Letter to Games Workshop

GW’s shiny new bumper sticker caused quite a stir . . .

By now most of Web 2.0 (heh, remember that quaint term?) knows about Games Workshop’s shock decision to prevent European re-sellers from selling GW products to countries outside Europe.  I have a lot to say about this, so read on if you dare.

As one of your friendly neighbourhood Australian bloggers, this decision affects me directly.  Not only me, but also my regular opponents and most of the Australian hobby community.  Down here Games Workshop’s official prices are disproportionately huge, for some as yet to be disclosed reason.  The prices of individual kits vary, as do estimates, but it seems generally to be the case that Aussie GW gamers pay on the order of 190-200% more for their kits than American or European gamers.  This doesn’t seem to be tied to official exchange rates (at the time of writing the Australian dollar is worth more than the US dollar), standards of living, or to shipping costs, which even at exorbitant UPS rates from the US work out to be cheaper than our RRP.  I understand that the situation is similar in New Zealand and Canada.

This means that a great many Australian hobbyists buy their GW products not from GW or their FLGS, but from European stores with free shipping.  This is the only way we can get prices comparable to what hobbyists in the UK and the US pay.  This option has now been eliminated. A reader at Bell of Lost Souls made an interesting parallel with DVD region coding.  It just so happens that one of the moments I was most proud to be an Australian was in 2005 when the Australian High Court ruled against Sony that it was legal to modify consoles and DVD players to defeat region coding, as region coding is exploitative of the consumer.  Exploitative of the consumer.  I can think of few better ways to describe Games Workshop’s recent decision.  It’s a great pity that they are outside the reach of the Australian High Court.

Many Australian gamers have of course exploded with rage and claimed that they will never give another dollar to GW.  I’m a bit more cool-headed – though yesterday I may not have been able to say the same!  What I will say is that this has made me very sad, and further increased the general feeling I have that I am living with a nostalgic memory of the GW hobby and that times have well and truly changed.  Just last week I mentioned the feeling I have that I am not valued as a customer by GW, and this news just saddens me further.  Perhaps this hobby I have such fond memories of is no longer the place for me.  I already abandoned Dungeons and Dragons – my other beloved childhood past-time – when the release of 4th Edition made it apparent that Wizards of the Coast were not interested in re-inventing Gygax’s ground-breaking game in any sense recognizable to me.

I’m not willing to let go of 40k quite yet, though.  I’ll find other ways to avoid GW’s unjust pricing, as no doubt will many other Aussie hobbyists.

But in the meantime, what can I do to let them know that this is not cool?  On the advice of some of the readers at 3++ is the new black I’ve drafted a letter of protest.  It’s pretty angry and self-righteous sounding.  I even used bold type for emphasis.  I’ve included a PDF in case any readers want to use my letter, and it’s also down below so you can cut/paste if you want to modify it or whatever.  Apparently you can post such things to:

Games Workshop
Direct Sales
Willow Road

Or you can email them at: orders@games-workshop.co.uk

I reckon I’m going to do both, just to annoy them a bit.

So, the letter (it’s not as long as it looks by the way, my column width is just really narrow):

Dear Games Workshop,

I am writing this letter to let you know that I am saddened and angered by your recent decision to prohibit European re-sellers to sell to Australian customers.  I could hit you with a barrage of questions as to why you did this, but even if you did answer, your explanation would not be important.  What is important is that my attitude towards your company has irreparably changed for the worse.  You have severely damaged any goodwill I may have felt towards you as a company, and as you know goodwill, once lost, can be very hard to regain.

I am aware of your international pricing structure, and have in fact noticed that your recommended retail prices in Australia are exorbitant in comparison with US and European prices.  Your Australian prices are out of all proportion with taxes, shipping costs or currency exchange rates.  I know this because I have access to the internet.  This is apparently a surprise to you – why else would you think that your efforts to make me pay twice as much as a European customer would go unnoticed?

