I’ve heard and read a lot of comment about the extortionate prices of Games Workshop products, about how GW is nothing but an Evil Empire trying to take as much of our money as possible. Well I’ve got news for you. It’s all true (except possibly the bit about them being evil).

The fact is, Games Workshop is a business, and the sole purpose of a business is to turn a profit, making money for its shareholders. Of course they are after your cash. Why would you think otherwise? Is it a surprise that Heinz want your money for their baked beans, or that Nike want your money for their trainers? Just because you don’t eat or run in your Citadel Miniatures (I hope – there are some strange individuals out there), can you really expect their motives to be any different? 

But here’s the thing: you should really be thankful that the Evil Empire is taking all your spare change. Because of course they’re not just pocketing it and cackling with super-villain laughter. They’re giving you something rather amazing in exchange. Space Hulk. The Screaming Bell. The Baneblade. The new Warhammer book. The Sanguinor. The list goes on, and even the lowliest Grot or Guardsman has had love and exquisite detail lavished on it. And while at times it may seem that Games Workshop is the only miniatures company around (they do dwarf all the others put together), they’re not. A rummage round on the web will turn up plenty, and you’ll realise that GW’s level of quality shouldn’t be taken for granted. Nobody else is as good, particularly for plastics. All this time, you’ve been gaming with luxury miniatures. It’s just that the average ones and the ropey old ones weren’t really on view.

If I buy Heinz beans, I don’t object to the extra few pence over the cheapo versions, because I think they taste nicer. At the very least they taste a bit different, and that’s good enough for me. If I buy a pair of Nikes, I understand that I’m paying extra for the privilege. If I buy a Lexus (okay, we’re in fantasy land now), I won’t moan about the price. It being expensive is the whole point, and I’ll be jolly pleased with my (imaginary) new wheels.

So rejoice in your pricey miniatures. They’re reassuringly expensive, because you’re worth it. And thank the Evil Empire for making them so well.

3 Responses to “Why you should love the Evil Empire”

  1. Stu says:

    Graham,

    great to see your are writing. I wouldn’t worry about the Rose tinted GW rhetoric…it wears off after a couple of months :)

    Only joking :)

  2. Pete Rees says:

    Never seen a messaging board post complaining when Heinz raise their prices due to inflation!

    Trying to be as honest as possible though – am not sure how I can justify to myself spending the extra £ in a GW store on an existing product say a Codex, where I could turn to an independant retailer who charge a % less. How does this affect GW?

    In a positive way its made me think “I’ll only get that 1 box this month” or “I’ll hold on until I’ve got that squad finished” before buying more – great from my hobby point of view, but it does make store managers scowl at me for not spending as much – mainly on supplies.

    You are right though – quality of GW minature for my personal tastes tops most other companies in the industry.

    Really cool + interesting blog though, I’ll be sure to follow! My company (IT Security industry) is currently encouraging its employees to start blogging

  3. Rod the Worm says:

    Good argument made there – in general, GW makes some of the best models out there and the background is almost certainly the most expansive ever written, spanning thousands of years.

    I think what annoys people though is that they feel GW might actually make more money if they lowered some prices. Currently you’re looking at a substantial financial investment just to get a small trial force together. Take Imperial Guard, my army, for example: £17.50 codex, £55 battleforce can make 2 vet squads, a company command squad and a sentinel. 225 points basic, say 300-350 with generous upgrades. You’re more than £70 down and you can barely call it a game at those levels.
    To get a 1500 point army which is the level most people seem to play at, you’ve probably spent £200-300. Maybe more if you want a mechanised army, which is the way 40k seems to have gone. How many people do you think just quit and give up before they’ve even got going? How many people out there would love to buy more than one army but just can’t justify the expence? I’m one of them – I love the clean, sharp look of the Tau, Eldar have the potential to make a really amazing, colourful force and Marines are pretty awesome too. If models were cheaper, I can guarantee that by now I would have spent at least the same amount of money (probably more – there’s still a lot of Guard stuff that looks nice) in collecting more than one army. The difference would be that I’d be looking to collect the other two armies too, rather than just sitting happy with my one army and making to odd addition to it.

    I think what people also really object to is the pricing based on what a model does in the game rather than how much it costs to make. Why is Straken £8.50 when three psykers are £8? Heck, I struggle to justify more than £5 on a single model, let alone things like £10 for Shrike (generic jump pack guy with lightning claws) or £12 for Lysander (Basic thunder hammer terminator with a few fists on). What justifies the extra £2 for the jump from Terminator Captain to Terminator Librarian? Why is a Hellhound £30 when a Chimera costs £20? How can the two metal panels and gunners justify a £15 price jump from the £20 Dark Eldar Raider to the £35 Ravager? (not to mention the insane £40 Asdubael Vect…). Honestly, I had a Dark Eldar army about 3 years ago and Raiders were £15, Ravagers £18. I know metal prices have risen, but you can’t seriously be saying it’s gone up that much?

    The thing is, this anger that people are obviously feeling is only half directed at the rapid price hikes we’ve put up with over the last few years. The other half is worry that GW is going to price itself out of the market. Privateer Press is rapidly growing in awareness among gamers, and has some absolutely amazing sculpts. For a little more than the price of a plastic dreadnought, you can own two metal warjacks and their caster. Games also tend to be smaller and so cheaper – with GW reducing their support for their specialist games division, they’re reducing their share in the skirmish game category.

    Honestly, I agree with your assessment that GW makes great minis, though I’d hesitate to say the best. They make a fun game based on a deep setting, but I think that the relentless price rises are a short-sighted mistake.

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