Saturday, June 2, 2012

GW GOES DIGITAL... and blows it!

by SandWyrm


So GW shocked me yesterday. They've actually released a slew of iPad Apps, including a fully updated Codex: Space Marines. Unfortunately... well they still don't 'get' digital.

The Good:
  1. It's an updated Codex for the Ultramarines, with the new flyers included. Cool.
  2. It's digital, so that's fewer books to carry around.
  3. You can rotate some of the models around in pseudo-3D (just pics, not real 3D graphics).
  4. It has pictures of EVERY SINGLE Stormtalon variant! (Yeah, I know.)
  5. Extra Fluff
  6. Detailed Painting Guides For Every Chapter
  7. Tap on a weapon to get it's stats. (meh...)
  8. You can annotate things (I guess to mark up house rules and FAQ rulings or something.)
 The Bad:
  1. It's a huge 311 megabyte app! That's amongst the largest apps out there. None of the non-game apps on my iPad, apart from Apple's bloated 'Numbers' spreadsheet app, even come close to that. If every codex were released this way, that would be some 6.1 gigabytes. Meaning, half the available storage space on a basic 16GB iPad would have to be given over to just the GW codex apps. Throw in a BRB app, and it'll be 7GB easily. I have a whole folder full of (much more useful) Battlefront PDFs that isn't even 1/20th of that size. Most of that space, I'm sure, is used for all of the fancy catalog pictures of pretty models. Sigh...
  2. The Price. The paper codex is (right now) $33.00. This codex app is a whopping $41.99. Hello? Isn't digital distribution supposed to be cheaper? Oh yeah, I guess Apple takes 1/3 of their revenues for using the Apple Bookstore. So the price is 'really' only $27.72. See? We're getting a cut in price folks!

    Kidding aside, the price should be between $10-15. That's what I feel it's worth. Fortunately they do have a free demo of the first chapter so that you don't have to pay to view the awesome spinning Stormtalon.
  3. The navigation isn't the worst I've seen, but it's not great either.
I guess I shouldn't grouse too much. After all, they're at least trying. I'll give them that. But they need to focus less on the bling than on the functionality and price point. GW, if you're listening, go look real hard at the app for The Economist. It's navigation and functionality is a thing of beauty. And their app only takes up 8.4 megabytes!

23 comments:

  1. Sandwyrm I'm not sure what you mean by "get" digital, can you elaborate. The majority of of reviews for the codex on the itunes store are simply crying about the price and think the codex is just the simple PDF scan of the book you find on the torrent sites, and you seem to imply that "digital" should be only that.

    I think they have done a great job of reformatting the book into sections that are easy to navigate to, I can swipe between space marine story stuff, chapter information, and jump into the unit entries which are also broken down into large chapters.

    Being familiar with what stuff looks like I can then swipe through the smaller visible pages in each section and go to what I want.

    You say 'meh' to being able to touch a weapon and have it's stats brought up, but isn't that an added value for finding the information you want?

    The glossary works great as a means to jump to an item, I've bookmarked a couple of areas so that I can immediately jump to the summary and other areas I might find important.

    I think that digital 'books' should be more than efficient means to get simple PDF scans. I've got plenty of those already that I have to edit to make useful for playing be putting in indexes and outlines so I can jump to sections I want to read and I usually remove the narrative elements to save space myself.

    The price I agree is high, I think $30 is a fair price for this as I can see that they have actually put effort into it.

    My question is really, what do you want it to be, a simple 25 page unit summary and weapon lists (granted that is what I have turned all my PDF codexes into to save space and help navigate it, I save my narrative for physical copies). If all the digital copy was, was a stat page of information, who would want that outside of those that have some interest in the 'narrative' of the game.

    And really going past that, if the narrative wasn't important, why do people cry about every decision that Games Workshop seems to make and stick with this game when the company seems to make them internet rage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Digital, done right, would include the original codex rules, a few (not a lot) more pictures, and I fully expect hyperlinks to special rules and weapons mentioned in the entries for model types.

      NONE of that requires 3D rotating models, painting guides, or anything else that's causing the app to be bloated up to 311 megs and cost 27% more than a paper copy shipped from the GW website. Especially for a codex that is 95% the same rules-wise as the paper copy that I already have sitting on my shelf. If it was brand-new, I'd happily pay the same money as the paper copy for digital's advantages and convenience. GW would make more off the sale because Apple's cut is less than the typical discounts to distributors and stores. But this is a minor update. So $15 tops.

      I don't cry, I simply don't buy. I play Flames of War now instead of 40K, at least until 6th comes out.

      Delete
    2. My expectation is that the codexes will be starting at a higher price, beginning with the next one, so the pricing will be cheaper than the $50 hardcover version of whatever comes out. Until all the prices go up, there will be a dispirity, but GW is already used to paying upwards of 30% to retailers out of an MSRP. The cost isn't about Apple, its about GW's view of the value of their content. They fail the basic cost/benefit test of any digital distribution though, which is that the cost must be low enough that piracy is less convenient. I believe for such a well made codex app it would hover around 25 dollars. Unfortunately, they thought the 40's was more equivalent to the value. Its idiotic, but no moreso than selling an ugly stormraven that is meh on the field for 82 dollars.

      Delete
  2. Well it is a welcomed, 'about time' that GW offered game rules and expansions in an official digital format- very cool.

