Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle

The Tiger Roars
Guest Commentary

Why Games Workshop is Doomed by Michael Lietzke
I recently found a little article titled "Space Marines, Water War, and Uplifted Elephants." It was spawned by Games Workshop trying to defend their IP, specifically the term “Space Marine.”  Amazon was quickly convinced GW didn’t have a leg to stand on.

Since I started participating in this hobby (about a month before the very first Space Wolf codex was released, back during 2nd Edition), I have seen the results of GW defending their IP.  A fantastic little comic strip (TSOALR) was stopped from having a print version and from marketing merchandise, and a game originally called Warhammer was re-worked into Warcraft.  Both are colossal blunders by a publicly-traded company.  I’m sure there have been more.  But that’s not what will doom GW.

Recently, I’ve read on many websites that GW claims, “We make the best fantasy miniatures in the world”.  A little strange, considering the name of the company (GAMES Workshop), especially since this statement is apparently being used to explain why the latest editons of Warhammer and 40k are… sub-par.  From reading a brief blurb on Bloomberg.com about GAW-London, GW also has a publishing business (White Dwarf magazine and rulebooks) and an extensive network to manufacture and distribute these models through about 340 hobby centers and independent retailers.  I had to read it twice to even notice a brief nod to how the company publishes actual games.

Games Workshop is a game company that forgot its main business is designing games people want to play.  The company can flounder for a while without good games and solid rules, especially if they can keep up sales. What will kill GW, ironically, is technology… not people infringing on their IP, not lackluster releases, nor even other miniature manufactures or game companies.

Recently, there was a breakthrough in the capabilities of 3D printers.  In case you haven’t heard about them, that’s ok… most people haven’t: How 3D Printers Will Change the World.  I suggest you read these two articles for some mind-blowing capabilities, but it boils down to this: very soon, 3D printers will completely replace how models and miniatures are manufactured and distributed. 

Right now, those plastic sprues and lead figures you spend way too much money on to play 40k are made through molds.  Someone sculpts a master model by hand, a master mold is made, and the mold is placed into a machine which repeatedly fills the master mold with liquid plastic or metal, and out comes part of a model kit.  This is then packaged and shipped to places far and wide (you can read more about that here).

3D printers make all of that completely obsolete and unnecessary.  Very soon, you can instead go online, find a 3D model file you like, convert it to a 3D printer file type, download it onto your phone or thumbdrive, take it to a Kinkos or something similar, and for a relatively nominal fee, have them produce the model at any size you like.  If you want a small model, it will come out in one piece.  Large models will require several pieces, which you can easily glue/bolt together.

While the technology currently cannot produce the kind of intricate detail you expect on a miniature cheaply, it will happen as more and more money, time, research, talent, and experience is put into this revolutionary construction technique.  The reason 3D printing will change the world is simple: currently, the only things really made through an additive process are made from ceramics.  Everything else is made through a subtraction process or a molding process.  Each process has inherent strengths and weaknesses, but there are some things 3D printing can do that nothing else can.  My favorite is a company designing a 3D printer to produce artificial blood vessels.  There are so many implications for this type of ultra-fine tubing that it’s mind-boggling.  But something relatively simple like walking into a clothing store, getting imaged by the same body imagers they use at airports, and then ordering custom-tailored clothing specifically for you is very cool too… especially without any seams, since the clothing will be “sewn” together thread-by-thread.

It’s only a matter of time (if not now; also for 30mm figures) before someone markets a 3D printer capable of producing a 5-100 mm miniature with enough detail to rival anything you currently own.  I guarantee someone’s designing it right now.  Heck, it may even use multi-colored plastic so you don’t even have to paint the base colors.  Just shade and drybrush a little, and you have a great-looking model for the tabletop.

Once anyone can build a good-looking army for $50-100, the wargaming community will have no reason to stay loyal to any company.  With the general discontentment of 6th Edition 40k (not to mention Fantasy) among many competitive players, there are already several people trying to develop the kind of wargame you really want to play, like the M42 Project and the USGTA.  Regardless of whether you prefer to min-max your choices, or take the models/units you think look cool, the game itself will be balanced because the players (you) demand it, and constantly adjusted for balance like many online RTS games like, well, Starcraft.  

Of course, it is possible that 6th Edition 40K will kill Games Workshop before 3D printing does.  But until then, there is already one case of GW trying to keep you from using this technology to infringe on their IP and profits.  You can read a more in-depth article here, which is similar to this article.

Related Pages
Economics of Warhammer 40K


Posted March 2013

Top

Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle