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Games Workshop Goes After Fan Site

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the don't-anger-your-base dept.

Games 174

mark.leaman writes "BoingBoing has a recent post regarding Games Workshop's aggressive posturing against fan sites featuring derivative work of their game products. 'Game publisher and miniature manufacturer Games Workshop just sent a cease and desist letter to boardgamegeek.com, telling them to remove all fan-made players' aids. This includes scenarios, rules summaries, inventory manifests, scans to help replace worn pieces — many of these created for long out of print, well-loved games...' As a lifelong hobby gamer of table, board, card and miniature games, I view this as pure heresy. It made me reject the idea of buying any Games Workshop (read Warhammer) products for my son this Christmas. Their fate was sealed, in terms of my wallet, after I Googled their shenanigans. In 2007 they forbid Warhammer fan films, this year they shut down Vassal Modules, and a while back they went after retailers as well. What ever happened to fair use?"

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No respect for intellectual property... (4, Funny)

puroresu (1585025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280764)

Games Workshop have every right to go after this kind of flagrant IP violation. After all, the company spent countless hours and huge amounts of money inventing orcs, elves, vampires, zombies and dwarves. They should be able to benefit from their creative efforts without some "fan" treating it as if it were in the public domain!

Re:No respect for intellectual property... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30280814)

I hope they don't take away my ability to attack the darkness with Magic Missile.

Re:No respect for intellectual property... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30280976)

It's ironic that you mention Tolkien's invented Goblin-like creatures in the same breath as those ossified archetypes based upon longer tradition.

Surely this is the topic where... (3, Funny)

williamhb (758070) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281088)

Surely this is the topic where the moderation ought to be "+1 Troll".

(And if it's a troll, I'm guessing it's +1 to the strength stat.)

Re:No respect for intellectual property... (2, Funny)

Osinoche (769786) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281276)

Dearest sir. Your use of the terms Orcs, Elves, Vampires, Zombies, and Dwarves is a violation of our IP rights. Please surrender your username immediately for dismissal of a possible law suit. Yours truly Garmes Wokshop

Re:No respect for intellectual property... (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281690)

I knew it! Tolkien was pirating from Games Workshop and Blizzard all along!

Re:No respect for intellectual property... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30281828)

Don't forget that they also invented Space Marines fighting long-headed Aliens in corridors with flame throwers.

Game Workshop's lawyers mostly come at night...mostly

Re:No respect for intellectual property... (5, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282420)

You're joking, right? I can see, MAYBE, on the distributing of scans to keep games in service, but even that pushes the limit when you're talking about games with write-on-and-throw-away tracking sheets.

Games Jerkshop have no love from me on the storefront area either. You know what they do to regular game shops, right? If you want to carry their "product" and have gamedays/tournaments, they demand 60% of your shelf space, have a list a mile long of "competing products" that you have to agree never to stock, insist you carry a certain dollar-amount of product on shelf at all times and never hold a sale.

Then, when YOU the game store have built up the community, they plop down an "Official Games Workshop" store half a mile down the road, undercut you by selling everything at a 10% discount (remember, YOU are contractually obligated not even to hold a sale), and deliberately do their best to put you under so that nobody in the area is selling anything but GW games. Hell, at one point they actually tried to put Reaper Miniatures and D&D Miniatures on their "products you will not sell" list.

I for one think it would be best for the world if Games Jerkshop were to fold tomorrow and their IP scatter to the four winds.

Re:No respect for intellectual property... (3, Informative)

navygeek (1044768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282880)

That whooshing sound you hear is the sarcasm of his post over your head...miles and miles over your head.

Re:No respect for intellectual property... (0, Troll)

jamesbulman (103594) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283288)

I don't get this whining about contracts that have been freely entered into. If it's so bad, why do people (you?) agree to their terms? Just don't sell Games Workshop product, sell something else.

Re:No respect for intellectual property... (2, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283458)

I've seen them kill five stores this way.

The trick is, they have enough of a player base to seem lucrative (and indeed the store sometimes does make money initially)... UNTIL they deliberately undercut you by plopping down the "Official GW" store half a mile down the road.

And unless you know that this is what they're going to do ahead of time (none of the stores did, unfortunately) how would you know not to sign the contract? It "looks like" a great deal. You "look like" you're going to get a product monopoly on a product with known interest within a certain area, steady ability to supply the gamers, all the incentive stuff (prizes, ongoing campaign/tournament support, etc) from GW. For the first 2-3 years, the game stores made money on GW merch.

Then GW smiles broad, stick the knife in your back, and twists. The "Official Games Workshop" store opens up half a mile down the road, and you're stuck holding $40-50k (or more) worth of merch that you can't sell because GW (the same company you signed a contract with!) is undercutting your prices, and cuts you off for prize/tournament support at the same time so you have far less traffic in your store.

What was really hilarious is that after GW did this to the stores, they closed down half of their own. There's only 2 "Official GW" stores left in my area, because the other three were only there long enough to fuck the existing brick-and-mortar stores that stocked "competing" products. Once the stores were dead, GW left too and directed the gamers to the other "Official" stores 10-20 miles away if they wanted to keep playing at all.

Re:No respect for intellectual property... (2, Insightful)

jamesbulman (103594) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283814)

(full disclosure, I worked for GW for a year back in 1995)

I don't disagree that their behavior is shady and underhanded, but if you're signing a contract with all these restrictions surely alarm bells should be going off. It's only sensible then that you should do some research into what you're getting yourself into.

It just sounds like classic selling your soul to the devil for short term gain.

