Thursday, June 24, 2010

Change: What GW Can Do to Improve

Change, something that Presidents Clinton and Obama have preached about. Change is also what you have in your pocket after purchasing something with cash. This post will be about both types of change and how one type of change will effect the other type of change for GW.

The first item on the docket for change is fluff. While GW's fluff is nice and all, it has become somewhat stale the past few years. I understand that the 41st millennium is grimdark and all that but there has to be some type of major event going on to shake things up just a bit. GW could introduce something as minor as a Global type campaign (ie Medusa V or Eye of Terror) or something major, lets say a schism between the various Space Marine chapters or a rogue Inquisitor losing it and virus bombing a major planet (let's say Ultramar or Cadia). How about an Eldar craftworld suddenly showing up in the Sol System or a Tyranid hive fleet doing the same? How about some fluff written by some Black Library authors? I honestly feel that introducing a story arc along these lines of this will greatly increase people's interest in the game. It will make things more exciting and give GW a chance to trickle in new campaign books and units that everyone will be interested in. Also, if these story arcs work their way into 6th Edition, people will be extremely excited, and a lot of old retired players might come running back.

The second item on the docket for change is their schedule for releasing new models. Currently you have to wait for the codex to come out, then wait half a year to get units that are in the book that do not yet have a model (The Stormraven is a prime example). Some of you might say "well it gives us a change to kit bash and make our own". I understand this and I 100% support people to make their own, but what if the size or base you are using are totally off? I think GW should either state in the codex what type of base all of their models are on or take a page for Warmachine and include the rules in the box when the model comes out. By this I mean only have rules for units you have models for in the codex and introduce new units later on with the rules in the box. Granted if GW did this, no one would currently know anything about the Stormraven but consider this. The BA codex is out for 6 months, sales for the codex and troops have slowed down, when all of a sudden BOOM, here comes the Stormraven with the rules inside the box. People would flip out and interest in BAs would shoot right back up. If GW were to do this, they could also give old armies a little band-aid in order to keep them fresh and competitive until their new codex comes out. What if the Necrons got another troop choice that didn't fold in assault or what if Demon Hunters got access to a cheap transport? A small simple addition of 1 unit could make a huge difference to an army. I personally think that the Night Spinner helps keep Eldar fresh and give them a nice little boost to hold them over till their new codex.

The third and final item on the docket is support. GWs customer service when it comes to sales is top notch. GW takes care of you when an item you bought is defective. The support I'm talking about is on the rules side of things. Not to sound like a broken record but take a page from Warmachine and have a way for players to have their rules questions answered. Whether it be a message forum, email or even old fashioned snail mail. You can even publish randoms rules questions and answers in White Dwarf. Another change that would be nice is attempt to do more play testing for new rule books or codexes. Maybe even involve a few gaming clubs in the play testing (after signing NDAs of course). Changes like this will make GW's customer base feel that GW cares about their customers (a feeling that has been lacking as of late).

Now you might ask how will these type of changes put more change in GWs pockets? Easy, almost every idea I put forth will increase sales for GW. New story arcs and fluff (with the possibility of a campaign) will boost sales for new books and new models introduced here and there. Also the possibility of bringing backsomeone who stopped playing will be huge. Packaging the rules with new models for either new armies or old will increase interest in all armies, not just the flavor of the month, which will increase sales across the board. Having a Q and A column in White Dwarf will increase subscriptions. Making your customers feel like they are appreciated will keep them happy and make them buy more of your product.

Sometimes you have a give a little to get a lot back. Risks have to be taken because you miss 100% of the shots you don't attempt. Doings things just because "that's how we've always done it" is not the way to keep your business afloat.

Any changes you think GW should make or is business as usual the way you think GW should continue to conduct business? Are my changes stupid ideas or do they actually make sense? Am I just wishing GW to be more like Privateer Press? Sound off and let us know!


  1. The one thing that I'll comment on here is the matter of the Fluff, when it comes down to it, that is all GW owns and they would be fools to tamper with it. They have pushed the story as far as it will go without destroying everything they have created since the days of Rouge Trader.

