home

Author Topic: Interesting chat  (Read 3260 times)

Offline Syn Ace

  • Posts: 4729
  • Misinterpreting GW rules since 1991
    • View Profile
Interesting chat
« on: November 14, 2015, 05:52:18 AM »
Had dinner with a guy who used to be the assistant manager at the game shop I worked at -- he went on to be the head of GW sales U.S. back in the day before moving on to another game company. Hadn't seen him in 20 years. Man, he had some great GW stories.

One thing he did confirm was that 40K outsold Fantasy by 3 to 1, even more in the U.S.

It was interesting, how his stories illuminated the disconnect between the players and the company. He was talking about how one of the big wigs was throwing a fit about GW tournaments because the players were "taking the game too seriously" and that it was supposed to be a hobby. My friend also said that when he was talking to another exec when the Vampire bloodlines first came out and he had looked at the book and told the guy, uh, you realize that being able to give them Always Strikes First is a huge deal in the game and the guy was like "Well, you don't think they're going to abuse it and take it all the time, do you?"

This tidbit was priceless. He went to one of the big tournaments and they asked if he could bring his beautifully painted Bretonnian army because they wanted to raffle off a game with Nigel Stillman, who had written the army book so they needed a Bretonnian army. They later came up to him and said they needed him to walk Nigel through the game because apparently he was unfamiliar with how to play the army in an actual game. So my buddy had to stand at his shoulder and tell him 'ok you have 10 attacks and hit on 3s and wound on 2s.' That just tells you all you need to know about GW army design and the disconnect with the actual game. Side story about that army -- after they borrowed it, but before the tourament, they came up to him and told him they'd dropped it -- actually, someone had knocked over the whole table it was on, but not to worry, they'd repair everything. After the tourament, they came up to him and told him there was another problem. He was like "did you drop my army again?" It was actually worse than that. Someone had set it down on a forklift and then someone else had moved the forklift -- army hit the ground and the forklift drove over it.

One other illuminating thing. One of the big wigs who came over from Mattel toys once told them "If a household doesn't have an income of $70,000, we don't consider them a GW target customer." My friend said, 'You realize that means that none of us that works at GW who plays the game would be considered a customer by that metric?" He also said that bigwig had realized that 20% of the customers were buying 80% of the product and wanted to just cut out the other 80% of the customers so they could streamline what they were producing.

Tons of other stories, but those were the ones that really stood out.

Oh, and I found out he wrote a couple Space Wolf novels. Under a pen name with a writing partner. And he doesn't particularly like writing. Hearing the process of writing a novel for GW was definitely interesting.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2015, 03:43:00 PM by Syn Ace »
Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes.

William Gibson

Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

  • Posts: 8696
  • Attorney-at-RAW
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2015, 09:55:04 AM »
Thanks for sharing!
It is not enough to have no ideas of your own; you must also be incapable of expressing them.
Sex, lies and manuscripts: The History of the Empire as Depicted in the Art of the Time (10/07/16)

Offline The Real Rick Salamone

  • Posts: 672
  • Kelly Clarkson Fan
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2015, 01:23:56 PM »
Awesome stuff. The Nigel story was my favorite. Stillman had the WORST looking Brettonian army himself. So...there was also a hobby disconnect there too. :)


EEFL!
EEFL.freeforums.net
EEFL!
Eighth Edition for Life!

Join us at:

eefl.freeforums.net

Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

  • Posts: 8696
  • Attorney-at-RAW
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2015, 02:30:59 PM »
He also said that bigwig had realized that 20% of the customers were buying 80% of the product and wanted to just cut out the other 80% of the customers so they could streamline what they were producing.

Hmmm, that 20% wouldn't be more or less identical to the 20% gamers, would it now? The 20% they are not interested in anymore, as they are a miniature company. 
« Last Edit: November 14, 2015, 03:22:13 PM by Fidelis von Sigmaringen »
It is not enough to have no ideas of your own; you must also be incapable of expressing them.
Sex, lies and manuscripts: The History of the Empire as Depicted in the Art of the Time (10/07/16)

Offline GamesPoet

  • Posts: 13018
  • Merry Christmas! : )
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2015, 03:00:09 PM »
One thing he did confirm was that 40K outsold Fantasy by 3 to 1, even more in the U.S.
Most of the hobby stores I've been since my return to the hobby 7-8 years ago have all seemed to have more players focused on 40K, and in significantly larger quantities than WFB players.

