Tuesday 30 April 2013

The long slow death of Specialist Games

If a poster on The Miniature Page is to be believed, Games Workshop are finally in the process of retiring their Specialist games for good. This doesn't come as a huge shock, it had been rumoured for some time, they were never likely to retool them for Finecast and their abrupt termination of Warhammer Historical showed their complete lack of interest in anything outside of their core business. I am surprisingly unbothered, I have all the rules and models I could ever need for those games I actually play. Plus, their are plenty of good alternative sources of models for most of them. I am glad that I scooped up all the Inquisitor models I wanted while they were still available.

It's interesting that Games Workshop should be doing this just as Deadzone is doing so well on Kickstarter. It shows that, for all the accusations of copying Games Workshops MO, Mantic have a very different attitude to the games industry. As Games Workshop consolidates, Mantic expands and with the specialist games finally disappearing they could be in a good position to scoop up some disillusioned supporters.

It can be argued that consolidation makes sense. The argument is that there will only ever be a limited number of people interested in your product and by expanding too far you effectively compete with yourself. The money being spent on Mordheim or Epic should be spent on Warhammer and 40K. Games Workshop makes more money out of its core games and should focus on them.

The problem with this argument is, if you take it to extremes then Games Workshop should only produce a single box of Space Marines and focus on getting everyone to buy it. More seriously, they should certainly drop Warhammer and the Hobbit and focus on Warhammer 40,000 as it is their most popular game. That they don't suggests that they recognise, at least to some extent, that you can't force your customers into buying whatever you feel like selling.

Whether they have the balance right remains to be seen. In the short-term this is unlikely to make much difference. Most Specialist games players are hardcore veterans, long since disillusioned with Games Workshop and focusing their attention on other publishers models. It's unlikely that this will be the last straw that drives anyone away from Games Workshop. What will be worth watching is whether Mantic, or others, are able to take advantage of the apparent gap in the market. We have had Fantasy/Sci-Fi sports and Sci-Fi skirmish, should we be watching for Space combat, 54mm scale or 6mm scale in the near future?


  1. Once again there's a rumour of a fancy Blood Bowl re-release this year, and many people are asking why GW would bother with a limited edition when BB is still available and has been for years. If the Specialist Games division is going to disappear, then I suppose that's the answer.

    If it does go, I hope they keep the rules available at least, as they do with Dark Future.

  2. I can't help but feel it really only comes down to an investment to returns formula. We would love to see an extremely wide selection of games to purchase from in a variety of mediums but ultimately no company does that and it must be a taxing proposition for any company to maintain a line that isn't profitable.

    That said they should have totally brought back squats long ago.