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Made in gb
Stubborn Dark Angels Veteran Sergeant





Teesside

I made this!

https://theconversation.com/the-secret-of-games-workshops-success-a-little-strategy-they-call-total-global-domination-129590

My painting & modelling blog: https://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/699224.page

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[DCM]
Decrepit Dakkanaut




UK

Woo Hoo!

 
   
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Imperial Recruit in Training




Lancaster, UK

Hi Ian, great article! I too am an academic, and also write for the Conversation! I have been pushing GW-related stuff in my various circles for a little while now. I sent you a message on the Conversation -- maybe we could work on something?

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Stubborn Dark Angels Veteran Sergeant





Teesside

Great stuff, Mike! Aye, I'd be happy to do so -- I'll drop you a line by email.

My painting & modelling blog: https://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/699224.page

Serpent King Games: Dragon Warriors Reborn!
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Fixture of Dakka




UK

Nice article and it is good to see a company bucking the trends today! Two thoughts for a followup article and I think are every bit as important as part of not only why they've survived the years, but also grown (esp as much of the rest of the market is faltering)

1) Loans - far as I'm aware GW has never (or exceptionally rarely) used loans to fund their expansion. This might have meant that they expanded slower in their early days, however they've also not got a big debt standing over them. Thus every time recessions have hit, whilst things have got tougher, they've not had big loans to drain their coffers at unsustainable rates. Indeed you often find that many of the big highstreet names start to falter because they took out massive loans to fund fast expansion, which then come back to bite them when recessions hit and the profit margins contract.

2) I think it can't be understated how important their attitude and marketing shift was in that huge sales spike that took them to leading the stockmarket for a while. I think its an important lesson and study in the attitude of a company when it trades on the stock market between having an attitude that's "for the shareholders" and one that's "for the customers". Even if in part its only how the company presents and communicates with those two groups.
GW gives a really bold display of this when they gave customers what they'd ask for for years in terms of full rules updates for the major games in short windows (as opposed to their old method of years - even decades sometimes); and also started a far more direct marketing campaign to their customers and engaging with them at a slightly higher level. Heck GW now markets 365 days a year which honestly I'm hard pressed to think of any other company that markets that hard in a direct sense to their customers (as opposed to using billboards/TV ads/etc...).



Also a note on the stores. I've seen many retain a store within a region/town; but over the years one other trick GW has used to remain profitable has been to move out of the most central highstreet region and into the slightly cheaper parts. Typically on the fringes of the main highstreet, so they aren't hidden in a backwater street and still get decent footfall; but where the rent is certainly lower/more affordable.

A Blog in Miniature - now featuring reviews of many new Black Library books (latest Novellas) 
   
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Regular Dakkanaut





Edinburgh

Nice article. I work in investments so spend a lot of time on this side of things. The dominance will continue as it truly goes global in the next decade - the trick will be taking experts in a given field and having them translate the GW IP into that media/region (instead of GW trying itself). The netflix series will be an interesting shot for them. However, lots of people video game GW IP and don't touch the miniatures, the customer conversion on that is relatively slim based on what I've been able to gather.

I expect some minor restructure before 2030, with even more definition between making models and marketing out the IP. There are rumours of an in-house blue screen stage and some weta workshop style crafting ability as part of extending their facilities... so more video content... hobby related and also dramatic.

Nothing new here, just my 2 cents on the back on your well written article.

A rival of this magnitude materialising isn't out of the question, however the popularity is more of a macro-trope, much like Dr Who or Star Wars. There are alternatives to Star Wars... but it's not really Star Wars.

GW don't have anything to worry about.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/01/10 15:10:56


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Made in ca
[MOD]
Dankhold Troggoth






Shadeglass Maze

Extremely well written article, Ian . Thanks for sharing it!
   
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Noble Knight of the Realm





Texas

Great job!! Extremely concise and not overblown with either too much detail or business/marketing concepts/ jargon few understand.

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Privateer




Austria

Nice article, but I won't call Contrast "revolutionary new paints and painting techniques" (some people used this technique with acrylic inks or their own made oil washes to paint scale models long before GW came up with something similar)

even GW tried to get people into this kind of painting techniques (with special GW paints) twice, but failed with it.