    They would have to destroy the setting and turn it into something else. While it may work, it would be an insane risk. Nothing is more unforgiving than a fan who has had his focus taken away. I'll give an example of this in another company, Wizards of the Coast and the Forgotten Realms.

    When DnD made the change over from Edition 3.5 to 4th Edition, WotC decided to advance the FR setting 100 years. The reason was that the setting, like 40k, had too much fluff. Every conceivable story could be told and while the setting was insanely popular, it was glutted and stale. By advancing it a century and adding in a cataclysm to scour away parts of it, they had a new setting with roots in the old. The outrage from players was deafening and the changes were extremely unpopular amongst the player base at the time.

    GW has such a risk if they advance their fluff. The only change that could happen is if there is a cataclysm and that means Drastic change. At best they could test the waters with something billed as a "what if" campaign, but that would be it. It just isn't worth the risk.

  2. I don't think that he is advancing some massive change (The Emperor Dies!) or anything like that.

    For instance, what if Cadia actually fell?

    So freaking what. It wouldn't change the models, and instead would provide more stories to tell. Advancing the story in locations that are not of fundamental importance to the background is fine. I wouldn't virus bomb the Ultramarine Homeworld if I were them, that seems a little much.

    But the 40K universe is so big that things can change, people can die, stories can be told, instead of a never ending quagmire. Take a look at Legend of the Five Rings, I thought they did a great job of that.

  3. Actually according to GW fluff as it stands, if cadia falls there is nothing that the imperium could do in time to stop the chaos fleets from reaching Terra and ripping the heart out of the imperium.

    If terra falls, then there goes the astronomicon and no one can navigate the warp anymore with any remote sense of safety. There goes the imperium, everything would degrade into a galaxy wide post apocalyptic setting.

    The problem is that any change that has real meanining in moving the timeline forward triggers the doomsday conditions that GW has already put into the fluff. There is no avoiding it, 40k is set at the last hour of the last year of the 40th millennium. Ticking over to the 41st millennium starts the end of all things.

  4. I think they have a GOLDEN opportunity to make some harmless but effective change with the next Necron Codex.

    Hopefully, they really expand the Necrons army selections; more units, more wargear, etc.

    Of course, then you're left wondering how that works fluff-wise. Other factions get a smattering of new stuff in their updated codex all the time, but the bulk of their army is already known. The Necrons, OTOH, have so little to choose from to start with, that any additional units will make it seem like they're an all-new force, so why weren't these fancy new things there all along...?

    I figure they can work it fluff-wise by saying that a new phase of the Necron reawakening has begun, and all the new units & gear we've never seen before are now coming out of their slumber.

    Fresh Necron toys to play with, interesting and scary new fluff to consider, and there's a sizeable "change" in the 40K universe that doesn't send it into a Ragnarok-like deathspin.

    Of course, like I said, this is all predicated on the idea that GW gives the Necrons more unit choices and such to begin with. If they intend to keep the Necrons lean like they are now, but bring them into 5th Ed. just via rules changes, well, obviously my idea won't work.

  5. Big changes for the necrons do seem to be on the horizon fluff wise. I believe there is a passage in the blood angels book that portrays them as thinking sentient creatures rather than automated extensions of a extermination protocol.

  6. I'd heard bits and pieces about some of the HQ type Necrons being sentient, which I think would work well. I think having the rank and file type units (warriors, immortals, etc) as mindless zombie robots should be maintained, though.

  7. I completely agree that a change to the fluff isn't a bad thing - I have recently started playing again after a long break....I stopped playing on the release of 3rd gen rules and have just started again. From my current perspective very little has changed in regards to the fluff - it is pretty much the same as it was 11 years ago.

    I think GW really need to take a leaf out of Marvel and DCs book in the way they handle their canon - the comic industry has seen a huge resurgence since the introduction of canon changing plots such as Civil War - and I think its time that GW look at doing the same.