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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I understand that this is a LONG post, but i REALLY encourage everyone to read this.

After reading a thread on another forum, i am furious at GW for their lack of prize support.

There is a local tournament here, the second largest in Australia (120+ people), has been running for about 10 years, and GW has basically given up offering prize support.

The following 2 posts are quoted from the tournament organizer himself, who has put a lot of his own time, money, and commitment into the tournaments over the years.
I know the TO personally, and can vouch for his honesty and commitment.
After every tournament, he shows everyone publicly the full breakdown of all of the tournament finances, and exactly where all of the money went.

Due to the lack of support, he has decided to give up the role of TO, and has lost all respect for GW.

Here are his posts....

"Back in the day, when miniature sales were starting to gather momentum and the European model of promoting the hobby was breaking ground, GW looked out and saw that tournaments were good. They were good for the hobby and good for business. Get some likeminded people together, throw some dice and declare a winner. GW encouraged clubs to run events and extended to them sponsorship, usually in the form of discounted plasti-crac and, once upon a time, free forgeworld-esque skull trophies.

After some hiccups around 2000-2002 with behaviour and power gamers, a rogue trader system hit the streets with a check of list for point scoring, sports, painting, composition and the system we now enjoy was largely set.

GW also realised the commercial advantages of holding their own, large, "Grand Tournaments" alongside the well attended Games Days. GTs became a feature of the world scene. They promoted the hobby, showcased the armies and whetted everyon'es appetatie for the hobby. They were something to aspire to. I remember travelling across to Sydney for the 2004 GT and the excitement when little Adelaide was given a GT. People liked GTs.

GW took several steps to rationalise their involvement in the club run tournaments and introduced a National Tournament System (NTS) with different levels and more stock at reduced prices for prizes. In the late noughties, Conflict tournaments were held as a stepping stone for noobs on their way to the GTs. Impressive they were with demo games, painting tournaments and lots of vibe. Clubs were invited to man stands to encourage membership.

But then the bean counters in GW HQ appear to have looked out and realised that running the GTs, GD's and Conflicts was mighty expensive. What with all the staff wages, overtime, providing the infrastructure (tables, scenery, hall hire), promotion costs, not to mention the actual prizes being given away. Hard to make money. Ignoring the spin off advantages of promoting the hobby,

There was also a significant issue that GW employees didn't necessarily have the expertise to run big events and it sucked a hella lotta time out of the storeboyz normal job. Prizes were reduced and entry fees increased. Prizes became non-existen in favour of poster prints. Scoring software was built in house and led to problems, Issues over conflict of interest, hefty insurance cover and increasing venue hire cost was making life difficult. Then the scoring systems and rulesets came under fire. The endless forum biatching saw GW pull down their own forums, leaving gamers with whingegamerAU as the authoritative source of rules faqs and tournament info. Including the calendar that I, once upon a time, maintained.

But, tournaments were still seen as a good way of advertising and promoting their product, so GW looked out and saw that clubs were still keen. The NTS system waned a bit but prize support was still extended, 45% off retail price was a good deal for the club rep running an event. It meant more pizes. To even out the "loss", local GW stores were asked to provide the stock, which came off their bottom line instead of GW direct.

Then brilliance descended upon the GW brain centre and "Premier Events" were declared. If we can't run the GTs ourselves, why don't we throw money at the volunteers out there in club land to run the equivalent ? If a GT cost us $10k to host, then $2k in free prize support is still cheap aye ? And so it happened. For a glorious year, GW threw $2k vouchers at organisers who could get more than 100 gamers to their events. Heady stuff.

Except the planning and scrutiny didn't reach the standard. Some events were favoured, some events apparently, so folklore has it, ran with 12 players who were given plasti-crack vouchers when they bought a hotdog. Some events were denied the giveaway while others, on name alone, got the $2k without question and few players. The cynic in me saw that having a GW employee involved, got the $2k. The fault lay with GW. Some awareness beyond their own navel was needed.

$40k (I understand, at wholesale, some irony in there) later and GW looked at what they had achieved with 20 "premium events" and were not happy. The system had been abused, GW had not exercised any diligence and the system, predictably, keeled over.

So, how to keep the events running in Oz ?

It fell back to the TO's and clubs still running events. GW withdrew the premium support, called a lot of TO's rude names and fell back to the standard 45% discount. Except this time, I guess out of fear that TO's were pocketing stock and giving GW the bird behind their back, a cap was placed on how much prize suppoort could be obtained. TO's could also buy trophies, which made a reappearence after 6 or so years.

There were conditions of course. You had to register your event with GW so they could take advantage of the promotional opportunity in WD. A timeline meant TO's had to be organised. Accountability was needed. Non GW minis couldn't be used. Fair enough, letting stock go at what I'm told is more than wholesale, needs to be done judiciuously. You need a return.

