Do we need rumours?

Me on a Saturday night before I’ve watched Doctor Who.

It’s a question that has been bothering me for a while now and not just because Games Workshop has gotten somewhat possessive about their IP of late, to the point where forums are being threatened with legal action if they don’t take down pictures. Now, of course, companies like Games Workshop have every right to want to protect their intellectual property. But it does beg the question: do we actually need rumours?

Because, even if they are going a little crazy with it and shooting themselves in the foot at the same time, Games Workshop are in business with a big company. Universal and the Tolkien Estate could pull their rights to make Lord of the Rings miniatures tomorrow if they don’t keep up with the level of secrecy that is expected of such a partnership. Even though Games Workshop have cut down on leaks, it hasn’t affected their profits, which have remained stable through the past 5 years of economic decline.

But why shouldn’t we have spoilers? Why shouldn’t we, as wargamers and consumers in general, be entitled to rumours or spoilers of upcoming releases? I mean, if you want to get all statistical on my ass its even been proven that the overall enjoyment of something isn’t decreased the more we know about it.

Yes, I did just argue with myself. I’m a very conflicted person.

So why should I adopt a stance against myself of not believing that we should be entitled to spoilers or previews? Especially when the rest of consumer culture, from films; to books; to comics have all taken it upon themselves to start revealing key details about their products often months in advance, to the point where you can piece together the plot of a film by the time the second trailer is out and know if the latest Robin is dead a full month before the issue announcing him is published?

I personally think it’s about managing expectations. Rumours are really hard to quantify, because there’s no way to say they are directly good or bad. Just as rumours can build hype for a company’s releases, they can swing right back around and bite that company in the arse. It can also kill a lot of interest before a product is out.

Remember Elder in the 4th edition? Remember Tau? Those two races had pretty much their entire codex’s up online close to a month before their release. And when the armies were released? The product line flatlined as gamers had already written them off as being not ‘powerful enough’ or whatever shit they come out with to justify their ignorance. Compare this to the new release Tau release? Where all we saw were a few blurry pictures before release? Early reports indicate that GW can’t keep up with demand [Although indications are they’ve been choking off models to Independents – Ed.]

On the flip side, the absence of rumours over the 6th edition Chaos Space Marine codex meant the internet went into overdrive coming up with rumours aplenty, most of which meant that the codex was scuttled upon launch as the reality would never have matched up to the insane demands of the fandom.

So what am I trying to say? I think my indecision on the topic covers my thinking that spoilers are both good and bad for us. They are bad because they can kill any momentum a release can have and, as with most rumours, we never know the reality until we have the chance to get our hands on the finished project. At the same time, they help create this melting pot that we can all join in on and that when the community really comes alive, with house rules, new backgrounds and collaborative projects springing up everywhere. From looking at the stats, it certainly creates some serious traffic spikes on The Shell Case. I suspect it the way almost every other site works too.

Print media in the 20th century got us into the habit of taking the news of yesterday and discarding it for the news of today, to help feed the ravenous need to know more. With the internet, that only accelerated. When everything is instant, we don’t want to have to wait, we want it now. We’re somehow entitled to it now.

That both worries and excites me. But it’s just the way of things these days.

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