TGN’s Enrico Nardini takes a look at Games Workshop’s latest digital marketing push: Warhammer: The App.
Games Workshop is combating their stock exchange woes with an aggressive implementation of new strategies. We have seen a number of bundle deals on miniatures that actually represent a net savings on the per model cost (almost unheard of in recent memory), the rerelease of popular IP (such as Space Hulk), and an aggressive release schedule providing consumers with a plethora of product options. The latest attempt to “right the ship” comes in the form of a new app (application) for the iPhone.
Warhammer: The App is designed to provide Games Workshop fans with a direct link to news, previews, and other content. The description of the app promises exclusive previews and samples, as well as new, free content.
I downloaded Warhammer: The App on my iPad. It’s technically an iPhone app, but these often work similarly on the iPad (though image resolution can be an issue). The app allows you to scroll through a number of news items. Filtering content is easy. You can choose to receive news from 6 feeds, divided by category. The categories include White Dwarf, Games Workshop, GW Digital Editions, Forge World, Black Library, and Apps & Games. You can also separate content to show you all items or simply the ones you have not read.
The vast majority of content are advertisements for new products. This comes in forms varying in blatancy from links to pre-order a new product to audio samples of the latest radio drama. All the news items appear to work correctly, sending you to the GW, Forge World, Black Library, or iTunes stores respectively. The audio drama clips play as they should, but they are quite short (the “extended” clip was only a bit over 4 minutes).
All-in-all, I found the experience to be quite disappointing. My biggest gripe is the quality and amount of the “free content.” By that, I mean content that is free and complete. I’ll admit, I’m not the prime customer for custom wallpapers. I simply find most of them to be incredibly distracting, making my desktop appear to be a jumbled mess. That’s not a productive environment in my line of work.
The only other thing I would characterize as actual free content is the painting guide for Vraesque Malidrach. The painting guide is 52 pages and was originally featured in Raiders of Commorragh. Whether that counts as “new” is up to debate. It’s a detailed step-by-step painting guide, covering both color choice and application. The photography and instruction are of sufficient quality, though you will have to do some color matching if, like me, you tend to use other lines of paint.
I struggle with this product. My initial impression is quite negative. It’s not something I see myself using very often. I don’t directly order GW product, choosing instead to favor my local game store (where I play), and as of the writing of this, that is the majority of the content. However, Warhammer: The App is brand new, and there may indeed be more quality free content in the works.
Am a judging a free iPhone app too harshly? That’s for you, the reader, to decide. I would argue that this product is currently choking on its own advertisement. Don’t get me wrong; I acknowledge that, that is the point its existence. But, I see this is an exchange. You get to directly market to me; I get cool free content to make my experience with your product better. There is currently way too much of the former and not nearly enough of the latter to make it worth it for me.
Games Workshop continues to struggle with digital content. Whether it’s the price of digital books, the unwillingness to allow audiobooks to be sold via iTunes, or the apparent dismissal of other popular content providers from Amazon to Android, GW’s first steps towards modernization have been stumbles (disregarding other companies utilizing their IP to make video games). We’ll have to see if they can recover, and get back into the digital race.