GW always tried to get people into special techniques that required special paints they offered (either by special consistency or special colours), but this never took off as people were still using the old techniques they learned or used other brands that offered similar paints.

the new thing here is the same as with the games, that with proper marketing, community contact and use of social media those things sell much better not only in the GW bubble but also for other tabletops and hobbies

Harry, bring this ring to Narnia or the Sith will take the Enterprise

M41 - Alternative Rules for Battles in the 41st Millennium (40k LRB Project) 
   
Made in se
Wolf Guard Bodyguard in Terminator Armor






Nice article!
Always fun to see GW related stuff in the real world
   
Made in de
Waaagh! Ork Warboss on Warbike





Good read!

 Daedalus81 wrote:
SemperMortis wrote:
Yes, because everyone lines up on the deployment line when facing off against orkz, especially when said orkz are fielding 3 Bonebreakers...which rely exclusively on getting into CC to inflict any kind of actual harm. All of your arguments rely upon your opponent being a brain dead muppet who just lets you maul him.


Yea...that's called board control.
 
   
Made in nl
Veteran Inquisitorial Tyranid Xenokiller






your mind

Now if they could only make a decent game...

   
Made in au
Been Around the Block





I believe 3D printing is going to massively disrupt GW over the next few years. The affordability and reliability of home 3D printing is advancing rapidly as is the availability of designs often in a GW influenced style. For a lot of people the quality of what they can produce at home is now good enough that when combined with how much cheaper it is they consider it a good trade off against the slightly lower quality compared to buying something official.
   
Made in ca
Legendary Master of the Chapter





plessiez wrote:
I believe 3D printing is going to massively disrupt GW over the next few years. The affordability and reliability of home 3D printing is advancing rapidly as is the availability of designs often in a GW influenced style. For a lot of people the quality of what they can produce at home is now good enough that when combined with how much cheaper it is they consider it a good trade off against the slightly lower quality compared to buying something official.


I doubt it, you'll certainly have a few hard cores who switch only to 3D printing but I suspect most people won't. only the truel;;y dedicated ones will, GW'll see a sales reduction sure but not the devestating level some people seem to suggest

Opinions are not facts please don't confuse the two 
   
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Stubborn Dark Angels Veteran Sergeant





Teesside

 jeff white wrote:
Now if they could only make a decent game...


Space Hulk 1st edition!

I'd say Warcry is pretty decent too, though it's actually starting to hit the boundaries of complexity in terms of GW's ability to playtest it and then balance it properly.

I wanted to go into more detail about it in the article, but it would have been off-topic, and rather technical, and I was getting short of wordcount, so my editor kept me on track... But basically the maths of game theory makes it increasingly more difficult to balance a competitive game, the more options you give each player. When you get to what we have, with a dozen or so factions in the major games and a points-based buy-in system with a lot of options, you aren't actually increasing the fun for most players; you're just increasing the chance that a dominant strategy will emerge. It gets worse if you offer benefits (e.g. bonus command points) for certain formations or whatever.

Add in GW's wish to bring out new rules and new units, and occasionally new editions of the game, and, well, we are never going to see a competitively balanced large-scale wargame from them with the business model, game design model, and playtesting model that they've been following for years. It's just not necessary to their commercial success, to produce a balanced game, however much we might want that as consumers.

My painting & modelling blog: https://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/699224.page

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Made in ca
Legendary Master of the Chapter





you're never going to see a COMPLETELY balanced war game period, even chess has the "white advantage"

Opinions are not facts please don't confuse the two 
   
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Insect-Infested Nurgle Chaos Lord






While extremely useful, I have yet to see a 3-d printed model that does not run into the issue of the individual layers being distinguishable. That can be fixed post-printing of course but only with a significant amount of labor, leaving its main use for terrain or the like atm. Overall 3-d printing is well behind the ability to deliver what the average GW plastic kit does, let alone more technically difficult items like the Eidolon or Yncarne. Even without that factor, after the initial investment on molds GW can put out a massive number of sprues in a comparatively short period of time for pennies apiece.

