Thursday, August 29, 2013

Something Unusual, & Something Interesting...

by SandWyrm

Here's a couple of things that I saw yesterday that are very interesting. The first is that Farmpunk & I went to the North Store to play Flames yesterday, and saw that they'd marked down about 15-20% of their GW boxes and Finecast blisters. The brand new Eldar Wraithknight has already been marked down to $99.

I've seen this store mark down Flames books, and other stuff that doesn't sell, but I've never seen them (or anyone else in town) mark down more than a couple of GW models. So this is pretty interesting. According to the guy in charge of their buying, the GW stuff just isn't selling like it used to, so they're marking it down to move it. They need the space for the Marine stuff that's coming.

This is on top of their annual customer appreciation month, where they offer double reward points on all minis/rules/hobby stuff.

Mind you, this is probably the independent store with the strongest 40K/Fantasy group left in Indy. Yet they've had to combine their 40K and Fantasy nights for lack of players. They have 8 regular players left now across both systems.

And just to be fair, Mantic's Dreadball has been a flop too.

And The Other Thing...

Here's an interesting blog article on "If Steve Balmer Ran Apple"

I've always seen lots of parallels between Tom Kirby's GW, and Steve Balmer's Microsoft. This article does a nice job of describing Balmer's (and by extension, Kirby's) strengths as a businessman. But also describes what happens to the culture of a company when it focuses on numbers instead of customers or products. As Amazon and Apple do respectively.

It's worth a read.


  1. It's sad that at a 20% markdown it's still too expensive.

    The problem with Dreadball might be that anyone who was interested just bought it through the kickstarter.

    And as for Microsoft. It's not a perfect company, but they have their strengths. Just not ones that are always directly visible to the consumer. For instance developing software for windows thanks to .Net and C# is orders of magnitude easier than developing for Objective C. And MS platforms are great for business IT infrastructure.

    MS sucks at marketing their actually good products to consumers(I'm looking at you MS Surface Pro) and at making their stuff look as hip as the Apple products.

  2. Yeah, the Hobbit kits were marked down $10, and I still couldn't justify buying the goblin box I want at $25. When it gets to $15, I might bite.

    I said the same thing about Dreadball last night. If you read stories from other independent retailers on the net, you find a lot of disappointment in their buying kickstarter models for sale in-store. Because 90+% of anyone who wanted those models chipped in to the Kickstarter, and the stores don't have anything additional or unique to offer those guys.

    And yes, Microsoft is tops when it comes to Dev environments (used them myself). But you do pay handsomely for those tools, and their APIs are still a nightmare tangle of outdated crap. Apple's tools are much less polished, but they are free, and the APIs are very clean and easy to use in comparison.

    Microsoft's real problem is that they don't create the new products that their customers want. Instead, they create the products that they want their customers to want, and expect everyone to just hand them cash because they nailed the Apple style, but forgot the 'soul'.

    I mean, what does Win8 and 'not-Metro' offer that anyone actually needs? Frustration? A new learning curve? It serves Microsoft's interests in trying to leverage their desktop dominance into a mobile presence. But that very strategy is all sorts of stupid, and nobody wanted to pay Apple-level prices for it. It destroys far more of Windows' brand value than it creates for their mobile products.

    1. I've had this conversation with plenty of other of my tech-nerd friends, because I feel it gets consistently overlooked when people are talking about Win8:

      Win8 is not for you and me. It's not for the sort of people who are raging about it on the internet (which is exactly why you see so many people raging about it on the internet), it's for the current generation of people who are growing up with tablets and smartphones but have no real idea of how technology functions; have you not seen four years olds in Burger King happily playing along on their dad's iPad? Or all the ten year olds with their bleeding-edge smartphones? Kids are using mobile devices AGES before they're being properly introduced to a standard desktop right now. If these kids--who are more or less drowning in tablets and smartphones from the time they can walk--are shown Win7, OSX, and Win8, which do you think is going to feel most familiar to them?

      Microsoft, for once, actually tried to get ahead of the curve. I haven't the slightest clue if it'll actually work, but I absolutely think it was smart of them to try. In the meantime, I bet they were pretty confident that the people raging about Win8 on the internet were the exact people who would buy it anyway and figure out how to turn off Metro in ten minutes.

