Games Workshop seems looks like they’re switching it on ’em (yeah, Flipmode. Flipmode’s the greatest) and coming out with 32mm bases for their minis. Ravage Magazine US Editor-in-Chief Jared Miller gives us his thoughts on the change in this editorial.
Jared: All Your Bases Belong to Games Workshop (For Now)
In what seems like another move to keep its most loyal of fans on their toes and in their pockets, Games Workshop looks like it will be changing base size from 25mm to 32mm with the release of the forthcoming Shield of Bhaal: Deathstorm. A look through the contents of the set reveals there’s not a single 25mm base to be found. A little more searching on the site uncovers 32mm bases available for pre-order. While the change doesn’t immediately invalidate the 25mm bases on other units in an army right now, players shouldn’t be surprised if, down the road, tournaments start requiring all bases meet the 32mm requirement. This is a huge headache for faithful players with large armies, so it begs the question: If the risk is alienating their consumer base, why would GW make the change?
It all comes down to making money, which Games Workshop is in need of doing. Right now, when a player needs a new base, they have tons of different options available. If they want official 25mm bases from GW, their store has them available now. However, if they want to save a little cash (or a lot in some cases), a thrifty gamer can easily score a wide array of 25mm bases, ranging from black plastic to metal bases to ones already based, with a quick look around different miniature supply companies. However, looking for 32mm bases, they’re not easily found, aside from GW’s shop.
To compare this to another business outside of gaming, Kuerig, the popular pod coffee company, released the 2.0 version of their coffee makers. While the build of the equipment and quality of product didn’t change, they did modify the coffee maker to only work with pods that had the official Kuerig seal. If you look at Amazon reviews, previous versions of the machines have ratings averaging around four to five stars. Meanwhile, the newer machines are averaging around 2.5 stars or lower. The main reason cited in bad reviews is the pod DRM. Other companies are already working on breaking the DRM code of the new pods, but many customers have made up their minds not to support the new system.
While it’s easy for a Warhammer fan to see this as very anti-consumer, we also need to see it from a business standpoint. These are the actions of a company trying to protect their profits and receive an infusion of profit. Fortunately for the consumer, unlike the Kuerig pod’s DRM, breaking the “DRM” of 32mm bases comes down to spinning up a new mold in manufacturing, so the turnaround time should be quicker. And the first company to get their competing bases to market will, most likely, see a nice profit.
In the end, the players dedicated to the game will rebase their armies and GW will continue with business as normal. However, at some point, even the most dedicated players will move on. The miniature gaming world is full of viable alternatives to Warhammer who would love to eat from the big dog’s bowl. Will this be it? We’ll see. Let us know what you think in the comments.