Saturday, 12 November 2011

White Dwarf Issue 181 - January 1995

I had been gaming for a couple of years when this issue came out. Mainly Blood Bowl but a I had started a small 40k army too. I'd bought a few issues prior to this one, but this was to be the beginning of a 16 year era.

From this issue on, I have not missed a single issue, and indeed there was a couple of time where I had multiple copies!

That is, until this month. I've now cancelled my subscription, and I don't intend to purchase another issue for the foreseeable. Personally I think this is incredibly sad and it is not a decision I have made lightly. Now don't get me wrong, I still enjoy playing both 40k and (sadly to a lesser extent at the moment) Fantasy, but I think that it would be hard to argue against what seems to be a widely held consensus that the magazine is a poor quality publication in comparison to how it used to be.

Maybe that is because we remember the old issues with nostalgic fondness, or simply youthful eagerness, but even if that is the case, then surely the company should recognise this? I've now been gaming longer than some of the people at our local club have been alive. i'd say that 90% of all people at that club are old enough to legally drink. When I was a child, most of the people that went to the store were about my own age. Now, whilst a saturday game at the store is heavily weighted towards the younger gamer, there are a lot more people of adult age than there used to be. All this withought going into the almost entirely adult attendence at tournements at Lenton. In essence, the gamer has grown up. Physically, if not always mentally.

Because of this, we see beyond the razzle dazzle of the current White Dwarf format. We don't need the newest released army to win in a battle, we just want to read a decent, honest report. We don't need almost an entire magazine to be one long, long, long advert for as many different things as possible, we just want insightful articles on different builds to the norm or perhaps different scenarios. There is no reason whatsoever why the company can't use that as a much subtler method to encourage sales on a weaker selling product by showing the best way to use it with a different setup.

I don't have a great deal of experience outside of White Dwarf of reading wargaming magazines, but due to starting playing Hoardes/Warmachine, I have begun reading No Quarter. Now, I would like to make this clear: I haven't given up White Dwarf because of No Quarter, I had simply begun to read it in conjunction with learning more of the Privateer Press systems.

Now there are two major differences between the two. The first being that there treat armies fairly - new models perform in a balanced manner during there battle reports, even if they perhaps get a bit more attention. Now I appreciate that the way that they release products differs to GW's, in that they release multiple army products each month as opposed to GW's method of focussing by and large on a different army each month and releasing armies in batches (or waves) but that doesn't mean that if the model looks good and the rules work, we won't buy it unless it does a 'since sliced bread' performance in the magazine!

The second is that No Quarter features much more fan generated material. GW has more fans than Privateer Press. It hits a wider audience and it's resources are more available. Making the most of that wouldn't be quite so hard as it is for PP. Obviously postal/email submission is better than ever, but GW has literally hundreds of stores throughout the world. There are independent stockists that outnumber the stores by dozens. Most of all, GW is a major supporter of the GCN. It isn't that hard to draw upon the public in order to maximise their input. Indeed, the vast majority of gamers I know (and having attended many tournements over the last few years, I've met people from all over the country and a few from round the world!) would give a limb to be in White Dwarf!

So now, directly to Games Workshop, and particularly to the White Dwarf Team, I would say this: You are the voice of the company. Use that voice well. It is true that the internet has given a very vocal group of us gamers the ability, sometime rightly, sometimes wrongly to influence others, but given that you as a company have a very limited set of platforms to give your own right to reply, then you must make the very most of that opportunity!


  1. Good post. I agree with a lot of what you are saying (although I actually stopped buying White Dwarf a long time ago-after I stopped being a staff member pretty much- about the same time Paul Sawyer stopped being editor, for much of the same reasons you have outlined.)

    GW needs to listen to people, such as yourself, who put their views across in a calm, non-nerd rage manner, and realise that if they aren't careful then they are going to completely lose all the support that they have built up over the years.

  2. I could rant, but I wont. Everything you've stated Drax I agree with and I myself have not bought a WD for some months now. Tbh I dont really miss it either. I have almost 8 years supply of the mags in my gaming room. The format hasnt really changed in those last couple of years. New army release, lots of new shiny pictures, great write up, a couple of battle reports (which the new army always wins) rinse and repeat.
    So why do I keep them? Well the older copies are a great library of knowledge for those rare articles like Tournament player army showcases, Golden Daemon entries, painting guilds, army background material etc. These things have dissapeared, and are probally more of what we/ I would really want to see and like reading. I think GW has lost abit of its soul (to Chaos)and its pushing the wrong thing (the sell) to us (the serious long time customer) and it needs to find that magic that has been lost.
    Deep breath...
    Another thing, now I'm gonna sound like an old man here and its abit off topic, but the actual GW stores themselves. I hate them, why? Because whenever I need to get in to shop its A) full of screaming kids with no Volume control fitted, B) always a crush when said kids are in and I cant look around for what I want and finally C) I always get jumped on by the staff asking me if I'm ok and what do I want/ looking for.. And that Gentlemen is where the local gaming clubs come in and are so important.
    Hulls Angels is great, its let me play with like minded players of roughly the same age/ era in a nice and calm relaxed atmosphere. No shouting (well most of the time) but good games and gaming experience that for along time I could not find anywhere (and I looked believe me). Now I know I cant get that at the local GW store, dont get me wrong the idea for the stores is good, very good. Introducing new blood into the game is important, but what about the serious, older/ mature gamers. Its like we are the classic models, the ones hidden at the back of the shelf no longer wanted to fight in battles for honour and glory. How about seeing some stuff written about us, our clubs our armies and why we collect them.
    For example
    GW has the Throne of Skulls tournaments, but how often do we read about it in WD? Never? Once? But for us long time gamers thats probally what we aim for, I know I love the tournaments, everyone I've been too I've enjoyed massively. When do we see any of the winning armies in showcase articles? Hell they use to invite those players to GW HQ to battle it out against their own writers/ designers for a battle report in White dwarf. Its been along time since anything like that has happened but it would be nice to see that again.
    For me some of the best material they wrote was the stories about the founding Space Marines Legions. Even now I go back and re-read them and thats the magic, thats what got me hooked in the first place. GW is a good business, over the last 6-7 years its become more professional, more organised, more glossy, its had too. Lots more competition in the gaming world now so its up't it game. But for me its also lost some of its soul and magic. If it took a step back and truely looked at itself I'm sure it could find the magic again. Hopefully we wont have to wait as long as we did for a new DE and Necron Codex.....Hopefully!

  3. I also agree with pretty much all thats been said. However I think there is a bigger issue behind the problem and it stems from what Mark pointed out 'the gamer has grown up'. GW have honed their marketing strategy in a very modern and to the letter way, its as though they have followed a template on how to market products. But they have made the fatal error of failing to research and define their markets properly. Thus we have a magazine that older hobbyists dont like and decreasingly purchase and then the 'hard sell' instead of staff who are train to make a judgement on the customer and act accordingly.

    What do GW need to do? Some research, aside from at events has anyone ever filled out a market research questionaire? about the stores or white dwarf? No probably not, because they dont do it; yet every training program about business management insists on the need for market research. Its not too late, GW needs to find out what White Dwarf readers want and it needs to ask what customers expect of their stores; before we all give up on a once loved magazine and convenience shopping becomes so outweighed by the benefits of discount internet stores.