So it seems that independent retailers have yet another reason to be pissed off with the Games Workshop.
Retailers in the United States and Canada will no longer be allowed to sell Games Workshop products online. At first, when I heard the news, I though the policy shift would apply to pure plays (pure eCommerce sites), not those bricks and mortar businesses that also support an online offering. However, the policy is a blanket embargo on all online sales, directing people to the Games Workshop Corporate website.
This is obviously going to effect an awful lot of businesses, and hurt a lot of customers who live in remote areas or areas without any form of hobby store. They’ll be forced to pay Games Workshop’s full price or give up the hobby. I feel their pain. I for one dislike going into my local Games Workshop because I get treated like scum if I don’t share the manager’s foaming at the mouth zeal for the latest releases. I also have no independent retailers anywhere near me. None. At all. Which would make it impossible for me to sustain any of my existing Games Workshop projects without paying full price. Which I just won’t do.
It seems an overly aggressive move on Games Workshop’s part and comes with a lot of bullshit about how by making this change they’re supporting the community. Considering they’ve had no interest in supporting the community unless it’s been at one of their official events I really fail to see how that’s true. And their beef really seems to be with the drop shippers who hold no stock and just make small orders which hurts both GW because they cover shipping which affects margin, and customers because they have to wait for the retailer in question to accumulate enough orders to reach the minimum order value.
It also seems like it’s going to drive the second-hand market on eBay et al through the roof which is gonna suck for everyone.
According to the policy document they’ve also got their knickers in a wad over retailers using Games Workshop’s imagery to sell Games Workshop’s products. This I’m really confused about because how else are you supposed to do it? Businesses are allowed to use imagery, under fair use, providing it’s appropriately credited and in no way misrepresents the product being sold. Toy sites use Hasbro’s images. Hasbro also insist you use their product copy as it goes. I’d understand it if retailers were using Games Workshop photography of a Space Marine to sell a dodgy copy made of green stuff, but that really is a separate issue.
It strikes me that this is part of a much wider plan to force customers back into Games Workshop stores and on to the website as Independents have been undercutting them by as much as 25% for ages and hobby stores have been getting quieter and quieter.
It remains to be seen how many retailers will be effected, both pure plays and bricks and mortar stores as this will hurt them to a greater or less extent too. It’ll also be interesting to see if Games Workshop rolls this policy out across Europe and the rest of the World as well. I think it’d all but kill my Games Workshop hobby if they do.
Of course it could be part of a wider strategy to increase profitability to coincide with rumblings I’ve heard about a deal between Hasbro and the Games Workshop over some licensing. But who knows.