Games Workshop’s New Site: They Never Learn

Games WorkshopI’m going to vent a bit here.

The new Games Workshop site is up. Yesterday I said I was excited to see what they were doing as I had hopes that they would learn from their mistakes. I was wrong. The new site is a huge damn shopping cart. I thought the last version of the site was horrible because it squarely put the focus on selling you stuff. I would gladly take the last version of the site back over what they put up now.

I have nothing against Games Workshop trying to sell their product on their site. Selling their product is how they make a living and how we all get to continue enjoying their gaming systems. However, shoving their product down your throat is not how you go about it either. You know, I could even live with them shoving their products in my face if the site offered more than that but it does not.

Have you noticed there’s no FAQa and erratas? The blog is suddenly missing? We all know they took down their social media accounts. So, it seems Games Workshop has shown their cards. They have given up on the community and are stepping back and settling in as a retailer only. This is such a huge mistake. The more they work with the community, build that relationship and offer community services the more they will sell. Retailers can’t afford to not build community relations. It’s those relations that drive sales and keep a company going strong. It has never been more so than now in the day of social media. I just can’t fathom why they would shoot themselves in the foot; it’s like they’ve just given up.

Could they later add in the blog and other community features? Certainly. However, they have intentionally chosen to launch a new website that offers none of this and instead are trying to put their hand in your pocket. This is a first impression and we all know how important those are. I understand launching a website in manageable chunks, that some features need to come later, but with no mention of the missing features at all, that these things are coming soon, it does not sit well with me at all.

  • Badtucker

    the blog and flicker pool are still there , FAQs are likely coming soon.

    • I’m either blind or they buried the blog link so it’s virtually impossible to spot. Where on the site is it?

      • It’s at the bottom of the home page. There’s a picture link to “What’s New Today.” It looks like they’ve purged the old entries though.

        • The shit they do with their site just kills me. As a professional in the industry I am constantly shaking my head at their poor attempts with their site. This is a huge company with the resources available to do so much with their site and they constantly fail.

          • Badtucker

            im with you on your rant, sadly they have taken this kind of stance of anti social network because people complain more than is ever needed….. so yeah.

            • I can understand the struggles with social media. People are far more inclined to complain then they are to praise; it’s human nature. However, you just don’t pull the plug on it, you work on a solution. Maybe they are doing just that but they chose to go dark without giving any information which just leads us all to believe they’ve abandoned any effort with social media.

              Social media aside, it doesn’t take much on their end to build a relationship with the consumers. Put the blog front and center. It needs to be a focus, not an afterthought. Give us back our FAQs and erratas or at least let us know what’s going on with them. In general, give us more reason to visit the website beyond buying products. Create areas of the site aimed at helping people learn to paint, sculpt, etc. If my only incentive to visit the site is to buy products then they have failed miserably.

    • Never mind. Found it buried on the home page. Sadly, that’s the only link I can find for it. The fact that it’s not a part of the main navigation and is not prominent says a lot.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        yes, Forgeworld show Gw how to do it again. Does the absence of FAQs and Errata mean they are no longer part of the legal game? The main rulebook is unuseable without the FAQ, if someone new buys the rules they’ll be playing a completely different game to the rest of us!

  • TheRhino

    To be fair, the tag says “Games Workshop Web Store,” not “Games Workshop Official Site,” or something to that effect. They tried a community based site back in Fourth Edition days, and it collapsed under its own weight. For a company with such a diverse clientele and so many legal quagmires when it comes to content and “official” statements, an online forum or board doesn’t work, because staff will be handcuffed by policy, leading to constant complaining on said forum. It’s cheaper and easier to let the community organize itself, which is what it has done. The days of client facing staff interacting in the trenches with players are long gone.

    • So, the URL we’ve all used for countless years is no longer the official website but instead the official web store. That’s an issue in itself. If the two are going to be mutually exclusive then a new domain should have been registered for the new web store. If the store was ready before the official site then a redirect should have been put into place to indicate that, “Hey, our site is still in progress but check out the store.” There has been no separation put into place and that leads me to assume that what we see is what we’re getting.

      I’m talking professionally here, personal opinion aside. I could be completely wrong but as a professional I can tell you that they are going about this entire process poorly.

      • TheRhino

        When had the GW site been anything but a store? Since 2007, it’s been a store.

        • Overall, agreed. At least in the last design they hid the pretense of it being a store a lot more. It was easy to see they wanted you to buy stuff. Every product that showed up linked you to the details and the ability to buy it was present. However, the site looked and acted more like a website and less like a store. Now, the entire thing is a giant store from navigation on down.

          I may be splitting hairs here but it’s the impression you put forward that matters. The site is now like a pushy car salesperson where before it was still a salesperson but they let you check out the inventory a bit before pouncing.

          • TheRhino

            I understand better what you were aiming at after reading the above comments and replies.

