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Made in eg
[MOD]
Keeper of the Adeptus Arbites Flame






Cairo, Egypt

Probably around 10 years back former GW CEO Tom Kirby put out a letter to investors that was one of the oddest corporate communications I've ever seen.

Stuff about GW doesn't do market research and doesn't need to, laws designed for stealing chickens don't work to protect modern IP, people wailing and rending their garments...

If you've read it you'll remember it.

Anyone know if there's a copy of it around, I would love to read it again.

 
   
Made in us
Enginseer with a Wrench






This one? Link

It has a some rather... um... creative statements. A couple of notable 'highlights'

We do no demographic research, we have no focus groups, we do not ask the market what it wants. These things are otiose in a niche


In the technological world we occupy there is constant debate over who 'innovates' and who merely copies. We have, this last year,
spent an indecent amount of your money trying to stop someone stealing our ideas and images. It is a very difficult thing to do when it is
done through a legal system designed to prevent people stealing hogs from one another. Our experience has probably been typical of
most – far too much money spent on far too little gain. The argument is that we have to do this or we will, bit by bit, lose everything that
we hold dear, everything that keeps the business going. Our crops will wither, our children will die piteous deaths and the sun will be
swept from the sky. But is it true?


Because no one seems able to grasp the essential simplicity of what we do there has always been the search for the Achilles heel, the
one thing that Kirby and his cronies have overlooked. These are legion. I run through the list from time to time when someone says that
computer games will be the death of us – they are so much more realistic now! – again. This year it is 3-D printing. Pretty soon
everyone will be printing their own miniatures and where will we be then, eh?

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2022/06/20 11:12:17


+Death of a Rubricist+
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Made in eg
[MOD]
Keeper of the Adeptus Arbites Flame






Cairo, Egypt

OMG thank you!

It is even more beautiful than I remembered!

"otiose"

Now there's a new vocabulary word I have use this week.

 
   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut



London

The new management looked at the situation (still paying Kirby cash as he wasn't entirely gone) and came to the conclusion they should try making the models everyone said they wanted and that in some cases 3rd parties had started to make...
   
Made in us
Ultramarine Master with Gauntlets of Macragge





Upstate, New York



I forgot how great some of the jewel-like gems of quotes were.

The Kirby years had a lot of issues, but there were some silver linings. Like those unhinged preambles. Comedy gold.

   
Made in au
Fixture of Dakka





Melbourne

I'd plum forgotten about this. He gak up the hobby like nothing else, but damn if this isn't a small nugget of gold in amongst the pile of turds that was his reign.

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Versteckt in den Schatten deines Geistes.

He called Pokemon a fad at one stage, I'm sure.

Industrial Insanity - My Terrain Blog
"GW really needs to understand 'Less is more' when it comes to AoS." - Wha-Mu-077

 
   
Made in gb
Assassin with Black Lotus Poison





Bristol

 H.B.M.C. wrote:
He called Pokemon a fad at one stage, I'm sure.


Yeah, asked a rhetorical "Where is pokemon now?" from what I remember.

Still the top selling franchise of all time, Tom! Still raking in that TCG money hand over fist!

The Laws of Thermodynamics:
1) You cannot win. 2) You cannot break even. 3) You cannot stop playing the game.

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 A Town Called Malus wrote:
 H.B.M.C. wrote:
He called Pokemon a fad at one stage, I'm sure.

Yeah, asked a rhetorical "Where is pokemon now?" from what I remember.

Still the top selling franchise of all time, Tom! Still raking in that TCG money hand over fist!

That is kinda revisionist hindsight, you know. In 2014 Pokemon franchise was pretty much on life support (one original game released in last 5 years not counting cash milking remakes), Wii U was in the middle of being a huge flop, so much there wasn't even a Pokemon or Zelda game made on it and the console was heading for abandonment, sure, both Pokemon and Nintendo are in much better spot but let's not pretend the same was the case back then.
   
Made in eg
[MOD]
Keeper of the Adeptus Arbites Flame






Cairo, Egypt

 A Town Called Malus wrote:
 H.B.M.C. wrote:
He called Pokemon a fad at one stage, I'm sure.


Yeah, asked a rhetorical "Where is pokemon now?" from what I remember.

