Games Workshop, Facebook, and PR

Games Workshop and positive PR don't really go together, and the Spots the Space Marine debacle has really highlighted that. When asked to give a response by the BBC, for an article upon it, they replied with this:
"A spokesman for Games Workshop said it had a "blanket policy" of not talking to the media and had no comment to make about the row or its trademark claim."
Which is not a wholly untenable position, but it seems that it also extends to not talking to the customers and fans.

GW sells a product that isn't by any means a vital resource, and there is increasing competition in the market. This being the case it needs to have a good relationship with its customers. And this means communication. That GW closed down their main facebook page yesterday doesn't bode well. The old address redirects to the standard Facebook home page, while old links to specific pages run into "This content is currently unavailable."

The response by GW when questioned upon this is as follows (via Faeit 212):
"The Games Workshop Facebook page has been removed so that the customer interaction goes through our retail stores. This will be via face to face contact with customers while they are visiting the stores, or by using the individual Facebook pages each store has.

The individual stores Facebook pages can be found here;

We hope this has been of help.

Kind regards, Scott Edwards"
Given that the last post on there was shockingly patronising and evasive it might not be a wholly bad thing.
"Games Workshop owns and protects many valuable trademarks in a number of territories and classes across the world. For example, 'Warhammer' and 'Space Marine' are registered trademarks in a number of classes and territories. In some other territories and classes they are unregistered trademarks protected by commercial use. Whenever we are informed of, or otherwise discover, a commercially available product whose title is or uses a Games Workshop trademark without our consent, we have no choice but to take reasonable action.  We would be failing in our duty to our shareholders if we did not protect our property.

To be clear, Games Workshop has never claimed to own words or phrases such as 'warhammer' or  'space marine' as regards their general use in everyday life, for example within a body of prose. By illustration, although Games Workshop clearly owns many registered trademarks for the Warhammer brand, we do not claim to own the word 'warhammer' in common use as a hand weapon.

Trademarks as opposed to use of a word in prose or everyday language are two very different things. Games Workshop is always vigilant in protecting the former, but never makes any claim to owning the latter."
Interestingly the twitter page is still up, although there's been no tweets since the 12th.

But I digress.

Swinging back to the point, there's a line I want to dig into "so that the customer interaction goes through our retail stores. This will be via face to face contact with customers while they are visiting the stores, or by using the individual Facebook pages each store has."

What? That's awful reasoning. What sort of central control and consistent answers does that give customers? I think we have to put the blame for the shut down on the increased negativity evident on the page due to the Space Marine trademark issue, which has caused a lot of bitching about GW in a lot of places. Certainly there are a few blog posts I've seen with this being a final straw, and igniting a move away from GW to different degrees. 

But there's a bigger point to this, and that's GW's woeful lack of sense when dealing with it's customer base. It needs to bring people back into the fold, and a big step towards that would have been a proper discussion of things, rather than just an explanation of why they're not sorry. It's all very well protecting share holder interests, but driving customers away and bleeding those who stay dry doesn't seem to be a tenable long term plan.

Which I suppose brings me around to where I stand, and happily I already knew the answer at the start of the year. I still fully intend to keep dabbling in the universes GW has created, mainly with INQ28 for the moment, but staying in touch with other things as well. I don't intend to be jumping on every shiny thing that comes out, as tempting as it may be, and will probably focus more on spreading my hobby interests, but knowledge of what's out there, inclination, and the accessibility to new games that Kickstarter has provided have pushed me down that road a fair way already.