And what a windfall. Four main events in Australia in 2010 with 100+ players and the shining light that is Arc, with 250. And all it costs GW is to sell a bit of stock, at 45% off. An absolute boom in tournaments so now 60 people is considered small, there are more tournaments than can be squeezed into the calendar and many tournaments have waiting lists.

What did GW do for this ? Well TOs and clubs did it for them. Why run a GT and pay staff when the bait of vouchers will ensure someone does it for free, for goodwill, for the benefit of the hobby. for GW ! Let the TO organise the hall, take the financial risk, develop the infrastructure in tabletops, scenery, trestles, printing, advertising, scoring system, computer facilities, trophies and the big one, liability.

The TO will do it for free, but we'll still make him work since the prize support offered by GW fell short of that really needed for a bang up feed at Mrs Miggin's Pie shop, so the TO then had to sort outside, non-GW support to make the event work. The non-GW sponsors invested more than GW were prepared to do ! Win for GW. The equivalent of viral advertising.

What a stupendous model for success. Fork out next to nothing, watch the hobby get promoted, take none of the responsibility but reap the direct benefit from sales related to people attending the event, watch the longer term cash register tick over as people are attracted to the hobby through the tournament scene. That was the spin off from tournaments way back in the 90's, re-realised without the cost, post 2009.

And then, since GW are so freakin' gutless, at the slightest hint of mud being thrown, instead of supporting the TO who has done all this work for them, simply wihdraw this token support. Don't bother even asking the TO what the story was, just rely on a few rumous and second hand dis-information. In fact, apply that most gutless and feckless technique of all, blame someone else.

GW don't even have the grace to thank a TO for running a tournament or even, perish the thought, extend a small token of gratitude in the form of some plasti-crack. After all, GW are doing us the favour letting TOs run events for them.

It is a good business model for sure. Not quite so brilliant in the long term.

after running Terracon for 6 years and always having a nervous relationship with GW, I think GW need to man up and actually bear some of the onus of running a major tournament. They'll need to extend this support to whoever is masochistic enough to step into my shoes. They can be GW's next Tournament Whore. The words "thank you" would be an excellent start.

More than 2 months since terraconXII and on sober reflection, the truth in this rant hasn't changed. I'm sick of being a lackey for a company that really, has no grace, honour or respect for those people it deals with."

"it isn't about breaking even or making a profit, it is about whoring yourself for GW. A real pimp would probably give more support. It isn't about your ability to run an event, sure as hell GW struggled to run 'em, it is about looking at the relationship between GW and the TO who is essentially working for them.

My primary reason for TOing was to run a good gig and I enjoyed seeing the lulz and good times that tournaments provided. I enjoyed it. Some good friends out there. I'll work for free, but something resembling respect enters my equation.

GW benefit, through sales, promotion, free advertising, free airtime (radio, TV). All they do is let a little stock slip through their fingers at a price that still sees them make a profit. When the going gets tough, they up and run. They take none of the responsibility or the liability. They take none of the hate, none of the work, none of the pain. They showed that running an event and paying people to run it wasn't viable, so the goodwill of TOs around Australia is being used so the events get run for free. Volunteers do it for them. Even at premium support levels, $2k to have someone else run their GT for them was money for jam (and mercenary).

I'm not so naive I don't get the whole point of running a business like GW. Like DnD before them, it is a symbiotic relationship between the company and gamer loyalty. If GW miss that side of the deal, then why should they expect gamer loyalty in return ? Because gamers are so stupid they can't wean themselves off a product ?

RoL and other sponsors are also in it to make a living. I don't begrudge them that at all. But what I see from RoL is the effort to prepare and give away sample bags, to extend genuine support for an event which includes travelling and setting up. I see true gamers running a business who will go the extra yard to support the gamers who support them. I don't see that in GW. I would give my right 'nad for RoL and run events until doomsday for them. At the moment I wouldn't spit on GW support.

I think everyone should be really clear that GW has withdrawn all support for Terracon. GW verbally promised Premium Support for 2010, but instead slashed the amount I was allowed to buy from them by over 50%, initially. I guess they expected me to think outside the square to run a 120 player event with only tokenistic support. Then the words post event "we were not happy with the way terracon was run and are withdrawing our support for 2011". Based upon some stinking rumour and without asking me what happened, outside the event. To rub it in, as if they had some kind of role in organising the event, they informed me that they were going to send a representative down in 2011 to ensure Terracon met with their standards before considering support in 2012. Phhhffft, their standards ? I'm happy that a company has to protect their interests and sponsorship is a 2 way street, but as far as I can see, they got significant bang for their buck for letting some stock go at a discount.

