After the mysterious activities on the Games Workshop website yesterday, presumably just to build tension (given that these days there is no technical reason to take a site offline for a whole day to launch a web site!) it’s back, it’s new and, er, well is same but different.
It’s still just Games Workshop
No clever attempt at an integration of the Forge World and Black Library sites (as expected really, given that at no point yesterday did these sites disappear), it’s just the Games Workshop website, with some differences (see below). This is a good thing in my view, Forge World and Black Library have great individual identities and if they had been subsumed into a new ‘pure eCommerce’ site like this one then the community would have lost a significant amount of the flavour that they bring to our hobby.
The new design
Isn’t a million miles away from the old one. It’s still image-driven but now it’s even clearer that this is a retail store. Pretty much all of the ‘hobby’ content, bar the “What’s new” and “White Dwarf” sections, has gone and the menu layout and options are definitely geared towards purchasing, with options to select by price range and force organisation/ army composition rather than just driving you through the standard ‘army’ channels.
There are some good tweaks here, specifically to make the site more generally accessible across more devices, and as a result the hover menus have died a necessary death. It’s slightly annoying that you have to click on check boxes, not words as that gives you a smaller target area to aim at (especially on a mobile device), but I definitely prefer it over the last front end, much cleaner and easier to read and the new ‘list’ of products view is nicer.
One potentially useful new feature is the ability to select multiple categories at once from the side bar, very much a standard eCommerce feature but I’m not sure how necessary it is for this site. Unless of course you really need to look at Beastmen and Dwarves in one product list…
Mobile/ tablet friendly
Probably the biggest change folks are talking about (on Twitter, where Games Workshop notably still are not) is the introduction of a ‘proper’ mobile site. My feeling on this is, yup it’s nice, but really if there had been a site relaunch without some response design to accommodate mobile users then that would have been a serious negative point against it. It’s good to have, but should be auto-include for a retail web site these days.
This is probably the ‘biggy’ in this revamp, Games Workshop have completely stripped out the FAQs section.
This isn’t totally unforeseen, after all the FAQs haven’t been updated in a long while, and Games Workshop’s general shift towards digital content might suggest that they’ll simply shift them into automatic codex/army/rule book updates plus possibly a return to the old days of ‘official’ update books? I think that latter option is unlikely, Games Workshop have put considerable effort into their digital offerings of late and I suspect they want us all to just buy iPads and receive over the air updates so that we’re all using the version of rules they consider to be ‘the right ones’. Not that that’s much help if you don’t have a fruit-based tablet, of course…
We will have to wait and see what impact this has on the tournament and general hobby scene. After all if Games Workshop have taken them down, does this mean they won’t allow them at Warhammer World events? Most tournaments, I suspect, will still count them as valid (after all, they’re still an official Games Workshop offering), but how will new players get hold of them if not from the Games Workshop web site?
Your account is dead, long live your (new) account!
Part of the revamp involved a new platform and I guess rather than attempt (and therefore pay for) a migration of existing accounts, Games Workshop have scrapped all existing accounts and wish/gift lists. Not a massive issue really and certainly not worth holding up a new site for, but something to be aware of nonetheless!
So all-in-all not a bad revamp, but clearly another step towards Games Workshop’s online presence being about two things, retail sales and retail sales. Oh wait, that’s the same thing twice. I do think they’re trying, with the White Dwarf revamp, the weekly release schedule and the hiving off of all social content to the stores to explicitly split off our relationship with Games Workshop HQ as a retail body from our relationship to the stores, hence retaining the store Facebook pages. It’s an interesting move on their part and I guess time will tell how successful a strategy it is, but with their one-man store policy and a clear desire to drive footfall back into stores as hobby centres you can see a picture developing where we go back to the days of our primary relationship to the Games Workshop part of the hobby being bricks and mortar centric. At least I suspect that’s what Games Workshop are trying to achieve.