Games Workshop goes Digital

Games Workshop makes a new announcement today, that they are launching their first digital products.

From their announcement:

And there you were thinking there was only one blog post today! So, what’s going on?

Today we launch Games Workshop’s very first digital products.

Now that is some pretty big news, I think you’ll agree. To find out more about these new products, we’ve created an article on the website telling you what we’ve got coming out and providing a link to the Apple iBookstore where you can peruse our first downloadable products.

The Techpriests in our digital department have created nine products so far, ranging from painting guides and Scrolls of Binding to the entirety of Codex: Space Marines (complete with plenty of extra bonus material), all of which will be available to download today from the Apple iBookstore. To see a bit more of Codex: Space Marines in digital format, check out the video below.

The Codex includes dozens of pictures of the uniforms and heraldry of the Space Marines, 360 degree miniatures galleries, a searchable glossary so you can find just the right unit or page instantly, up-to-date rules for weapons and wargear, the full rules and background for the brand new Stormtalon Gunship, and plenty more besides. It now weighs in at a mighty 324 pages of pictures, background, artwork and rules.

Bearing in mind how different this makes the digital version to the paper version, I thought it would be a good idea to have a look at it and see how it works. The first thing you notice is that the Codex is split up into sections. So there’s a section on the history of the Space Marines, a section on the composition of a Space Marine Company, the bestiary section, the miniatures gallery, and so on. Each of them are clearly labelled, so navigating them is as simple as poking the screen with your finger (you can probably tell I’m about as technologically adept as an Ork).

You can zoom in on pictures to see intricate details. You can, for example, zoom in on the artwork on the side of Marneus Calgar’s personal Land Raider, or get a close-up image of Chaplain Cassius’ face. You can spin Captain Shrike round in the 360 gallery or look at all the different variants of the Stormtalon Gunship. Of particular interest to me was the weapons section, where you can click on the name of the weapon to see its stats – a very useful attribute as I regularly forget what guns can do what and how low their AP is (apparently making a guess isn’t good enough for my regular opponents).

Of course, the other great thing about it is that all your digital products are there on your iPad right when you need them. You could, should you feel the need, look at the painting guide for Ultramarines whilst exploring the depths of the Amazon Rainforest. Not a common example that one, I’ll grant you, but you could do it if you wanted to. There is a definite appeal to having everything on your iPad in one easy place. No more flicking through the Codex mid-game – just tap the pad, type what you’re after and hey presto.

So, what you need to do now is check out the article about the new digital products and, if you have an iPad, download a couple (or nine).

  • Hey, GW figured out how to make an ebook!
    Wish they had gone the route of amazon but I guess this is progress 🙂

    • Bellygrub

      Black library didn’t go amazon either. However you can still download the books for kindle off the site. Hopefully they’ll eventually do the same with these off the main site.

  • Welcome to the 21st century!

  • blkdymnd

    And tomorrow, GW will make the wheel!

    • KelRiever

      And it will ‘inflate’ in price at 25% a year

    • Toyznthehood

      This seems pretty original. Sure Privateer Press are releasing their super-app but it looks like GW have beaten them to the post with this, they’ve just not talked about it much. And Ex-Illis may be a complete game using the iPad and minis but I’ve not heard much love for that. I can’t think of any other companies producing something similar.

      • metalsifter

        Making an interactive digital book with more content than the paper version is not original, GW is just catching up as usual.

        • TomasT

          Metalsifter: What would it take for them to do so you wouldn’t say that?

          You might not have been as negative as you sound, but that came off pretty cranky.

          They can’t invent the wheel every time, you know. 😉

  • Sisyphus

    Watch out of Eldar Pirates!

  • jackgaudette

    So let me see if I get this…. I can download all of the crap that I already paid for? Eat me GW.

  • Greyhawk Grognard

    But apparently 3D printing is just a little too digital for GW.

  • Henshini

    I was all excited until i saw that the marine codex is 49.99 in the Canadian iTunes store. I already own a paper copy of it, so not a likely purchase, but future books are a definite possibility. Imagine the 6th ed rule book done like this with hyperlinks galore!

  • JoeGKushner

    I have a Toshiba Thrive and a HTC phone. both run over Android. While it’s great that GW is going digital, like WoTC, they are only half assing it at this point. Still, they can now reach a great size of the digital audience.

  • 032125

    And when this doesn’t make money due to the ridiculous price they’ll say “See? People prefer to be robbed the old fashioned way, for hardbound print!”

  • keltheos


    These comments ooze love.

    • Klaetch

      And GW earned every single one.

    • cybogoblin

      Okay, here’s a ‘balanced’ comment….

