Wednesday, October 16, 2013

GW's Golden Girls

by SandWyrm


So like most folks, I didn't really 'get' why GW would release a $40.00 copy/paste Sisters Of Battle Codex. One that you could only view on an iPad. Then it hit me. They don't actually expect us to buy it.

Step One: Update The Sisters Of Battle Codex

This is the easy part. Take the SoB codex (including unused photos/art) from the White Dwarf release, dig out some extra fluff, add Warlord traits, and then tinker with the Faith system for a day.

Once that's done, hand it to a graphic designer to format the codex for an iBook.

If it takes 2 weeks to complete the book's layout, at $15.00 an hour, then that's $1200 out of pocket for GW. With the day of design time, the new cover art, and the ISBN fee, we'll make it an even $2000 total.

Step Two: Sell Just Enough Books To Pay For The Layout Costs

If GW's update costs are $2000, and they sell each iBook for $40, then they only need to sell 50 copies to break even. Probably they'll sell a few hundred world-wide. So they'll make a $6000-ish profit on the update at least.

Big deal, you say? Just wait...


Step 3: Profit!

This is where things get sneaky. Notice these new prices yet? That 'one-click collection' used to be a $40 box set.


Who in their right mind would pay those inflated prices for these old, out-of-print metal models? Well, someone will. Maybe even a dozen someones. But actually selling these models isn't really the point of all this.

The point is the effect on the value of GW's unsold SoB inventory.


Let's say, for the sake of argument (because I have no actual idea), that GW has £100,000 (~$150,000) of unsold Sisters of Battle models in their warehouse. Well, by updating the codex (essentially for free), and marking up the models (with a few actual buyers to establish their value), GW has magically increased the value of that hypothetical stash to over £200,000 (~$300,000). Which, on the books, is lumped under assets, the same as a pile of cash would be.

What can they do with that increase in value? Well they can offset liabilities on their balance sheet, making the numbers look nicer for the next financial report. Liabilities are costs, such as:
  1. Taxes
  2. Dividends (Payments to Shareholders)
  3. Store Overhead
  4. Debt
  5. Costs Incurred In The Development Of Stuff That Actually Sells
So yeah, the SoB release makes no sense from a gamer standpoint. But it's all about giving management some extra 'value' with which to goose the numbers later. If they really wanted to clear out their old SoB inventory, they'd have a sale. But that would devalue that stash as an 'asset'.

Or at least that's my opinion. Maybe I'm wrong, but GW's real talents lie in manipulating their bottom line and making their expected numbers, not game or model design. Given their majority ownership by several investment funds, they'd be kind of silly to focus on anything else.

18 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    Replies
    1. lol, my GF was looking at armies and texted me with : I want SoBs!!! :-D

      To which I replied with: Look at the prices dear, and then keep looking.

      (she now plays Tau)

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    2. That's a real SoB story there... ;)

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    3. I have Sisters. I can sell.

      Ironically, I can still sell them at 50% retail, and recoup my original investment.....

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    4. The primary market ridiculousness has led to secondary marked ridiculousness. Even used SoB or Legion of the Damned are cost prohibitive. About the only thing you can get good prices on are Dark Vengeance miniatures.

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    5. That must be it. GW is trying to kill eBay by killing their own business! Wait. How's that work again?

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  2. I would totally comment on this but I gave up talking about GW stuff that is not Epic or Blood Bowl.

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  3. But they didn't go up in price for the release...

    The reasoning is more likely to keep the brand relevant during a hiatus. One rumour was that the line was getting overhauled similar to what happened with the Dark Eldar. This keeps them playable in the downtime.

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  4. I don't think the Sisters have ever sold well enough to warrant a Dark Eldar like overhaul. Hell, the Dark Eldar were enough of a risk, and we don't know what GW actually thinks of the result.

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  5. Eh, consider how many DE players you saw with only the old range, compared to how many DE players you see now. Even at my new FLGS with ~8 regulars, I'm not the only DE player. Massive, massive, massive difference. I'm sure it's possible, but I can't imagine the DE release "not having been worth it" in the eyes of investment numbers.

