new players into Games Workshop requires a significant amount of hand holding. No-one walks into a store with the intention of dropping $90 to $100+ on GW product without trying it out first and getting infected by other players.

GW appears pretty happy with the amount of costs it has cut by moving to the new retail model. However, speaking from the independent stockiest viewpoint, Games Workshop could do two things to juice sales at my end.
11)      Remember those new players I mentioned earlier? Produce a beginners box for me to sell to them. No, Dark Vengeance is not a beginners box, it is a starter set. Different animal. $99 is not a price point for a beginners box but $25 to $40 is. Produce a box with a pair of plastic 5 figure squads (that the customer doesn’t have to glue together, except maybe to the base) dice, and cardboard range markers and templates. GW will make lots of money off this person over the next 5-8 years, give me something with which to set the hook.

22)      Give me information about your new releases. Keeping retailers and customers in the dark has not generated any more anticipation about GW products than existed before, it just makes it harder for us to know what is coming out and we look clueless when our customers come telling us about some rumored new release (that usually turns out correct) that we know next to nothing about. I really have neither the time, nor the desire to scour the Bell of Lost Souls for information on new GW products coming out that GW should be giving stores weeks or even (gasp) months in advance.

I don’t expect GW to listen to me (I’ve been telling them to stick packing lists back in their shipments for months now and we can see how much good that has done) and, Surprise, we have Space Hulk arriving this week. Sigh. It would have been really nice to have spent the last few weeks ginning up interest on this and the new Nagash undead figures