Fair use is a legal right... (4, Insightful)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280778)

meaning you have to fight for it in court which, in the American Legal System means you need to have deep pockets. Most people don't have the cash/want the hassle and so they just fold, even in extremely clear cut cases on their side.

Fortunately, once ACTA passes we won't have to worry about protecting fair use anymore.

Re:Fair use is a legal right... (1)

polle404 (727386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280818)

Fortunately, once ACTA passes we won't have to worry about protecting fair use anymore.

Well, technically we do, but it just won't be OUR fair use anymore...

Re:Fair use is a legal right... (2)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281214)

This doesn't even seem to be fair use to me. It doesn't really fit the criteria. Maybe "teaching" or "research", but you'd have to kinda stretch it – and fight it out in court, as the parent mentioned. Fair use is a lot more specific than "anything I think doesn't hurt them", after all – it, and fair dealing, have quite specific categories that the usage of a copyrighted work must fall into, as well as being fought in court if challenged on the reasoning.

Yes, it's stupid of them (since it's just going to piss off their customer base), but it hardly seems like an incorrect usage of copyright law. Stupid, yes. Unethical, maybe. Incorrect, not likely.

Re:Fair use is a legal right... (3, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281320)

Fair use is a legal right.
This is not fair use.

They're scanning and posting Games Workshop's art, judging from the article, it's all the art relating to games like Space Hulk. They've revived Space Hulk in the past, it's not unthinkable they'll revive it again. Regardless, they're an active company, you don't have the automatic right to almost completely reproduce their work.

They rely on stuff like codexes and boxed games for a large portion of their income. Given the traditional fantasy nature of their products, it's incredibly important they protect their IPs and trademarks.

Think they're over-reacting? Look at Warcraft. That was originally going to be a Warhammer game. Their legal team fell asleep on the job, didn't sign a properly binding agreement and Blizzard decided that they'd just remove the GW branding, give the game a slightly different name and keep all the royalties. To rub salt into the wound, they then released Starcraft which again was more than slightly familiar to GW fans.

Re:Fair use is a legal right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30281758)

There were 4 files that GW's lawyers originally had a problem with. The C&D (which was given right before the holiday weekend) was immediately followed by boardgamegeek.com. When GW saw that their intimidation worked they replied with a blanket take down.
Much of the files were player aids, rules FAQs, and fan created game scenarios.

GW was over-reacting.

Re:Fair use is a legal right... (1)

cafard (666342) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281764)

Think they're over-reacting? Look at Warcraft. That was originally going to be a Warhammer game. Their legal team fell asleep on the job, didn't sign a properly binding agreement and Blizzard decided that they'd just remove the GW branding, give the game a slightly different name and keep all the royalties. To rub salt into the wound, they then released Starcraft which again was more than slightly familiar to GW fans.

They didn't seem to think that kind of things were an issue when they ripped off Aliens to make Space Hulk.

Re:Fair use is a legal right... (2, Informative)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283420)

They recently (as in about 3 months ago) revived Space Hulk with a new edition...

Re:Fair use is a legal right... (2, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281812)

Games Workshop is a British company.

Re:Fair use is a legal right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30282182)

Whilst this is true they do have an American arm and pretty much all of the fan sites that they've hit (possibly actually all of them) have servers based in the US. Hence, afaik, US law would apply in these cases, not UK law.

Talk about Idiots (4, Insightful)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280800)

Talk about Idiots.

I know someone will step in with the proper history... but did you know, Blizzard was originally meant to make Warhammer games for Games Workshop?

After they had a falling out and denied blizzard their IP, blizzard modified it sufficiently and renamed it into Warcraft, releasing the original "Orcs and Humans" game. Needless to say, they've had nothing but the most immense success with Warcraft 2, Warcraft 3, various expansions, and now World of Warcraft and its Expansions. As well as giving it a Sci Fi twist and coming up with Starcraft 1 and 2.

I've always hope Games Workshop was kicking themselves hard over their stupidity for losing blizzard to make their own even more successful franchise when games such as Warhammer Online are a total flop.

But I guess they haven't really learned anything going by their current behaviour.

Re:Talk about Idiots (4, Insightful)

Asmor (775910) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280828)

Giving Warcraft a sci-fi twist?

I think you mean "Doing to Warhammer 40k what they did to Warhammer Fantasy."

It's pretty obvious that Terrans, Zerg and Protoss are analagous to Space Marines, Tyranid and Eldar respectively. They barely even filed off the serial numbers.

Re:Talk about Idiots (1)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281032)

I didn't even know about warhammer 40k :)

But pretty funny if they recreated that too, with more success.

Re:Talk about Idiots (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281072)

From what I've heard (never played the tabletop wargames myself), 40k is more luck-driven and less strategic than fantasy.

It's a reasonably interesting universe, though. Worth looking into if you like sci-fi with a bit of a cthulhoid vibe, even if the people maintaining it are douchebags of the highest order.

Re:Talk about Idiots (2, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281298)

Meh, strategy? I gave up on GW products many years ago, when they figured out that the big money was in selling high priced hero figures, with accompanying game-winning special powers.

You can have fun games of WHFB / 40K / Epic, but they're all horribly open to abuse by anyone who buys to win. I doubt they even playtest most of their stuff any more.

Still, I guess that is actually "strategy", in the resource management sense.

Re:Talk about Idiots (1)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282272)

Then you haven't played 5th ed, where the objectives make the game a hugely tactical game - vastly superior to the attempts in 4th. It isn't "buy to win" - that is an idiotic comment. given that the most expensive hero, Marneus Calgar, is £18 (and you also get 4 vets with him) is also one of the worst, and the rest of the army will cost £150, it isnt "hero hammer" - not by long means. If you really want buy to win then look at MtG, where P9s are costing you a thousand dollars....a card.

