Monday 24 January 2011

Tough Times

The current tight financial climate in the UK and overseas is definitely starting to effect our hobby. The first casualties have already fallen and I expect we will see more as the year progresses. The recent debacle at Wargames Factory (discussed in detail on TMP here and here) seems to have been precipitated by the need for that company to raise money outside the US. The full details of the situation are no doubt more complicated than this but judging from the few 'facts' available this seems to be the situation. Now another company (Bastion Studios) is being shut down due to financial problems. This was reported on Meeples and Miniatures last week.

The gaming industry has always been volatile, with small companies rising and falling all the time. Even some of the larger names in the industry like Rackham have been lost in recent times so few people can be under any doubt that hobby companies are not immune to the current climate. Even the behemoth that is Games Workshop has experienced a wobble on the stock exchange recently. I'm not suggesting they are about to go belly-up but at times of weakness anything can happen.

I expect many gamers are, like me, tightening their belts a little this year. Here in the UK we have rising inflation, increased VAT and rising fuel and food prices combined with pay freezes and job cuts in the public sector. The retail market will likely suffer to some extent this year but I suspect that the games industry will suffer more than others. While you and I may consider our hobby purchases vitally important the fact is to anyone else they would be considered a luxury item.

So what can we as gamers do about the situation, aside from wearing an extra jumper or walking to work. The prevailing advice has long been to spend our hard earned cash at the FLGS and to buy direct from the manufacturers. But I think games companies, like retailers in any other sector, need to realise that brand loyalty alone will not save them if they built their houses on weak foundations.

My suggestion goes against the grain (brace yourself, some of you may not like this) because while I support brand loyalty I also believe firmly in the need to make our individual budgets go further. So my suggestion is shop around, buy second hand, squeeze the best deals you can from the Internet and most important of all, keep playing. Choose those companies and or ranges you really want to support and focus your limited resources there.

There will almost certainly be more casualties in the hobby industry over the coming 12-18 months. I think the best we can hope for is that those that survive come out of this period stronger, and those that die get a second chance to do things better when the market recovers.


  1. "Choose those companies and or ranges you really want to support and focus your limited resources there."

    I think you got it with this. Supporting smaller independents spreads the money and influence around better, brings more new approaches and helps prevent choke-holds developing on existing ideas. As independents appear and survive, more people are more in control of their lives and gamers are more in control of their hobby.

  2. You are right in what you say I shop around for the right price and support the smaller company but some companies need common sense when pricing miniatures and maybe a bit of better customer care wouldn't go amiss.

  3. Does the VAT rise mean that now I get to add 20% to all my dice rolls?

  4. I agree 100% that we all need to seek out the best deals we can.

  5. I’ve read a lot opinions (across several gaming forums) that seem to suggest we should support our FLGS or Miniatures Manufacture almost as a philanthropic exercise. The idea of seeking a discount is frowned upon, almost as if it were somehow disloyal or damaging to the industry. This couldn’t be further from the truth as far as I am concerned.

    If we maintain demand for their products – by spending wisely, and supporting the games we play - then the strongest parts of the gaming industry will continue to have a future.

    For me the real priority isn’t saving weak companies just because they have an interesting product line (much as we’d like to) but keeping struggling players, with dwindling hobby budgets, gaming. Without players the industry will have an even tougher future and ultimately innovation and creativity will be held back.

    This is an unpalatable truth but I think the hobby community needs to take a much more pragmatic view about the future of gaming if it is to continue on its current scale.

  6. My mate sent me these links about Hornby and GW that are relevent to this subject...
    Hi mate,

    Two articles in tonights evening standard might be of interest to you after your recent blog

    Hornby suffered in Snow

    GW sales blamed on inexperienced staff


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