    2. Except that it's not really for those people. It's for Microsoft. They want to get Windows users used to the new interface, so that they'll be comfortable with, and attracted to, Microsoft's new tablets. But what works fine for a tablet OS is complete crap when you're working on a general-purpose PC.

      Tablets need to be simple and low-power. They're primarily for media consumption and simple data-entry tasks. Touch is great for this. Add a keyboard, and you can do email just fine.

      PC's need to be complex, powerful, and flexible. They need to be able to do absolutely anything a developer can think of. Touch is therefore terrible for PCs. Seriously, you can't improve on the mouse/trackpad for the kind of work you do on PCs.

      Trying to split the difference between a PC and a tablet just makes a device both a lousy tablet and a lousy PC. It's a doomed strategy.

      Apple tried to move parts of the iOS interface over to OSX in Lion and it failed. Nobody used it, so they quietly took those changes out for Mountain Lion. Nobody missed them. People want more Tablet/PC integration of DATA, not interface.

    3. As someone who uses win8 every day, the differnce from win7 is not that bad. Once you get over the loss of the start button and learn to avoid the metro apps its pretty nice. You basically hate win8 for two days, and then you love it. It's been the same case for everyone I've talked to at my company that has made the switch. The tablet like stuff is only a veneer. You still have a desktop, file explorer, and command line. You don't loose any of the power or flexibility of win7. It's just got a funky screen.

    4. Exactly. Most of the people bitching about Win8 haven't actually tried it.

      Everybody who cares turns off Metro, then goes "oh hey, it's just Win7 that runs a bit faster" and goes about their lives.

    5. So what glory awaits me if I suffer through the two days of hate? What's the best that will happen? Judging by your comments and MS's marketing material, I would get the following actual benefits:

      SkyDrive (Got Dropbox already, and it works with my Mac, iPad, and iPhone too.)
      XBox Music (Have iTunes, Pandora, etc.)
      Windows Store (Seriously, who gives a damn?)
      New Internet Explorer (People still use this?)
      Traveling Settings (Would only care if I had multiple Windows Machines. I don't.)
      Faster (Speed is good, but I'm hardly taxing my new Quad-Core system as it is.)
      Better Security (Unless the NSA wants in, in which case MS will hand them the keys to your system, and prepare them a drink while they look around.)

      So Faster, and better security from non-government threats. That's not worth the $$$ MS is charging.

  3. Our local FLGS has often marked down various (and sometimes seemingly random) GW products by $5-$10 for years now. They say it helps them vs. online stores and does help move the few dud items. As an example, I bought the 6th ed starter box with the limited ed chappy in it for less than the MSRP of a regular starter box.

    But...I've stated both on here and my own blog, I've for the most part been priced out of new 40k purchases aside from codexes. So I guess its a moot point as $99 for a wraithknight still doesn't make me want to get one.

    1. That's what the guy at the store said. He and the staff who used to play have been priced out or turned off by the new rules, and so they're not excited about it in the way they used to be. That excitement then doesn't get passed on to potential customers.

      Warmachine, on the other hand, is doing "just fine" at the store. But there are still staff who play it and promote it to customers.

  4. Have to say that while I am mostly priced out of the market/simply already HAVE almost everything for most of the armies I play, I am a bit surprised at how well the local GW "scene" is doing... Mind, I have no idea how well the Gopher is actually doing with it, but it does seem that a lot of the stuff is moving and more and more people are coming in to play... Looking forward to the Marine book coming out... There are simply not many people playing say, FoW locally...

    1. Out of six stores in town, Flames is only really viable at one: Games 2 Die 4. Unfortunately, it's too far away for me to play there during the week. By the time I show up, everyone has a game already.

      The North Store keeps trying to offer Flames books and starter boxes (because Farmpunk and I play there), but they never sell and are eventually discounted below what they probably paid for them. Which is sad, because we always have people interested in the game whenever we play.

  5. In fairness, 40k got moved to Wed, which was already Fantasy night, because Monday's got usurped by... I don't even remember. Some little DnD encounters-type game or whatever that "had to be" on Monday nights (a la FNM).

    It worked because there wasn't a huge Fantasy following - in the beginning the room was so full and loud on a Wed night I felt uncomfortable playing there.

