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View Full Version : Is it actually deliberate - the trouble with limited editions.



Mr Mystery
11-21-2014, 04:38 PM
How do?

So there's a bit of a broo-ha-ha at the moment about the limited nature of some releases.

In the past few months, several items have sold out in the blink of an eye. First one that springs to mind? Void Shield Generator. Nice piece of kit, but not necessarily a gaming essential for most. Next - End Times Nagash. Then End Times Glottkin, followed (very) swiftly by Leviathan (sold out in an hour or two), and today - End Times Khaine seemed to sell out in no more than 20 minutes.

Understandably, those who miss out are a bit fed up. They're popular products, and not everyone has the cash at the right time to make their purchase.

Some are suggesting that this is a deliberate ploy. And it is to a degree. Limited Edition toys are Limited Edition for a reason after all. Yet some suggest it's more nefarious - that GW are deliberately underprinting/producing supply, and the unintended downswing is that Scalpers snap up as many as they can, then effectively collude to ramp up prices, turning a quick profit.

My question here? Knowing that Exhibit A is going to be popular, why would GW deliberately under produce? Is it not more likely that Exhibit A has been a good deal more popular than they anticipated?

Lets use End Times as a measuring stick for now, as they're the most directly comparable.

Kicked off with a whopper - Nagash. Long term background, but almost as long Sir Not Appearing In This Game. Warhammer itself has apparently not been doing too well in recent years (though how any can say for certain, when GW don't break down their figures that far).

Yeah. Sold out in a couple of days. And when we got our clammy, rotting, dead hands on it - the book simply blew us away (us being long term Warhammer players). The content exceeded expectation. Lots of new background, massive advancement of the Warhammer World. We've never had anything like it before.

Now, that was released late August/early September, or roughly three months ago.

Last month, we got Glottkin, the second End Times installment. That sold out in a couple of hours. And there was much grumbling because of this. Again, the content of the product was of a high quality - compelling story, and some shiny new rules for fielding the various Chaos armies as a single entity.

Today? End Times Khaine sold out in a truly astounding 20 minutesish. I only got my copy because I'd been refreshing my phone since 6 pm, during a work outing. Can't waffle about the contents, as nobody has the book yet (and if they do, they're playing tight mouth Larry about it). But I think it's safe to say we're in for another treat. HURRAH!

Now, I have a bit of history in the print trade (old family business) and typically, books are printed a good few months in advance. By the time the plates are set, the order volume is also set - and that volume can only be a prediction of sales.

Take the above, and apply the unexpected level of demand for Nagash, and it seems likely the ordered stock (GW I believe use a foreign printer. China, I think? Don't quote me on that though!) for Glottkin and Khaine would still be based on pre-Nagash expectations.

If we take the above as even vaguely accurate (may not be), and add in the panic factor, and the naked greed of Scalpers seeing very, very easy bucks - we can see why things keep selling out faster and faster, and it doesn't seem terribly deliberate at all on GW's behalf. Simply put - the larger the print run, the cheaper it gets. The price Scalpers can command is the price many are willing to pay - and everyone willing to pay through the nose would have bought at the GW price - to suggest they wouldn't would be frankly bizarre and worrying. So why would GW deliberately underproduce to this degree? They could be raking it in! I know many question GW Management practices - but seriously, even the dimmest of company runners wouldn't pass up money like that.

Now I could be completely wrong - certainly wouldn't be the first time. But do at least consider what I've gibbered about above. I'd say the accuracy of my waffling will be seen over the next few months, as according to me, future End Times books are more likely to be printed with post-Nagash sales expectations, and should prove easier to get hold of :)

And yes I know this has mostly been about Warhammer rather than 40k, but this board is busier. And the panic/scalp demand thing can also be applied to Leviathan. Soon as something is mentioned to be Limited Run/Edition now, it kicks in.

And here's a Top Tip from me to you.....

If you have odd paydays, and they don't quite align with GW's release schedule (very likely now they're weekly) do give thought to holding a stock of GW E-Vouchers. I'm doing this from now on, as I reckon a level of around 100 will mean I need not miss out due to lack of funds :)

YorkNecromancer
11-21-2014, 05:09 PM
Partly I wonder if it's due to the costs of producing a huge colour, prestige format book. Those things are not inexpensive to create, and if the thing bombs, well, you've got a lot of stock on shelves that doesn't shift. On the other hand, produce a limited run to test the waters, and then have the eBook release to save on production costs and make more money. Should the eBook sell in crazy bloody numbers, you then have a second print run of the physical book.

Of course, you advertise the physical book as 'Limited Edition: get it before it's gone!' because that's a marketing strategy: those who have bought the book get additional bragging rights. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veblen_good) Of course, there were never actually that many people who were every going to buy the physical book, or else it would have been brought back into print - money is the bottom line with any business.