You havent played since the days of 4th and 5th ed WHFB at a guess, when it really was herohammer. Not that Hordes / Warmachine seems to do badly, given that hero hammer is what that game is all about....

Re:Talk about Idiots (1, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282516)

Hmm, £168 is cheap? Well, I guess if you enjoy paying money to hang out with little kids then it might have improved. As I said, I bailed when it was pay-to-win, and didn't go back to see if they'd stopped beating their customers. I guess you loved them enough to change them.

Re:Talk about Idiots (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281496)

It's a cool universe (though their fantasy setting was better back in the late '80s) with some really amazingly cool games set in it, which makes it all the more frustrating that the people in charge of it are complete morons.

Re:Talk about Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30281356)

Yes, because xenophobic Giger-esque nightmares all started there. You know, like Tolkien invented Middle earth out of whole cloth.

Oh . . . wait . . .

Re:Talk about Idiots (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281886)

It's pretty obvious that Terrans, Zerg and Protoss are analagous to Space Marines, Tyranid and Eldar respectively. They barely even filed off the serial numbers.

Fortunately for gamers, Blizzard also removed the melodrama when they filed off the serial numbers. In a parallel universe where Blizzard licensed GW's franchises, I don't think their 40K game would have sold as well as StarCraft has based on that alone. I'm not sure it's even possible to create a fictional world more over-the-top than 40K.

Re:Talk about Idiots (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282048)

Blood for the Blood God!

Re:Talk about Idiots (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282690)

Good for the Good God!

Re:Talk about Idiots (4, Interesting)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280842)

Thought I'd add:

Blizzard of course doesn't go after Fan Art, Fan made movies, and even some of the very questionable stuff that goes on over at darknest [darknestfa...rotica.com] (such as model and skin edits in the live game!) not counting all the nude warcraft art.

I'm not a little happy about the way blizzard sometimes reacts (bnetd, glider, etc) but they certainly give their customers and fans a lot of freedom. I wish other companies weren't so bloody stupid. Why hurt your customers?!

Re:Talk about Idiots (4, Informative)

Asmor (775910) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280910)

They don't just give the fans freedom, they very actively encourage fans to use their IP (not for profit, of course). They hold regular contests for Warcraft comic strips, feature fan art on the website which ranges from decent amateur to professional quality, they encourage machinima, and of course they're always giving out loads of references to the community. For example, there's a gnome named Breanni in Dalaran who runs a pet store, and she's a direct reference to the founder and maintainer of warcraftpets.com.

And who can forget their response to the complaints that early Diablo 3 screenshots didn't look dark and gritty enough [destructoid.com] ?

Re:Talk about Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30281862)

Oh? So Blizzard didn't shut down Warcraft 3 mods for resembling their IP? Don't be fooled, Blizzard only wants new content that they can use to promote or sell their products.

Re:Talk about Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30282814)

But if somebody made a warcraft game that directly competed with them, you bet your ass blizzard would be after them. Games workshop makes tabletop game mini, and rules to go with them. If someone starts making their own rules for them, that's a direct competition, and of course they shut it down. It's just like the space hulk computer game they shut down a couple years back: they were relaunching space hulk in a limited edition release, and suddenly someone else gives it away for free, so they told them to knocl it off.
It might seem unfair, but that is actually exactly what these laws were made for.

Re:Talk about Idiots (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281364)

Surely your example proves the need for them to be more aggressive legally rather than more laid back? Bad contract negotiation and being to relaxed and trusting ultimately cost them.

Besides which, WAR, although not huge, is profitable and they're making massive amounts off of the Dawn of War franchise. They've a massive amount of IP to turn into games. Who wouldn't want to see a modern version of Space Hulk with online co-op?

Re:Talk about Idiots (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282764)

WAR, although not huge, is profitable

ORLY? I guess if I kept cutting off my limbs then you'd say I was losing weight successfully [wikipedia.org] ? Technically true, but hardly a strategy of choice.

Re:Talk about Idiots (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283740)

I've always hope Games Workshop was kicking themselves hard over their stupidity for losing blizzard to make their own even more successful franchise when games such as Warhammer Online are a total flop.

I guess you never played the Warhammer 40K : Dawn of War series of games. Relic makes a mean RTS game. They have released several games and expansions while Blizzard has released nothing new in their Starcraft franchise. Starcraft II development is starting to look like Duke Nukem Forever. They have the World of Warcraft cow to milk, but if they don't get their asses into gear, they will get the same destiny as the people who did Everquest.

Wouldn't want that now would we? (3, Insightful)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280850)

Wouldn't want to have people actually using our products now would we? Just keep buying the ones we tell you to buy, or else we'll punish you for not wanting to change to our mindset. It's why I stopped playing D20 games. After 4.0 came out with NO open content, I turned and never looked back. I've always stopped by their stores and thought HOW in heavens they keep afloat. A dedicated shop front for a hobiest game cant be all that efficient. Besides, there's just no way I'd drop that much cash on figurines just to play a game, but then again it's not my kind of hobby. I do play P&P PRGs, after all, and that require quite a bit of pricey dice and books, so who am I to talk? Seeing this now, I'll be pretty glad to see them going out of business soon.

Re:Wouldn't want that now would we? (2, Interesting)

Asmor (775910) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280988)

It's why I stopped playing D20 games. After 4.0 came out with NO open content, I turned and never looked back.