    The biggest, earliest drop-off in players came simply because the new Wed night just didn't work well with a lot of people's schedules. I would venture about half, if not "most" of the regulars at the time were older, often married, guys who didn't find it super easy to just switch nights on a whim. Some moved to, or went exclusively, to other stores who offered a more comfortable schedule.

    I'm not saying there wasn't a further drop later, or that some people got grumbly about GW, or whatever else, but to simply get on a soap box and say "Oi, this thar store put all of GW's games bunched together because no one was playing them anyway!"... this is at the very least a case of leaving out a lot of detail, and at worst simply a blatant lie.

    1. I think you mean moved from Wed to Monday. And yes, that was originally to make room for D&D encounters (WoC insisted on that night). But that was what? Two years ago? Plenty of time for folks to adjust by now if they wanted to.

      The "We combined the nights because neither game had enough players" came straight from the mouth of a North Store employee. Maybe he's exaggerating or spinning the truth, but that's what he said. I have no idea what night the Fantasy guys were originally meeting on (Tuesdays maybe?). But I don't think they were meeting on Mondays, or else we'd have seen them there right after the move.

      And again, despite the drop-offs, the North Store has the strongest 40K/Fantasy playerbase that I can see. So I don't think the night is a primary issue anymore. G2D4 doesn't even have 8 regular players, and Flames is now their top seller. As WarMachine probably is at the North Store now.

      The south store has no regular 40K/Fantasy night at all anymore. Just random pickup games arranged on Facebook. While last I heard, Saltire has converted over to Dust. That leaves the GW store and Gamerz. Neither of which I have any solid info on. But as a rule, GW doesn't cater to established players.

      So count your blessings!

    2. The only reason I stopped playing at that store at the time, was because of Mondays. I made my entire kids schedule with the Ex fit, so I could come on Wednesdays to play. And I drove 40 miles once a week to do so. Considering the amount of coinage I used to put out there, even though I could have gotten it online, they sadly lost a customer that day. I love the store and the people and understood the reason why they had to do the change up, due to Wizards being ass hats. But yeah, that definitely lost around 10 people with that change up.

    3. We had about 11 regulars before the change. It went down to 4-5 and stayed there. If folks were more excited about 40K, you would have seen those numbers slowly rise over time as old players adjusted and new players came in, but they haven't budged.

      After all, Farmpunk and I could have come on Mondays (and do from time to time). But we were sour on 40K by then, and the shop didn't mind having us play Flames or Necromunda on Wednesdays. So we kept to our preferred night.

  6. The above said, I am likewise not surprised to see a lot of the new kits having those reduced price stickers.

    $50 for 5 Dire Avengers? Ludicrous. Thankfully if I ever wanted to venture toward Eldar, I could just proxy 90% of the necessary models with my Dark Eldar (which, thanks to being the old models, look like the perfect 'Corsairs').

    Because my purchases have been few and far between, and because things I've gotten have had enough of a "cool factor" to make me excited (when first Trygons came out, Tervigons... big, awesome looking kits for $50 or so) I haven't had big issues. To me, something that big and awesome is worth that price. Will I ever, in my sane life, drop that much for 5 basic troops? That cost - in game - a slight fraction of the cost?


    No, Games Workshop, I will not. And, I have to say, at this point I can not feel right in encouraging anyone else to do so. If I had a friend interested in starting the game, my first bit of advice would be to buy secondhand.

    Sure, buy the starter box from the store, if you like the models... it's a pretty good deal. Buy your paints and supplies there. Dice, whatever. Support the store, I'm all about it. But I just can't afford the model kits at MSRP. And while I'm far from rich, I'm not the completely poor college kid that I used to be.

    1. Well... You're exactly where I was 2 years ago. :)

      Even today, it pains me that the only thing I ever buy from the North Store is Devlin Mud wash, the odd template, and their Flames books (once they've been heavily marked down for not selling). I always look around for something to buy, but rarely find anything I need.

      It's possible to get by on secondhand models and proxies as a player; and if I was playing 6th, that's exactly what I'd be doing. But if sales are down generally, stores will be even less interested in providing a place to play than they are now.

  7. So anyone want to buy me some stuff? I'll pay postage and gratuity on top of cheap american prices. It'd be like paying 50% the Canadian retail.

    1. Send me an email and I'll get you taken care of.


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