Still the top selling franchise of all time, Tom! Still raking in that TCG money hand over fist!


IIRC the highest grossing entertainment franchise in the world, bigger than Star Trek, Star Wars or Marvel

EDIT-Yep, based on all time revenue.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest-grossing_media_franchises

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2022/06/20 15:22:30


 
   
Made in gb
Assassin with Black Lotus Poison





Bristol

 Irbis wrote:
 A Town Called Malus wrote:
 H.B.M.C. wrote:
He called Pokemon a fad at one stage, I'm sure.

Yeah, asked a rhetorical "Where is pokemon now?" from what I remember.

Still the top selling franchise of all time, Tom! Still raking in that TCG money hand over fist!

That is kinda revisionist hindsight, you know. In 2014 Pokemon franchise was pretty much on life support (one original game released in last 5 years not counting cash milking remakes), Wii U was in the middle of being a huge flop, so much there wasn't even a Pokemon or Zelda game made on it and the console was heading for abandonment, sure, both Pokemon and Nintendo are in much better spot but let's not pretend the same was the case back then.


Pokemon makes the large majority of its revenue from merchandise, not the video games. And it's merchandise sales were pretty much solid throughout.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pok%C3%A9mon_Company#Licensed_merchandise

The pokemon video games account for ~$27billion of Pokemons total revenue over its lifetime. Merchandise is ~$83billion.

Also, 2014 was not a bad year for pokemon as a business: https://web.archive.org/web/20150112202857/www.licensing.biz/news/read/pok-mon-ends-2014-on-a-high/041291

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2022/06/20 15:27:06


The Laws of Thermodynamics:
1) You cannot win. 2) You cannot break even. 3) You cannot stop playing the game.

Colonel Flagg wrote:You think you're real smart. But you're not smart; you're dumb. Very dumb. But you've met your match in me.
 
   
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Bryan Ansell





Birmingham, UK

Whos That Pokemon!!!

Otoise Kirby.

wonder what his stats would be like.
   
Made in au
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Versteckt in den Schatten deines Geistes.

 Mr. Burning wrote:
Whos That Pokemon!!!

Otoise Kirby.

wonder what his stats would be like.
"Pikachu uses Market Research!"
"Otoise Kirby is confused!"

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UK

I like how his entire 3D print angle was "it will never be a threat" and ends with "and if it is then we'll just cut out all the staff in production and shipping and sell direct to the customer and save money!".

Considering this was in the year where he'd just let go a lot of shop staff shifting to the 1 man staff approach to most stores that must have been a grim time for staff in GW to read that.

I mean he's trying to big up that the firm made 50% less profits that year to the investors, so there was always going to be an element of management spiel. But yeah that letter and admitting he wasn't doing any market research or anything was a very telling sign of the weaknesses of the management of that era

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Philadelphia

He was an unhinged fellow

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I think he was just an accountant who wound up running a firm and wasn't really trained nor skilled in that role. So his early days where he most certainly cut costs and improved GW's overall financial health worked well. Because that was all numbers.

However when it came to managing the firm and carrying it forward; to community engagement; recruiting; product focus; market research and all. I feel that he just didn't have the right skill set. Aided by having staff under him who were more yes-men who also had weak points in sklil (their legal guy wasn't trained in copyright/IP law or anything) and you've a setup for an echo-chamber team that didn't take the company to its full potential.

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The Great State of New Jersey

I dunno, unless Im misinterpreting him, his statements regarding IP enforcement are fairly progressive and forward. In fact, I'm surprised that a group that overwhelmingly seems to take issue with GWs overzealous protectionism of its IP is taking to task a statement which essentially says "whats the point in doing so?"

Likewise, I'm in 100% in agreement with his take on 3D printing. Video games didn't do GW in, neither will 3D printing. Proof is kinda in the pudding - 3d printing has become orders of magnitude more accessible since he made those statements, meanwhile GWs profit and revenue have increased dramatically

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Made in gb
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chaos0xomega wrote:
I dunno, unless Im misinterpreting him, his statements regarding IP enforcement are fairly progressive and forward. In fact, I'm surprised that a group that overwhelmingly seems to take issue with GWs overzealous protectionism of its IP is taking to task a statement which essentially says "whats the point in doing so?"

