Death from the Skies: Paying for Rules or Paying for Miniatures.

This week Games Workshop is releasing Death from the Skies, a compendium/update of all of the rules for flyers in 40k.

The release of this book shows that Games Workshop is doubling down on making players pay for rules with no (legal) workaround.

From my perspective, this is just absolutely bonkers. I am not going to buy this book. I already have the rules for the Stormraven (Blood Angels codex), and I have the rules for the Stormtalon because I got lucky and have the WD.

Games Workshop makes miniatures. They should try to sell miniatures. If I wanted to start a new army because I like how some miniatures look, there is now a $50 dollar barrier of entry due to needing to buy the rules for that army.

Personally, I’m less likely to use my limited budget on a book in order to start a new army. If that barrier went from $50 to $0, suddenly I am a lot more likely to spend that $50 on starting a new army, and then probably another $100 on more models for that army. That’s just me.

The same principle goes for any rules supplements they are charging for. If I don’t have the rules for a Stormtalon, and the barrier from having the rules is $35, I’m less likely to buy the model, and then you have negated my spending any money at all.

It seems extra stupid that they would release a rules compendium like this that has only a few pages of rules that are useful for any given player. The average “hobbyist” probably only has 2-3 armies at most, so the incentive to buy a book where 70% of the content does not apply to them is low.

I know this probably won’t ever happen, but if GW actually lowered the cost of rules to $0, we would all probably impulse buy/start far more armies than we currently do, and spending on miniatures is almost always more appealing.

Look at Corvus Belli and Infinity. The basic rules are free, which means you are free to buy from any faction you like, meaning you are free to give them your money with no initial barrier. And hey, they still sell rulebooks because they have tons of interesting background material. Now, I’d hazard to say that GW has about one million times more background material to work with, and if they put up the basic rules/stats for armies for free, they would:

1. Sell more models

2. Still sell rule books because lots of 40k players like to read about background. Granted, they would sell fewer of them, but I’m pretty sure that would more than be compensated for by increase in sales of miniatures.

My 2 cents.


  1. Knight of Infinite R
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Very good points. GW need to be dragged into the 21st century. The question is will they go bust before they shape up? It seems the only thing they do well these days is alienate their player base.

  2. Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I agree that while I love their products (at least their miniatures), they really do everything they can to make it difficult to like them.

  3. Posted February 20, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    While I do agree with you that it would be great if there was a free, very skimmed down version of the code rulebook that was free, literally just black text on a white background and detailed the rules in a simple way so that people could use this as a base reference, if they want full color, physical book with loads of fluff they can pay the £45 for the book (personally I would buy this, but then again I bought the LE 6th ed rulebook when it came out). I say this because I know of players who consistently ask to borrow my book and have no intention of buying the book, so for these players GW would not loose anything.

    Saying this, Games workshop does regularly and freely release FAQs and updates to their books and so far the ebook versions of the Space Marine codex has been free to update with the latest versions of the rules for the units within. So GW do give free updates which is invaluable.

  4. Posted February 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Chris I’m with you–there is certainly a market to be tapped of people who want the art, the fluff, the limited editions, etc. And GW is nothing if not brilliant at producing volumes of that sort of material.

    But I also am glad that you agree that the barrier to actually playing their games should $0 for rules, $infinity for miniatures.

    The other issue about DFTS that offends me is that people like you, who paid a premium for a luxury limited edition are now getting a rules update in the middle of the edition and you are expected to pay for it.

    Excellent customers like you should expect that when you buy such a huge tome that it is an all-inclusive item, or at a minimum, that updates will be free to you.

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