    I agree with you SW about price point on the Marines codex- it's too high for this product. Even with the features that Corey listed, I just couldn't justify spending 42 bucks on this codex. Maybe 30 bucks...maybe.

    GW should offer a discount on their ebooks with every purchase of the relative rule book, or codex. That and lower the price point to at least 30 bucks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would have happily paid 25 just to try it out. But 42? Eh, no. At least they were smart enough to offer a free demo.

      Delete
    2. I can tell that I am in the minority, but while $40+ was a bit steep. There are plenty of other electronic gaming books that are close to the same price. Also I LIKED the painting guides and all of the graphics for a gajillion Chapter's color schemes. The 3d was very nice as well. I have often wanted to see the back of a mini to see how someone else painted that part of the mini. I hope that GW puts more Codexes out in this format. $35 would have been a price that would have been better or if it must be around $40 make it a round $40 or $39.99, I hate that GW is so pedantic about making the US costs perfectly equal the British pricing.

      Delete
  3. "GW, if you're listening....".

    They're not. Never have. Never will.

    ReplyDelete
  4. There's no excuse for a $42 price tag, little spinny units, fluff & painting guides are the kind of bonuses that you normally include with a digital version. The savings come from eliminating printing costs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Printing, warehousing, shipping. Plus you can keep more of the final price. Apple's cut is large by industry standards, but it's still less than the discounts that are usually given to distributors and preferred shops, I believe.

      And... you can update the codex any time you like. Freeing up your release schedule for multiple waves without risking a Chapterhouse situation where unreleased models get stolen by your competitors.

      Delete
    2. Plus there is sellthrough, you also start dropping White Dwarf segments or rule sets on for $.99, you wind up making money from an existing product that you otherwise left on the table. Expect a lot of content to come with small price tags now...

      Delete
  5. In Australia it's actually $5 cheaper. Yay!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is about time you get a break. Few people are humped as hard as GW humps OZ. Did you do something to upset them?

      Delete
    2. Something about being a Penal Colony for them in the past... ;-)

      But considering the new Marine Codex is due within the year, I can't see much value in buying this one. And lets face it, I would have to upgrade my iPad and my Mac's OS to see the digital codex anyway.

      And yes they will update the digital one with FAQ and rules fixes, but when you go to a tournament, do you force everyone to use the very latest version of the rules due to some having the automatically updated codex digitally and the physical one not being updated?

      If the codex allowed you to actually build an armylist, I would be much more interested, but just a fancy looking book just isn't enough for me.

      Delete
  6. GW retailer discount is 50%, I think Apple's cut is 30%.

    But however you slice it the price point is absurd. They are drastically overvaluing the worth of digital products. They should sell it for $20 so it's still positioned as a quality product but isn't bank-breakingly over priced.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've just looked at their Fantasy pricing. Each of those new hardcover army books is almost $42. So now I get GW's thinking. To them, we're getting the equivalent of the hardcover Empire book, plus the equivalent of the $29 uniform and heraldry book, plus a painting guide, for just the price of what they'll be selling the new Fantasy-ized 6th Edition codices for.

      Still stupid, but now I get it.

      Delete
    2. See my comment above, but I don't think they're over-valuing digital so much as I think they over-value all of the 'hobby' stuff that they've crammed into this release. It truly shows that they don't give a damn about the needs of the competitive community. Their expectation for 6th is that you'll buy the BRB hardcover or app, and one hardcover codex or app. That's it.

      They're not catering to the folks who want to buy every rulebook to know their enemy. They are making a play to get more cash out of the kids and casual players by bundling the stuff that once was optional into the core books. Thereby increasing the cash they get from start-up players at the expense of established players.

      Delete
  7. We are truly in the 21st century....

    ReplyDelete
  8. With 6th Ed around the corner why release the 5th Ed Space Marine Codex in this format? Why not showcase the first "NEW" codex available in this format?

    I have an iPad and I liked the demo but I don't want to buy one now and then buy the new one when it comes out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right on! That would have been amazing if we had the option to DL the first new codex of 6th. Explosive! Instead there is an overpriced version of a boox that pretty much everyone has.

      Delete
  9. You hit it right on the head. If it is not easy to navigate and gives you something that a paper codex does not in some meaningful way while still being at least 60% cheaper than the dead tree version, they they should not have started this nonsense. They are really hurting themselves because I would have bought the paper codex and the digital one if they had met those criteria. Now, when this fails, they will give up on doing digital media which is a shame. This could have been something wonderful and instead is only disappointing.

    ReplyDelete
  10. No internal hyperlinks? Really? You'd think someone, somewhere might have shown them a Paizo PDF...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That implies that they would ever look outside of their own company for new ideas. :P

      Delete
  11. Well, I'm from Brazil and the cheapest I found so far was an used iPad 2 for around 600 usd on our eBay-equivalent. Now, since GW has no store here and iPad are expensive as hell I'll keep with my less than legal approach on this hobby.

    Also, they missed with this by much more than you guys think. There are a lot of countries that does not have neither a GW store nor ways to buy GW products locally and this would be a way to bring what they can to us. Everybody was thrilled by this but no one bought it either because of the platform (I know apple's book thing is good but pff) or because of the price.

    shame GW

    ReplyDelete

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