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:
Or you can email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.