Fanatic changes a portent?

So by now you’ve probably read about the upcoming changes to Fanatic Games. The quick summary is that Fantic is being shut down and all games handled by Fanatic will be supported online and have future development handled “in-house” by the existing GW development teams.

Teams that are already quite busy with 40K and Warhammer Fantasy.

What is known for certain is that Fanatic Magazine will stop publication at around issue #10 and that new miniatures for games like Epic and Necromunda will slow to a “trickle”. While this isn’t that big an issue for systems such as Necromunda and BFG it does, to a large extent, probably spell the death of Epic. At least in terms of it increasing its audience and expanding the pool of Epic gamers.

One really has to wonder what the problem was and why GW has decided to take this step. I think an answer can, to a greater extent, be found in the Chairman’s Preamble to the 2004 Financial Results where company chairman Tom Kirby states:

I believe the culture of the business is founded on these things… Management who put the business first“.

GW makes decisions based on what is good for the business and the shareholders of GW. And if those decisions are also good for gamers then that is an added bonus. But as long as the company continues to turn a profit it will do what it thinks will maximize profits and if those decisions turn out to be bad for gamers then… well too bad.

The sad fact is that despite the success of Specialist Games (and I can’t see that it wasn’t anything other than a success) GW can afford to alienate all of the Specialist Games customers because we are a small fraction of the people that buy 40K, Lord of the Rings and Warhammer Fantasy figures and accessories.

Someone at GW made a decision that Fanatic wasn’t as profitable or that the resources spent there could be spend to better effect elsewhere. Perhaps on another MMPORG? Either way, Fanatic is now dead and while I am sure that while the games and figs that are currently in stock and in the pipeline will get support I can’t really see new Epic figs or Necromunda warbands getting a lot of attention at GW.

All in all the decision has left a rather bad taste in my mouth and while I am willing to spend the next few months giving GW the benefit of the doubt its going to take a bit for me to believe that this is anything other than the consolidation of the company into a few larger more profitable game lines.

Ultimately as annoyed and saddened as I am for myself and my gaming compatriots I am truly saddened by the possible effect that this will have on Jervis who must be rather disappointed by the response all of his rather exceptional work has garnered from GW. Jervis and the team at Fanatic have put out a considerable amount of figs and new material (editing issues aside :-) and its disappointing to see that effort “rewarded” with such a shitty decision on the part of GW.

So a hearty “thank you” to Jervis and the crew at Fanatic. I hope that the future is bright for them and that they can continue to produce games they actually enjoy and feel proud of.

And now I’m off to find a few game companies that are operated for the benefit of their customers and not their shareholders.