    And hey, with a squad of Sisters being $80, I don't feel so bad about 5 DA's being $50 ... hashtagmyface -> -_-

    Although, I do have to say calling it a "copy/paste" is harsh. Do you have a copy of it? If not, I ca.. er.. an undisclosed friend, can... send one over to you. Sure, sisters are still low strength marines... but Marines over the past 5 Codecii have been... well... Marines.
    Faith working *very* differently is a major army change. The interactions with Priests is a major army change. Relics/Warlord traits/etc are a bring-into-6th change (that neither of my two fully supported armies yet has, mind you).
    I haven't even read through the whole codex to see what a full army list would be like (not that I could build a great one, I'm sure)... but the way the army plays is looking different - and that's what a new codex does. Rarely is an army hugely changed (how many years has a Marine been a Marine?). Tweaking a couple of special rules is basically how armies shift anymore, and that's what happened.
    No new units? Better than the wasted design space of the Tyranid Pyrovore. And Centurions are "meh" at best IMHO. Were the armies made better by these additions? Meh. The lack of skyfire is my (thus far) one legitimate concern. Not having it without allies is a fallacy these days (although apparently Tournament Taudar are making Flying lists more and more obsolete anyway...).

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    1. Dark Eldar seemed to sell well. But "success" may well be measured differently at GW corporate. Where the result of their gamble may or may not have met their expectations. As they'll be comparing whatever they made on the update (minus costs) with whatever they think they might have been able to do instead.

      The Walking Dead, for instance, is (well, was...) a great show, with awesome ratings. But that hasn't kept AMC corporate from continually cutting its budget and firing/replacing the show's producers. The goose, evidently, just isn't golden enough. :)

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    2. From the reviews I've read, the copy/paste label is pretty spot on. Since by GW's own admission, this is just the White Dwarf codex with some tweaks. But if you want to loan me your friend's copy, I'll be more than glad to look it over.

      In general though, GW seems to be putting out very expensive books with little in the way of major changes in them. I'm not saying every update has to be a major one, and tweaks can be good.
      But the price should somewhat reflect the level of added value involved. In the case of SoB, I see this as a $20-$25 value at best.

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    3. Oh, I don't disagree with the value being closer to $25... but I'd say that of a codex in general. To me, that's a whole different side of things. I'm pretty wary of any online reviews... the vast majority seem to be incredibly biased one way or the other (of what I've seen, anyway). There's a lot of "GW can do no good", and a lot of "GW can do no wrong"... and not a whole lot of middle ground.

      So you're right, GW said "It's the WD codex, expanded". And that's true... but the key word, to me, is "expanded". They changed how Faith works (which plays a major role in how the army works), and very similarly to how they toned down the necessity of Eldar powers by adding in other things (in the case of Eldar, the focus on awesome Tech like Laser Lock and super Serpents), they introduced a Sister-friendly psychic character to boost your units in the form of Priests. Trust me, from the glance-over that I gave it, the Hymns will be more game-changing than the Faith power for your basic Sisters.

      So again, yeah, a squad of Sisters is still a squad of Sisters... but so is a squad of marines still a squad of marines, a squad of IG a squad of IG, and a brood of Gaunts is a brood of Gaunts. To call the Sisters book copy/paste is basically ignoring that.. frankly... about 90% of *all* new books are.

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    4. If your codex baseline is $50 these days, $20-ish is where this one should be. Though they're all too expensive IMO across the board.

      At any rate, it sounds like less of a change in how the SoBs play than the changeover from the 5th Ed codex to the White Dwarf update.

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    5. Ok, now that I've seen the codex, I think that my 1 week estimate for layout was very generous. This thing is rough bordering on amateurish in presentation.

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  6. Generally speaking, you cannot write up the value of goods held in inventory. It’s an interesting idea, but an unworkable, and even illegal, one.

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    1. Depends on the details. I'm no expert, but if you can re-box/re-label that inventory into 'new' product(s), and you have some customers who are actually paying the new price, doesn't that (legally at least) support the notion that these are not the same old inventory?

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    2. Inventory valuation represents the historical costs to produce or acquire goods held for sale. As far as U.S. law goes, appreciating the value of inventory violates 26 USC §263A and §471(a). My understanding is that Commonwealth accounting rules (IAS) are slightly more flexible on this subject than U.S. GAAP; however, the main issue is that the capitalized cost on inventory is not included in the company’s profits, and thus not taxed. So, to avoid tax evasion charges, if the value of the inventory were (somehow) marked up the increase in the value of the inventory would have to be reported as gross income and taxed accordingly. Such ‘phantom income’ is a terrible situation for a tax payer since they have no extra cash to pay the liability.

      Of course, since GW ‘sells’ most of its manufactured inventory to itself; depending on how the production and retail arms of the company are organized it might be possible to increase the price ‘paid’ by GW retail for inventory held by GW production thereby increasing the value of the inventory held by the retail arm. This would also increase, on paper anyway, the manufacturing arm’s profit ratio. However, retail would have a corresponding increase in costs.

      If they re-box/re-package existing inventory they could likely add those costs to the value of their inventory, but that still wouldn’t move it up to the new market price.

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