Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Are Games Workshop's price increases as bad as we think?

So, this week has generally been considered a "Bad Week" for hobby enthusiasts. Price Increases, Fine Cast Price Increases, Discount retailer cut-outs. I will say, I am not too happy myself. BUT I see a lot of "This is the last straw" and "After 10 years, I'm done" kinda comments. Which got me thinking, how bad is it over the 10 year run? Well lets do some basic math. Nothing complicated. I am no economics expert by far, but just a long time enthusiast taking a step back and thinking before making any decisions like "Time to jump ship to Privateer Press only! GW is going down!"

So, lets take some units that 10 years ago (2001) had a pretty standard cost.
Land Raider- $50
Terminators - $45
BFG Imperial/Chaos Plastic Cruisers- $15
SM Combat Squad- $15
SM Tactical Squad- $25
IG Chimera- $35
SM Rhino- $30
Brettonian Grail Knights- $50

This is pretty accurate as far as I remember. Some of them I know are dead on.

Okay, so now for my point. The Consumer Price Index is the method generally used to track inflation. If you don't know ANYTHING about it, essentially the price of several essential items, such as toilet paper, water and sewage utilities, etc. etc is tracked over time to compare prices one day to another to measure inflation. Food and Energy are not included because they are considered too volatile and prone to shortages or oversupply.
How this works it that essentially these items hold the same basic value to society as they always have. Toilet paper is just toilet paper after all. It is not a passing fad or volatile market. So basically, if 10 years ago toilet paper cost $.50 per roll, and today it cost $1.00 per roll then inflation has doubled in those ten years, or rather something worth a dollar today was only 50 cents back then.
Typing in $1 for 2001, that would be $1.27 today. So lets modify our GW shopping cart if the cost perfectly matched inflation
Land Raider- $63.5
Terminators- $57.5
BFG Imperial/Chaos Plastic Cruisers- $19.05
SM Combat Squad- $19.05
SM Tactical Squad - $31.75
IG Chimera- $44.5
SM Rhino- $38.1
Brettonian Grail Knights- $63.5

And now lets do a price comparison to what they ACTUALLY are today: + means we benefit as the consumer, - meaning GW benefits as the producer
Land Raider- $63.5 - 62 = +1.5
Terminators- $57.5 - 50 = +7.5
BFG Imperial/Chaos Plastic Cruisers- $19.05 - 20 = -.95
SM Combat Squad- $19.05 - 22.5 = -3.45
SM Tactical Squad- $31.75 - 37.25 = -5.5
IG Chimera- $44.5 - 35 = +9.5
SM Rhino- $38.1 - 33 = +5.1
Brettonian Grail Knights- $63.5 - 57.75 = +5.75

Okay, So as we can see, there are actually several units that you are doing better on today than 10 years ago (assuming my prices were right to being with, pretty sure they are). What we do see is a rise in the basic cost of Troops. GW knows you need the most of them, so they make more money there. Whereas with more unique units, it is more about moving inventory to make money. They know the troops will move, but Land Raiders, Grail Knights and Terminators ship a lot less than tactical marines.
BUT TACK on to that the fact that 10 years ago, there was no Free Shipping unless you bought $100. Now, the bottom is $15, which if you are buying any model you a virtually guaranteed to get. It basically only discourages you from buy 1-2 paints at a time. So when you look at it, the cost of shipping in many cases erases the price increase unless you are making a lot of bulk orders.
As well, 10 years ago, 1500 points was a more regular game size than the standard 2k today. That is partially our fault as the players for moving to larger games which in turn require more units and therefore more money from us.
So, does it suck. Yes. 10 years ago I didn't have bills to pay or worry about money. So to see prices go up on something I have loved for all that time stings a little, because I now DO have money to worry about. But, is it reasonable? I think I have shown it is at least understandable. So for all you veterans out there going "Ugh this sucks. 10 years ago was so much better." In actuality, was it? I think we have been spoiled by these online discount sales, which we all do love. But GW has already shown they are behind inflation in many places. Can't blame a business for wanting to stay in the "Chaos" Black.

BUT on the other hand, GW today needs to learn a few basic facts
1- It has never before seen levels of competition. It used to be the only kid on the block. Now, it is just the biggest, but there is strength in numbers with a lot of rivals out there.
2- There is a lot more exposure today via the internet and blogs, meaning opinion will be harsher and more easily swayed by a few very vocal people online.
3- There level of hobby support is at an all time low. White Dwarf is a glorified catalog. Online is just a Store rather than a hobby site and forum. Your printed products have not developed like other companies. And there are no more bitz except through 3rd party providers.

So while I did defend GW at the start of this blog, I will criticize them now. You need to learn perception is reality. You are not immune to the consumers wishes. If we think you are going to far, whether the math says so or not, you need to believe that you have gone too far.

Is this time too far? Only time will tell.

The good news is that Forge World stuff is seemingly now more affordable than ever before!