      Good on GW for moving into the digital realm. It looks like a good product, and the enhanced features are a step up from the current black-and-white codex format. Incorporating an army building feature is another great move, as will be the ability to update the Codex with new models (like the Storm Raven) as they are released.

      On the other hand, the usual bugbears are spoiling everyones day. Limiting the product to Apple is ridiculous with Android and Windows Phones gaining more market share every day. While having a flash, enhanced Codex is nice, there will still be people who want a more basic product. Keep the army building capability, but leave the chapters on the colour schemes for different chapters to a separate product. Also, this would be an excellent chance to reassess product pricing. Yes, you’re getting all of the same content, but ebooks are a bit more limited than paper. Maybe separate out the army-building into its own separate program (like PP’s upcoming offering), then allow customers to import army data from products they purchase.

      GW should certainly be encouraged to keep going down this path, they just need to think about how they go about it.

      • jedijon

        Yes, but having the ability to add digital extras and not doing it…isn’t a very good justification for a lower price point.

        Those extras are the logical extension of the fact that they’re not releasing a NEW product…or one with any distinction over its print version EXCEPT those extras. Why would you buy it at any price if you didn’t WANT it.

        The many comparisons in this thread to WotC are extremely apt. These are two companies who haven’t demonstrated any online success or savvy. I’m with you though–I’m glad they’re dipping their toe. Just how many times will these big companies have to do it before it feels natural–to them and to us?

  • Argate

    Wow, another kick in the butt of every retailer who supported GW…

    • Zombie_Taco


      many RPG companies are going e-book style. How will hobby stores deal with this trend? not just GW but all the others. This is the future. Remember video stores? Music stores?

      • cybogoblin

        It makes sense for RPGs to move online, though. With more competition every year, it’s harder for companies to get their products into stores (unless you’re WotC or Paizo).

        GW, on the other hand sells a lot more than books. Also, just because they’re moving online it doesn’t mean they’ll stop selling paper. smartphones and tablets are popular, but they’re nowhere near ubiquitous. I don’t think hobby stores are in danger – not yet, anyway.

        • Argate

          Hi think independent hobby store are hurt by GW politics in general, not only for this last e-book idea, but we must considering all the official store and all ex-mail order exclusive (plus free shipping for little orders) are very disturbing. GW forgot they must say thanks to little shop for their work on its products.

          • jim7

            With the price hikes–er, ‘adjustments’–GW is slowly cutting out the independent retailer anyway. My store is considering just stocking GW as a boutique game because it doesn’t make us nearly as much or is as popular as other games like Warmachine or Malifaux.

            Also, as far as RPG books going digital, unless a game store has an enormous roleplaying community that buys books every week or they charge for table use, RPGs don’t really make game stores much money. Two people buy a book for the group and one of them buys the GM guide and they’re about done. THe rest of the party either borrows those or torrents them.

  • People moaned because they never had digital versions and now the moan because they do.

    I wonder how long it will take the pirates to have them all over the web anyway?

  • 1voice2many

    This is all just a set up for the “see people are stealing/downloading/sharing our digital product so OF COURSE we have to raise the price on it and the paper versions to make back the lost revenue” argument they will start making. Silly GW, you don’t hide it as well as you used to, some of us can see it comin’ a mile off.

    • TomasT

      So, if the prices are still for a few years, you’ll still say that when the increase comes…

      You’ve discovered inflation. Gratz. 😉

      • 1voice2many

        “…if the prices are still for a few years…”

        That’s a funny one. You must be a new GW customer. Summer is right around the corner. Just wait you’ll see what I mean.

        • Zombie_Taco

          “…summer is right around the corner…”

          I though the saying was, “winter is coming”

          • Kolonel K

            That’s when they have the other price rise.

  • blackfang

    Apple customers are used to overpaying, so I guess it makes sense. The Android version better be cheaper.

  • Pseudonymion

    $41.99 is just an outrageous price for an e-book that does not require the printing and shipping of a hardback/softback version AND utilizes existing infrastructure for download. This is an abomination.

    • keltheos

      /checks paper copy of his codex…yup, no flash animations in it…

      • cybogoblin

        No flash animation in this, either. This is an iPad exclusive, remember, they don’t believe in Flash 😉

        (Yes, I know flash can also mean fancy)

        Here’s one more point against this initiative. Why not take the opportunity to release a Codex that actually needs an update early in the release schedule instead of another Marines Codex (likely just the latest version with a few add-ons)? Codex Tau or Eldar as one of the first releases would likely garner a lot more interest.

        • keltheos

          Because the marines are still their biggest selling army and they wont be releasing any new codexes this close to sixth…float this balloon now see gow it does then continue the trend for sixth.

  • KelRiever

    Is ANY of this still shocking to people?