Finally, if/when 3d printing does get that good GW will swap out to that instead and still out-compete personal creations via the economics of scale.

Games Workshop rules are not so much games as toolboxes for players to craft an experience from. Open/narrative/matched play are just examples of how things can be put together. 
   
Made in gb
Stubborn Dark Angels Veteran Sergeant





Teesside

3D printing is great, but yeah the human labour involved is huge -- potentially hours of printing time then hours of sanding time! Personally I don't see that as a big disruptor to GW any time soon. Even if you value your time at something low like £10/hour, you're still talking about £100+ for a small unit which GW would probably sell you for £50 at worst.

Add in the likely disruption to *all* business caused by the climate crisis over the next few years and... nah, I don't see 3D printing ever becoming a real threat to GW.

My painting & modelling blog: https://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/699224.page

Serpent King Games: Dragon Warriors Reborn!
http://serpentking.com/

 
   
Made in at
Privateer




Austria

BrianDavion wrote:
you're never going to see a COMPLETELY balanced war game period, even chess has the "white advantage"

and there are those people who do not understand the difference between "first turn advantage" and "balanced rules"

 NinthMusketeer wrote:
While extremely useful, I have yet to see a 3-d printed model that does not run into the issue of the individual layers being distinguishable. That can be fixed post-printing of course but only with a significant amount of labor, leaving its main use for terrain or the like atm. Overall 3-d printing is well behind the ability to deliver what the average GW plastic kit does, let alone more technically difficult items like the Eidolon or Yncarne. Even without that factor, after the initial investment on molds GW can put out a massive number of sprues in a comparatively short period of time for pennies apiece.


3D printing works very well for the large classic Space Marine models, like the Rhino and Land Raider or weapon bits
It is not suitable to make standard models outside of a master-model for reproduction

terrain is a different thing as something like the current Necromunda stuff is also easy to make with 3D printing

Overall I see 3D printing to replace Papercraft in future.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/01/12 11:22:47


Harry, bring this ring to Narnia or the Sith will take the Enterprise

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NC

 NinthMusketeer wrote:
While extremely useful, I have yet to see a 3-d printed model that does not run into the issue of the individual layers being distinguishable.
This came out of my 3D Printer about 1he ago, and all I've done is remove supports (analogous to removing from sprue). Zero layer lines. Pull tab for scale.
[Thumb - 15788306541348859286336327657467.jpg]

   
Made in ca
Malicious Mutant Scum






 kodos wrote:
even GW tried to get people into this kind of painting techniques (with special GW paints) twice, but failed with it.


Bit of a side note here, but which two "special GW paint and technique" examples are you thinking of? I've been in the hobby for a while now and I'm honestly not sure what you're referring to.
   
Made in au
Been Around the Block





I’m not saying for a moment that 3D printing can produce results of the same quality as what you’d buy from GW. I’m saying it doesn’t matter.

For the cost of something like Necromunda Dark Uprising (especially in Australia where I’m based) you could buy a quality 3D printer and a bunch of filament and have money left over to buy the gang models separately. For that I can live with a few layer lines in my terrain.

I don’t think it’s going to affect GW for rank and file figures for a while but I think it’s going to start affecting them on terrain and big monster kits where they are charging a lot of money and probably sell less kits to start with. If people can get a file for a few dollars and print it for a few hours and save 90% of the cost they’ll be prepared to sacrifice a little quality.

Just look at the glut of 3D designers on Patreon and the number of kickstarters for miniatures. It’s happening already and I think it’s going to keep accelerating from here.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/01/12 13:46:04


 
   
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Privateer




Austria

 Wasteland wrote:
 kodos wrote:
even GW tried to get people into this kind of painting techniques (with special GW paints) twice, but failed with it.

Bit of a side note here, but which two "special GW paint and technique" examples are you thinking of? I've been in the hobby for a while now and I'm honestly not sure what you're referring to.


