Wednesday, 17 May 2017

PROLOGUE - Due to the owner / Grand High Poo Bah of Spikey Bits getting royally out of his pram as I didn't follow their Terms of Service, which include adding a link to their site (done) I hearby note that indeed, this article uses as it's basis an piece first posted on probably the worst 40k based 'news and rumours' site on the internet.  Happy now Rob? It's a shame that instead of collaborating and celebrating different views you decided to go straight to the nuclear option, but that's your prerogative.... 



Earlier today, a site called 'Spikey Bits' (to which you can find a link above - it'll take you straight to the original article) posted an opinion piece on the frustration felt by one of its writers toward the release strategy being undertaken by Games Workshop in relation to the upcoming 8th edition of Warhammer 40k.



Now normally I'd just ignore it and move on - it's just Spikey Bits doing what it does best - making a lot of noise for not much output, but this... whine needed to be answered, rebutted even.  SB get's a lot of traffic thanks to it's hyperbolic headlines and click bait links, so for something as negative as this to be published when there is a wide sense of excitement and enjoyment towards the new edition couldn't go unresolved.


DISCLAIMER:
I am not affiliated to nor do I work for, Games Workshop. I am a passionate fan of their products and enjoy painting and playing with their miniatures and games.  
I will take each point raised (apparently these are the thoughts of, in Rob Baer’s words ‘Someone with multiple degrees pertaining to the subject’ - his words not mine…) and attempt to place a counter argument (my rebuttal is in italics throughout - emphasis in the Original post is the writers, not mine)

 Can someone at Games Workshop please take an Organizational Change class? Please. You’ll thank me for this one, promise.
We’ve talked about change before and how people are naturally adverse to it.
(This is correct. On the whole, groups of people with interests are resistant to change)
 However, there’s a number of key things that leaders can do to help pull off a change.

Could you imagine Apple holding a daily press conference to show us every new feature of it’s latest phone one by one? (This is a false equivalency. Apple are not in the industry of creating games systems. Now, if the writer had said, perhaps Electronic Arts, they would have had a better understanding of the issue).


It’s the Economy Points Stupid.

Before we get into how organizational change can be improved, it’s important to understand the keys to success from previous releases. In this case, points was critical to Age of Sigmar gaining Traction. I’ve been reading some things about how AoS turned around because of the increased listening y’all have been doing. While this listening is great, don’t let your marketing team take all the credit.
AoS turned around because you added points.
The feedback has been great, it’s the icing on the cake but without points that feedback would have been useless. (certainly, I will concede that it’s because they listened they knew to add points, but seriously, they should have known they needed points.)
(This is pure conjecture. There are no hard and fast figures to back this assertion up, that sales of AOS were slow prior to the Generals Handbook coming out.  As anyone who works in marketing or even basic data research knows, assertions without data are just opinions and should not be used to provide support for an argument such as this)


Early Wins

Want people to change? They need to see results now. Not next year; the sooner the better. Whenever you make change you want to show people that the changes you’re making are good. You do this by creating early wins. Things people can see are good right off the bat. To a certain degree the streamlined rules are an early win, people can see some units are getting better and may come off the shelf.
However, without points we’re still at a loss on how it all fits together. The points are the secret sauce; if you did good then letting us see them would have been an amazing early win. At the speed of the internet maybe you’ll release points before this article gets released. Before May 15 would have been great in my opinion.
(Ah, so now we get to the heart of the writers issue… they want to see points. they want to see how armies for tourna- SORRY, Matched Play will work. Now, all of the information given so far (up to last week’s reveal of how Power Levels and Point will work) has been to give a ‘flavour’ of the system - not to provide any level of detail on the system itself.  This is akin to Electronic Arts providing gameplay videos of games not yet finished - it shows you whats coming in order to whet your palate, an amuse bouche maybe).

Evangelists

These are the people who sell it. A small group of committed individuals who go from group to group and show them the changes are amazing. You really should have gotten your FLGS teammates together, given them the rules and allowed them to do demo games. Think of it as a soft launch. Want to see the new rules? Head to your local game store and get in a sample game. Will some of them leak the rules and points ? Sure, but what’s wrong with letting us know what’s good?
(Who says that this isn’t happening? Warhammer Community is running articles from passionate and engaged leading lights in the 40k community at this very moment in terms ‘Faction Focus’ articles - these are guys and girls who have played the game, have hands on experience of the system and how it plays, how each Faction interacts with the new rules. Just because you weren’t asked, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.  Now, far be it from me to argue it, but I think posting articles online where anyone with an internet connection can see them is far better and a more controlled environment (not to mention more cost effective) than trying to coordinate 1000’s of stores across the globe in this early stage of the release cycle).
Could you imagine Apple holding a daily press conference to show us every new feature of it’s latest phone one by one? No. Ugh. That would hurt. What you’re doing now is painful.
(here we are AGAIN - the Apple comparison. A better equivalence is EA - show the gameplay, show the various ‘roles’ that can be taken in game - show maps etc.. as you build hype for the game. In fact, Wizards of the Coast did this very thing for DnD5e -  yes, they beta tested as well, but they also did a huge roll out of what was changing and how the feel of the game would be handled post 4e - just as GW are doing now. False equivalencies are pointless and weaken the writers argument hugely.)

Wait, Wait, Don’t sell me.

