IAmA long time Games Workshop manager
I think it's gonna take a leap in technology before 3D printing becomes a real threat. Right now, it's really not the threat people think it would be. I guess home printers (and e-readers) didn't destroy the book industry either.
I have a 3d printer. I like the idea. But I personally really don't use it as much as I expected I would-
Ever see anyone freak out and try to smash his opponents pieces/ the game board?
I've never seen that happen but I have seen people pack up and storm off. Anyone doing what you described would obviously be an immediate ban.
Do the young players annoy you? Growing up I assumed I was friends with the manager- but in hindsight he might’ve just been putting up with my boisterous enthusiasm while suffering immensely inside
It really depends on the person. Some can be annoying, of course, but the majority of our customers tend to be men between 20-40. So I'm always very happy when we have younger customers in.
Do you believe, that GW are overcharging for the models and creating a barrier in getting new people into the hobby?
All hobbies are expensive. Especially the entry requirements are expensive. For Warhammer, that's the paints, tools, glue and your first kit. For Gaming, that's a computer rig or console, and then blockbuster games aren't cheap.
There's also a lot of hidden costs to making models. People often only think of the material, but the molds alone cost tens of thousands. Then there's labor costs. The design team needs paying, the production team, distribution, sales. It all adds up.
So GW products are expensive but they're also high quality. The costs add up. I would love to see some more entry level products, and we have seen that in recent years as you can see in the smaller, cheaper products in the "Getting Started" section.
I know this question varies on location and I'm sure that corporate probably has something to say about it as well BUT.. Do you try to push sales or do you just try to have an enjoyable atmosphere in your store which would lead to sales naturally?
Follow up: does corporate have an official view point on this?
The sales strategy has changed over the years. Pre about 2015, it was more about pushing sales and following a script. The strategy now is much more, as you say, creating an enjoyable atmosphere which leads to sales. There is still a kind of script but it's much more flexible now.
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What is the best part of your job? And what is the worst?
Lots of freedom and discretion as a manager.
Building a relationship and community with loyal customers.
Having a job that is also a hobby.
Nice business culture.
Getting bonuses, even ones that reflect the company's performance and are unrelated to your store performance.
The online store sucking sales from said sales figures, even though my helping them in store led them to that purchase.
Working conditions and benefits that are usually above the minimum legal standard and far above other comparable sales jobs but often below those of other employers.
Is GW actually that inept at communication or is it actually their strategy?
They've gotten a lot better. I would have taken this criticism 5 years ago but can't say they're any worse than any other company now. In many ways, they're better than most.
Do you consider a hot dog a sandwich?
No. It's not two distinct slices of bread.
Do you think GW has an outreach problem with its community?
Not anymore. A lot has changed and GW has really made an effort to build relationships between it and its customers.
How many kids with their parents have walked in, saw the prices, and walked right back out?
Weirdly, that's not as big an issue as you'd think. If the parents are struggling with the price then I do of course try to show them the absolute minimum entry level purchases. But I also don't like to compromise their hobby experience, for example, by encouraging them to not buy primer. Most parents seem to get it.
The biggest problem I actually have is parents just not getting the point of it, or thinking it's too violent and grim for their kids.
Why does a huge portion of the community not understand basic hygiene?
I feel you. I really do.
What is the most exciting game you have seen played at your store?
Just about any game of Blood Bowl. If you haven't played it, you're missing out.
I tend to prefer smaller games. Larger games always seem to move too slowly for me and counterintuitively they feel less epic, as it usually just comes down to who has the biggest guns. The best games are always those that basically seem to come down to a single dice roll. In one of my favorite games, it was down to just two marines and Ahriman. I can't actually recall who won but it was a very exciting game.
Do you get used to the smell?
How did you / managers feel about the shift from WHFB to AoS, given how divisive the change was to the community? How have you felt sales have gone since?
It was very difficult. I absolutely love the Old World setting and thought it was very strange for a company that prides itself on its intellectual property to throw so much of that property away.
But Fantasy sales had been declining for years and something needed to be done.
The initial release of AoS was bad and demonstrated that management at the time did not understand its own customers. Because they noticed that customers make buying decisions based on how they fit into their army, they decided to just get rid of point altogether to that customers could "do whatever they want," thinking, wrongly, that this would remove the barrier of customers not buying a unit that doesn't work for their army.
That first year before the General's Handbook came out was very difficult. But after that, people really started to like AoS and sales picked up. GW is now more successful than ever before in its history.
Is GW still as homophobic as it was in the late 90's/early 20's?
I had no idea it ever was, but no it's not.