Quote
It was interesting, how his stories illuminated the disconnect between the players and the company. He was talking about how one of the big wigs was throwing a fit about GW tournaments because the players were "taking the game too seriously" and that it was supposed to be a hobby. My friend also said that when he was talking to another exec when the Vampire bloodlines first came out and he had looked at the book and told the guy, uh, you realize that being able to give them Always Strikes First is a huge deal in the game and the guy was like "Well, you don't think they're going to abuse it and take it all the time, do you?"
Yep, and the disconnect continues.  I suspect that the same execs would say that players take the fluff too seriously, an maybe even say that we take the figures too seriously as well.  There's no surprise anymore when many of us hear crud like this, although it is could to have confirmation of what we already sense.

Quote
This tidbit was priceless. He went to one of the big tournaments and they asked if he could bring his beautifully painted Bretonnian army because they wanted to raffle off a game with Nigel Stillman, who had written the army book so they needed a Bretonnian army. They later came up to him and said they needed him to walk Nigel through the game because apparently he was unfamiliar with how to play the army in an actual game. So my buddy had to stand at his shoulder and tell him 'ok you have 10 attacks and hit on 3s with and wound on 2s.' That just tells you all you need to know about GW army design and the disconnect with the actual game. Side story about that army -- after they borrowed it, but before the tourament, they came up to him and told him they'd dropped it -- actually, someone had knocked over the whole table it was on, but not to worry, they'd repair everything. After the tourament, they came up to him and told him there was another problem. He was like "did you drop my army again?" It was actually worse than that. Someone had set it down on a forklift and then someone else had moved the forklift -- army hit the ground and the forklift drove over it.
Wow, a total "duh" here.

Quote
One other illuminating thing. One of the big wigs who came over from Mattel toys once told them "If a household doesn't have an income of $70,000, we don't consider them a GW target customer." My friend said, 'You realize that means that none of us that works at GW who plays the game would be considered a customer by that metric?" He also said that bigwig had realized that 20% of the customers were buying 80% of the product and wanted to just cut out the other 80% of the customers so they could streamline what they were producing.
Considering that the current median income is about $72K in the U.S. and the median household income (yep it's actually lower) is 52K, they clearly aren't interested in average folks.  And of course 20% of customers are buying 80% of the product, that is the old 80/20 rule in action as it has been for eons, that is absolutely no surprise.  To ignore 80% of the customers is a business that isn't being run with a healthy long term vision.  The usual idea in business is to elevate the 80% into buying more and becoming part of those who are buying more, not alienate 80% of the clientelle, and only focus on the 20% of the clientelle.

Quote
Tons of other stories, but those were the ones that really stood out.
If you recall more, feel free to share more, I'm interested, and thank you for sharing what you have! :::cheers:::
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

"The beauty of curiosity and creativity is so much more useful than the passion of fear." me

"... my old suggestion is forget it, take two aspirins and go paint" steveb

Offline Syn Ace

  • Posts: 4729
  • Misinterpreting GW rules since 1991
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2015, 03:18:39 PM »
Yeah, about the 80/20 being no surprise, he was laughing because he said it came across as if the guy had had a revelation, that he had discovered the info himself.
Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes.

William Gibson

Offline Xathrodox86

  • Posts: 4435
  • He Who Fights Monsters
    • https://www.facebook.com/michalgorzanski
    • View Profile
    • It always rains in Nuln
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2015, 03:22:04 PM »
Just shows how much GW is disconnected from reality...

I hope they've refunded the poor guy's army.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2015, 08:31:30 AM by Xathrodox86 »
Check out my wargaming blog "It always rains in Nuln". Reviews, rants and a robust dose of wargaming and RPG fun guaranteed. ;)

http://italwaysrainsinnuln.blogspot.com/

"Dude, that's not funny. Xathrodox would never settle for being a middleman."

Gneisenau

Offline GamesPoet

  • Posts: 13018
  • Merry Christmas! : )
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2015, 03:25:36 PM »
Yeah, about the 80/20 being no surprise, he was laughing because he said it came across as if the guy had had a revelation, that he had discovered the info himself.
The idea that he thought he'd discovered the 80/20 rule, it's like young people thinking they invented sex.

The idea that GW isn't applying it properly helps explain their disconnect with 80% of customers, as well as the disrespectful actions towards them.
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

"The beauty of curiosity and creativity is so much more useful than the passion of fear." me

"... my old suggestion is forget it, take two aspirins and go paint" steveb

Offline Syn Ace

  • Posts: 4729
  • Misinterpreting GW rules since 1991
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2015, 03:39:04 PM »

I hope they've refunded the poor guy's army.

They were like "Don't worry. We are replacing everything." And he was like "Oh yeah you are."

One other story that comes to mind. He became friendly with GW's single largest shareholder (dunno if the guy still is -- this is a number of years ago--he told me the guy's full name but the only thing that's coming to mind now is Tom???) because  my buddy is a straight shooter, and it turns out they are both motorcycle lovers (it's all my friend rides). When the investor would fly into town to visit the offices, he'd sometimes rent a Harley and they'd do some riding. Anyway, after they first met, the investor asked him his opinion of the company and my friend said "We do two things really well. The first is we make spectacular models, come up with fun games, and produce great paints, etc." And the stakeholder said "So what's the second thing?" And my friend said "We're GW so we  find a way to fuck it up." He said everyone was expecting him to be fired, but nothing happened. In fact, the investor appreciated his honesty and every time he came in he'd ask him "So are we still excelling at those two thing?" My buddy said it didn't matter in the end because nothing changed.

He also chronicled the change in corporate culture. When he got there, people were still coming up from within, but by the end, it was outsiders from other companies who didn't play the game being brought in. For him, the worst thing about becoming successful at the company is that he never got to game much.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2015, 03:48:40 PM by Syn Ace »
Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes.

William Gibson

Offline Xathrodox86

  • Posts: 4435
  • He Who Fights Monsters
    • https://www.facebook.com/michalgorzanski
    • View Profile
    • It always rains in Nuln
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2015, 04:52:55 PM »

I hope they've refunded the poor guy's army.

They were like "Don't worry. We are replacing everything." And he was like "Oh yeah you are."

One other story that comes to mind. He became friendly with GW's single largest shareholder (dunno if the guy still is -- this is a number of years ago--he told me the guy's full name but the only thing that's coming to mind now is Tom???) because  my buddy is a straight shooter, and it turns out they are both motorcycle lovers (it's all my friend rides). When the investor would fly into town to visit the offices, he'd sometimes rent a Harley and they'd do some riding. Anyway, after they first met, the investor asked him his opinion of the company and my friend said "We do two things really well. The first is we make spectacular models, come up with fun games, and produce great paints, etc." And the stakeholder said "So what's the second thing?" And my friend said "We're GW so we  find a way to fuck it up." He said everyone was expecting him to be fired, but nothing happened. In fact, the investor appreciated his honesty and every time he came in he'd ask him "So are we still excelling at those two thing?" My buddy said it didn't matter in the end because nothing changed.

He also chronicled the change in corporate culture. When he got there, people were still coming up from within, but by the end, it was outsiders from other companies who didn't play the game being brought in. For him, the worst thing about becoming successful at the company is that he never got to game much.

Oh man, it's a bit depressing when you do something you love for a living, and can't really enjoy it in work. :unsure:
Check out my wargaming blog "It always rains in Nuln". Reviews, rants and a robust dose of wargaming and RPG fun guaranteed. ;)

http://italwaysrainsinnuln.blogspot.com/

"Dude, that's not funny. Xathrodox would never settle for being a middleman."

Gneisenau

Offline iatroblast

  • Posts: 353
  • Invincibility at no extra charge!
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2015, 10:09:41 PM »
great stories- thank u Syn Ace

Offline Shadow_Zero

  • Posts: 421
    • View Profile
    • last.fm
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2015, 11:37:34 AM »
Interesting stories!


Quote
One other illuminating thing. One of the big wigs who came over from Mattel toys once told them "If a household doesn't have an income of $70,000, we don't consider them a GW target customer." My friend said, 'You realize that means that none of us that works at GW who plays the game would be considered a customer by that metric?" He also said that bigwig had realized that 20% of the customers were buying 80% of the product and wanted to just cut out the other 80% of the customers so they could streamline what they were producing.
Considering that the current median income is about $72K in the U.S. and the median household income (yep it's actually lower) is 52K, they clearly aren't interested in average folks. 

Average yearly income in US is $72,000? Wow, in the Netherlands it's like 35,000! (and I don't consider us a 'poor' country  ; ) )

Offline Gneisenau

  • Posts: 6597
  • Alleged Ungulate
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2015, 07:43:50 PM »
OT: For some reason I used to think that you are Finnish, Shadow_Zero. Did you move?

Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

  • Posts: 8696
  • Attorney-at-RAW
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2015, 10:44:48 PM »
No doubt, he's moved by your interest...
It is not enough to have no ideas of your own; you must also be incapable of expressing them.
Sex, lies and manuscripts: The History of the Empire as Depicted in the Art of the Time (10/07/16)

Offline CarolineWellwater

  • Posts: 388
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2015, 04:34:01 AM »
(( Shadow_Zero,

Quote
Average yearly income in US is $72,000?

