Games workshop looking to shut down web stores

Games Workshop, the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K folks, is rumoured to have set a date (July 15) after which no retailer except them will be able to sell their products over the internet. Previously GW has forced retailer to comply with “Maximum” discounts of 30% off retail for their products.

Is this stuff even legal? Setting prices, denying the opportunity to sell using certain venues? I’ve heard different numbers, but it sounds like these web merchants are selling some 10-12 million (US) dollars of product per year.

Stephan, are you out there? What’s your take?

I worked for a comic/game store when I was a teenager. GW is notorious for their bullshit sales practice and ridiculous pricing. This doesn’t surprise me one bit.

I don’t see the problem, it’s their products, if they want to limit where it’s sold that’s their choice.

Don’t like it, don’t buy their stuff. ;)

I havent played Warhammer games for years, but I used to be wicked into them when I was a wee lad. They just opened up a Games Workshop store in Cambridge Ma, and I still got a little excited just seeing it…

Around 10 years ago, their products were sort of pricey, but now they are just ungodly expensive, so that it seems to me like only kids with parents who are loaded, or adults with lots of disposable income can afford that stuff. Its astonishing to me that that company has been able to sell enough products at those prices to keep going. Its also astonishing to me to think how filthy rich Rick Priestly (one of the orginal designers from way back in the 80s, who I think is still in a lead designer role at Games Workshop) probably is at this point…

About the business practices, I guess it doesnt surprise me. Sounds a little Microsoft-esque…

GW makes great games, there’s no doubt about this. There best game (the only one I plan on buying again) was Talisman. They’re re-issuing a single print run of Talisman at some ludicrous 100 dollar price point.

I love Talisman, and I had all the expansions, then my old room mate threw it away. I will kill him.

It’s less ludicrous if you check out what Talisman goes for on eBay. You really do need to kill your rommate–2nd edition Talisman sets with all the expansions sell in the $500-600 range.

I used to love Talisman, back in college and before, but it’s one of those games that hasn’t aged well. In retrospect, it’s not even a particularly good game. Very little strategy, too much randomness, sort of like Monopoly. The luck of the dice and the draw typically determine who will win the game–the only important choices the player makes in any given turn is whether to go right or left and whether to fight with Craft or Strength. The characters are wildly unbalanced (Prophetess, anyone?), and most of the expansions are even more unbalanced.

That said, I like the IDEA of Talisman–or the idea of fantasy quest boardgames in general. Talisman had a great atmosphere and style that helped offset the crappy game mechanics. And if you want to reproduce the Talisman experience with a better game system, there aren’t really any alternatives (at least none that I’ve found). The late Avalon Hill’s Magic Realm comes closest, but good luck finding other players willing to learn the rules.

I never played the Talisman 3rd edition, so maybe they fixed some of the game’s problems in that release. I remember being turned off by the reduced number of characters (though in retrospect, that was probably a good decision on GW’s part–only a small handful of the characters in the 2nd edition were balanced enough to use).

It is not legal. There are strong legal prohibitions on price fixing – a manufacturer cannot require a distributer to charge a specified price.

Oh yeah, I know about he ebay thing, thus the imminent death. I played 2nd and 3rd. 3rd was much much better than second. There was, however, a completely imbalanced character/skill combo that came along with one of the expansions that you’d have to set up house rules for.

One of the wizards got to keep any spell he wanted and if you got to be the head wizard character got extra spells. There was a spell that when cast made you the only character to move for one turn, and you could recycle your endless time freeze.

“It is not legal. There are strong legal prohibitions on price fixing – a manufacturer cannot require a distributer to charge a specified price.”

Then why are consoles sold for the same price at every retailer you see?

I am waiting for my second edition set to increase in value to $1,000.00. :) However, will anyone buy it if all of the card’s corners are rounded due to obsessive play? The only expansion I am missing is that wacky Time Machine one.

Tried to play a game with my cousins a couple of years ago. There were probably 8 of us. After 4 or 5 hours, we went to bed. It had become quite tedious as everyone had their bags of holding and pack mules and tons of items, but none of us were willing to quit either. The next morning we finished and have not been tempted in the slightest to play again.

Dungeonquest is better for a quick, fun treasure hunting jaunt. Although, it is even more random than Talisman and your surviving (much less winning) to death ratio is heavily against you.

Incidentally, Games Workshop came up a while ago on the Gone Gold forums. We were wondering why there were so few computer games based on the Warhammer (or 40k) universe, and one or two insiders came along and commented on the subject.

They said that GW basically didn’t want to have computer games made with their systems. They require complete hands-on supervision of the development which means they’ll only accept British developers, and they have little interest in computer games to begin with because they feel it will cut into their tabletop sales.

Without knowing that, I’d always assumed that cutting into tabletop sales was the main influence behind the really terrible pc games based on warhammer. I mean, it wouldn’t be hard to make a game that mimics a warhammer game. The only problem is that it wouldn’t put as much money into the pockets of GW so that they could snort coke off of the asses of young thai boys.

…so that they could snort coke off of the asses of young thai boys.

Don’t give me any ideas!

RandomGames, who made that atrocious turn-based tactical Soldiers at War game, had the rights to do a Talisman PC game. There was a site which had screenshots that looked to be a city block with 3D representations of the different buildings and events from the board. The spaces had your character walking in front of them. I had it bookmarked for the longest time and then it finally dissapeared. There were no updates to that site, but there was a blurb about producing a promotional CD. I imagine they were fishing for funding, none came through, and the idea was trashed. I wish I had saved those screenshots.