    • Epaminondas

      Shrug, many other companies do it successfully. Look at Fanpro (Battletech) or Battlefront (Flames of War). The head rules writers frequent the forums on a daily basis, and the writers interact with the fans.

      Much like the “We are a Model company not a rules company” line, its bull. You have tight rules and still have a fun game. Many gaming companies successfully interact with their players.

      • TheRhino

        Two companies with miniscule communities compared with GW, and almost none of the drama associated with such a thing. Are those companies publicly traded?

  • khorneinquisitor

    Well, I really dislike the lack of FAQs. Add in the fact that they have done none in nearly half a year and I think they may soon have as much of a relationship with 40k as Walmart does with monopoly…they sell it. However, on the upside, I do like the filters available.

  • eriochrome

    Sort of strange that they did not import any of the older posts into the new system. Some one might actually be interested still in what was new last week.

    • Agreed, though I can’t say I’m really surprised. When they launched the last version of the site all the Black Dwarf stuff disappeared. Remember that? Black Dwarf? Ah, good times. They never migrated that into blog they then created.

      I’m guessing the trained chimps they call developers just couldn’t figure out how to migrate blog posts. I mean, it’s not like it’s software they created for blogging using their own architecture. Oh wait…it is.

      • eriochrome

        It seems like a perfectly acceptable webstore but GW is not just a retailer, they are the manufacturer and publisher. This seems like half a site. I could not even find something for someone new to the game or a description of the game. Strange you can find that they have like 160 videos on you-tube including painting and assembly guides but they do not link to them under the unit in question.

      • TheRhino

        It was Black Gobbo. And I remember being very very sad when it went away. They had a whole bunch of really great how-to’s and example articles. Never did understand why they dropped it, but my guess was that they either didn’t want to reindex all the links, or didn’t want so much free content out there for the taking.

        • That was it, Black Gobbo!

          It was an awesome feature, as you said. That’s one such community feature that they could really stand to benefit from. With any website you NEED to give people a reason to visit and something to continue coming back for. As it stands, the only reason to visit the site is to buy products. They have the blog but that’s never been anything but a glorified sales tool anyway.

  • Warren Falconer

    It is about what I expected. They can’t afford to embrace much social media because the fanboys will crush them with negativity. From a pure aesthetic stand point it looks better than the old but from a functionality standpoint I think it is far harder to get to what you want quickly. We all have opinions but they a very compact design on the old one you could see everything without scrolling here it seems to me like you have to scroll to get to anything. Perhaps its better for mobile and Ipad? I don’t have a device to test that but that almost has to be what they are going for. The longer pages would scale fairly well to a phone.

    Anyway not a fan, but then again they have not gotten any of my money this year either.

    • The more I hear that they can’t do social media because of the negativity the more I’m convinced they can in face make it work. Games Workshop is big but far larger companies have taken to social media and they can make it work. GW is a bit different in its audience admittedly. People are very impassioned about GW’s products and it’s that passion that spills out into nasty remarks. However, other companies have to deal with the same thing; GW is not alone in receiving negative responses on social media. Those other companies make it work.

      The problem is that GW DOES NOT WANT to make it work. If you’re going to do social media as a large company then you need a dedicated team whose responsible for that presence. Social media is not just something you do for the hell of it; it’s a full time job. Apparently GW has decided that it’s not worth the effort and that’s not doing them any favors.

      • Warren Falconer

        What would they gain by doing it? Good Will doesn’t pay the bills.

        • No offense but are you serious? What does a company gain by having a social media presence in the year 2014?

          Let’s see. The ability to reach millions of potential customers who have never heard of them. Being able to use social media to publicize news on new products. A ton of people use social media platforms for their news over visiting every single website for products they enjoy. The ability to get feedback, good or bad, regarding future products so that they can use that feedback to polish their releases to in turn get more sales of said product. Blah, blah, blah.

          Plus, yes, engaging with their consumers. Good will does not directly pay the bills but promoting good will is a way of retaining a customer base and showing them you give a shit. It can also net you new consumers. If I’m tossing up between two gaming systems and I see Company A is actively engaging with the public and Company B just has a website pushing products, I’m going with Company A. The value of good will cannot be quantified but that does not mean it has no value either.

          • Warren Falconer

            How many miniature games have you purchased directly because of social media? Now how many items on amazon have you purchased with primarily bad reviews?

            Yeah I am serious, you know me well enough to know I am not stupid (I hope anyway), I did not ask what “most” companies gain by social media trust me I know. But what do they gain? If they are going to have to hire a team of people can they actually expect a return on that investment? So say you invest in a team of 3 at 50k a year each thats not salary lets just imagine thats what it costs. It would be well over that. Can those 3 people actually bring in more than 150k in revenue?

            You would think yes obviously. All these other sites and fans well, they do it for them for free. Every release is already all over every social media outlet. So having a dedicated page and twitter i guess right? How much in sales would that actually drive?

