If you scan the blogosphere, as I do, you've probably hit upon a couple posts here and there that are pretty darn critical of anything GW does. The Back 40k became, for a while at least, a hub of GW-bashing with certain writers getting vehement about the company. It made me aware of a general feeling of distaste for GW in the community. I started wondering if GW was headed for a major fall.
On top of the community relations problems, there is the increased competition. Lots of new stuff has hit the scene. I love all of it, but if you cruise the web, I think a lot of people assume this increasing interest in other games will make GW go the way of the squats.
However, it has generally been the rule in business that dominant companies stay dominant, even when you'd expect them to not to be under increased competition.
Many companies and brands have shown this pattern. Wrigley's gum, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi have all maintained dominance in the face of increasing competition for decades. We see this in the social strata, with an increasing and large proportion of wealth controlled by a small group of long dominant individuals. Even actors, stars and writers maintain their dominance over time, even with large influxes of new talent.
So will GW maintain its dominance in the face of new competition?
Let's look at some google trends. Since I'm not going to do any serious research on this, google trends will suffice. Its a quick tool for armchair essays like this one. Below is a graph of interest in the search terms 'Games Workshop' in blue and 'Privateer Press' in red.
What it shows is interest in Privateer Press stays low with no change over time. GW's interest is much higher, but shows a steady decline. That might point to losing dominance, but the end result is still a sector dominated by GW. Instead this could show declining interest in wargaming over time.
Let's try another way. I entered the search terms 'Warhammer 40k', this time in red, and 'Warmachine', this time in blue.
Basically the same story. Dominant 40k, but declining interest over time. Warmachine with stagnant low interest over time.
This could mean that GW is eventually going to decline so far, that even Privateer Press will overtake them. But Privateer Press interest has stagnated over time, with little growth in interest on the web. What does this mean?
I think Google Trends is rather limited in what it shows. Does it really demonstrate interest?
I wish we could look at market share over time, but its such a small segment if the economy, there isn't any data on the web. No dice.
Anyone have any information on this?
Lots of people point to the threat of 3D printing. Claiming that people like me will be printing their own models in their basements rather than buying plastic multipose kits from GW. This hasn't happened yet and nothing really shows this trend surfacing at least a little.
It may not ever happen - often times technologies that we expect to be the next big thing often aren't. Take video phones. Nearly every science fiction film showed a regular use of video phones when I was kid. Video phones are here - Skype. But guess what? Non-video phones, still hugely popular.
I think home-based 3D printing will never compare to the convenience and fun of buying and assembling a plastic multipose model. In fact, GW has been using digital design for years and has pretty much established that it carries the gold in plastic kits every year.
Even Malifaux's kits, while very nice, can't compare to GW kits because they don't have personalization. You can't really customize them much. Sadly, GW seems to be producing kits with less-posability lately. GW got it right on the Riptide and Wraithknight, why can't we pose our Imperial Knights?
All in all, what do you guys think? Will GW's dominance persist, or will the increased competition by the likes of Corvus Belli and Privateer Press over take them?