And they’re probably right about that.

I was a huge fan of “Space Hulk” until the EA game came out. At that point, having been able to play literally hundreds of scenarios without the time consuming set up, I was done.

I boxed up all my hundreds of dollars worth of stuff and sold it all off.

Your Power Pill

It’s less ludicrous if you check out what Talisman goes for on eBay. You really do need to kill your rommate–2nd edition Talisman sets with all the expansions sell in the $500-600 range.

I used to love Talisman, back in college and before, but it’s one of those games that hasn’t aged well. In retrospect, it’s not even a particularly good game. Very little strategy, too much randomness, sort of like Monopoly. The luck of the dice and the draw typically determine who will win the game–the only important choices the player makes in any given turn is whether to go right or left and whether to fight with Craft or Strength. The characters are wildly unbalanced (Prophetess, anyone?), and most of the expansions are even more unbalanced.

That said, I like the IDEA of Talisman–or the idea of fantasy quest boardgames in general. Talisman had a great atmosphere and style that helped offset the crappy game mechanics. And if you want to reproduce the Talisman experience with a better game system, there aren’t really any alternatives (at least none that I’ve found). The late Avalon Hill’s Magic Realm comes closest, but good luck finding other players willing to learn the rules.

I never played the Talisman 3rd edition, so maybe they fixed some of the game’s problems in that release. I remember being turned off by the reduced number of characters (though in retrospect, that was probably a good decision on GW’s part–only a small handful of the characters in the 2nd edition were balanced enough to use).[/quote]

Great post, Ben. I agree with pretty much everything you say. I was a huge Talisman fan around the ages of 12-14 – had the main game, The Adventure, the City, the Timescape. The idea of Talisman is fun because you have this big open ended fantasy world to wander around in, all the illustrations are nice and colorful, etc. And there’s always another card to pull and another die to roll. But I always found that the first 20 minutes were the most fun part. The endgame, as people got into the center of the map, tended to be much less interesting, and I remember many a game “dissolving” before reaching its conclusion. Still, we’d be all too happy to fire it up for another go the following week. The expansions became too elaborate too – it becomes a logistical nightmare to run a game with all extra boards and expansion sets running simultaneously.

You’re right about the randomness (almost no skill component at all) and the resemblance to Monopoly. As I noted in another thread, I think more social-gathering-style games tend to have a higher degree of random chance. It’s harder to get uptight about a game’s outcome when the skill component is pretty much irrelevant anyway.

Good call on the Prophetess too! We eliminated her from the deck because she was too powerful. :)

People on BoardGameGeek are saying that this new Dungeoneer game is pretty spiffy in a Talisman sort of way, so I may check that out. Likewise, Mystic Wood and Sorceror (two long out-of-print games that Talisman was loosely based on) can be entertaining, though they share many of Talisman’s flaws.

I liked the “wandering around a big world” aspect of Talisman quite a bit, as well as the art and the humor (the Toad cards were classic… there was nothing more humiliating than being the Toad). I also like the exploration element in the game–the adventure cards added variety, even if they also added more randomness.

Then why are consoles sold for the same price at every retailer you see?

Illegal doesn’t make it imaginary. It’s a pretty common practice in many markets.

Ironically, the general principal is to protect smaller merchants. If console prices were not effectively restricted, large retailers would quickly put all small local competition out of business. Like the console makers themselves, they’d probably be happy to lose some money on the hardware to increase sales on their vast stock of software. Smaller shops typically have less software available and not nearly as much money in the bank.

I believe RIAA got busted a couple years ago for price fixing, but it really did sound like they were trying to help local music stores compete. What do they care what a CD retails for? The wholesale prices don’t vary based on that.

Other boardgame companies also have expressed worries about online sales killing retail shops. The fear is that without retail shops, there’ll never be any new blood brought in to the market. This policy is probably welcomed by their offline retail customers.

When I was in CA about 10 years ago, the state had made it illegal for cellular phones to be sold at a loss, even if subsidized by a service contract. It was specifically intended to protect small shops from giant retailers. Net result? My wife’s phone cost about $400 and monthly service fees were exactly the same as the rest of the country.

It is not legal. There are strong legal prohibitions on price fixing – a manufacturer cannot require a distributer to charge a specified price.[/quote]

That’s what I thought, but it’s more than that. They aren’t just price-fixing, they are attempting to restrict venue by prohibiting sales using the internet. I’ve never heard of that approach before.

It is not legal. There are strong legal prohibitions on price fixing – a manufacturer cannot require a distributer to charge a specified price.[/quote]

That’s what I thought, but it’s more than that. They aren’t just price-fixing, they are attempting to restrict venue by prohibiting sales using the internet. I’ve never heard of that approach before.[/quote]

Sounds to me like GW is in trouble and is looking for a way to increase revenue. Grabbing 100% of the online sales would help do that. They may not be able to legally keep a business from selling online, but they can refuse to ship new product to that business.

About the PC games, they sure allowed a number of them to be made – Space Hulk, Blood Bowl, 40K, the Chaos title, Horned Rat and sequel, and the game that used the Panzer General 2 engine. They have an MMOG in the works as well.