Well, that's certainly stupid.

What exactly do you mean by open content? If you mean you're pissed because they didn't allow people to republish WotC's rules and content verbatim [amazon.com] , then I suppose that's a legitimate concern.

But they certainly have opened 4.0 up, and there are plenty of 3rd party products available for it [rpgnow.com] .

I'm curious, which games do you play, since having an open system is so important? Off the top of my head, the only non-d20 game I can think of which has a semi-open license allowing 3rd parties to publish content is Savage Worlds. And their license [peginc.com] , while free, is relatively restrictive in that you must specifically get permission from them.

If you want to sell your work, you must contact us at PEGShane@gmail.com with your plan and some samples of your work. We'll work with each company on a case-by-case basis. Once we grant your company the license, you can make whatever you want without submitting it for further approval, as long as you follow the guidelines below.

Be aware that we're looking for HIGH production values--meaning great art, trade dress, and professional layout--as much as we are great content.

I think BESM had some kind of license, but that game is long defunct. All the other stuff I can think of (True 20, Mutants & Masterminds, Pathfinder, SpyCraft) are d20-based.

So I can only think of one current, non-d20 RPG with an open license. You've stated that you play RPGs (plural) and that you no longer play d20-based games. You also implied that you only play games with open content, whatever twisted definition you might have for that term. So what are the other games you play?

Re:Wouldn't want that now would we? (1)

hodagacz (948570) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281070)

FUDGE is also OGL compliant, and is definitely not a D20 game.

Re:Wouldn't want that now would we? (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281148)

Didn't know that. I knew of FUDGE, but never looked into it much. Thanks!

Re:Wouldn't want that now would we? (1)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281090)

Eclipse Phase [eclipsephase.com] is under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence. It's also pretty awesome; I bought a nice hardcover, full colour well bound copy. Beats pdf any day, although it's not cheap.

Re:Wouldn't want that now would we? (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281142)

Ah, that's very cool, didn't know that. They actually released their core book as a PDF for free a while ago, though I think that might have been a time-limited offer. The short fiction opening was really good.

All in all, I hope the game and the company do well.

Re:Wouldn't want that now would we? (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282100)


Incorrect. You can buy the PDF, and presumably receive any updates, but you can actually download it legally for free. A friend of mine is running it and sent me a copy (I'd normally decline a copy but this one's legal). And it actually does have a ridiculously fun setting even if you just want to read it. Good luck to the company.

Re:Wouldn't want that now would we? (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281224)

My wording was wrong. I still do play D20 games, mostly D&D 3rd/3.5 and Star Wars occasionally. But I have stopped supporting 4th. I don't even look at 4th stuff cause I won't buy it. I don't need the game and the license repackaged just so that Hasbro can effectively do the same thing GW is doing here if they decide to. They forgot that it was the game worlds like Forgotten Realms that sold the product in the good old days, not the actual D&D game. And by open, I just mean games published under the open game license or something similar. It doesn't have to be completely open for me to play it, although I am in the process of developing my own system while my group plays the above mentioned games or GURPS, which I don't mind and isn't open. Just as long as they aren't douchebags about it like GW is being.

Re:Wouldn't want that now would we? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30281780)

Glad to see my own sentiments in a new voice for a change ;)

You should check out DaemonEye Publishing (www.DaemonEye.net), it is a small mom-and-pop RPG company that is trying to get off the ground. The two main things they focus on are the "Edition pi" variation on the D&D rules, and "Universal Decay" which is their rewritten-for-realism take on d20. I know from experience that they are more than willing to give out copies of works in progress for some playtesting feedback :)

And the quality is pretty good too. More labor-of-love than what you find coming out of Hasbro these days, for good or ill.

Pathfinder RPG, by Paizo (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281962)

A reinterpretation of D&D 3.0/3.5 - I don't recall if it is the exact same OGL that D20 originally used. But it is a mostly open-gaming license. The Pathfinder Bestiary [amazon.com] is currently #4 (bestseller) in Roleplaying Games on Amazon (#4,490 in Books). The Core Rulebook [paizo.com] was in the Top 5 for quite a while as well - but Paizo underestimated demand and it sold out the first print run in August within the first couple weeks.

Re:Wouldn't want that now would we? (1)

800DeadCCs (996359) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282046)

When 4.0 came out, my first thought was "This is a P&P version of a computer RPG"... Specifically, it reminded me of the Baldurs Gate games for PS2.
Then when they pulled all their PDFs, I just said "fuck 'em"... Actually, I'd said "fuck 'em" a while earlier, this time was "fuck 'em and forget 'em".
(Although the writing was on the wall with that one, given how they wanted to do so much with their online system).
I'd like to try out Pathfinder (supposedly an indie 3.5), but can't FIND it in deadtree.

As for the GW shops...
I always get this weird, smiling cultist feeling whenever I've gone into one.
Also wondered how they stay running, and whether the employees apparent enthusiasm might be exploited a bit.
"Hey bob, wanna take a box of orcs home and paint 'em for the shop"?
Maybe every mini purchased helps subsidize the stores.

I've thought about getting back in to 40K, stuff like this story cools me back down again.
I'll keep my Warhammers with 2 PPCs and a SRM6.

Re:Wouldn't want that now would we? (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282692)

I'll keep my Warhammers with 2 PPCs and a SRM6.

Stravag spheroids... Bow before the might of the Clans!