There were the GW Inks from ~20-25 years ago with White Dwarf Articles on how to use them straight upon primed models
Guy in the Club painted is Eldar that way after reading that (White Primer, Blue Ink) and was pissed after GW discontinued those Inks before he could finish his collection (and start buying leftovers were ever he could get them) as the replacement that came after neither matched the consistency nor the colour (but were still called Inks, others were pissed too but switched to acrylic inks from artist brands)

After a while came the first Washes as replacement for the new Inks, and again with speed painting techniques of 1-2 layers over White Primer (there was an article about Orc skin, to paint Gnoblars/Goblins/Grots with 1 layer of Green, basic Orcs with 2 layers of Green and Black Ocrs/Noobz/Heroes with 1 layer of Purple and 1 layer of Green)

Those were also replaced with new Washes that did not really worked like the initial ones and we got Contrast paints
(and maybe GW learned from past mistakes, but I don't expect that those are around for long and get replaced by a new version of Contrast paints that don't match the original ones)


Main difference between those 3 is advertising/marketing and involvement of the community, with pushing the speed painting thing much stronger than before.


Harry, bring this ring to Narnia or the Sith will take the Enterprise

M41 - Alternative Rules for Battles in the 41st Millennium (40k LRB Project) 
   
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Fixture of Dakka




UK

I liken 3D printer to kit cars. Yes you can do it all at home, but the vast majority of customers will still get the pre-made from the shop. (even if the premade requires assembly).

3D printing introduces issues for companies:

1) It moves production from a controlled environment to an uncontrolled one. There's a huge range of qualities in 3D printers if GW starts selling files then some are going to print them on top end machines; others on bottom end ones and get very different results.
Not to mention tech support; issues; errors; etc... Heck a lot of people can't change toner in the printer or deal with jammed paper or such very easily.

2) IT raises the entry cost significantly. Because you've got to buy that good quality 3D printer right off the start point to get into the hobby. Right now GW is all about making it cheaper to get into it.

3) 3D printers are harder to market commercially. A lot of the people I see selling 3D print files are basically one-man-bands. Very little to no actual overheads (its often a hobby/side job); no staff. Typically just one creative person so the files can be super cheap because they can go for volume of sales and make a profit.
For GW and other bigger companies people would hope that £D print files would be cheaper than regular models; the reality would likely not be as much price saving as people think.


Of course you might counter that with 3D printers being as common as home printers. Yet I'd also say that if the average person wants a quality photo printed they go to a photo lab; they don't print it at home. I'd wager 3D printers would be the same and that high detail and fine detail models would be a "print at shop" type affair. At which point, esp for a company that has already bought the machines, plastic injection moulding is infinitely faster unless GW has a huge army of printing machines - which would likely then lose out on money saved with increased labour to monitor and keep them working .

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Regular Dakkanaut





Edinburgh

 Overread wrote:


Of course you might counter that with 3D printers being as common as home printers. Yet I'd also say that if the average person wants a quality photo printed they go to a photo lab; they don't print it at home. I'd wager 3D printers would be the same and that high detail and fine detail models would be a "print at shop" type affair. At which point, esp for a company that has already bought the machines, plastic injection moulding is infinitely faster unless GW has a huge army of printing machines - which would likely then lose out on money saved with increased labour to monitor and keep them working .


Yep, this is strong evidence for me against 3D printing taking over. It will be a niche crowd that go heavy on personal 3D printing.

But in reality, I can file down plasticard and etch it into a sword in less than 30 mins. 3D printing it takes twice as long and then needs the clean up stage. I can also carve up foam into a castle wall with better detail and texture than 3D printing one. If you've not factored in weight, balance and made appropriate support struts you can wake up in the morning to a toppled mess in your printer.

3D printing for me is all about making precision parts.

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Made in gb
Regular Dakkanaut





I’m assuming that people aren’t all that familiar with resin 3D printers?
The layer lines simply don’t exist on them due to how fine the settings are.
You could quite literally sit a 3D printed model next to its original inspiration and you wouldn’t see the difference.

Plastic printers have lines currently, but the way they are advancing I doubt it will be long before they are flawless.

Resin printers are already flawless though.
You can print anything from 6mm scale to 72mm or more without issue or a poor finish.
   
