Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Why I'll Still Play Games Workshop's Games

The World's Ugliest Trophy

I'm sure a number of you have heard about the recent Cease & Desist letter received from Games Workshop.

A lot of users - myself included - are calling for a boycott of GW and their games. Yes, I said "Myself included." In fact, the discussion has already made me publicly angry, something that doesn't happen very often. So this post is the last word I'm going to have on this subject for now1. Because I do stupid things when I lose my temper.

Here is the letter I sent GW:
To Whom It May Concern,

I am a Games Workshop customer, and have been for many years, now. I had a great run with my Warhammer Fantasy Battle Undead (later Vampire Counts) army, as well as my WH40k Squats army (for the short time it lasted). I have also run several local leagues for Blood Bowl, Necromunda, and Mordheim.

Recently, I have also enjoyed a number of GW-licensed products (including the Warhammer RPG, Chaos in the Old World Board Game, and the new Living Card Game) which were produced by Fantasy Flight Games.

I am not by any stretch your biggest customer, but I have been a reliable customer for well over twenty years, and have spent several thousand dollars over that period of time. I have also, by running leagues, encouraged a number of my friends to invest in GW products as well.

However, your recent actions towards fan-created materials on and other sites (see and are troublesome. For the last several years, many of these (now removed) resources have been nearly critical in the running of my leagues. They’ve provided a wealth of non-official ideas, variants, scenarios, and so on.

It is beginning to seem as though you have lost sight of the fact that gaming is a niche industry that is driven by hobbyists and enthusiasts.

To that end, I am joining the rising number of voices who are participating in a boycott of your products (and those products based on GW-licensed products), and I will be encouraging my friends to do the same. I have no beef with Fantasy Flight Games, and will continue to purchase their (non-GW-licensed) product.

I will be watching BoardGameGeek (and other sites) for signs of a change or reversal in your policy. Should that change come, I will end my boycott.

Thank you for taking the time to read this,

Eric Franklin
So why do I say I'm going to continue playing their games? Simple: I sank a lot of money into them. There will be some changes, however:
I won't be buying any more GW product. This gives money to GW.
I won't play in GW stores. This serves as a "living advertisement" for GW. This gives money to GW.
I won't buy GW-licensed products. I was excited about the upcoming Blood Bowl game for the XBox 360, but I won't be purchasing it, now.
I won't be running any new leagues for Necromunda, Blood Bowl, Mordheim, Gorkamorka, or Battlefleet Gothic. Otherwise, one of my friends might spend money on GW product.

Are there GW games I still want to buy? Yes. But I'm not giving them any money until they learn not to attack their fans.

But I'll still play 'em. Because some of them are a lot of fun.

1 It's worth noting: Mr. Nikitas (Luftwaffe Flak on BGG) was correct. I should not have called out the dollar amount he donated. It brought nothing to the argument and made me seem like I was trying to seem better than him. My wife asked me point-blank what I meant by it, and what I meant didn't require calling him out. For the record: I already sent him a private apology by e-mail.


  1. I think it's worth pointing out that this is going to be a painful boycott. You and I were looking forward to the Blood Bowl video game. (I believe that's why this is happening -- they wanted to shut down the fan presence for Blood Bowl to clear the Internet for the video game, but the lawyers figured they had to do that for all their IP.) A boycott means not buying that game. If I boycott -- I haven't decided, but I haven't had money to buy anything -- it will mean no Warhammer Invasion or Chaos in the Old World. And, heck, I just played 40K with my kid and it made me want to get back into the tournament scene. And the new Skaven make me want to finish and play my Fantasy army. Because while everything people say about GW is true -- they raise their prices all the time, and they treat their fans like crap -- they still make awesome games.

  2. It will, indeed, be a tough one. I have Dark Heresy, and it's phenomenal. I want Rogue Trader - but not at the cost of giving money to GW.

    Chaos in the Old World is fun. It's not great, but it's fun.

    GW's price-raising scheme is extra-fun, now that they've converted so much to plastic. The initial conversion from metal to plastic is very expensive, but long-term plastic is significantly cheaper than metal. GW is selling less-expensive figures at a higher price. Because they can.

    Their games are fun, but there are hundreds of publishers putting out great games. Why would I support GW over a publisher who actually treats their fans with respect?

    BGG, BTW, is not the only site hit with C&D's. TalkBloodBowl is now - even though they are still working with GW on LRB 6.0. (where I got my black blocking dice) is gone. Check out their Wikipedia entry - there are a number of references to sites which have received C&D's.

  3. Also, I think it's worth noting that GW isn't going to care about our letters. A better way would be to let Fantasy Flight and whoever is publishing Blood Bowl that you won't be buying their game because of the actions of GW.

  4. Enough letters - not e-mails, actual print-and-mail LETTERS - will make a difference. Provided they are polite and not raving "I HATE YOU AND WISH YOU WOULD DIE!!!111!!!ONEONEONE!!

    I already contacted FFG - I got a very polite response from Christian Peterson (Head of FFG).

    I will continue to support FFG's non-GW-licensed lines, as FFG has repeatedly shown a willingness to interact with their customers, who the treat as equals.

  5. Don't you think the timing of Space hulk was coincided nicely with this.
    Step 1, ramp up talk of Space Hulk
    Step 2, Release it in its expensive glory to the BGG masses.
    Step 3, hit em in the nuts with a C&D

    My entire GW collection is now in the loft. There are other games to play.