F'ed over the RPG crowd too (2, Interesting)

Asmor (775910) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280866)

A while back there was much gnashing of teeth in the RPG community because GW's book publishing arm, Black Industries, decided to cancel the RPG (which, by most accounts, had a reasonable level of popularity and success) so they could focus on the novels. This came right around the time I was tentatively getting into Warhammer, and after they did this I went to the GW store at the local mall and asked the manager there to relay the message to his corporate overlords that they'd lost a customer over there actions. And before you start yelling at me, I was polite and I know it wasn't his fault; I just felt that was the best way for me to personally send a message.

Then a few weeks (or months?) later, Fantasy Flight Games got the license to produce the Warhammer RPGs. Of course, by then I'd already gotten the WH bug out of my system. Which in retrospect was good, since the GW store actually shut down not too much later, meaning if I had gotten into it I wouldn't have had a place to play anyways. /Cool story, bro

Re:F'ed over the RPG crowd too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30280954)

Same for me, I used to be a really enthusiastic warhammer fan at some point, these days the only thing I still buy are the novels, because those are sometimes really awesome. But the rest could go to hell as far as I care, this company has proven time and again that they don't care one bit about their fans, customers and even their own employees, and a company like that just should not survive.

Re:F'ed over the RPG crowd too (2, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281064)

I used to be involved in WarHammer table-top games. The books never did much for me, but the tabletop game was great. I never owned my own stuff; always played with a friend who had quite a lot, so I never needed to.

Well, he moved away at some point, and I decided that I should get some of my own stuff. That ended very quickly when I found out just how much I had to pay for a single piece of cheap, unpainted plastic.

Re:F'ed over the RPG crowd too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30282936)

I'm really glad Fantasy Flight took over the RPG. I got to play the new "Dark Heresy" Warhammer 40k RPG last year (with one of the guys that made it) and it was great. There's a new one ("Rogue Trader") out soon/now and I'd like to check it out also. No miniatures, no foam carving, just a book, a couple dice, and some sheets of paper. Go FF! Boo GW!

Warhammer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30280904)

Never heard of it.

Re:Warhammer? (3, Funny)

polar red (215081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280944)

I would've replied 'where did you live the past decades ? in your basement ?' but ...

The downward spiral. (1)

netpixie (155816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280922)

This isn't too much of a surprise, GW are notorious for not really understanding all this crazy new "internet" crap. Indeed, they've only recently put up a website that isn't total rubbish (although it is close).

"What, people are talking about our products, unshackled by our munificent control? Sue them to buggery!"

Yet another staggering own goal that further tarnishes a once great company. Bankruptcy cannot be far away unless they hire at least one person who actually uses the internet.

Re:The downward spiral. (0)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281472)

Aren't Games Workshop owned by Hasbro anyway? Hasbro being one of the most sue-happy companies on the planet for this sort of thing?

Re:The downward spiral. (1)

Terminus32 (968892) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281544)

Such a shame...I had a lot of respect for that company & it's products until I read this.

Re:The downward spiral. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30281818)

Nope, they're not owned by Hasbro. They are, however, run by a solicitor...

Re:The downward spiral. (2, Informative)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281924)

You're thinking of Wizards of the Coast, publishers of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering.

How The Legal Dept Works. (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30280998)

1. Roll 12-sided dice and get above 20, release Warhammer under Creative Commons license.
2. Roll 12-sided dice and get below 20, go after fan sites.

Re:How The Legal Dept Works. (1)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283482)

You are joking, right? The only dice GW understand are D6's, D10's (for WFRP and DH) and scatter dice...

Open Source Gaming (3, Interesting)

Dartz-IRL (1640117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281000)

How long before somebody finally gets frustrated and motivated enough a GNU project for wargames? Call it OpenWarfare, and start with the basic Tenant of the Free Earth Federation,-v- The Corporate Aquilan Empire. Then build from there. All the IP is open, the ruleset is open and independent of any miniatures line. If anybody wants to add to the IP pool,. they can... provided they allow others to make changes. If anybody wants to sell compatible miniatures, they can. Sourcebooks.... Even build their own proprietary IP universe on top of the ruleset if they want.

How long?

Probably never, but it'd be a cool idea.

Damn... I might have to give it a go over Xmas.

Re:Open Source Gaming (1)

puroresu (1585025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281080)

I made a preliminary start on something along those lines - a minimalistic set of rules for skirmish scale games. I intended to use it for modern-ish scenarios, WWII onward, and had no races or classes, just standard troops, elite troops and a small handful of artillery and vehicle units (mortar, heavy machine gun, anti-tank gun, armoured car, tank).

The objective was fast play with no need to continuously reference rulebooks or cheat sheets.

Gave up on it due to the lack of people to playtest with.

Re:Open Source Gaming (1)

Dartz-IRL (1640117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281166)

It could still be done, mind. Hardest part is having stuff to playtest with alright, because there's a need two full armies at least to do it. Which is more work.

If there was a need to get just a rulesset working, maybe a simple compatibility layer so "another miniatures company's" large selection of army books can work with the system. It wouldn't be perfect, and that in itself would never be distributable, but it'd work to get the rules right. Once the rules were right, then add the background. Let others add background and races... and anything that meets the standards demanded (And isn't a knockoff of GW's IP) gets the holy penguin pee treatment.

Thing is... it sounds easy on paper.... but it really would be a hell of a lot of work.

Re:Open Source Gaming (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281324)

And there's the rub. Wargaming is a dying hobby, and GW stores are the only place for youngsters to get into it. They're the hope for the future.

Yes, we're doomed.

Re:Open Source Gaming (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281548)

There is nothing stopping you from doing this, but I'd have to say: Making up a whole gaming system is hardly trivial or easy to accomplish, particularly trying to balance out all of the aspects of the game so that it is just complicated to keep smart people interested, letting folks of...er... lesser intellect to also enjoy the game in some aspect, and to keep the "arms race" under control so you don't have to introduce god-like creatures just to provide a minor challenge.

In the process of coming up with a game system like this, if it is good enough, it would also be worth a fair amount of money. So tell me.... how is somebody who comes up with this system going to be compensated for their effort and time for designing such a system? If you have put enough effort and have tested the gaming system enough that it is pretty well balanced that it can compete with the major role playing game systems, the siren call of commercial profits is hard to resist.

BTW, even if you could come up with a system like this that is fairly well balanced, the next trick is to somehow get the mindshare of the gaming public interested in the game enough to start creating other content for that gaming system. That isn't trivial either.

This said, if you are still not discouraged at this prospect and really want to create a collaboratively designed game based on the model of a GNU project, you can head over to Wikia [wikia.com] and set up a wiki based on this concept or go to one of several other wiki hosting services including perhaps the Free Software Foundation and seeing if you might get support from them to help with hosting the servers.

I've seen other attempts to get something like this to work out. I had a friend of mine actually go through the effort on the commercial side and even got the basic rulebook published. While he did enjoy some minor commercial success, it was not a trivial thing to even go from published material and try to get the mindshare of enough players to be able to devote the full time effort it takes to get the game improving from that point on.

Seriously though, if you get past these obstacles and get even the fundamentals of a gaming system together that would work with open source principles and have something you think is worth the effort.... let me know! I might contribute to the effort as well.

Re:Open Source Gaming (1)

Dartz-IRL (1640117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281620)

I was discouraged from doing it long before posting that comment because I know it'll be a pain to do. The only way it could be done is, initially, as a free-time hobby. It's not something to be done for commercial or technical intent.... there's no way in hell you'd make money off it.

I was looking at Linux, and wondering how long before something like that comes out of left field, before someone posts on some gaming forum "Hey, I knocked up this ruleset in my spare time as a hobby" with a link to a PDF file. Of course, then I remember that Linux itself doesn't really have that big of a mindshare....

It is *possible* to do, that's all I wanted to say... I never said It wouldn't be a metric fucktonne of work.

Re:Open Source Gaming (2, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281588)

I'm reliably informed by the colleague sitting next to me, that there are "loads" of free wargame and RPG rules out there.

I Googled, and he's right. Sample hit: http://www.miniaturewargaming.com/index.php/mwg/category/Rules%20Universal/ [miniaturewargaming.com]

Do we have the technology for Open Source miniatures to work? It's certainly easy enough to make a lossy reproduction of a suitably designed miniature, by making a mould and melting some lead. 3D printing could become mainstream soonish. It just needs enough people to be interested.

Re:Open Source Gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30282034)

Can we say Google Wave?

Re:Open Source Gaming (1)

Gauthic (964948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282614)

I tried such a project almost a year ago to get people interested in and working on such a system, but I've both lost free time to work on it, and I've not seen any interest over the Internet.

http://www.openwargaming.com/ [openwargaming.com] if you're interested.

Re:Open Source Gaming (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282664)

Game design is all about statistics. I hope you're good with calculating probabilities, bud. Balance is paramount.

Re:Open Source Gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283544)

"Balance is paramount."

I hear this a lot, but the queen is much stronger than the pawn and yet chess remains popular. Balance is only paramount when the sides are not equal.

Re:Open Source Gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283720)

having made a gaming system (thus posting ac) I have to say, This Ain't Easy.

good luck! and I'll try it out and contribute, time allowing, but it takes more than a weekend to even build a halfway decent framework

Space Hulk (4, Interesting)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281128)

BGG's game ranking charts are quite influential in the board-gaming world. A lot of local hobby stores have them up on the wall as a quick guide to some excellent games. Until quite recently, Games Workshop's new edition of Space Hulk was in the top ten games. It's now dropped to number 170.

Well, I guess that's what happens when you value greed more than public relations or your fan base (although BGG isn't really oriented towards GW's bread-and-butter of miniatures wargaming).

Re:Space Hulk (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281394)

Space Hulk is currently sold out. The reason it's dropped down the charts is because people can't buy it. I'd say the game is doing fine.

Re:Space Hulk (2, Informative)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281678)

You're wrong.

It went from #7 to #170 in 3 days following the cease and desist. It had nothing to do with availability and everything to do with the reaction to Game Workshop's actions.

Re:Space Hulk (1)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282328)

And you'[re misinformed (a more polite way of saying "you're wrong") - space hulk was a limited run and they are not reprinting.

given that you cant buy it new any longer it would struggle to stay high in the sales charts, doncha think?

Re:Space Hulk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30282590)

And you'[re misinformed (a more polite way of saying "you're wrong") ...

No he is not. The Top 100 of boardgamegeek have a quite a few out-of-print items and getting a reprint isnt changing the position much (it is even possible to go down, because it is not a rarity anymore). Some games might even get a reprint _because_ of their high ranking. Examples: Up-Front, We the People, Republic of Rome, Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage ...

Re:Space Hulk (2, Informative)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283350)

I'm not misinformed about this. The discussion didn't have anything to do with any sales chart. It was the game ranking on boardgamegeek.com which is based on how well liked a game is, not how well it is or was selling.

I know very well that the game was limited print run, I made sure to pick up a copy before it sold out.

abigsmurf is wrong about why it fell on the game rankings chart. The game was #7 three days ago which was already well after most places have sold out. Had it not been for the cease and desist, it would have remained highly ranked for quite some time.

