|Rough times for Mr. McCourt|
So what the heck does any of this have to do with warhams? In the aftermath of the annual round of GW price hiking, coupled with subsequent gripping and threats to quit the hobby, I though it would be good time to bring up a topic I've touched on twice before - the idea that wargamers are not so much fans as they are consumers. You'll see where this analogy is going when we take a look at the other MLB team in the Los Angeles area - my beloved Angels.
|The Angels also have monkey...|
The Angels are presently owned by Arte Moreno, who's philosophy about running a MLB franchise is much different that McCourt's. His focus is about putting a good product on the field and creating a family friendly atmosphere in the stadium. ESPN's Ultimate Team Rankings, measuring how much American professional sports franchises "give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them," has ranked the Angels in the top 10 of their list since its inception in 2003, the year Moreno bought the Angels (who peaked at #1 in 2009). The Dodgers have never ranked higher than 50 on ESPN's list. Many commentators have postulated that Frank McCourt's perspective on Dodger fans is that they'll show up to the stadium no matter what - the Dodgers are a "storied franchise" that fans will always be loyal too and spending a summer's night at the stadium is an essential So-Cal experience. This season's low attendance figures have shown otherwise. So we have a poorly run baseball franchise and a well run franchise.
Does GW treat hobbyists more like lemming-mined fanboys a la Frank McCourt, or do they recognize the fact that we are cunning consumers? Being a wargamer is being both a fan and a consumer. As a fan, I like to escape life's daily grind and be passionate about my sports teams or my Warhammer armies. But at the same time I won't pay for a full-priced ticket to a game if the team stinks and I try to avoid paying full retail for new mini's.
If you play GW's games you were probably drawn to them by the back story and the excellent miniatures. GW may not have Vin Scully and Jackie Robinson, but they have Space Marines - GW's equivalent to the "storied franchise" element. Many hobbyists feel that GW leans too heavily on this and has been pulling a Frank McCourt on them, abusing their fan loyalty and ignoring the consumer element of the equation. Personally, I'd hope to see less of a disconnect between GW and the people who support the hobby with their time, energy and money. Since I'm not a business expert, I do not have a solution aside from a philosophical shift. I'm not saying that GW is going to run things into the ground, I just hope things don't come to the point where playing GW games requires borrowing another sports analogy: