Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Partners Games Workshop Needed

The Independent Tournament Circuit’s (ITC) flagship event, the Las Vegas Open 2017 ended and the winner?  Brett Perkins and his Renegades and Heretics.  Brett has been rampaging through the opposition for a couple of years now and been very close at the major events like NOVA where he took second place and now the big one, the Las Vegas Open, which catapulted him in the standings of the ITC.

It is at the culmination of this, my first real ITC season of competition, that I am reflective of what I have seen happen in the 40K universes since I began attempting to compete.

The sheer volume of new material was frightening.  As we saw with the 3.X Dungeons and Dragons roll out (and later 4.0), this does not always have a good impact on the game.  The exit of the head cheese at Games Workshop in 2015, and the new regimes alteration of attitude towards the player base, brought more than enough sales to make stock holders forget the overwhelming flood of it.

As of January 2016, profit from the sale of miniatures and games, which was the company’s core business, fell 15%.  The new leader had been installed but his impact was yet to be felt.  Had it not been for the intellectual property side of the business, it would have been a very dour outlook indeed.  Since then, however, significant changes happened.  Kevin Rountree and company had begun something, foremost among them being reconnecting with the fan base.  In the last year the stock was finally able to return to glory, and the annihilation it suffered since October of 2013 seems to have passed, approaching the 2004 numbers, where it was when I first got into the hobby!

I feel that the recuperation of the stock is in part thanks to the end of the Recession but it is also in even larger part thanks to the far more responsive leadership we now see at Games Workshop and one hopes that can continue.  Most telling is the dividend for GAW stock.  Any time the board is giving them out and they are getting larger, the health of the company is clearly easier to trust with your money.

The Las Vegas Open, the Elvensword Ambassadorial Grand Tournament and many more beyond count like them that are now being seen, are the number one driver of sales for the company in my opinion.  Never was there a better sales force than the Tournament Organizers themselves, and it is to them that Games Workshop, its retail partners and the broader fan base owe so much.  While individual Tournament Organizers (TO’s) may not really detect how much they are influencing this, as they go about their labors of love, the reality is obvious.  There were 5575 Generals ranked in the ITC this year (which means many more that were not) and there were 2218 ranked in the previous year!  One year.  Wrap your mind around that.  If you are a statistics student, you understand the magnitude of that statement.  In that same time frame, the company’s stock has soared.  Only an idiot would consider that a coincidence.  Just the existence of a ladder program, such as the one the ITC has made popular, has made Games Workshop a lot of money and my anticipation is that with the advent of the Bestcoastpairings.com software, peoples ability, worldwide, to participate will greatly increase, as will the ease with which such events can be created.

I was an extremely harsh critic of the way the ITC FAQ was built originally and I was not shy about telling people; but like Games Workshop, it seems that the good people who run the ITC were responsive to that too, and those of us who were critics have seen a lot of change in the way they go about their transparency and fan participation.  The result?  I am gratified to say that there is little to complain about now.  It has gone from a provincial “better way to play 40K” into a raging waterfall of fans.  The same transformation seesm to be starting at Games-Workshop.

Brett Perkins won the Las Vegas Open, but Games Workshop won by having passionate tournament organizers willing to even attempt such a thing.  Hundreds of events will happen this year, costing tens of thousands of hours of planning and effort showcasing their products.  It would be the wisest of courses for the company to look very seriously towards the future of those partnerships.  It will translate to money very quickly.

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