Re:Space Hulk (1)

Hydian (904114) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281698)

BGG's rankings system has nothing to do with availability. The fact is that Space Hulk nosedived on the charts because people pulled or changed their good ratings in protest over the C&D letter.

Re:Space Hulk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30281718)

No, the reason that it's dropped down the charts is because around 250 users have rated the game a 1 in protest at GW's antics. The games chart over on BGG is nothing to do with sales and everything to do with user ratings of how much they like playing the games.

Re:Space Hulk (0, Troll)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282552)

So in other words people are purposefully lying?

Good to know who is trustworthy and who isn't.

Scanning art you dont own the right sto and expect to get a C&D.

Re:Space Hulk (1)

DreadFuzzy (1690572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283072)

Not at all. As said the ratings are a measure of how much a person enjoys the game and wants to play it. A fair number of people no longer want to play the game due to the way GW handled all of this, therefore rating it a 1 at this point in time is entirely reasonable (and people can update their rating whenever they wish). Note that no one at the site is disputing that GW has a right to protect their IP, they're just incensed at the ham fisted and customer unfriendly way that they went about it. Personally I just dropped my rating entirely rather than engaging in protest rating (which I feel devalues the rating system whilst not actually achieving much of anything.)

Re:Space Hulk (0, Redundant)

phiwum (319633) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282062)

as well as about 10 pages of solid fluff for the Iron Kingdoms,

I have nothing to add. I just like saying "solid fluff".

Solid fluff. Solid fluff. Solid fluff.

Solid fluff.

GW (3, Informative)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281194)

GW have become the biggest problem in Wargaming, their game systems are terrible and their approach to making profits is "Jack up prices to make up for less customers". They keep releasing new editions which dumb the rules down and then they release army rulebooks where there is no balance (in Fantasy there are 3 tier 1 armies, you play 1 or you lose to them, in a game of 15 factions or so), but little kids buy into GW as the gateway drug. They are only just starting to release nice models, but you need so many of them it becomes insanely expensive to build any sort of real army.

If you're a wargamer and wish to play a good game and support a good company then get into Warmachine/Hordes. It's a more mature game with better quality miniatures, with balanced rules and a company that supports it's fans. Privateer press are updating to a MKII version for January, in doing so they have released the rules for every model and the main rulebook for MKII for free on PDF. They also consider fan feedback in balancing things, they are currently running a fieldtest for the beta rules for Hordes MKII, fans get to play the game and they can give feedback on how to buff/nerf a model if they wish. PP take this into consideration and did fix issues with Warmachine MKII models.

Privateer also support their game systems. They started out making D20 books but moved onto Wargaming (and now boardgames) and intend to return to the roleplaying side of things where possible, but in their bi-monthly Magazine you will always find 5 pages dedicated to a new scenario for the roleplaying, as well as about 10 pages of solid fluff for the Iron Kingdoms, some examples are alchemist guilds famous through out the land to how humans discovered magic and the secret society that grew up from that. To supplement this, their roleplaying books are now out of print, so they have put them up as PDFs for people to download from several E book sites.

Privateer press are not perfect and maybe in the future they will become the new GW, but as a wargamer I am happy to support a company that tries to support the community around it. One example that sticks out in my mind is there was a new faction released recently, on the forums people were discussing what their robots were made out of, no one was quite sure and one guy requested some official word. 20 minutes later the lead writer had posted with at least an A4 page's worth of text explaining every possible detail you could wish on the subject. PP isn't a small company and yet it's staff members still do things like this and get "into the trenches" with the fans.

Disclaimer : I play PP games, I don't work for them in any way. I dislike GW because I see what a mess they make and yet they keep selling people their personal brand of crack, which restricts the wargaming industry and does more harm than good in general.

Re:GW (3, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281842)

They keep releasing new editions which dumb the rules down

I keep hearing this, but I got into 40K on the second edition (first if you don't count Rogue Trader) and it was an unplayable mess if you went in with more than a dozen miniatures and two players. It was a great skirmish game as Necromunda showed but it was an utter dog in the large-scale games it was originally designed for. Dumbing down the rules to allow actual strategic play instead of 2 hours of dice rolling per turn was essential. That was accompanied by a shift towards good, cheap, plastic miniatures for army-building (likewise in Fantasy Battle), which hugely improved the ability to actually build an army. I got out shortly afterwards, but from what I can see, GW's games are cheaper and more playable than they've ever been. That's not to say that they're cheap, or playable, but they're a sight better than they were in my day.

Re:GW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30282188)

True, second edition was a horrible mess. Not only were the games horribly overcomplicated and took a whole day to resolve for even small battles, the game would also always be dominated by special characters that were ridiculously overpowered (hence the term "Herohammer 40k" for that edition). The third edition actually made the game playable. However, the shift to cheaper plastic miniatures was offset by an inflation in army size and the need to include more horribly expensive vehicle kits. And after that, every new edition (that actually changed very little about the core rules) was only designed to force you to restructure your armies and buy more miniatures.

Re:GW (2, Informative)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282680)

Huh?

GW keep wargaming alive, as they bring in new players. Hence the term "Gateway drug" - PP would die a death as it tends to attract people who already play WG. THey also have the money to invest and actually innovate - like the washes, foundation paints, full 3D rendering and production of HIGH cost plastic moulds (you say they are "cheaper plastics" - only once you have paid for the mould, at £30k per avg sprue, £90k for the Baneblade sprues. Still think theyre cheap? Or you still talking out of your arse?) - that PP et al cannot hope to match. Never mind the gaming boards, spray paint that actually undercoats without losing detail (noticed how the non-GW has changed recently? GW have licensed this out...) and without streaking / bobbling, and the other innovations. they don't do everhything perfectly (seriously, vac formed blast scapes? Thats worthy of a lesser company, they moved from vac form crap years ago for everything else) - least of which is writing a tight set of rules witihni every army book. However they stilld o far more good for the community?