Okay, I will admit this is anecdotal but I don’t get access to sales figures so we’re just going to have to deal with what we got. The FLGS’s I’ve been too and friends have been too say that sales are struggling. It’s clear this extra long preview is to blame.
Even if you think everything is good no matter how hard you try there are going to be winners and losers. Okay fine, I could be wrong, but history says I’m not.
If everything is a winner then why not show us the points? Those army previews you’re publishing from tournament players are cute but where’s the meat? We need the points. Show us the Points!
Anecdotal evidence says 40k sales have stalled. If you let people go to the store to see the points, let the FLGS owners show those interested players that the change is good what they’re in for you’ll start to effect change. Those players that have tried the game at the store and seen the points will go out and tell others it’s a good game. Then when you’re ready to show us the new edition you’ll have an army of evangelists.
(Again with the anecdotal evidence! And this writer apparently has degrees! The first thing you’re taught when writing dissertations is - DON’T STATE IT IF YOU CAN’T SUBSTANTIATE IT!! The writer also ignores the fact that 40k (the game, not the wider setting) is but one product line in a business with hundreds of product lines. Since the announcement of 8th Edition GW have released the following:
Kharadon Overlords - a whole new army for AOS
Shadow Wars: Armageddon - a whole new boxed game, rulebook and scenery kits
Blood Bowl Goblins
And that’s so far. GW will have seen the gaps that not having those 40k sales would create as players anticipate the new edition dropping and have accounted for them - by releasing goodies for their other games (this doesn’t include the countless novels & Forgeworld items for both Heresy and Lord of The Rings that have been released in the same timescale).  This is no different to the drop in sales immediately before the release of a new version of a console game in fact.  Now, it has been said (both by the writer and by others on Social Media) that LGS’s have seen a downturn in sales due to the anticipation drop in 40k sales. This I would also argue that a store that hinges a large proportion of its turnover to one line is a store that’s run incorrectly - any business worth its place should know this, it’s business 101.)

Detractors, aka Trolls

Yup, you’re going to get these guys. Yes, they’ll show up, get a demo, and hate everything. Odds say you’re going to get some converts. You’re not going to convince everyone but if you give no demo’s then you’ll have zero converts.
(I dont disagree with the first sentiment expressed. However, the second one is again, a fallacy. These ‘teasers’ are designed to generate interest. The Demos will kick off when the stores receive their packs and commence doing so. Think of this as ‘Phase One’ - demos therefore are ‘Phase Two’ and release is ‘Phase Three’. I would also point to several million dollar accruing Kickstarters which have been massively successful without demo games full stop which fly in the face of this assertion..)

Learning for your Mistakes, while making new ones.

If the AoS release was botched it’s because you didn’t maintain the points system and it seemed like a money grab. He who has the biggest collection wins. The AoS setting is still destroyed, the core rules are 99% intact, but you added points. It’s not hard to see the variable here.
(Again - pure conjecture. The AOS setting isn’t ‘destroyed’ at all - it never was - the fandom for it is growing and growing as can be seen from how quickly each faction release sells out - and these are not made in small numbers.. Also look to the ever growing community that’s running not only tournaments but Narrative events under the NEO banner - and its still early days for the game in relative terms. Saying ‘he who has the best collection wins’ shows a massive lack of knowledge on the game and points to the writers ignorance of it).
In 40k you made sure to let us know you’ve kept the points but you haven’t show them to us yet. This makes the roll out is agonizingly slow. Let us build some lists while we wait. Let us consider the new rules with sample armies we can adjust. You’ve given us the core rules now give us some points!
(Again the writer shows their colours here - they want to start building lists to beat other players with. The next point is purely subjective - I for instance, look forward each day to what’s going to be shown to us - rules, background, faction focus or battle zone - it’s all good stuff. Just because in these days of instant gratification the writer can’t be bothered to wait doesn’t mean we all can’t.  Of course, the converse to this would be that GW release no details at all and hit the market cold - which is the writer’s complaint for AOS! So GW are in a Catch-22 situation here with parties such as they).
Yes, you have a group of tournament organizers on your team, that’s great, but you could have done more and included many more FLGS owners so you had bottom up change; even if the core of the change is drive from the top down.
(Is that a modicum of jealousy I see here? Who says they haven’t included trusted FLGS owners, players, blog writers? This is what they did with AOS with the likes of Bad Dice and HeelenHammer - so who’s to say that GW haven’t continued this approach with 40k?)

You’re doing good, you can do better.

I hope you guys give us something worthwhile soon because I honestly would like to go out and buy an 8th edition army already. Then again, maybe I just proved you have a lot of pent up demand and it’ll be a tidal wave of sales. For those with tons of disposable income and time buying, building, and painting a ton of models at once will be great.
For those who like to build an army bit by bit (i.e. people on a budget) this slow release is having me spend my money elsewhere.
(Now this made me laugh. The writer contradicts themselves!  Is the writer incapable of saving money until the release? Surely, if they did so, and the release is later in the year, they would have MORE money than they do now to spend on a new army! Or even, as many are doing under the ‘New 40k New Army’ banner, start buying kits now for an army you fancy doing and start building…. GW have already stated that all units will have rules, and that all options will remain valid, so what’s to stop you? Unless of course, you’re an obsessive Win At All Cost, power gamer who only buys the units and kits them out for maximum power in the game… which I fully suspect from this final comment they are.)

I’m more than happy with how GW are approaching the release of 8th edition - it’s a fresh approach from a company that’s decided to engage at every level with it’s customer base, both through the teasers and through social media interaction. Yes, I want 8th as much as everyone else, the difference is I’m enjoying the ride getting there…

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