            I am not saying its right to not have that but I also think as a collective society we give social media a lot more credit than it deserves, I don’t think its a great fit for GW,

            As a counter to your argument. How much privateer press made off of you compared to GW? I would say they do a good job engaging the consumers have a forum and all that, they certainly don’t have the hate GW gets, but did their online presence get you to buy more of their stuff than of GW stuff?

            If yes then you win, if not well then GW may not need to make investments in social media right?

            These comments are with much love and no internet hate. Also I miss playing down there but until the new one is out I have to stay close to home base.

            • All good. I enjoy a nice verbal back and forth like this.

              I have not been in the market for miniature games, ever. Tyson got me into 40K and that was the end of the story. I can admittedly say though that online presence, including social media, has directly impacted my buying decisions on other fronts though.

              I also feel you’re looking at social media wrong in terms of return on investment. Yeah, GW wouldn’t make back the money they pay a team to run their social media platforms. That’s a tall order. However, customer retention is a financial asset, yes? How many new players jump into GW games? I don’t know either but I’m willing to bet that the new to veteran ratio is pretty damn low. I do know that most people get into a game like 40K because of a friend, IE: Tyson with me. If you aren’t retaining customers then you’re also losing new customers as a direct result and now you’re losing money on two fronts. What’s the financial value there?

              So, while I agree that they won’t see a return on investment to cover their expenses on the social media front, they also won’t be slowly leaking away profits either. I’m not saying people are going to jump ship because GW tossed its FB page in the trash, I’m certainly not stopping 40K because of it, but the lack of online participation by the company will and does impact them negatively.

              I’m also talking beyond social media here. Trust me, I’m not social media’s biggest fan but I do see the value in it. I’m also talking about their “blog”, their site in general. The lack of engagement with the community, and I don’t mean allowing them to comment, just continues to drive a wedge further and further between them and us, the consumers. They sell the game, we buy it, end of relationship and that’s a sad way to do business.

              When is that thing popping out anyway? Must be any day now?

  • khorneinquisitor

    I will say this about it, it is MUCH more mobile friendly. Load times are down and auto-sizing is better. The filters allow me to look through more things than just one FOC of one army at a time. I’m not a fan of the lack of other stuff, but I think their target is new players who may not understand the FOC and may be looking at price and army as they think about what army to play. I figure, they haven’t gotten as large as they have without doing something right. Their stock took a sharp drop about one month ago but before that their stock was at an all time high. Right now it is in a slump though. What happened a month ago? Was it imperial knights?

  • As a storefront I really like it. I just wish it had a little more information about the game and the hobby. Check out the Wizards of the Coast website some time (http://company.wizards.com/) and you’ll see what I’d love to see from GW.

    The Magic The Gathering section has descriptions of the fluff, full downloadable rules (OK, I know this part is easier for MTG,) tournament rules, FAQ’s, basic play and deck-building tips, a page of card combos, and game variants.

    For D&D there are basic descriptions of what the game is, a “What to buy” guide for getting started, a 27 page pdf with all of the core rules, and two full length scenarios (one is 36 pages, the other is 71 pages.) You can literally download everything you need to play (except dice) for free! Granted you’re missing the full scope of the game but it’s enough to get you hooked so you want to buy the rest. There are even resources to help you find places to play. Here again, you will find updated errata and FAQs for the game.

    They’ve got a couple of other games that I didn’t really look into. The point is, at least for the two games I looked at, you can come to the site with little understanding of the game and find out what it’s about. There are resources to help you get started, resources to help you expand the gaming experience, and rules support to keep things balanced. It isn’t impossible to offer good community support, GW just really sucks at it. They are following the major online retailer model rather than the gaming company model. They are probably large and established enough to get by with that, letting new customers come in by word of mouth and letting existing customers fend for themselves, but it is sad to see.

    • I completely agree. You and @eriochrome:disqus are right, what is a new player going to take away from the website other than the ability to purchase models? As a store it’s great but new players don’t have enough information yet to make informed decisions on their purchases and the site isn’t helping deliver them that information.

    • TheRhino

      I think GW is stuck in their “People buy White Dwarf!” pocket universe. I think they don’t think in independent retailer terms, where something like those websites is a huge boon. I think GW thinks only of their braded retail locations, and how products interact there. It’s the only way to explain it. They figure people stroll in, are met by the one staffer that works there, who holds their hand and shoves a copy or two of White Dwarf into their palm.
      IMO, GW would have been better off euthanizing White Dwarf, and switching to a series of resources like you described above. I don’t know if someone somewhere in the company is holding massive stake in the periodicals printing house thy use to produce the magazines, or what. There isn’t anything in White Dwarf that they couldn’t put on the website in an equal or better format.

    • TheRhino

      The old, OLD GW site used to have all that stuff. Check out this link from 2005, where that’s actually a “New? Take the Tour!” option on the front of the US page.

      http://web.archive.org/web/20050317035934/http://us.games-workshop.com/

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