Had they actually had a solid basis for the suit - and a Head of IP who understood the concept - then maybe the suit wouldn't've seen like such a waste of time/money.

I mean, when you're trying to claim you invented Roman numerals, halberds, chevrons and grenade launchers - and that your staff have never seen an external IP influence, nosireeBob - I'm not surprised you're unimpressed with the legal system.

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 Kanluwen wrote:
This is, emphatically, why I will continue suggesting nuking Guard and starting over again. It's a legacy army that needs to be rebooted with a new focal point.

Confirmation of why no-one should listen to Kanluwen when it comes to the IG - he doesn't want the IG, he want's Kan's New Model Army... 
   
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 Mr. Burning wrote:
Whos That Pokemon!!!

Otoise Kirby.

wonder what his stats would be like.


Several million. Like his bank balance? Unless he’s a big spender.

Fed up of Scalpers? But still want your Exclusives? Why not join us?

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Cadia

 Irbis wrote:
That is kinda revisionist hindsight, you know.


Not really. I remember when GW made that statement it was right around the launch of a Pokemon game that had, in (IIRC) its first week, made more money than GW's entire annual revenue. The exact details may be wrong but I very clearly remember it being a complete WTF at the time even to people outside the 40k community.

THE PLANET BROKE BEFORE THE GUARD! 
   
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Oh man the chairman's preamble was a bright spot to look forward to in an era of GW becoming more corrosive year over year. Legitimately hilarious stuff. It wasn't just the detachment from reality, but the sheer artfulness of it. Not at all like the blind belligerence we see these days, this was a man who took his mental gymnastics and wrote it like poetry.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2022/06/21 07:57:01


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Cairo, Egypt

 NinthMusketeer wrote:
Oh man the chairman's preamble was a bright spot to look forward to in an era of GW becoming more corrosive year over year. Legitimately hilarious stuff. It wasn't just the detachment from reality, but the sheer artfulness of it. Not at all like the blind belligerence we see these days, this was a man who took his mental gymnastics and wrote it like poetry.


Poetry is otoise in a shareholder report!

 
   
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It pains me I'll most likely never write a dissertation or another academic article. If I was doing so, it would be my life's mission to manage to sneak "These things are otiose in a niche" in there.

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Dig me a grave where I can vent articulate splenetic rhyme
Dig me a grave where I can nurture a hatred most sublime
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With the 'war' that GW seemed to be waging against its fans around that time (the late 00s and v. early 10s) I was never surprised at all that the guy came across as a complete misfit and just spouted an absolute load of crap.

It was entertaining then and now but I can't ever forget how utterly hostile the environment was back then, and all roads led back to how GW was interacting with its fans (which was basically a mailed fist to the face). It's very hard to imagine now as GW has fully embraced social media, has brought back loads of nostalgic favourites, is arguably giving fans (both old and new) what they want, but there was a period of some years when the opposite was true. And it was so fething ugly; worst of all the way it made the fans and fan communities themselves turn on each other (because you will always get people defending the company's policies, no matter how egregious, and arguments in public forums as a result)

I think back to some of the websites crushed, forums muted, garage hobbyists closed down, actually probably lives ruined (and I speak of this entirely outside of what happened with Chapterhouse) - it is very, very hard to think of the period with any sort of fondness.

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Wasn't he also at the time a visiting professor at Birmingham Uni for business or economics? At least the standard of British management won't change into the future...
   
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Fort Worth, TX

 Overread wrote:
I think he was just an accountant who wound up running a firm and wasn't really trained nor skilled in that role. So his early days where he most certainly cut costs and improved GW's overall financial health worked well. Because that was all numbers.


I often felt Kirby just didn't care about the actual product. Was he even a wargamer? Did it matter to him if Warhammer was still around in 10-20 years, as long as he cashed in enough salary and dividend checks? I'd like to think the people in charge of, say, Apple and Amazon care about the long-term success of their companies since they use the products in their daily lives and want them to stay around. But I never got that feeling from Kirby.

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Decrepit Dakkanaut




UK

I dunno, he always spoke about how he didn't need to do market research which kind of suggests he had a handle on what the market wanted, even if it wasn't perhaps as accurate as he thought.