I'm not sure if that is a weighted average or not.  I'm thinking it is, as those sound like what the US Census Bureau reported back in September.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States

Anyway, here's one possible problem with the above statistic, If I have 10 people in a room whose incomes are 2 at $5k, 2 at $10k, 1 at $20k, 1 at $50k, and 4 at $0k, that gives a total income is $100,000 / year for all 11.  And... I can "skew" the results into saying that in the room, I can say that each person makes $10k / year on average, even though four of them don't make a dime. 

Now... if I add one more person, who makes $1,000,000 / year into that same room... now I have 11 people, who make a total of $1,100,000... which becomes $100,000 / person.  I could say that I've increased everyone's income by %1000!

In both cases, though, the Census Bureau does try to avoid these situations, and provide reliable estimates.

Also, median averages across the entire US.  Again, the Census Bureau also states that the country has various "pockets" of income, and does offer ranges, depending on where you are located.  For example, Cyuahoga County (where I live and work) is stated as an average income of $35k - $42k... while the District of Columbia is listed as $59 - $74... and the Census Bureau even mentions that this result has various, propagated assumptions and errors.  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9e/US_county_household_median_income_2012.png

Anyway, point being I'm not %100 sure where GamesPoet is getting the numbers... so... they could very well be skewed one way or the other. ))

Offline Syn Ace

  • Posts: 4729
  • Misinterpreting GW rules since 1991
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2015, 08:47:01 AM »
Stats can get tricky for non-numbers people (like me). I believe a median and average household could be different. The $52,000 median household income would be the mid point of all household incomes -- half of all household incomes are above and half fall below. The average income could be something totally different as you're adding all the household incomes together then dividing by the number of households to get an average. And I'm not sure if they're separating by different classes of income when they're figuring it out.
Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes.

William Gibson

Offline Daymz

  • Posts: 153
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2015, 04:29:33 PM »
Stats can get tricky for non-numbers people (like me). I believe a median and average household could be different. The $52,000 median household income would be the mid point of all household incomes -- half of all household incomes are above and half fall below. The average income could be something totally different as you're adding all the household incomes together then dividing by the number of households to get an average. And I'm not sure if they're separating by different classes of income when they're figuring it out.
They don't separate by classes for these statistics. That really is why they put an average AND a median, as the average is distorted by a few enormous incomes (tens of millions, for some CEOs for instance) that crank the average up. The median gives a better picture there, because as it is just the income where half earn more and half earn less, these distortions do not apply.

And Shadow_Zero, 35'000 Euros really seems like little - for the Netherlands. I live in Switzerland, and our average is higher - but everything is also much more expensive, so it kind of evens out. I think that $52'000 is a LOT for a median income in the U.S. That would mean a median monthly income of over $4'300! And for all I know about the U.S., that as an average is a ton!

Thank you, Syn Ace, for sharing these stories. I'm surprised WHFB went as well as it did for as long as it did. It makes more sense now, concerning what happened with AoS. But in a bad way.

Offline Syn Ace

  • Posts: 4729
  • Misinterpreting GW rules since 1991
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2015, 05:57:18 PM »
Thanks for the clarification, Daymz.   :::cheers:::
Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes.

William Gibson

Offline The Peacemaker

  • Posts: 2069
  • Baron Karl von Balombine of Wissenland
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2015, 11:49:50 AM »

This tidbit was priceless. He went to one of the big tournaments and they asked if he could bring his beautifully painted Bretonnian army because they wanted to raffle off a game with Nigel Stillman, who had written the army book so they needed a Bretonnian army. They later came up to him and said they needed him to walk Nigel through the game because apparently he was unfamiliar with how to play the army in an actual game. So my buddy had to stand at his shoulder and tell him 'ok you have 10 attacks and hit on 3s and wound on 2s.' That just tells you all you need to know about GW army design and the disconnect with the actual game. Side story about that army -- after they borrowed it, but before the tourament, they came up to him and told him they'd dropped it -- actually, someone had knocked over the whole table it was on, but not to worry, they'd repair everything. After the tourament, they came up to him and told him there was another problem. He was like "did you drop my army again?" It was actually worse than that. Someone had set it down on a forklift and then someone else had moved the forklift -- army hit the ground and the forklift drove over it.


I don't think Nigel Stillman wrote the armybook rules. Quick google search shows the bret book and wood elves books with his as "written by" but I check the actual book and he's not on there. Perhaps he wrote the stories or novel?
But the story is hilarious about the destruction of the army.
...if it was my army and painted well, not only would I demand replacement but I would demand appropriate level $ of painting compensation.