Whats your opinion on aggressively pushing primaris models? I get it as a company its what sells but as a IG player I'm bored of playing against space marines
The Space Marine obsession has always been a problem for me too. I think Primaris are just an extension of that. My opinion, and I can't verify this, is that Primaris were created so that they could bring out a "true scale" marine without making all previously released marines redundant.
If you had unlimited power/authority what one change would you make to GW/the hobby?
What decision(s) from GW have annoyed/confused you the most?
What are your top 3 favorite models and/or armies?
I'd want more staff in stores. I'd also bring back Epic.
The original AoS release where there were no army points.
Squats, Bretonnians and Khemri.
As far as I can tell, my local GW only has a single employee - the manager who's been running the store for the past 5 years or so. Are one-man shops like this common? My next-nearest GW is quite a hike, so I don't have a comparison point.
Yes, GW started moving to its "One Man Store" during its financial troubles in 2014-15, as I recall. It was to save labor costs. If your store is big enough, you can get staff, but it often feels like a vicious cycle: you need more staff to grow the store, but you can't get staff until the store grows.
What is your favorite non-Games Workshop setting, one that you would be interested to see a Warhammer-type tabletop game for?
I think Dune could make for an interesting wargame. I've also always wished there were Starcraft minis for me to paint.
How do you feel about the different sales tactics employed and how they have changed over time? There was a period of hard sell where the BnM stores ended up losing my business.
I've discussed this above. The culture has definitely changed and the hard sell tactics aren't something that's pushed anymore, although I do know managers who didn't get the memo.
But what's actually more important for me is the product support. When you combine hard sell with the almost complete lack of entry level products that we had around 2014, then it makes it very difficult to make the sale. We not have a lot more option to let the customer decide how big they want to go.
Yes I'm definitely seeing the switch. A few years back I walked into a shop and picked up a box as I walked to till the manager basically picked up individual paints he thought I would need without even asking me and pushed them into my hands. I just walked out but I always wondered how many people panic and just accepted tactics like that back then.
Thankfully the staff are alot different know. Though I find some of their customer service lacking, I bought some blood knights for AOS and they told me I had to buy the bases separately on two £60+ kit. I asked to return them and they gave me them for free. Why the song and the dance?
It's really dependent on the store and on the region. With older AoS models, they were still actually just Fantasy models and the new bases weren't included in the pack. Every store manager is different. I've always been happy to just hand out bases if I have them lying around, ESPECIALLY if it's something like that. It's always possible the staff member in question was just trying to squeeze the extra couple of quid out of you but it's equally possible he was scared of getting in trouble but eventually decided giving good customer service was more important.
Games Workshop's policy, at least for the last few years, is to give the best customer service possible. I've always interpreted that very broadly, but again, it depends on how the manager has drilled their staff, or how the regional manager has drilled their managers.
Deleted, I guess there no AMA? :(
Sorry, this is my first AMA. I assumed I could just wait for a bunch of questions to pile up for a couple of days and answer them all at once. I guess that's not how it works?
Are you a loyal servant of the Emperor?
I really don't like how chaos models look, so yeah.
How do you think Covid impacts your customer base?
For stores, it's not been great. On the other hand, it has made the work a lot easier because of both lower footfall and less pressure to sell from upper management. On the other hand, the large numbers of people stuck at home has caused online sales to skyrocket and GW is experiencing massive growth.
What are you most proud of in terms of achievement?
When you reach 5 years of service, you become a "Games Workshop Veteran" and there's (or was, pre-Covid) a little ceremony where you're presented with a personalized tankard. I would quite happy when I reached that. A lot of store managers don't last that long due to high staff turnover in a lot of stores.
Why has GW turned its back on Oldhammer? How can we Oldammerer's encourage GW to work with us, not against us?
GW is working on some Old World stuff now. But basically, sales for Fantasy dropped so low that it wasn't worth supporting it anymore. My suggestion would be to support things like WFRP and Total War Warhammer to show them what they're missing out on.
How’s the pay and the hours?
The hours are longer than advertised. You're given a lot of tasks to do, like running events, making plans, building and painting new models, maintaining terrain and displays, and training, all of which don't come out of your standard hours. Officially, this should be compensated in extra time off, but as not being there affects you sales, no one ever makes up their hours. Also, hours aren't tracked so it's hard to prove your over hours.
The pay varies from store to store, but in general, it's quite good, but not amazing. If you don't have qualifications, it's one of the best jobs you can get. The pay in that regard is slightly above average. But the problem is there is basically no career advancement. The management structure is very flat, so there's nowhere upwards to go, nor is there any possibility of a pay rise while keeping the same position. I wouldn't recommend it as a job beyond 40.
