Friday, June 6, 2014

Why does GW hate the internet and the hobby?

  I know, I know, I am a GW apologist, I freely admit it. I do not believe that “they” are an evil empire, plotting to run everyone’s fun and make things bad for everyone. I do believe that they made a big mistake when they went public and then had to serve two masters, the hobby community and the dreaded shareholders… Let me ask if you know about which one matters more, lol. Shareholders do not think long term; they do not think of tight, manageable rule sets, they do not care that a hell drake now has a collar that makes its weapon hard mounted. Nope, they see a spreadsheet with a line that points up or down, that’s it. But there are a few issues I want to take on…

If you were GW, would you go on the internet right now???

   Seriously, we can all agree that by slowly taking their presence off the interwebs, they did themselves a disservice. But what is done, is done. If they were to make a serious attempt to get back to the internet with a large presence (FB, forums etc) they would be crushed. To prove it, go to any forum you like and read a while. There is a whole sub-culture dedicated to hating everything GW does. My personal favorites are the ones who start out with “I really don’t care what GW does BUT…” and then a three page tirade about GW. Another treasure I like is the ones who criticize them for doing exactly what they said, in print, that GW should do.
  But really, if they made a GW facebook page, do you think it would help sales or the company image right now? Wouldn’t it simply become a magnet for the haters to go and smear everything they said and did? Keeping in mind that haters post, the indifferent read and the fans generally just sigh and move on.
   Beyond that, an internet presence, for that company does not seem to me to be a winning strategy. In fact, it does nothing more than point out the flaws that they have. 1) they have pissed away the old goodwill they had in the old days and 2) They are not a digital game company.
   Yes, they have pissed away all the old, good feeling about GW there was in the past. When you could call the help line and get Jervis to walk you through something. Back when you could call an order a shoulder pad for a single model. There is nobody at fault but themselves. They sold out to corporate task-masters and now they pay the price. This does not make them evil, to me, but rather dull-witted and misguided. The lure of the quick buck got to them, and they went public.
   But even worse, there is the issue of “digital-ness”. Everything that company does is not digital. It is tactile. You have to work at the hobby to get enjoyment from it. You have to build, paint and actually take part in the effort. That does not appeal to today’s generation of “kids”. They are used to Xbox, PS4, Android, iPhone and so forth and other instant delights. To actually have to work at having fun is something is foreign to them. I hear people talking all the time about how GW is forgetting the younger player, not getting the new generation of gamers of going. Well, that’s just another total misinterpretation of the truth. There are NO hobbies that are growing and flourishing with this generation of mindless, ADD-drug-infused, mush-heads. 
  I am a model railroader as well, and the number of ‘kids’ in that hobby is staggeringly low. Even with all the high tech that is coming in to that hobby, it does not appeal to the microwave generations that we see now. How many kids do you see fly fishing these days? How many youngsters are getting into board and counter wargaming? Yes, there are some, there is always some, but not in the numbers we once saw. This is a problem not limited to GW, so let’s not make believe that it is…

Litigation for IP, or if it moves, sue it…

   I have seen so many people who think the Chapter House ruling was a huge win for the little guy, a true story of David and Goliath where justice won out in the end. Well, it’s time to wake up now and put away your kiddie story books. Every time IP (intellectual property) is challenged and defeated in court, more of your freedom goes with it. I am NOT saying that the ruling was bad, it was, in fact pretty well thought out and just. Chapterhouse should not be penalized, nor others for making niche industries around a major player. But, mark my words; the more of this type of ‘victory’ there is, the less you will see of the start-ups that make it big.
  You see, intellectual property is one of the hardest things to defend in law. The interpretations of the court are often skewed by argument that does not necessarily pertain. There is also the fact that unless you defend your IP vigorously (i.e. sue everything that moves) the court will see you as being selective in your application of IP rights and will therefore rule against you. Whether you like it or not, GW will continue to issue CaD order and lawsuits, they have to. If they don’t they lose all their IP rights, and once IP is even eroded, it is lost, in the eyes of the court.
   And please do not delude yourself into thinking that all these other companies are so noble that they don’t sue anyone because of their inherent goodness. That’s utter bullshit, and unless you are 12 or the night manager at a 7-11, you know it’s not true. The first time some third party vendor offers up models or alternatives to some warmachine models that start to impact their bottom line, Privateer will be all over their asses. They don’t have a choice.

The war on competitive gaming?

   Now here is one I really don’t get. Why the onslaught on competitive gaming in the 40k world? Even if the authors really want to downplay the ‘competitive’ aspects of the game, don’t you have to acknowledge that it is there? Why do you want to bite the hand the feeds you? Competitive players buy armies, and as far as I can see, more than most do. Why can you not have a section of the rules dedicated to competitive play? Why does the community have to do all the work?
   Regardless of how much you want to portray your game as a fun, friendly game to have a cold drink and some good laughter over, don’t you have to understand that there is a large faction of the community that wants to play differently? Even in the rules as written, you talk about agreeing with your gaming buddy about what kind of game you are going to play. What if you decide to play competitively?
   I cannot understand why they don’t have a compendium or separate product that has tournament rules. Not only would it generate more money, but it might do a lot to repair your bad reputation in the hobby world. Give the Tourney guys something to start from and let it go from there. Sit back and be amazed at how many ways the game can be played, and where they will take it. And relax, you’ll still sell models… and maybe more?

All in all.

   Yep, I can’t hate GW, but there is a lot I don’t understand. They make decisions at time that defy logic, but I don’t think they hate us. I don‘t think they hate the hobby. I just think that they think a little too corporate at times. <sigh> But I just don’t have time to hate.