Had dinner with a guy who used to be the assistant manager at the game shop I worked at -- he went on to be the head of GW sales U.S. back in the day before moving on to another game company. Hadn't seen him in 20 years. Man, he had some great GW stories.

One thing he did confirm was that 40K outsold Fantasy by 3 to 1, even more in the U.S.

It was interesting, how his stories illuminated the disconnect between the players and the company. He was talking about how one of the big wigs was throwing a fit about GW tournaments because the players were "taking the game too seriously" and that it was supposed to be a hobby. My friend also said that when he was talking to another exec when the Vampire bloodlines first came out and he had looked at the book and told the guy, uh, you realize that being able to give them Always Strikes First is a huge deal in the game and the guy was like "Well, you don't think they're going to abuse it and take it all the time, do you?"

One other illuminating thing. One of the big wigs who came over from Mattel toys once told them "If a household doesn't have an income of $70,000, we don't consider them a GW target customer." My friend said, 'You realize that means that none of us that works at GW who plays the game would be considered a customer by that metric?" He also said that bigwig had realized that 20% of the customers were buying 80% of the product and wanted to just cut out the other 80% of the customers so they could streamline what they were producing.

Tons of other stories, but those were the ones that really stood out.

Oh, and I found out he wrote a couple Space Wolf novels. Under a pen name with a writing partner. And he doesn't particularly like writing. Hearing the process of writing a novel for GW was definitely interesting.

lol, as a financial expert and as someone who invests, i see this happen alot in business.   Especially once they go public.
The top positions are not earned or based on merit, you literally just need a degree(earned or bought) in business and the rest is up to patronage.
A good businessman will invest the time to know the product he is hired to sell. Most will not.
How does GW keep on going instead of crumbling? Well the bigger the company the longer it takes.
They don't know their business so they just apply generic techniques used in other industries to try and increase profits. Then you hit the golf course and parties.
So in summary the big wigs are so stupid that they don't realize GW/hobby industry is a niche luxury long term industry. Its very similar to the diamond ring industry.
I could go on about economics and industry but i'll stop it short.


There was also a post a while back on the forums about someone who highlighted the differences between north America game design and UK game design.
UK focuses on fun and D&D type story.
USA focuses on competitive side
UK just don't understand that people want competitive play. USA doesn't understand that people want role play.  that was the just of it anyway. lol.

For Wissenland and the Countess!!!

My Painting Blog
My Entire Gallery

Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

  • Posts: 8696
  • Attorney-at-RAW
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2015, 12:59:03 PM »
I don't think Nigel Stillman wrote the armybook rules. Quick google search shows the bret book and wood elves books with his as "written by" but I check the actual book and he's not on there. Perhaps he wrote the stories or novel?

Stillman wrote the 5th edition Bretonnia book (1996/1999), not the last edition (2003). 
It is not enough to have no ideas of your own; you must also be incapable of expressing them.
Sex, lies and manuscripts: The History of the Empire as Depicted in the Art of the Time (10/07/16)

Offline zak

  • Posts: 5938
  • Raging Viking
    • Zachary Moss
    • View Profile
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2015, 03:52:28 PM »
I remember talking to the plant manager of GW U.S. Memphis, he stated they have no "players" on staff due to fear of secrets being leaked out. He also said they had one player once and they fired him because he talked about new product to a friend. Anyway makes sense ...sad sad sad
"Fight your foes in the field, nor be burnt in your house!"

Offline ZeroTwentythree

  • Posts: 7292
  • i'm a mercenary doom bringer
    • View Profile
    • Wargaming Blog
Re: Interesting chat
« Reply #21 on: December 31, 2015, 08:48:07 PM »
I remember talking to the plant manager of GW U.S. Memphis, he stated they have no "players" on staff due to fear of secrets being leaked out. He also said they had one player once and they fired him because he talked about new product to a friend. Anyway makes sense ...sad sad sad


Ages ago, I was in the US GW Outrider program. As such, we (Not even GW employees! Gasp!) were sent games and figures months before release. That included core games like WFB 5th, 40k 2nd & 3rd, Necromunda, etc. We were expected to know the rules in order to run demos on the day of release, so we got to try the games out early with friends. So not only was the info officially "leaked" but GW's period of greatest growth continued cruising along and the world didn't end.

I don't have any experience managing a large corporation, so I may be off here... but I can't help but wonder why they seem to fixate on HOW the products are delivered rather than focus on WHAT sort of products they are trying to sell in the first place an WHO their actual (not just ideal) market is.