I must say, on a personal level I despise full-colour hardback game books as the norm. Bloody despise it. I miss the days of black and white RPGs in paperback; cheap and cheerful and everyone could get everything, know all the rules, no bother. Not to mention you usually got more content. If it's a colour book, you just get more photos of models that are already on the website. :(

Not to mention, I have a deep personal distrust of anyone who willingly makes 'collector' part of their identity. Something about someone who'll pay double or triple the price for something just because it comes in a shinier box? With a few pieces of plastic tat thrown in? No. Not right. That's someone who doesn't understand the value of money.

daboarder
11-21-2014, 05:16 PM
its entirely deliberate, its their latest way to try and force impulse buying

Denzark
11-21-2014, 06:59 PM
I don't think they care if they get their pound o flesh from the scalpers or genuine punters. But I wonder if the false exclusivity - must buy now thing is due to the fact they know as soon as it gets out, a nerd will scan in the entire thing onto drop box, and the e-version won't be long behind. As such, they drive up the hype to maximise initial profits on the limited run before it is pirated and the speed of return slows to trickle - after all the profitability of a run is higher at the start.

Morgrim
11-22-2014, 12:35 AM
Thing is if they seriously wanted to transition to having small print runs and then majority e-book sales - which is actually a reasonable tack for a company in their situation - then surely they'd not make all the e-books purely Apple exclusive. Saying "you must invest in [x] company before you're allowed to buy anything from us" is excessively stupid, even for GW.

Mr Mystery
11-22-2014, 02:42 AM
Thing is if they seriously wanted to transition to having small print runs and then majority e-book sales - which is actually a reasonable tack for a company in their situation - then surely they'd not make all the e-books purely Apple exclusive. Saying "you must invest in [x] company before you're allowed to buy anything from us" is excessively stupid, even for GW.

Indeed. Though the e-books isn't my strong suit. Paper and glue for me I'm afraid.

And yes - deliberate exclusivity is entirely deliberate. As York mention, nobody wants a warehouse full of a book that didn't sell through.

But I'm looking at the current seemingly very low print runs. I'm not sure they intended or expected things to sell this well, and have offered some thoughts on how this can happen fairly easily, and that when it does it can take a while for the revised sale level expectation to kick in.

Erik Setzer
11-24-2014, 11:46 AM
Everyone makes that excuse for the End Times books that WFB hasn't been selling well and all the books to date (and I'm sure the next one, and the next one) were printed months ago on an estimation that shows a hilariously poor lack of knowledge of their own market and what it wants and will buy.

So what's the story with a 40K book? No, you can't say that they didn't expect much because it's only Blood Angels and Tyranids. It has Cityfight *and* Death From the Skies in it. That makes it something any 40K player will want. And 40K is their flagship game. So, again... What's the story there? They're seemingly unaware of how popular 40K is?

Also, if they aren't sure how popular all of this would be, why make so many large plastic kits? All those plastic molds aren't cheap.

40kGamer
11-24-2014, 12:04 PM
Everyone makes that excuse for the End Times books that WFB hasn't been selling well and all the books to date (and I'm sure the next one, and the next one) were printed months ago on an estimation that shows a hilariously poor lack of knowledge of their own market and what it wants and will buy.

So what's the story with a 40K book? No, you can't say that they didn't expect much because it's only Blood Angels and Tyranids. It has Cityfight *and* Death From the Skies in it. That makes it something any 40K player will want. And 40K is their flagship game. So, again... What's the story there? They're seemingly unaware of how popular 40K is?

Also, if they aren't sure how popular all of this would be, why make so many large plastic kits? All those plastic molds aren't cheap.

My thought (from a US perspective) is that they are trying to drive more traffic to their direct sales channels... they have successfully stirred up interest while limiting the supply. As a customer it is now a huge risk to not simply order the hotness of the day from their webstore the second it is released.

As Daboarder noted it also pushes impulse buying to a new level as people will buy it simply because it's a hot item even if they aren't that interested in it. Regardless of the reason it is a pretty clear example of disdain for any 'loyal' customer base. But it's pretty obvious that if there is one area where GW dominates the market, it's their unfaltering ability to piss off their own fans.

Eldar_Atog
11-24-2014, 03:23 PM
My thought (from a US perspective) is that they are trying to drive more traffic to their direct sales channels...

I'm of 2 minds on this. It sure does look like they are trying to drive us all to their website above all else. You have to be extremely lucky to catch one of these through a brick and mortar store. On the other side, most of their breakthroughs seem almost accidental. There have been plenty of times that I have seen a bucket of blood red urine with better business sense (and manners) than GW. We've all seen times where they would produce a great model and then ruin it by giving it terrible rules that killed the hype/interest.

40kGamer
11-24-2014, 03:39 PM
On the other side, most of their breakthroughs seem almost accidental.

Have to agree - they do stumble around like a drunk leaving the bar in the wee hours of the morning. Why they have not offered FW through their US channel still boggles my mind.

Maybe we should make a movie short titled "The Accidental Business". :p

Wolfshade
11-24-2014, 04:30 PM
Rumour mill suggests that FW might be becoming "core" range and distrubed through the standard GW direct channels. THough there are issues as to how FW could up volumes if required to reach core levels

40kGamer
11-24-2014, 04:42 PM
Rumour mill suggests that FW might be becoming "core" range and distrubed through the standard GW direct channels. THough there are issues as to how FW could up volumes if required to reach core levels

If they actually bring this to fruition I'll be doing cartwheels in the front yard... of course I haven't done any in years so I'll most likely be in the ER with a head injury! :p