So by now I am sure all have you have heard about the rumored price increases, some products said to be going up by as much as 25%!
Well, it’s that time of the year, GW’s annual price increases.
This time though, if the rumors are true, they are really going way too far. Some models are said to be going up by as much as 25% which is absurd. The Storm Raven at $82? Land Raiders for $75?? 5 Fire Dragons for $41???
Come on GW, what are you doing? I am a capitalist at heart and believe that you are entitled to charge what you think the market will bear for your product, but this is stupid. As the competition in the miniatures market heats up and we see what small companies can produce (looking at you Drop Zone Commander) and with established companies closing the technology gap (Warmachine/Hordes) and further companies coming in at much more reasonable price points (Dust Tactics) GW’s hegemonic status is going to be put to the test.
To date, they’ve been the 400lb Gorilla in the corner of the room and have been able to rely on dominating market presence and established customers but that advantage is going to shrink as other companies catch up to them. The smart thing to do, IMO, would be to lower prices and drive out your competition. Try to break into new markets with alternate media such as Cartoons (I have it on good authority that that worked pretty well for Transformers and GI Joe). You could keep it Grim Dark too, put it on Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. GW, break into new media and grow your viability as a company to increase revenue and keep prices LOW to dominate the market. YouTube, etc. are great and FREE. Why they don’t use them is beyond me and shows a lack of awareness of technology resources.
With the stupid prices GW charges, the competition can come in at a price point equally stupid or below GW and grow while looking like heroes. It seems to be a very shortsighted plan to me, to increase profits in the short term while driving away customers in the long term.
However, maybe it isn’t so crazy. GW’s stated policy is to recruit new players. They want the fresh blood who, apparently, spend more money on average in a year than a veteran. And, by focusing on this ever-replenishing market, they can avoid spending time and resources on things like game balance, fluff consistency, and customer loyalty. Awesome models, pretty pictures and kewl stories are enough to draw in the young and un-jaded customers. It’s a ruthless attitude, but I can see why they may choose to go that route.
My feelings though are that this type of policy ultimately hurts GW. Companies that lack integrity in their product leave the door open to companies who position themselves as caring about their game to a large, dissatisfied player base who are just fed up with getting the cold shoulder from GW. These people recruit others and gain momentum. We’ve seen it with the strong growth of Privateer Press and I bet we’ll see it with other games such as Dust Tactics, Infinity and Heavy Gear as well. These companies are largely responsive to the player base, and at least appear to care about game balance and creating a game that is more important than just selling models.
Time will tell how these things pan out (or if these price increases are even accurate, we’ve heard the increase will be much lower) but I will guarantee that if they are true we will see a slew of players migrate to other game systems. If GW follows this price hike up with a crappy set of rules for 6th edition, we may see a very, very big change in the gaming landscape.