Whats the worst things thats happened while working there?
For some reason in the early days there were a few people who came in just to shout about how much they hate GW. I've never really understood the point though. Not had that in a long time.
Do you enjoy playing games yourself? If yes,do you ever play games before their release dates?
So, store managers don't actually know a lot more than customers about new releases. They don't trust us with that information. We usually only get a week or two notice about new releases with very little information about its details beyond a short description. When we get a new game release, we'll usually get the box a few days before the release and not have time to build, paint and THEN play it.
That said, for very big releases like new editions we are sometimes told a month or two in advance, and when we go to our training seminars we get to learn the new rules and test them.
Did you experience any change in the gaming community between when you started out and now?
Different approach to playing the game (competitive/meta vs open/narrative games), attitude to new players etc?
It has become a lot more relaxed, I'd say. Competitive gamers dominated the scene for a long time and I feel they brought a lot of negative energy with them and an elitism that discouraged new gamers. Gatekeeping, I think you'd call it. It's a lot easier for people to get into the hobby now, I think because Games Workshop had been pushing its 4 pillars (Collect, Build, Paint, Play) for years and normalizing the idea that the hobby is much more than just competitive play. I see a LOT more people who are happy to just paint models and never play a single game than I did before.
What's the profit margin on W40k minatures?
It's actually a lot smaller than you'd think. They might be expensive but it's not without reason.
What do you think of the attempted coup in the US on Wednesday?
I think those people need a better hobby. Warhammer, for example.
What do you manage?
Store manager. Sorry, I should have been clearer in the title.
Worst AMA yet?
Will there be more representation of women in the 40k? I love me some Battle Sisters, I'd love to see more of them and other women of the Warhammer 40k universe
Me too. They have been introducing more female characters, but not enough, I think. I often find that when women and girls want to get into 40k they have a hard time deciding on an army, and that's a shame.
I probably shouldn't be telling you this but a few years ago they cancelled a limited edition Amazonian Gothic model and I was quite annoyed about that. They never said what their reason for cancelling it was, just something about it not being appropriate for release at that time. I can't recall the exact words they used. Still, there aren't enough female models already so to cancel another one was a shame.
Have you considered opening up your own independent specialty gaming store?
How often do you have to tell people to thin their paints?
I drill it into everyone, all the time.
Obviously you cannot give details about future releases.
However... are you at least genuinely excited for the future of GW?
There has been a significant upwards trend in their openness to meet the demands of the customers, rather than ignore them as they did in the past. I can only see this trend continuing.
What's your computer setup at home?
I'm a console gamer. I just have a laptop.
Why do you think you can solve all of our problems by releasing more Primaris Space Marines?
I don't. I'm not in the design department. I'm not a fan of Primaris myself. But to be honest, I don't think Warhammer is going to solve all of your problems for you. Have you considered the self help section at the library?
Favorite GW game? (Specialist and/or otherwise)
I like very tactical games, so Epic and Blood Bowl are my favorite. I'm happy GW has brought out a lot of smaller scale skirmish games now.
Do you think there will ever be a push for an official and fully digital version of Warhammer Tabletop? Especially with new competitors trying out their versions of it in the past few years
I don't think so. Games Workshop sees itself holistically as a hobby. The gaming aspect is just one of its pillars: Collect, Build, Paint, Play.
Do you think that will come to bite them in the ass ala Blockbuster/Macys not going digital bit them?
Not really. They definitely got left behind by taking so long to adopt social media etc. But wargaming is a physical hobby. Computer games have been around for decades and haven't overthrown it. And I don't think Games Workshop is going to want to encourage people to not buy its models by telling them to just play it online instead either.
And me personally, I prefer tabletop games to computer games, and I think a lot of people feel the same. It's not really all that comparable with computer games.
Do you think the company is going to fully adapt to alternating activations with all these smaller games having tighter and more balanced rule sets?
Also did you get your ten year trip to the HQ?
I would for it to adapt to alternating activations but I don't expect that to happen for the main games, although a number of the spinoffs have it.
I've been to the HQ many times. Seeing the factory (now 2 factories) is interesting. It's a small production team and they are working really damn fast. Bugman's Bar is also cool. And there's the dioramas in the museum. But I think the highlight for me is the real life Rhino out front.
Do they poll/survey locations or store managers for player counts, preferences, etc?
No. I'm not sure what exact criteria they use but they've been pushing new store openings for years. But once they decide on the city, they send someone there to scout out locations and they look for a location that is just off from the town center, close enough for some foot traffic but not too expensive. The days of stores in malls are behind us, I think.
What are your opinions on 3D printing in the hobby?
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