Monday, 15 June 2015

9th edition closer look

So over the weekend we have seen the following crop up on a number of forums and blogs, claiming to be sourced from a North America 3rd party retailer/distributor

“Good afternoon,

Games Workshop is launching the Age of Sigmar – a completely new system – on July 11th. You can start promoting the Age of Sigmar in your store today!

What is the Age of Sigmar?
  • The Age of Sigmar is a brand new system that continues the End Times story
  • This system is a great way for new customers to start collecting fantasy miniatures
  • Existing customers will be able to use their current miniature collections and add to them with the Age of Sigmar
 It is a continuation of the story line, but not going back to the old world. 100% of the models available now will continue to be supported. The audience for this launch is not the dwindling number of Fantasy players, but for EVERYONE including the veterans but with the idea that this isn’t “just” 9th edition which will just loose them more players but a whole new mechanic to draw people in.

They are actually doing trade shows and cons this year to drive interest in the game.

This is a continuation of the story of End Times but NOT the old world. If a model is currently for sale by GW it will be usable in some way.

I don’t have confirmation of the horrible “reality bubbles” rumor, but he (HIS GW REP) is going to ask about it.

I’ll be getting significantly more info the week of the 29th, with the idea of doing a build up event the week of the 4th.”

Up until now, I have been very reservist about blogging on the topic of 9th edition. There is just so much wild speculation and nonsense being spread, and more than one nay sayer preaching the ah, err, end of times. I have not wanted the hobby killers to destroy my buzz atm, only recently shaking off ETChammer (its not real Hammer!) and managing to buy, build and paint an entire army for my last (sad to say) 8th edition event.

So what does this post all mean? Well at least, what does it mean to me...

There are a few key catch phrases that jump to attention, but are still very ambiguous at best to the exact meaning.

A completely new system! This is the one that has the biggest shock factor IMO. Most veterans where guessing that 9th would be an 8.5 of sorts, fine tuning 8th edition and ironing out some of the rough edges. Nobody who enjoyed playing the game has much though of a need for any radical over hall. But here we have it an apparent letter indicating exactly that. To the extent, the general fan base is none the wiser. It could mean the addition of a skirmish game to the system, or a complete re-write of the rules. 

I tend to lean towards additional layers to some degree. We have seen the two game system rule sets being pushed closer and closer together for a few editions now (more 40k getting written closer to the WHFB), and I find it hard to believe that GW would reinvent the wheel for one of its systems, which IMO would only make it more difficult to transition between the two systems.

New customers! This is almost admitting they have an issue! The lifeblood of any game system is attracting new blood into the hobby. A generalization I have heard (and repeated) many times on observing the tournament scene (yes I know, a small proportion of the community) is that 40k is a younger crowd, or WHFB is a more mature crowd. 

Existing customers will be able to use their current miniature collections! Well only a fool would throw away the 10+ years of model development at a whim. As a company that prides itself in reminding us customers that it is a miniatures company, that makes some rules for fun, they where never going to get rid of their range wholesale in one large move.

100% of the models available now! Note, there is no suggestion they will be available indefinitely. I would hazard a guess to say if there is a model you want to own, plan on purchasing it sooner rather than later. Many sources have suggested WHFB will take on a new aesthetic and the old range will be discontinued in die time.

The dwindling number of Fantasy players! Well this does not sound at all like GW corporate. Admission of inner workings? More likely the message is from a third party distributor that isnt directly under the umbrella of GW HQ. From this my assumption is the message is not GW authored, rather a distributor who has received a verbal memo distributing information to its client list unofficially.

Trade shows and cons this year! This is big. Bigger than the other news IMO. GW have not attended 3rd party shows in a very long time. At the same time they have not held a regular tournament format in a very long time. One hopes one will follow the other. 

End Times but NOT the old world! Well we all should have figured this out by now. The planet WHFB was on had been destroyed, that realm is gone. A new (copy-writable) world will be created, continuing on from the old and including several of the old characters (maybe with new names?) will replace the existing. 

So the internet is a rage with the death knells of WHFB as we know it. But just to be devils advocate, the rage is coming from the existing crop of fans. Reading in between the lines we have heard a lot about how WHFB is not the money spinner GW wants it to be in its current guise. Maybe its time to look at the state of things and realise that the game we love is not attractive to new players, and it needs to change if it is to survive. Sure I have very little issue with the system, but that's not to say a potential new player does not. GW are taking a swing at trying to make the game a) attractive to a new clientele whilst b) maintaining its profitability. Without fresh blood WHFB will die, so us poor veterans, loyalists and all will need to adapt or die. Sad but true

It will be interesting to see how they achieve this whilst still trying to sell large volumes of product. If it was left to me I would do the following:

Reduced pricing! The big attraction for me is large formations and grand scale. This is how I want the game to play. Reduced pricing makes this more affordable in its current state. More players buying large armies will increase their gross income by reducing the margin by a small degree. But the most important thing is the customer base will grow making it viable!

Rules! Seriously nobody for a minute can disagree that rules do not sell models. And this is the problem. Most people given the option will want a fair, balanced, unambiguous and tight rule set that is simple to learn but provides a lot of depth. Its not difficult to put the resources into achieving this, and will produce a solid player base willing to invest in more war dollies! At the moment GW produces a new model and makes rules for them that are under-costed/broken to sell the model. This looses them customers in the long run for short term gain.

Support! We customers want an engaging, regular and rapid game support. GW nail the customer support for the models part of their product, but neglect the all important rules section. The customer wants a clear answer to rules question in the game and not the complete absent narrative the company produces. Its not hard GW. And it looses you customers! Bloody hell there are people out there that will do it for free for you!

Bring back official tournaments/games days/conventions/social media! Why don't you love us anymore GW! Engaging with your customer base is so simple these days. Sell out tournaments for your games only promotes your company. Attending conventions lets you reach potential customers that otherwise would not be engaged. Social media is a thing, and no matter how vial you may think it is, the effort is appreciated far more than total black out. Insular self promotion is not a good way to engage with the changing landscape.

If you have managed to make it this far, sorry for the rant. Its over now, you don't need to read anymore. 

See you all in 9th.

No comments:

Post a Comment