Success drove Warhammer into crisis – Game manufacturer Games Workshop doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with its hit game

The Warhammer games are so popular that many products are currently unavailable at all. Reports on figure game availability and Warhammer Fest show that British company Games Workshop is not keeping up with the success of its hit game.

Warhammer needs no introduction to players. The miniature game that started in the 1980s has grown from its humble beginnings into a huge multi-million dollar business. Warhammer’s popularity has grown over the years, but in the case of the corona pandemic, it was reported that it literally exploded.

READ ALSO: Warhammer is more popular than ever, but it’s not a cheap hobby, and it’s not always fun either – We took a closer look at Games Workshop’s hit game

Today, the game manufacturer Games Workshop (GW) runs several figure games at the same time, of which the futuristic Warhammer 40,000 (familiarly known as 40K) and the fantasy world Warhammer: Age of Sigmar are the biggest. There’s a constant stream of new content coming to the games, while at the same time GW publishes and keeps alive a number of smaller games, sells licenses to numerous Warhammer video games, and even runs its own Warhammer+ streaming service.

On the surface, Warhammer and Games Workshop (which are almost synonymous with each other) seem like a huge success story. However, there seems to be a lot of problems behind the scenes.

In short, the popularity of the Warhammer games seems to have gotten out of hand. According to reports and rumours, Games Workshop has their work cut out for them to keep the wheels turning.

Figu orders in limbo

Throughout the spring of 2023, there have been major problems with the availability of Games Workshop products, such as Frontline Gaming write. Many Games Workshop products have been out of stock and poorly available – even basic items like starter packs.

I personally waited a long time for the starter pack of Warhammer 40K’s sister game Kill Team, the order of which ended up in an endless delivery queue. Similar stories can also be found from acquaintances, but in order not to leave this entirely up to hearsay, I asked about the availability of GW’s products from Fantasy Games.

Operating in seven cities and online, Fantasiapelit is one of the most important Games Workshop retailers in Finland. According to them, Brexit and GW’s recent warehouse move have generally increased product delivery times, but something else is going on.

“This year, even more new products have run out or the delivery quantities have been limited with a quick hand,” Fantasiapelei replied.

“One can only guess the reasons, GW won’t say.”

One reason for the delivery problems may well be that Games Workshop is currently preparing for the release of the new version of Warhammer 40K, which is coming up in the summer. Frontline Gaming guesses:

“Rumor has it that they are mass producing the 10th edition starter box so it doesn’t sell out right away like the 9th edition Indomitus boxes did.”

If the rumors are true, it could be a symptom of a bigger problem.

Games Workshop currently keeps alive no less than 11 figure games, for which new products appear more or less actively. However, some are limited editions or exclusive products sold only in GW’s own store.

These days, limited edition products usually sell out in no time.

Reddit discussion for example, Kill Team’s recently released Gallowfall box sold out in a minute, so only the luckiest players managed to grab it. Now, of course, the same box is sold on eBay at a varying premium.

The production problems are also worrying because, after the new version of 40K, Age of Sigmar has also been reported to get a new version soon, which is expected to be released next year. So if the availability problems are only temporary and only due to the production of the new 40K, next year may bring the same problems.

READ ALSO: A new version of the Warhammer 40,000 figure game is coming – this is what the massive starter box looks like

Warhammer 40K

Are the stakes of Warhammer enough?

Poor availability, small editions and too few releases can also prove fatal for games. The game Warhammer: The Horus Heresy was released only last year, but already in the same year there were signs of the game’s death due to the lack of products and players. For example, a figu game site Spikey Bits wrote about this in the fall.

Warhammer: The Old World, which is under development, has its own chapter. GW announced this fantasy world miniatures game back in 2019, but like Age of Miniaturesin from the comprehensive article, only a couple of miniatures have been announced for the game to date, and there is no information about the release date. The Old World is a highly anticipated game among gamers, but GW doesn’t seem to have enough input to develop and release it on any reasonable schedule.

So Warhammer games are popular, but Games Workshop has a lot of work to fill store shelves.

The same disparity between popularity and supply was seen at Warhammer Fest in April. According to several reports, GW’s big gaming event in Manchester was a complete disaster and quite a disappointment. Your example Dice Breakerin according to the report, the event, which attracted thousands of visitors, meant long queues for many, and the setting was far too modest for the popularity.

Warhammer Fest is said to have had between 3,000 and 13,000 visitors, depending on the day, but only 800 listeners could attend the announcements and Q&A events. In the whole event, there were also only 5 game tables for the new Warhammer 40K, which a significant part of the players came to test. Willing players queued for three hours to test the game for just half an hour. Smaller games were completely overshadowed when, for example, there was exactly one Kill Team game table at the event.

Warhammer Fest is of course just one event, but it’s Games Workshop’s biggest launch event and its problems tell the same story as the fig availability issues. Warhammer and all the games published under the title are very popular now, but Games Workshop is having trouble keeping things together.

Below you can watch Discourse Minis’ report on Warhammer Fest.

More popular than ever

There are certainly several reasons for the increased popularity of Warhammer. During the pandemic, many old players (like me) rediscovered Warhammer, which has certainly been reflected in the increase in demand. On the other hand, GW has also invested in digital games for years, which the company does not make itself, but sells their licenses to other studios and publishers. There are several Warhammer video games released every year, and whether they’re good or bad, they all help raise Warhammer’s profile.

In addition, of course, there are high-profile cases, such as the fact that Superman star Henry Cavill and Spider-Man star Tom Holland have both admitted to being Warhammer players. Recently also in fresh South Park – episode, Warhammer was played, which once again put the fig game in the spotlight.

The new version of Warhammer 40K also shows that GW is trying to increase its popularity already. Uutukainen’s rules and army information are going to be published for free, and a more approachable game mode has been made separately for the new game. It is therefore clearly hoped that the world’s most popular fig game will grow even bigger.

So there is enough popularity, but Warhammer fans often have bad things to say about Games Workshop itself.

Even before the current problems, Games Workshop has often received harsh criticism from players of figure games. In its history, the company has made many decisions that smelled like financing or were otherwise just strange. One was, for example, discontinuing Warhammer Fantasy Battles and moving to the new world of Age of Sigmar, even though the “old world” of Fantasy Battles was popular with players.

In the video below from Auspex Tactics, the YouTube channel breaks down the various reasons why so many players hate Games Workshop even though they love Warhammer.

Few options

In the middle of the new golden age of miniature gaming, the future of games is therefore worrying. Either Games Workshop needs to increase its production capacity considerably or make difficult decisions regarding supporting games.

However, it should be noted that even though the players are biting, there are still few alternatives for Warhammer.

Warhammer is still practically synonymous with the whole genre of figure games, because even though there are competitors, it’s hard to find players for them (especially in a small country). In addition, few other figure games can be tried anywhere easily or picked up directly from the store shelf, unlike Warhammer games. Although there are other options, Warhammer has a huge advantage.

On the other hand, Games Workshop’s troubles and bad reputation among gamers could also be a possibility. Now would be a very good time to announce a new large class miniature game, where everything would be done differently than at Games Workshop. So far, however, no viable competitor has appeared.

The new version of Warhammer 40,000 will arrive for pre-order in June, but the exact dates are not yet known. The rules of the game appear online at the same time as the starting box of the game appears.

READ ALSO: One image shows just how much Warhammer miniatures have changed – a classic monster redesigned

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