We only really know him from these reports and such, not as a person nor a gamer at the club. Plus he wouldn't be the first person who gamed in private or away from the general clubs.

Plus many of his choices felt bad gamer wise but might have looked sound finance wise; and managers who don't look at the finances first tend to end up running firms that go out of business at some stage.






But I can agree with you, many of his choices felt very "by the numbers" and not "by the customer.". Short run things like Dreadfleet; the entire fiasco around Old World to Age of Sigmar.
I think its true to say he didn't have a handle on the customers viewpoint and impression of gaming. Perhaps that's because he's just a numbers guy; perhaps he's not a gamer or perhaps he is and his lack of outer awareness of the market meant that his choices focused purely on what he thought we'd like or what he'd like to see etc....

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This statement didn’t age well

“We know quite a lot about 3-D printers, having been at the forefront of the technology for many years. We know of what we speak. One day 3-D printers will be affordable (agreed), they are now, they will be able to produce fantastic detail (the affordable ones won't) and they will do it faster than one miniature per day (no, they won't, look it up). So we may get to the time when someone can make a poorly detailed miniature at home and have enough for an army in less than a year. That pre-supposes that 3-D scanning technology will be affordable and good enough (don't bet the mortgage on that one) and that everyone will be happy to have nothing but copies of old miniatures.”

Please excuse any spelling errors. I use a tablet frequently and software keyboards are a pain!

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 Tannhauser42 wrote:
 Overread wrote:
I think he was just an accountant who wound up running a firm and wasn't really trained nor skilled in that role. So his early days where he most certainly cut costs and improved GW's overall financial health worked well. Because that was all numbers.


I often felt Kirby just didn't care about the actual product. Was he even a wargamer? Did it matter to him if Warhammer was still around in 10-20 years, as long as he cashed in enough salary and dividend checks? I'd like to think the people in charge of, say, Apple and Amazon care about the long-term success of their companies since they use the products in their daily lives and want them to stay around. But I never got that feeling from Kirby.


He was never a wargamer. He lucked out by being picked as the accountant back in the 80's/90's when the company took off, and managing their budgetary bottom line. Over the years he accrued more and more stock and control over the company whilst the actual hobbyists and gamers at the top dwindled. By the time he got into control, he had a thorough scorn for anyone who bought the product - they were just a bunch of basement dwellers who'd buy what they were told in his eyes. And because he could keep cutting and trimming and cutting and trimming, the company seemed to get healthier and more profitable even though their turnover started dropping.

Then they passed the sweet spot and both profit and turnover kept dropping over a sustained period - which led to questions being asked about what the hell he was doing. Eventually, he got forced to step down under pressure.

In other words, he was ultimately a very good accountant, and a very poor CEO.


 
   
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Cadia

 Overread wrote:
I dunno, he always spoke about how he didn't need to do market research which kind of suggests he had a handle on what the market wanted, even if it wasn't perhaps as accurate as he thought.


IMO it was the exact opposite. He didn't know what the market wanted and he didn't care what the market wanted because those loser addicts will buy whatever we tell them to buy. And if they don't they clearly aren't in the niche of the Games™ Workshop™ Hobby™. Remember, this is the same era as the infamous statement about everyone's favorite part of Games Day being the opportunity to Buy™ Games™ Workshop™ Products™ and all the events being a minor side thing. I think he genuinely believed that caring about what the customer wants was a waste of money.

Plus many of his choices felt bad gamer wise but might have looked sound finance wise; and managers who don't look at the finances first tend to end up running firms that go out of business at some stage.


I don't think many of his choices even looked good finance-wise, at least long term. Over and over again GW made short-sighted choices to bring up the numbers for the next quarterly report at the expense of future growth potential. For example, the one-man store thing was an obviously stupid idea. It doesn't take a hardcore gamer to recognize that having a retail store that is closed two days a week, closes at 7pm so the after-work customers never show up, and has to shut down (and kick everyone out of the store) every time the one employee needs to take a bathroom break is bad for business and that having potential customers show up and see a "closed" sign undermines the entire point of investing in a physical retail chain. But that's a problem for someone else to deal with in the future, if you cut half your staff salaries your current report looks much better!

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