While the lawsuit has been going on for awhile now it appears there is some new news. If you have not been to Dakka Dakka and to Bell of Lost Souls (BoLS) to read about it I suggest you go here and here. I am going to recap a little bit of what is being said, but I am only going to recap the main portion of the posts. I encourage you to visit the links and read them for yourself.
In a nutshell, Games Workshop filed suit against Chapterhouse because they (GW) claim Chapterhouse has infringed on the intellectual property of Games Workshop. Chapterhouse motioned for a dismissal saying that GW must cite where the infringement is. So far it seems GW has not defined the areas of infringement.
The post on BoLS by BarCode states that GW has taken the following actions in response to the lawsuit.
- They have put some Tyranid and Eldar releases on hold until the legal matters have been settled.
- The Tervigon kit will not be released. Instead they will release a new monster.
- Thunderwolves will no longer be released.
- GW will go to a single wave release schedule.
I don’t know about you but not all of those are bad things. OK, I am bummed out by the fact that Nids and Eldar are on hold. But the truth is GW made that choice not Chapterhouse. Do I agree with it? That is both a yes and a no. Which I will cover in more detail in a minute (it is all opinion).
Moving on, the Tervigon is kind of a lose/lose situation for GW and a win/win/lose situation for the players. Games Workshop loses because they lost all the money they spent on developing the Tervigon. Now, it stands to reason that to a company the size of Games Workshop that is like pennies, but it is a loss. On top of that they are planning to make a new model. It is a win/win for the players because they get to play with both kits. Well, the upgrade kit for the Tervigon is still available at the Chapterhouse website. It is however a losing situation for players because it almost guarantees another Games Workshop price hike.
The canceling of the Thunderwolves. Is it good or bad? I really do not know. I actually didn’t know it was planned. Does it have a deeper meaning than just costing GW money? Sure it does. Here is the way I see it. Games Workshop likes to throw their weight around. Basically, Games Workshop likes to control the market. Let me tell you a story about how I learned about GW and the way they work. This is a true story about shopping cart sales. I know it is true because I made the phone calls.
About a year ago I was thinking about selling 40k and Fantasy online (I still am). So, I did the usual research. After discovering their internet policy I decided to dig harder and deeper. This is a paraphrase of what I learned over the phone with GW sales reps.
- (ME) Why do you not permit shopping cart sales on the web? (GW) We consider the use of our images to be infringement on our IP.
- (ME) Oh really, that is cool I will be using my own images so I’m not violating your policy. (GW) No, actually you are, because you are using images of our product.
- (ME) Wow, that is pretty awful. So, how is it that Amazon can use your images from your website? (GW) Oh, we don’t sell to Amazon.
- (ME) Huh? I don’t understand… If they can use your images why can’t I? (GW) We don’t sell to Amazon.
Those phone conversations shed a lot of light on how GW plays the field. In the above phone conversation they are basically saying that:
- Amazon isn’t breaking any laws, -or-
- They are powerless to do anything about Amazon’s infringement (which I doubt is the case – law is law it is a cut and dry thing – it might take years, but if they are wrong they are wrong), -or-
- GW can’t stop Amazon, but they can stop the little guy by cutting off his supply.
Doesn’t Games Workshop know that people shop online before they buy? Heck,97 % of consumer research products online before buying, 60% use search engines as an online shopping resource, and 75 % of consumers search while shopping *. The days of loyalty are over. That is right the marketing engine has changed forever. So what doe the future hold for retailers? The future is social capitalism. What is that? It is a shopping industry driven by word of mouth. 90 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, while 71 percent trust review from family**. That means marketing isn’t as important anymore, well at least not the same way. It was easier before. Now you can’t just sell your product you have to win the hearts of the customer to.
Anyway no more ADHD, I don’t know about you, but it seems to me like Games Workshop is just abusing their power. If third parties want to make things they should be allowed. I think it is better for the game. It gives us more variety. It also offers a more efficient way for people to build the models. Let’s face it not everyone can sculpt a shoulder pad, or paint a Thunderwolves logo onto the model. In fact, it makes the game better because it quiets the whiners down who complain. You know the ones, the whiners that complain about your models not being a perfect match to the WYSIWYG rule. By buying the stuff from the third party you appease a lot of them.
Back to my point about canceling releases. It is a good decision. They have to protect their investment. The problem is the gaming community (as a whole) tends not to forgive when deadlines are missed. I, for one, am just as inclined to buy the parts I need from Chapterhouse now that I am aware of the depth of what they make. Does that mean I don’t like GW? No. I am certainly not the type of person who is going to wait.
You might say “But you can’t use them”. That is not true either. I have played in about three or four ‘Ard Boyz now and I have used proxies. When I was told I couldn’t play, I put it like this, “I guess you don’t want the $200.00 I was going to spend here today.” The store owners squirmed a bit and talked it over with the players; in the end, I played and spent the money. The bottom line on that is the store owner understands his need for customers.
There has been a lot said all over the web about this lawsuit, and there is a lot of speculation going. I would like to add to it. Here are the possibilities I see.
- GW pushes forward and gets aggressive with Chapterhouse.
- GW creates a clear cut definition of what their IP is. I will be astonished if they do this.
- GW quietly settles out of court.
No matter which scenario happens there will be a price hike in June. The only question is how steep will it be.
Stay in touch. I have already contacted Chapterhouse. We are planning an interview and the transcript will be posted in the next few days. I am warning you though, it will only have answers to the questions they are only answering questions about is what is already public knowledge. The advantage to thisis we will have at least one side of the story from one of the parties involved.
I am trying to talk to Games Workshop too. I have been unable to contact any person who is at liberty to speak about the situation. Which, I find to be fair.
* 2010 Complete Online Shopper Intelligence Study, March 2010 Berkeley Consumer Tracking Study, 2010 Deloitte LLP Survey
** Econsultancy 2009 Harris Interactive June 2010