Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sell a Hobby or a Product?

The biggest bitz box is gone.


What I am referring to as the biggest bitz box was GW itself. Remember when you used to be able to go into the store online and get certain parts you wanted to make that conversion, or just those one or two metal models from a squad to give your HQ that extra special look. Well GW killed that.

Okay, so the new site has some nice things. You can now order a specific blister rather than getting a random assortment of models, and some metal boxed sets are broken up entirely. Case in point, the Space Marine Veteran models.

BUT overall the new GW business plan seems more to sell a product rather than a Hobby. Their site is no longer about presenting the fluff, hobby projects, painting and gaming aspects, but instead it is just an online store. Furthermore, that store is far less flexible than it used to be. The BITZ packs are useless. There are typically only 1 or 2 offered for each army, and at that, I don't want to buy 10 of one weapon. I just want to buy one.
I would like to be able to go in and purchase components OR at least view the components so I am not blind when planning a conversion. The way they have set it up now is focused on just buying and building a boxed set, not actually creating a truly unique force (there is only so much paint can do). I would sculpt more if I could, but I can't, and neither can most hobbyists (as a side note check out Scibor's Monstrous. This guy CAN sculpt.) They either don't have the time, ability, or resources, and more often than not, all three.
Something that once was stressed as a vital part of the hobby is missing: Personal Creativity. GW squelches it. Maybe not intentionally, but they have. They used to ship out an entirely separate book with conversions and the bitz to do it with each White Dwarf. Then it got demoted to a few pages in the back of each White Dwarf. Now I don't even see anything on conversions in white dwarf. I don't even see much painting coverage like there used to be. Just simple painting clinics so every one's ultramarine turns out looking the exact same. Nothing to inspire.
And this isn't just in the conversion aspect of the hobby as I have stressed, but in the fluff, painting, and gaming. The 5th ed. book has only 3 missions and pretty weak campaign coverage. The site hides articles and resources, and even then, there isn't nearly as much as there used to be.
And remember Black Gobbo? That for a while was great and innovative. New articles, cool ideas, great themes. Eventually though it started just showing 2-3 articles that were just online versions of what was in White Dwarf that week.

So where did the hobby go? Well it left GW when they decided to start selling a product rather than a hobby. Now it is places like here, Bell of Lost Souls, Sons of Twilight, From the Warp, Firebase and countless other places on the Internet (many conveniently located on the right side of the page here under the blog roll). Although I wouldn't mind GW taking some of it back.

Tell me what you think? Hit that poll on the right.

And to finish on a more positive note, here is another quick glance at the archeo-tech from the campaign I am designing:
Artificer Plasma Pistol- A pistol crafted by the best plasma engineers of the Mechanicus priests on Ryza.
The pistol counts as a master crafted plasma pistol that can never over-heat. In addition, in close combat, the bearer counts as having a power weapon.
R S AP Type
12 7 2 Pistol, Plasma


What do you think would be best for the hobby? (Choose only 2)
Supplement Codex System
12 (41%)
Bitz returned to the online store
16 (55%)
More online hobby articles
8 (27%)
More emphasis on creative gaming
10 (34%)
More emphasis on creative army construction
3 (10%)
GW turns over all aspects of being creative to the online environment and focuses on selling the game
2 (6%)
It is fine how it is
3 (10%)