Basically, Games Workshop, your behaviour towards Australian hobbyists has led me (quite reasonably I think) to decide that you are not interested in selling me your products at the same reasonable prices you offer to your own fellow citizens.  You are in fact deliberately attempting to exploit Australian (and New Zealand, and other) consumers.

I urge you to either repeal your re-sale prohibition or to bring your Australian prices in line with your regular UK and US structures.  Your company is behaving in a recognizably exploitative and unjust fashion, and is discriminating against customers apparently solely on their nationality.  This is how it appears to me, and this is the opinion I will give to others both publicly and privately until you have rectified this situation.

Thank you for your time,

So yeah . . . have at it.

15 responses to “Letter to Games Workshop

  • Thor

    Well said. I put up on my blog a short rant saying ‘whatever’ regarding the price increase but I’m in the US. Those of you in Australia I feel sorry for and I, like you, am at a loss as to why they’re doing this to you.

    I hope something comes of these letters.

  • Neil

    I am not a legal expert but think that if any of these resellers set up a “seperate firm” with own limited registration who then buys GW stock from parent company at cost. It could then send to rest of world how it likes is it would not be a direct customer of GW. Parent company can set its own prices and doesnt have to stick with any RRP.
    Think this may just help smaller manufacturers as more and more people the world over are looking for better and cheaper alternatives. As GW loses its monopoly on the market their desperation may make them make even more of these brash decisions which only oust their loyal customer base.

  • James S

    @Thor, I hope so too, There’s a facebook campaign now too. I doubt it will have any effect though, GW has never allowed public opinion to sway their policy before. I’m really just hoping they read our complaints and see the way they’re being perceived.

    @Neil, I’m not sure about your suggestion, I’m not a lawyer either! You’re right though, hard times seem to be pushing GW to make fierce decisions that I think will end badly for them. What was that Star Wars reference someone made on Bell of Lost Souls?

    “The more you tighten your grip Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”


  • whitewolfmxc


    please join the group for us aussie gamers

  • Capn Stoogey

    Fancy a crack at warmachine? We could use our GW stuff as proxys, as a big F••k you to GW!

  • James S

    I actually have the rulebook for Hordes in a crate at home, never used . . .

  • Son of Prospero

    It’s the same over here in Japan. As you mentioned, it is still about 25-50% cheaper to order from the US GW website, select expedited shipping and wait a week for your order than it is to take a 5 minute train ride to the nearest (& only) retailer in town and buy the same thing. Nor does GW give two s***s. Sad, really.

  • Neil

    have already built an entire vampire counts army from Mantics range. Huge hordes of skeletons and zombies, had to make my own corpse cart but army feels great. even trying it in Kings of War game. Mantic= company that values and listens to customers.

  • Capn Stoogey

    I have heard some good things about Mantic, problem for me is that it’s the GW 40k minis that I love so much! If it wasn’t for the minis I’d play a different game in a heartbeat!

  • Neil

    Malifaux minis are gorgeous, and as its a skirmish game you only need 5-6 minis to play.

  • James S

    Yep I was actually going to start Malifaux before all this happened. Now I definitely will.

  • Rob K

    Well Said James!
    I’m really disappointed and P*&^%d off about this, but sad to say I’m not surprised. Considering the lack of substantial price change in their move from metal to plastic,their over pricing of Forgeworld elements (just look at their new MkII assault squad!!!), and very average attention to detail in their even more overpriced resin kits, they really are committed to their license to gouge. I was lucky to capitalise on the last few planes out of Maelstrom (Berlin airlift reference lol), and won’t buy again until I can find a way not to get reamed. I love the Imperial Amrour books and forked out a motza for these, they are so stunning, but at least you can see where the effort went on such a short run production..
    For a fan of painting/ modelling and the fiction, its sad to see a company who also likes to snipe down other companies trying to fill gaps created by our imagination. Overall, yeah. Shattered but not shocked.

  • Shark Lasers


  • NinetyEightMPH

    Why not try CCC or a consumer rights advocacy group in Australia?

  • NinetyEightMPH

    by CCC I mean ACCC of course… 🙂

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