Battlefront have announced that from the beginning of 2013 you can only play in their "The Flames of War Hobby" tournaments if your armies are solely composed of their figures/models. They give a number of reasons for this*:
- it costs them $250k per year to run the events that they run currently (and next year they are more than doubling the number of events they run)
- that players must show loyalty to them by buying only their products and not the cheaper/better quality/both products of competitors
- that "The Flames of War Hobby" players "owe" them
- using other companies' products in their tournaments hurts their business
- that "lots of players" have complained that opponents with non-BF figures/models is ruining their experience of "The Flames of War Hobby"**
- that 15mm WWII wargaming is apparently their sole IP
- that their company built the demand for 15mm WWII wargaming, nobody else, nobody gamed WWII before BF came along, 15mm didn't exist before BF came along....
* I may have exaggerated some of these! (but they are based on what their senior guys actually posted)
** it transpires that the "lots of players" was in fact just the one; that he is a senior staffer with Battlefront; the implication is that he simply didn't like losing to someone who was using non-BF products.
This announcement has, quite predictably caused a massive backlash against them on their own forum (600+ posts and still going) and many other forums (at least 3 threads on TMP). They really seem to have shot themselves in the foot with this decision and handled the announcement incredibly badly.
Now, who does this decision actually affect? Well, if it is limited to just the events that they professionally run (according to pretty much everyone they do so much more expensively and a heck of a lot worse than events organised by local clubs), then maybe 10% of the players that attend those events would need to spend a little bit to make their armies tournament-legal. As probably only 1% of FoW players attend their events, that means that they are somehow hoping that 0.1% of their customer base will make purchases that will cover their (current) $250k costs of putting the events on. however, if the FoW forum is anything to go by, it would seem that the number of players attending their events will plummet drastically. Others who don't play in tournaments have stated that they won't be buying any more BF products.
It does look as though BF have shot themselves in the foot with this and are likely to see their sales and profits drop significantly. Certainly they have lost much of the goodwill they have built up over the years and many players who were actively promoting the rules and growing the player base won't be doing so in future.
None of this affects me as I don't play Flames of War, and had no plans to do so.
Field of Glory
Slitherine also made an announcement yesterday, also provoking a predictable degree of nerd-rage. Their long-awaited V2 rules for Field of Glory: Ancient and Medieval will be released only as a computer app (versions for Windows, UNIX and Apple) which you won't be able to print anything out from! Whilst this would make it easier to provide updates to correct errata or add army lists, it does mean that players who wish to use the rules will have to:
a) already own an appropriate mobile computing device, or buy one if they want to use the rules
b) have access to power sockets (I would look up the rule, but my battery has run out....)
c) ensuring they regularly "synch" any computers they have loaded the software onto
d) check that they and their opponent are both on the same version
e) somehow read through the rules very, very, very carefully every time there is an update to see what exactly has changed
f) if tournament players, have to take expensive mobile computing device to tournaments as well as their armies, terrain, accessories etc
Oh, and they won't provide the rules as a PDF. They also don't appear to have even considered using a print-on-demand publisher.
On their site they have listed (outlines) of the changes they have made, most of which make very good sense and should help eliminate some of the "gamier" armies that people have developed for tournaments (eg the "Dominate Roman Swarm").
This one does potentially affect me as I do play FoG:AM as do most of the ancients players at CLWC. Several of them are regular tournament players who would need to upgrade to continue playing in FoG tournaments, which in turn would mean that others at the club would need to upgrade to be able to give them practice games. Alternatively, we could just stick with the V1 hard-copy rules and apply the V2 changes or swithc game systems at the club and for the tournaments they/we attend.
So what do these 2 announcements have in common:
- same day
- seem designed to hack off their existing player base
- demonstrate bad business sense - the main part of their customer base are older, wealthier and more savvy about competitors' products and have the ability to vote with their feet and wallets. GW may have a captive audience (indeed, the Evil Empire of Nottingham seem to have based their business model around 95+ % of their player-base starting at age 12 and quitting at age 16; ie teenagers who are unaware of any alternatives)
I guess time will tell how these decisions work out for both companies
I didn't get any painting done yesterday as I was feeling really crap from my cold. I'm a bit better tonight, so I might get some done - will post pics tomorrow if there's anything to show you.