Monday, September 8, 2014
New Space Hulk: Even When GW Does Things Right They Do It Wrong
The internet is all in a buzz as the rumor mill states that this weekend GW will reveal a Space Hulk release. From what people are saying is that this is the same set that they released 5 years ago with some new counters and a few new missions. Price point is supposedly 125 dollars. Now rereleasing this game is a good move for GW as it is a good classic game with excellently detailed miniatures. I am sure they will sell through any reasonable level of stock they decide to order. This is probably a 10's of thousands level. Ofcourse GW is a big company who had a 16 million dollar drop in sales last year would need like 120K sets sold exclusively through their stores to make up that gap but I guess every little bit helps.
The first issue I see with this release is that it is again a limited splash release. GW actually has something that people want to buy outside their ever shrinking core group of players. Splash releases do nothing for GW's real problem which is long term player base erosion. Preaching to the congregation really. They are getting ready to lose their 3rd game system soon with the last hobbit movie coming out and really have few offerings for customers that are not in the sink a huge amount of time and money straight away to play our games catagory. I really wonder how GW store employees respond if a possible customer comes in and sees some established players playing and asks how much those armies cost. I am sure there will be some half answer about those guys being in the game a long time and people play with smaller forces, etc. Maybe that is why most of the stores have cut down on in store gaming and reduced tables as the stores have shrunk. I think that store managers would love to have something else to show people. I cannot imagine that a 99 dollar Space Hulk game would have worse turns than 2 random battalion boxes from WHFB which would be the shelf space required. Why 99 dollars? That is a good subconscious line about what is expensive or not. I remember years ago I think on Penny Arcade there was a discussion of household capital purchases that things under a hundred dollars seemed like normal purchases but once you were over that you sort of needed to talk to your wife about it.
Then the store has something to try to sell without essentially lying to the customer that the starter box is really all you need to actually play the game. Customer who are not ready to commit at that level now have an entry point to expose them to the quality of the miniatures and components (which are good here) plus fun game play. Then maybe they will come back looking for more and you get a second crack at upselling them into 40K. It would be helpful to have an expansion or two so they have a reason to come back which leads directly into the obvious other problem.
They supposedly have 4 missions and new counters, all you need is a few more missions, maybe a novella and some fluff and you could bundle those up with the counters into a mission pack expansion for like 25 dollars or so. I would buy that, I am certainly not buying a 125 dollar box to get less than that. I am sure that there are a few people who will but since they are likely to be able to sell through their initial stock level it would be better to have those go to players who do not already have them as it is clear for a gaming company that having 2 player is better than having one player who has paid to purchase essentially the same set twice. GW failure to understand this is why they have had flat or falling sales while the rest of the industry grows around them funded through kickstarter or using established licenses.
Making these new items a real expansion has so many positives that not doing it that why is just baffling. First you rekindle interest in a player base who might have not played the game recently which gets them exposing their gaming group to it, it brings these players back into stores or asking about your product at their FLGS, maybe they have a better opinion about your company and demo the upcoming rerelease with their set at the local store, and most of all you get their money. It is not like GW is anti-expansion, all the recent campaign books and supplemental codexes are just expansions. Boardgames have been doing pretty well recently. Heck I saw Pandemic stocked at my Meijer(think full grocery store with small Target attached) recently. GW having nothing in this segment that they really control is just strange.
What do you guys think? Is GW on the right track with this or are they taking a good idea and GWing it?