Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Get A Grip! This Hobby Is NOT Expensive And GW Are NOT Shafting You

Take a look at this picture. See the prices? That's £129.95 for the green one and £115 for the white one (both reduced from their RRP). That's a shit load of money for a toy train that pretty much just goes slowly round a little track, can't be painted or converted and isn't part of any kind of game.

If I paid this much for a train I'd expect to be able to ride it round my garden at the very least
I didn't bother reposting the '40k on the BBC website' article from a couple of weeks ago - everyone seemed to so I'm sure you've seen it - but there was something in there that really struck me. It was another example of someone complaining about how expensive the hobby is, saying something along the lines of "it costs about £200 to get a playable army together."

For a while I used to compare golf to table-top gaming in terms of price, but I suppose that's rather unrealistic as most gamers are probably not likely to be golfers too... How about scale model trains then? Or anything else you'd find in a general hobby store?

So often people complain that GW are trying to rip them off and shaft them in the wallet. They seem to conveniently forget two vital truths:

1. Other truly comparable hobbies are almost always more expensive (and far less sociable/enjoyable).

2. Other miniature manufactures are - on a model-by-model basis - more expensive (with a few exceptions where the quality isn't as good)

14 comments:

  1. I don't disagree with your 'other things are more expensive' argument, but I beg to differ regarding the title.

    I know how much money I have.
    I know how much things cost.
    I know when things are unaffordable - too expensive for me.

    It's one of those rare situations where I'll come out in favour of relativism, because there's no such thing as objectively too expensive where luxuries are concerned, there's only 'unaffordable to me'.

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    1. That's a fair point, of course, Von.

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  2. I agree with your general point, but I'm not so sure about this: "Other miniature manufactures are - on a model-by-model basis - more expensive (with a few exceptions where the quality isn't as good)".

    I assume the exception clause there is to cover the likes of Mantic, Wargames Factory, etc. But I'd have said then that a lot of manufacturers are cheaper, albeit not as good. And even that's somewhat doubtful. Mantic's undead range is arguably better than GW's, albeit lacking so many options, and Perry's historical figures are better and cheaper than Empire state troops.

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    1. The Mantic undead are very good on the whole. I've also got some of the Perry historical figures and while they're not bad I don't find them at all as good as the current state troops - I may though (judging by opinions of the Empire forums) be the only person who actually thinks this way!

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    2. I built a thousand points' worth of those state troopers. They're not bad. I prefer the sixth edition ones, which look a little less gormless and have slightly less contrived poses, but they're not bad.

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  3. You could put up a graph showing the price of a box of plastics over the past few years, to balance your posts. The prices have risen steadily and will continue to do so. Plastic regiments started at about 20 figures to a box for £10, admittedly a good 10 or 15 years ago. That's 50p per figure. Now the price is £15 or £25 for a box of 10 plastics, depending on whether the contents are core or special troops. That's 150p or 250p per figure, an increase of 300% or 500%. This is the thing that annoys me the most, price differentiation, or to use the common vernacular, price shafting.

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    1. An admission: I've only been a hobbyist in my current incarnation for the last two years. My previous hobby life ended in 1992. So I'll admit that I don't have the historical perspective of the previous couple of decades.

      I suppose what we'd really need is a comparable graph for all tabletop hobby materials etc. But I don't have that longitudinal data. And I'm not certain how that would match up to general inflation figures... I would guess that all hobbyists, regardless of their pastimes, are getting shafted in that respect.

      As an additional point, I've got some of the 10-15 year-old GW models off eBay and in my eyes they don't come close to what's out now (although that's not a justification for a 500% price hike of course).

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  4. Playing Warhammer might not be expensive, compared to other hobbies, but GW might still be shafting you. I think that the design of WFB8e, which I quite like overall, is crealy designed to support battles with LOTS of miniatures on the board. This, they say, supports 'cinematic' action - while (much) earlier editions were clearly built around playing skirmish sized battles. Sure, you can play WFB8e with unit sizes of under 30 miniatures, but you'd definately be playing against the spirit of the edition. Gone are the days of 5-10 models in a unit.

