Friday, July 17, 2015

GW Marketing Strategy

So I want to add a quick discussion of GW Marketing Strategy (or lack there of).  This is a response to a comment on my previous post about Age of Sigmar sales. I agree with the poster that GW is not doing this in the optimal way.  The sort of 2 week release window with the leaks coming about a week before the official preorders is to common to be not an allowed corporate strategy.  This limited time frame certainly does not match marketing seen in many other types of entertainment products.   Movies, videogames, and books are all promoted well before the release date.  Sometimes the marketing is so ahead of the releases that I think they have already been out a while by the time they actually appear.   This sort of surprise release strategy seems very strange but I think it is best explained by looking at a quote from last year's financial report:

Our market is a niche market made up of people who want to collect our miniatures. They tend to be male, middle-class, discerning teenagers and adults. 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.

Just the first sentence says it all.  Our Market is the people who collect our miniatures. If that is your market who is your competition?  Yourself, obviously.  The structure of the marketing is based on the concept that the customer is going to buy your products but if they know what is coming in the next few months they might not buy something available now so they can get that new stuff later.  One might think that one is the same as the other but people have a tendency to forget the money they already spent so some of those customers who already bought stuff they would not have if they knew X and Y were just around the corner still buy X and Y.  Since you kept those coming products secret longer you know made more money.

If that is really how your market is than it is a perfectly reasonable strategy.  The question is of course whether that is the best or even a good description for your market in the current environment.  I do not think it is.  That characterization is a very narrow range of people and not enough to sustain a company with the sales levels GW needs.  I do not even think that Age of Sigmar is targeted at that market but they marketed it like it was.  Disney just spent like 130,000,000 dollars to make the Ant-Man movie.  Ant-Man.  If that does not tell you that Geek is Sheek right now, nothing will.  Age of Sigmar with some fine tuning could be a great introductory game to the warhammer world.  The set is still to expensive and I hear that they are pretty complicated to get together and on the table to play.  With such simple rules one should have the box open and the models on the table in like 30 minutes, playing while the interest is high.

Since they were essential getting rid of one of their main games, it is probably hard for them to ease people into that as it probably would have tanked WFB sales for months and months once the news was released but I am not sure that is was necessary or even a good idea to discontinue WFB.   If they had not changed the scale of the models it would be pretty easy to have the new models do double duty with just some movement trays with circles inscribed.  Maybe the frontage would be a little wider but certainly not unreasonable.  But the scale change was driven by the competition with themselves issue.  Players already have tons of their minis and the secondary market is also swamped with miniatures so you need a reason for people to buy new ones.  You can honestly only make elves look so many different ways but if you make the new ones 15% bigger than the old ones those old ones will not look so good as you can put more perceived detail and will therefore look better.

Having the AoS and WFB compatiable both ways as opposed to just one way certainly seems like a better choice?  Another End of Times book (Dawn of Sigmar) and some introductory releases of these new model groups into WFB then the new game which acts as both a new basic game and a bridge to and from the existing player base.  Providing people with more ways to use your product would allow for larger pools of players of both games which should lead to more excitement in both games.

Even if they keep on the path of AoS with 32-35 mm miniatures are the future for the fantasy genre they would be better served to show more of their hand.  I know a lot of people who have already looked at the models and rules and decided that this was not for them but GW is supposed to have jaw dropping stuff coming down the pipe which just the sight of or knowledge off might move some people near the fence.  All we have now is some detailed models(with questionable design style) with a game not deep enough to convince me to part with 80 dollars let alone the 500-600 dollars a year GW needs from players to keep up revenue.


  1. Well said and glad I could inspire another article :)

    1. Age of Sigmar has got me all talking about GW again. So that is something for them. I am not saying entirely nice things but some discussion is better than no discussion.

    2. At least you're approaching it as a discussion, even pragmatically, instead of just raging. The hate gets old when it's just spitting vitriol.

    3. I try to understand what GW is thinking. I do not often agree with their conclusions but they are at least a rational actor. They have reasons for what they do.

    4. There are reasons for everything, true. It's just that sometimes those reasons appear not to have any explanation.

      In the past, GW has quite obviously been run by lawyers for the benefit of investment houses - which didn't seem to go down too well so that particular managerial direction seems to drifted elsewhere, but without the imagination at the top, GW is left with all the creative people trying to imagine things within GW's IP and get the board to agree (conjecture on my part). Which is why we get things like powered armour for power armour and the apparent dropping of WFB for AOS.

      If they actually had someone who gave a shit about their IP at the helm, maybe we'd stop getting rubbish based on pushing new models and actually get some innovation, depth or insight into the great IP they already have.

      Apologies for cussin' but I think it's a valid point.

    5. I really do not think that all the model designs have to go through the CEO or the boardroom. Something like AoS probably had some heavy influence from the high ups but I am guessing stuff like the Space Wolf Santa Claus is all on the design studio.

      That stuff is mainly from the issue that you can only sell so many space marines in power armor to some one and you need something new to sell every month or new people to sell the same stuff to. Finding new people is hard so they have to keep trying new things. Some look cool (Knight) others not.

    6. I think part of GW's problems, is that they do listen, and they do react, but it's a slooooow reaction. The internet wants now now now now. GW says ok, but we don't see the now until 6-12 months later.

      Right now they seem to be communicating, jumping back on social media, giving out free rules...they are making good strides.

      I honestly think age of sigmar is a giant experiment for 41k, and after they work out all these kinks with Aos, they'll come out with a final ruleset, for both universes, so we have our own warmahorde Aos/41k setup.

    7. 6-12 months is fast for GW. They are about 4 years behind the curve. I think that putting that ruleset into 40K would go very poorly even though it is closer to 40K than fantasy in truth.