I think you might have been smart to give GW the elbow from the outset Cam. I thought hard about whether to jump into bed with GW this year, I didn't need their support. I came to the conclusion that I'd be doing the players a diservice if I didn't take advantage of the GW offer and at least present the same prize pool as we did in 2009. I've gotta ask though, why are you running an event that is essentially for the benefit of GW and expecting everyone except GW to provide the support ?

How much simpler and more friendly this could have been ? When I tacked an order for 10 death guard shoulder pads onto the terracon prize pool for 2008 and was honest and declared it as being for personal use, they couldn't afford the discount so charged me full price. 10 measly freakin' shoulder pads. 'bout $5 in lost profit. I didn't ask for the discount. otoh, I personally found prizes from my own cache when they screwed the order up and left me short. In the past GW have run an eye over prize pools to ensure the TO wasn't picking up some dicounted personal items. Every year I have provided a breakdown of where the prizes went (and a full financial breakdown as requested). 10 shoulder pads ? nice touch.

Feeling valued much ?"

454 Posts
I don't mean to go against his oppinion or even his complaints, which btw are pretty justified, but I have a different take on the matter.

Every company, gaming that is, have dropped their customer support to the minimum these past years (maybe not so dramaticaly as GW but they did). I live in South America and the gaming business isn't actually the cornerstone of hobbies around here, so you can imagine the support we get from the gaming industry. Back on the 90s when all of this stuff started appealing to people over here, support was amazing. It was so much so, that you even had only to write a letter of interest in representing and/or promoting their game to get a truclkload of products, free of charge (Decipher, WizKids, WotC, Fasa, TSR where know to do this). But now those days are over, mostly because of people (if you can call them that) eager to get free stuff and not giving anything in return. This happened also with the TOs who got loads of prizes and marketing stuff, and gave away only a tiny part of that. The rest was for personal gain only. This has caused the complete removal of South America as a tournament ground for pretty much anything. We don't have a Games Day, No MTG official tournaments of any kind (only nationals), no RPGs day, not even a Yu-Gi-Oh official tournament.

So now the hobbies "survive" (I'm writting survive like that because that's what it does) in small clubs and a few stores that try their best to maintain it alive and well. Do they get love from the companies because of this not-too-small feat? No they don't. Do they deserve it? Perhaps. The thing is GW as any other company is a company to make profit, money, "el dinero". So form this point of view, there is no logical reason why they should give stuff for free, to one Tournament only. If they did they should start giving free prizes to every tournament of 100+ people around the world. That sums up to a lot of "dinero", so it is only logical that GW has shun away form that path. Heck I would too if I owned GW. Picture this, for our MTG nationals, there was a total of 2000 dollars in prizes for everyone +150 participants (about 13 USD per person) which is pretty lame compared to any other tournament out there.

I think, that besides the great furstration he must feel about not being "rewarded or recognized" for his effort, he has to understand that he's not working for GW, and that when organizing a Tournament he should do it for his own personal reasons and not for GW recognition. In the end, it will always come down to that old saying "don't do anything for free".

104 Posts
I agree with DonFer, you should organise tournaments because you want to, not for recognition. Indeed, it would be nice from GW to do that once and a while, but like said, GW is a profit-based company. In my gaming club it became kind of a saying "It's GW" when asking why the price went up or why that model suddenly is mail order only.

I live in Belgium and my store started it's own club and organised it's own tournament. The costs for it where around 1.5-2k euro but the club paid it all. There was a fantasy, lotr and 40k tournament, with fantasy in the spotlights. The main prize for fantasy was an army deal, for 40k a batalion box. You could always trade it in for an army you could use. There was also a best painted in different categories all with their own prizes (being painting stuff ofcourse). We never got any support from GW, we even had to pay to be allowed to hold the tournament, we had Salvatore over who wrote the Skaven army book and helped with the Dark Elf army book, but we had to pay for his flight, his hotel and his admission fee. He joined in with the 40k tournament and apparently he's a bad loser, he still did end high though. My point being, GW will ask for money and give less in return for free, they've invented a product which gains in popularity and they are amongst the only manufacturers there are. They control most of the tournaments (even local) and are able to boycot other companies who come with their own model range. (p.e. the rule about only GW models may be used). Your organiser shouldn't stop organizing but just do it for himself, his club and the dozens of others that are there just for the game. Work together with other shops, organize a regional ranking event, being different tournaments in a year and after a year an all-around winner is declared. People will care less about the prize if they can earn the title of "nr.1 player of (insert place name)" Ofcourse if they start to brag just don't acknowledge them then ;)

210 Posts
Is there any background to the story that you could link us to? I've been part of a tournament held here for the last number of years and we've got no GW rep support for the last few years now.

We create the rulespack, get the venue sorted, provide prize support and everybody that helps to run it volunteers. Not to mention that any profit made goes to charity. I know what its like to be in that boat.
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