The company you love to hate

One other thing I find interesting about GW and the people that play their games is the “love/hate” relationship that sometimes gets created amongst fans of the games.

And its important here to distinguish between the games that GW produces and the company since there are people that are fanatical about the games and yet hate the company. Sometimes in equally passionate measures.

The biggest examples of this are, to my mind, Epic and Blood Bowl players. During a relatively enlightened era at GW the company produced Space Marine/Adeptus Titanicus and Blood Bowl. Both of these games have current versions produced (in a rather half-assed manner) by GW but there are probably as many fans of the older versions of the games as there are for the current ones. In fact some gamers went so far as to create unauthorized online versions of Blood Bowl and their own fan created version of Epic in response to GWs lack of support for both of those games.

None of these groups have any great reason to love GW since the company sees fit to cut them loose and stop supporting the games seemingly on a whim. But at the same time both groups exist and continue to create new content because of GW. Both groups rely on the background and settings that GW created and in some sense have been able to continue simply because GW doesn’t care enough or can’t be bothered to sue them for trademark and IP infringement.

Maybe its due to differences in IP and trademark law in the UK but I am not sure that either group of fans would have been able to create and distribute the material they do if they were using material created by American companies. There have been enough examples of US companies suing fans over mods for 3D shooters that it seems a certainty that something like the online Blood Bowl game or NetEpic would have been shutdown by a company more zealous in protecting their IP or required to by more stringent trademark laws.

Now the question as to why a company would ignore a market that is as loyal to a set of games as Epic and Blood Bowl fans are is beyond my ability to even begin to answer. I’m guessing that the sales for each title are a minor fraction of GWs sales from 40K and WFB. Or even, I am lead to believe, BFG. But still, how much money does it really cost to support a niche market? If fans have proven that they want to buy and play games what is it that motivates a company to ignore that market?