    Plus there's the new army book, new unit, new monster arms race.

    Now, I'm always ready to give *some* people at GW the benefit of the doubt here - they live Warhammer etc., so what seems reasonable to an adult who has been gaming and collecting for 20+ years and is paid to think about gaming full time is very different to what is reasonable to an entry-level hobbyist or even a long-time gameer with other commitments (and bills).

    But, of course, depending on your circle of gamersyou don't have to play Warhammer in the current GW-flavour, or even the current edition. Or even with Citadel miniatures (gasp!).

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    1. I'm not so sure it's an arms race, but I completely agree about 8e.

      Your other point about the 'professional gamers' is key, I'd say, to understanding how games like this will develop in the future.

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  5. I'll also say that, as someone who isn't as much interested in the painting and modelling of miniatures - even though I do enjoy painting - I find other manufacturers' miniatures to be of a good enough quality (and sometimes find them more 'paintable' than the latest Citadel sculpt).

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  6. I've just spent two evenings base coating just the feathers on the wings of my Cockatrice, so I can appreciate that would be bloody annoying if you didn't need painting therapy to survive everyday life!

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  7. Also just wanted to say thanks to all for the comments as this is a theme that I've been interested in 'chatting' about for a while.

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  8. I think there are a number of factors that really tend to get up people's noses, and it varies depending upon where you are. I am in Australia, and we seem to be one of the worst-treated locations, so passions tend to boil when this topic arises...

    - Prices are ever increasing. Yes, I know inflation sees all prices go up, however GW prices unquestionably outpace inflation.

    - Product developments are always more expensive. Things like State Troops going from a box of 20 to a box of 10. And guess what? Two boxes of 10 is a whole lot more expensive than the box of 20. Same with army books. Everything goes glossy, full colour, hardback. No doubt the books are nicer, but they close to doubled in price, with no option to buy the cheaper alternative. I seriously doubt GW did anything but increase their profit margins with the change. The change from lead alloy to white metal "justified" a price increase. The change to Finecast (a less desirable medium in most people's eyes) "justified" another increase.

    - Policies to control prices. When other resellers find ways to make the hobby more affordable, GW tend to lean on them to make it harder and harder. You get the distinct impression that they want to be the Apple of the wargaming world, where they have tight control over their prices. Apple have their fans, but they certainly have their detractors, as well...

    - Regional insensitivity. This is where being in Australia makes you want to cry. Pricing has remained much the same in relation to the UK for the last 20 years, when the exchange rate was about 40p to the Australian dollar. Last I checked, it was more like 65p. It makes a monstrous difference. A box of Empire Greatswords costs 25.50GBP at full GW prices. In effect, the Oz RRP is 44.85GBP. That is not affordable, nor is it fair. Couple that with blocking avenues for importing, and you make people angry.

    It's not just the prices. I agree there are more expensive hobbies, and you can get a lot of mileage from a warhammer model. But we ARE watching things get ever worse, and it seems to go hand-in-hand with almost every decision GW making being extremely unpopular. Basically they seem to have little interest in making friends, which is sad given where they started all those years ago.

    Bear in mind this all comes from someone whose only real game is Warhammer (no Warmachine or Dystopian Wars for me), and who still has trouble buying non-GW models (habit, I think). So I am disenchanted customer - not just an outside detractor...

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    1. Do doubt if you're in Australia or New Zealand, GW ARE shafting you and I sympathise greatly. My post was very UK specific, of course and necessarily limited because of that. I'd heard a little about what you've had to put up with so I really appreciate you outlining it in such detail.

      I do have a problem with the army books actually, which I think are an unfair way of dividing/providing rules at very high prices.

      I wonder though if in a few years the move to Finecast will be seen far more favourably than it is now - and as a worthwhile and reasonable development. I've really enjoyed working with the resin rather than metal models (atrocious casting problems aside).

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