"Keep releasing new editions" - once every 6 years? Care to supply how many Warmachine versions there have been in the last 5 years, and how many reprints? Oh wait, that would undermine your point! PP is also 1/3rd owned by GW....

They have also stated they write *1* FAQ to avoid the horrible mess you had in the past. But again, you dont know that, or choose not to mention this as it undermines your point. Again.

40k 5th ed is a vastly more tactical game than warmachine or 4th ed 40k, yet you won't know this. You jsut claim, without proof, that the game has been dumbed down - yet I was 12 when I picked up 2nd ed, and 12year olds pick up 5th ed now. The exact same market has been targetted for the last 20years, ever since retail opened - or are you too /. ignorant to understand that?

Disclaimer - I don't work for GW, my bd used to and left because, sadly, the people side of GW is run atrociously. However the quality of the miniatures has never been higher (waiting for Blancheites to counter, to which the counter is look at new skaven, theyre modelled off original artowrk...) and the actual products they sell are very high quality.

While we are mentioning fan projects GW shut down (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30281228)

Might as well mention the fan-made video game Space Hulk ... former Space Hulk that is. After getting threatened by GW and stalled for a long time they apparently pulled a Blizzard and rebranded the game with their own scenario.

It's called Alien Assault now: http://teardown.se/ No more free PR for Games Workshop I guess. Instead, lots of negative publicity all around gaming sites :D

Lesson of TSR (3, Interesting)

markov23 (1187885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30281994)

We used to have a company called TSR that behaved this way -- they sued all of the their fans that tried to keep D&D alive and didnt understand the economics of this type of community. When wizards got the license -- regardless of all of the harping on this forum about them -- they embraced this type of community and created the OGL. Their discussion with publishers was we can either fight over each piece off the pie or try and make the pie bigger. It was a completely different approach and it worked amazingly well. GW will figure that out at some point -- or go away like TSR. GW has every right to protect their ip -- it is theirs and they spent a lot of money developing it -- it just may be bad business to go about it the way that they are. And Im sure ill get abused for this next comment -- but with all of the slamming of wizards in this forum about them not being open -- you are confusing open for free. Open is important for the community -- free is not. If free is the most important aspect of a gaming system -- stay away from rpgs -- I play them and I want professional content created by talented people -- and those people like to get paid.

Re:Lesson of TSR (2, Interesting)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283166)

Of course, the company that invented the OGL has now abandoned it.

Which means one of two things. Either they have learned the opposite lesson -- opening your IP is not good for profits -- or every generation of managers forgets the lessons learned by the ones that came before.

Either way, it doesn't look good for GW's future.

Re:Lesson of TSR (2, Insightful)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283600)

Of course, the company that invented the OGL has now abandoned it.

My gut feeling tells me the abandonment of OGL was Hasbro's doing, not WotC's. Hasbro is the type of company that isn't concerned about people actually using the products for anything at all, just that people shut up and pay for that stuff. (And yeah, I'm feeling a bit weird defending WotC, who itself believed in gutting money from people with their cardboard crack. =)

But yeah, I'm fairly certain that somewhere, somehow, there was a change in management and a new boss forgot to figure out all good things that the old boss had done right. And in GW's case, those who forget the history are doomed to repeat it.

GW's new line of business (1)

5150 (220845) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282146)

Unfortunately GW seem to spend more time putting the legal smack down on fans than they do producing gaming material, I'd say the tabletop battles come in second against the court room battles.

An unfortunate side effect of their popularity has been a sad slide to high prices, less innovation (just the same army's rules regurgitated for the new rule system that wasn't really needed anyway) and rehashing the same figures to try and get the kids to keep buying to stay 'cool'

Personally I'm still gaming with my Rogue Trader era beakie/womble marines I've had for years and only tend to get new staff when once-in-a-blue-moon a new army comes out that seems worth collecting. But I also tend to get my newer stuff off eBay now anyway rather than pay their high street prices!

A new motto? (1)

garg0yle (208225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282198)

Games Workshop - good games that cost too much.

I never understood why they keep letting Space Hulk go out of print, then bringing it back, then letting it go out of print. The third edition is very "pretty" (nice sculpts on the figures), but apparently it basically sold out in record time and GW said "We're not making any more".

It's like they have a license to print money, say "Nah, we have enough", but then won't let anyone else have any?

Typical Games Workshop (1)

Carik (205890) | more than 4 years ago | (#30282444)

I started playing Warhammer in about 1995, and have played off and on since then. In that time, they've modified the background on most of the world they ripped off... er, created so much that a lot of the original miniatures and rules no longer work. They've also introduced, with great fanfare, and then eliminated a whole lot of games. What are some of GW's best games? Mordheim (discontinued), BloodBowl (discontinued, though I expect it will come back now they've got a computer version), Battlefleet Gothic (discontinued)... there's also Space Hulk, WarMaster, Epic 40K, Inquisiter, and others, all released, pushed until they got popular, then canceled. THAT was why I gave up on GW.

I'm much more interested in small skirmish-type games than army-based games, and every time GW created one, they waited until they'd gotten a lot of new players hooked, then shut them down. All just part of a plan to get people over to WH and 40K.

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