Made in us
Ancient Chaos Terminator





Eye of Terror

A few thoughts on 3D printing:

1) Layers / sanding is a problem for SLA / PLA printers. This doesn't affect resin printers much at all, these days, the quality of the best consumer grade printers is on-par with standard GW kits. Even the low end ones are printing at about 25 microns. Reminds me of dot-matrix printers, there's much better solutions out there.

2) Prices for resin printers is coming down. The Anycubic Photon is like $300, I've seen the Formlabs 2 selling at $2,200. There are plenty of steps in-between. YTY price drops trend at about 13% on the popular ones, and companies continue to innovate.

3) Don't know if anyone remembers this, but there was a lot of consolidation in the 3-axle space around 2008. Companies like Makerbot, Dremel, and others are sitting on a ton of 3D printing IP. The market had to slow to justify their investments, it didn't make sense to release a printer that was obsolete before anyone could buy it. At some point, that dam is going to burst. Too many innovative startups are floating around and there's too many known ways to improve - speed, quality, durability, form factor, in-print QA, software, etc are potential differentiation points. My guess is we're going to see quantum leaps in these areas over the next 5 years as the market becomes more competitive.

4) I can't see a future where GW doesn't introduce print-on-demand. You're right, not everyone has the time or interest in a 3D printer. A service that does the printing for you, with officially licensed IP, with rich customization options and easy-to-use software, could generate a lot of revenue. Beyond the wow factor, the opportunities to expand the market are enormous.

In > 90% of US counties, you can operate 3D printing services in any space that's zoned for commercial with no additional licensure or bonding. Existing retail spaces are in malls / urban buildings / storefronts are already wired for commercial electrical load, and they lease so they can move. This means they could put machines in storefronts without major facilities costs. From a tax standpoint, the benefits to the company would be enormous - no tariffs on imported goods, ability to book licensing revenue anywhere on Earth, UK tax incentives for repurposing the skilled production workforce to more specialized, higher-margin tasks.

While there would be costs to making this move, current leadership is pretty smart. There are state of the art, high-capacity German fabricators capable of reliably pumping out several finished armies in less than an hour with low materials and maintenance costs. They're big and expensive, probably not the right fit - but smaller and cheaper units are catching up. It's probably not the right time today, but there's going to be good reasons for GW to consider this within 5 years.


   
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Waaagh! Ork Warboss on Warbike





We had a pair of guys join our group in fall. After doing the math for what it would cost them to get to 2000-3000 points, they just got three 3D printers instead. So far they have printed roughly 2.5k points of DKOK/guard and enough terrain for one table, but are already saving massive amounts of money compared to buying models. Painted models are indistinguishable from GW's models.

 Daedalus81 wrote:
SemperMortis wrote:
Yes, because everyone lines up on the deployment line when facing off against orkz, especially when said orkz are fielding 3 Bonebreakers...which rely exclusively on getting into CC to inflict any kind of actual harm. All of your arguments rely upon your opponent being a brain dead muppet who just lets you maul him.


Yea...that's called board control.
 
   
Made in au
Been Around the Block





 Jidmah wrote:
We had a pair of guys join our group in fall. After doing the math for what it would cost them to get to 2000-3000 points, they just got three 3D printers instead. So far they have printed roughly 2.5k points of DKOK/guard and enough terrain for one table, but are already saving massive amounts of money compared to buying models. Painted models are indistinguishable from GW's models.


Great example. This is exactly what I mean. Ironically I think in the short term the first people to be affected are going to be the Chinese recasting market. The sort of people that are doing this now (don’t mind using non-authentic models, probably don’t play in GW stores) are also the the profile of people who often use recasters. Why take a gamble on buying resin sight unseen from China with poor communication when you can print your own model and at least control the production quality yourself?

The next wave will be interesting. Whether GW do print on demand or license digital files. Or even sell their own brand 3D printer that takes their proprietary encrypted file format....
   
Made in gb
Lit By the Flames of Prospero





Bodt

Where do people get the files to print their own models from? I have no idea about 3d printing, but I believe they use a file to print them? so surely if theyre printing DKOK models, then wouldn't GW be annoyed about that? and surely people here should also disapprove, being how everyone talks about recasters? I'm a little confused.

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