Specialist Games Winding Down Along With Collectors Ranges




Games Workshop are winding down Specialist Games, along with Forge World's tie in models, and the metal models in the Fantasy and 40K Collectors ranges. This post focuses on the Specialist Games, but many of the points transfer over.

I'll let that sink in, on the chance you're unaware of this. Not that there's a reason you'd be aware of this unless you have your eyes on the online community. Certainly GW have not put out any official word that this is happening. The main source of information is people ringing Customer Service and being told that model aren't being replaced.

The mechanics are brutally simple, in that as regional stock is run down models aren't being replaced. Instead you get this on the product page:


 On the main page you'll see that the "Add to Cart" button is missing from certain items.


Things are pretty much up in the air as to what's happen with rules or boxed sets. The rules are available in PDF format online through GW, and hopefully they'll stay like that officially, so the games don't wholly die out. 

I wonder how much this is a perfect storm of declining sales and the replacement of metal models with Finecast. Although there doesn't seem to be the big push that the was to move the main ranges over to Finecast.

Different games are going to be affected to different degrees. Necromunda, Mordhiem, and Gorkamorka are all going to see players either simply using models from the big two systems, or moving to other suppliers.

Blood Bowl is probably the game with the most specific non GW models available, so it's very dependent on how much you like GW's models vs those made by others

Inquisitor is a special case as that has already got a following using models outside the 54mm scale models specifically provided by GW, as part of INQ28.

Epic seemed to have its hayday before I got into the hobby, but it's always been outside my interest, so I can't really comment with any certainty on that. Likewise Battlefleet Gothic, which is facing stiff competition from Spartan Games and X-Wing I imagine.

Warmaster has always been an odd thing, and I never got the impression it was doing well even shortly after release.

Battle of Five Armies has had its card marked since the Hobbit really, and I couldn't tell you when it was pulled.

There's a whole issue of how none standard games (well, none 28mm) require different terrain etc, and the extra hoops they create for themselves, but that's a whole other post.

There is a lot of noise on the internet about this at the moment, although stocks don't seem to be vanishing as fast as might be expected. 

Putting aside the damage done to the gaming community there's an issue of transparency. We only know that the SG range is winding down because it was actively chased up. How is that a good way to run things? You'd think there'd be   a warning, and something like a few weeks to let people get the models they want. This seems especially bad in the week Feait 212 goes dark (I'll be posting about that shortly).

GW abandoned the Specialist Games range a long while ago. Somewhere I have a White Dwarf that charts the studio Necromunda campaign that was run in an effort to raise interest. I don't know the issue number off the top of my head, but it was many years back now. Certainly there's been no active promotion, online, in White Dwarf, or in stores, leaving the games to live and die on their own merits, and the power of the various communities off and on online to keep things going.

I wonder if we'll see White Dwarf rules for skirmish games under the two big systems of if GW is moving to just selling big armies? Or are we going to see an expensive plastic revival in the form of Limited Edition box sets.

There is going to be a lot of fall out from this. Here are my thoughts in a very vague order.
  • Run on popular models on GW, be it for personal use, or for resale at a layer date.
  • eBay prices are going to really ramp up, as people hold on to model rather than sell them, and we'll see big bidding wars over SG models, and probably books.
  • Increase in fakes, as people try and take advantage of the situation by casting copies of the OOP models.
  • Increase in non GW models - there are already firms producing models that can be used in Blood Bowl, Necromunda, etc (although not for other systems (Inquisitor springs to mind first, then Gorkamorka), each for different reasons I imagine), and this is only going to rise to fill the vacuum.
  • The above is also going to lead to people moving away from GW as they are exposed to other companies, be it for models, or simply because of moving to a totally new/different system.
  • Turning players away. This is going to be the last straw for some, as GW turns its back on their game. I can't help feeling they'd be somewhat justified. 
  • Increase in plastic set sales. This is going to depend on a lot of things, especially the situation with the sale of bits, but people are going to want more conversion bits to make model x that they can't get otherwise. This is going to be limited to the 28mm games obviously, and may not be noticeable in the grand scheme of things.
What I can;t see is players going back to the big two games if that wasn't what they played anyway.

So, to finish up, get what you want, while you can, and we'll all hold or breath to see what happens next.

4 comments:

  1. They really have done quite a bit of damage to their own press this week to those of us hobbyists who aren't blind loyalists. Between attacks on the Internet, supporting the LOTR/Hobbit lines instead of their own S.G. IPs, forecasted price hikes, and general dickish behavior towards their customers*, they're rapidly losing support from the bulk that wasn't already anti-GW.

    *from the corporate guys, not the design team or customer service team; the latter two have been wonderful with the limitations I'd imagine the heads put on them.

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    1. It's been a bit of a double punch, and it's a shame, because, apart from the ever increasing prices, the models haven't been better. It's a shame they'll not be an indicator in the sale figures from the community as everyone rushes to get the remaining stock of SG models.

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  2. Ah... I don't know. I couldn't understand them not killing them off first time around when they had decided they were going to support them properly. Back then I was annoyed, now... well I guess I'm just a little bit sad about it. It was inevitable as soon as they moved to Finecast. I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner if I'm honest. Not too sure it'll have that big an effect either, think about it. Those guys and gals who only played specialist games almost certainly will have pretty much all the stuff they need to continue playing, and it's not like it was a massive money spinner for GW is it? Those communities that do exist around these games are also pretty much hostile towards GW any way. So what? They're just pissing them off some more. I'll posting up my own thoughts on it possibly tomorrow.

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    1. It's certainly not going to have the sea changing effect the noise on the internet would suggest it's going to have, that's for sure.

      GW does seem to be making some big decisions at the moment (online retailers, bits, etc) and I think the real issue is there's not even a pretence of talking to the customers about it.

      We really need to get used to the idea that GW have no interest in us playing their games, only in us buying more things from them. When's the last time their was a scenario in White Dwarf for instance? Need to get people buying terrain? Stop them playing in store, so that they need to start buying their own.

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