Wednesday, December 16, 2009

17DEC09 Games Workshop Killing Fanboys off?! From SA to ST!

A shameless plug for my weekly webcomic... A fairly rare twice a week post this week, containing gaming commentary as opposed to political commentary!

Figured I'd do an editorial about entertainment this time for a Thursday Special! Luckily I don't watch TV so I'll rarely mention TV programing (unless its old and I watch it on DVD without commercials...). One of my favorite hobbies is wargaming, and in this case its table top wargaming in the Science Fiction genre with Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000. Sadly, the Games Workshop has sent out their legal department on a Witch Hunt (pun intended for WH fans...) on a grand scale! Nobody really expected that the Inquisition would come down this hard on the fanboys! Understandably, there is some violation of copyrights that do indeed need to be addressed by the Cease and Desist letters. However, they've gone overly obnoxious in enough cases to leave anyone making 'fan art' nervous. Where will Games Workshop draw the line between protecting IP legitimately (by ensure the rules and supplement information critical to the game and their bottom line are protected) and going overboard by shutting down fan created content (possibly someones eBay/online auction store as they liquidate their miniatures, or online galleries containing fan generated artwork)? Recently one of the biggest sites dedicated to good ol' fashioned board and table top games was hit by the GW Legal Inquisition's latest C&D letters, Boardgame Geek. Obviously many fans reacted rather rashly prior to the full scope of the letter being published. Luckily Seth Owen at the blog Pawnderings is a good logical gamer who chronicled these events the last few months (hence all the links to his blog posts...) and came out with the best Lessons Learned statement about the event addressing both sides of the issue.

I'm a fan of Games Workshop. From my perspective here in Fairbanks Alaska where you only see Warhammer 40,000 or War Machine games in any quantity, I feel they've done a lot to keep the table top miniature game world afloat. Too many companies are going to cheap vinyl pre-painted miniatures with little regard for scale while GW has diversified from mostly pewter to loads of injection molded figures with better sculpting and detail. However, they come at great cost (to my modest budget!), and now they act in a rather rash manner themselves protecting their IP?! I enjoy the simplicity of the rules and the system, and am absolutely impressed with their Lord of the Rings line of product (George Lucas, you'd better pay attention...), but with this aggressive legal action against the fans, the very foundation of games, in this economy?! I suspect its only a matter of time before they end up going the way of TSR which used similar tactics during the infancy of the Internet... Where is TSR? Wizards of the Coast did a great deed and put Dungeons and Dragons back on top, and not just by re-vamping it with the D20 system, but by having an Open Gaming License that allowed other publishers and fans to produce material. Hmm... Sounds solid. Fan support has also kept many abandoned games alive, some may even see revival in a better economy, check out Dwarfstar Games and Warp War. While not terribly impressive at first, its amazing what a little fan loyalty will do for some games... At least keep them alive. If a company treats the fans right, their product could live on forever on the Internet... But thats too high minded of an ideal sometimes... Even if it means losing even more money while trying to recover 'lost profits' for a miniature game by hammering down on images on the Internet!


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