So, it’s official. The CEO of Games Workshop is moving on. Again. He’s tried to leave before. Teh internets are abuzz with the news, for better or worse. The haters are flipping out and many of them are pointing out what they perceive as insults leveled at them and the American legal system.
Read Tom Kirby’s statement for yourself, if you haven’t yet.
What does this mean for the future of the company? Hard to say. It’s not like he’s been very popular with gamers, who perceive him to be too business-oriented (no surprise there, Games Workshop is a very big company) to the detriment of the hobby. I don’t know that much about him, but from his statement he seems to know his stuff and have a pretty relaxed attitude. He’s explained how they’ve laid the foundations for the future profitability of the company.
The statement is to the investor’s, of course, so there’s some biz speak in there but it’s not too bad. My company uses way more jargon than this and our CEO is pretty edgy. Whether you agree with what Kirby says or not, I think it’s fair to say that it’s refreshing to hear him address some of the looming concerns over the future of the miniatures business: 3D printing and IP protection.
He seems to think that 3D printing isn’t going to destroy the hobby, and I think he’s right. For now. Citadel has used the tech for a long time to prototype their models, as you can see in the White Dwarf studio minis when they get real close. He’s right in the sense that copies are just copies, and people will always want the new, fresh stuff. However, that could drastically erode sales of older kits that we still need, as gamers. That means potentially higher prices on new stuff to make up for it. This is long-term stuff, though. He points out, probably correctly, that the technology is years from accessibility. Resin casters and even vacuum rigs are here now, and they’re still relatively rarely used for straight up copies and duplicates here in the US. I can’t speak for other places, but it’s clear that people in China eBay a lot of duped ForgeWorld stuff.
As for IP, well that’s something that nearly every company has to deal with. Games Workshop has already changed a lot of stuff to combat it. I’m all for the freshness that conversion kits and whatnot can bring, but sometimes when I see a really close copy I do shake my head a bit, knowing what can happen. I love the craftsmanship that goes into some of these smaller shops, but models that are simply meant as cheap alternatives can get under my skin a bit. As a person working in creative, I know the difference between homage and ripping something off. I think there are more of the former, and some of them are producing great stuff! If GW keeps a tighter leash on their IP, I can hardly blame them.
As for people being insulted? Well, it’s the internet. What’re you going to do? I don’t really see anything in there that’s really insulting, and I know he was writing this for the board, not mass consumption. Surely he knew we’d all see it sooner or later, and I guess I’m glad he didn’t write a more politically correct version. I like seeing his personality come through.
Now, it seemed to me that he was pushing for a specific recent hire as a possible successor, and the only thing I know about her is what the rumor mill said in the first place: her MO seems to be working for companies that are preparing to sell. I don’t really want to see that happen, personally.
I love this hobby, and respect Games Workshop as the company that brings me amazing models and so many, many years of fun. I would be gutted if they closed down, but I don’t see this resignation as any indication that’s imminent. I’ll have more to say when we know who the successor will be.
What do you think? Is this good or bad? Were you insulted or bothered by anything Tom Kirby said?