*preamble: We've done pretty good so far, so lets not start assuming any "tone" here. My tone for this should be assumed as friendly and conversational. Just an FYI before you read further...just to avoid any misreadings.
Torealis, by 'supporting the hobby' I mean the *entire* gaming hobby, not just GW.
GW stores are choking off and killing local private game stores.
Stores that cell and allow people to play *any* game.
Untrue. The gaming industry is in a slump and has been for going on ten years. GW stores are promoting GW products and trying to get it to a broad spectrum of players...which is an attempt to build UP the industry.
I support GW to the extent that I buy their products.
But I will not support them in their attempts to monopolize the gaming industry by destroying small business.
Untrue, you are asserting that GW is focusing on becoming a monopoly. You are making assumptions about intent. That is your perspective, but another (equally valid) perspective is that GW is attempting to keep the gaming industry alive and viable for the future by getting more people in to the games.
I see no reason why I should reward GW for destroying people's livelihoods and making it hard for me to play other games I enjoy, by paying inflated prices for products they're selling to themselves.
I believe this is a personal bias (opposite of Torealis' bias actually). That's my take. GW isn't destroying anyone's lives. Actually GW is doing more than any game company to keep the gaming industry alive.
GW doesn't sell products to itself. It manufactures the product, ships it, pays wages and benefits to employees across the world...and sells the product.
I like playing other games, and I support small business.
So I will continue to support the gaming hobby by giving my business to stores owned by real people who need my cash, rather than an overseas corporation that goes out of its way to destroy competition, even when said competition is selling their own product.
I'm supporting the hobby that GW is trying to strangle to death.
Again, I believe this to be your perspective on the matter and biased due to your own personal history with GW. GW supports stockists. My FLGS just shipped back all the GW stock that wasn't moving and was refunded for it. How many game companies do that? All that LotR stock that sat for ages and didn't move, GW took it all back and issued a refund. I don't know about you, but that sounds like pretty good support from a manufacturer to me. It certainly doesn't sound like a company trying to strangle the hobby.
And as to "They can't afford to lower their prices" line of bullshit...
Why should they? They are at a competitive price point in comparison to the other manufacturers.
If other stores and online shops can afford to sell GW merch at a discount *after* they've already purchased it from GW at wholesale costs, then GW themselves can damned well afford to lower their prices
CCG Armory and The Warstore take a risk by selling at huge discounts. They depend on selling in massive bulk to make up their costs. Your FLGS usually sells at retail or possibly with Game Day discounts because that's whay THEY can afford...because they don't have the bulk sales. If you want to know what is killing the brick and mortar stores...it's online sales. Not just GW, but discount shops like The Warstore and CCG Armory.
Standard wholesale discount in the gaming world is 40% This means every gamestore not owned by GW pays $60 for a $100 set. It hurts, but they can sell that set at $80 and still make $20 in profit. Considering the game is in high demand and people are actively seeking discounts for it (because of the aforementioned price) they can usually make up the loss in volume.
Yeah, this sounds about standard.
GW stores and Direct Order services get their merch for free. It's sent direct from the factory at no cost to the store. Yes, it costs to manufacture the item, but the cost is literally pennies per sprue. Let's be over-generous and assume it costs them 10% of retail to manufacture the item.
This is where you are going WAY wrong. Remember, that GW is one entity, the sprues cost money, (pennies), shipping costs money (pennies), the people to ship it costs money (dollars), the advertising, the packaging, the benefits/ insurance, the legal fees, the customs and taxes, the rent on the location, the lights, water, sewage, paints, books, videogames, computers, internet connection, pizza on Fridays...all costs pennies to dollars a piece...but you have to realize what all goes in to an individual sprue...a LOT of support and money.
This means at straight retail, GW makes $90 selling a $100 box and your friendly local merchant makes $40.
...and out of that $90 how much goes to lawyers, manufacturing, shipping, benefits, ISP, rent, electricity, ad infinitum?
You're not seeing that it's not as simple as materials to make a sprue and retail cost.
There is an entire machine that gets the materials, transforms materials to product, markets that product, ships it, sells it. That machine costs a LOT of money. Without that machine you wouldn't have product, your product would be very few items, the quality would suck or if not, it couldn't get to market.
If your independent seller can afford to cut his profit in *half* to sell at $80, then you bet your ass GW can afford to shave off another 10%
If GW only sold wholesale, then I would believe that they couldn't afford to lower their prices. But they're expanding more and more into direct selling and crushing privately owned stores and websites in the process. They could sell for less if they wanted to.
Thing is here, why should they? They are competitive with the market. Look at Rackham, Privateer Press, Mongoose, WotC, White Wolf, Chaosium, Fanpro (now Catalyst Labs) and all the other manufacturers. They all make products and sell direct as well as through retailers.
The goal is to make a little profit, and put the rest back in to the machine so they can produce a quality product and superior service in order to insure viability for the future. That means the gaming industry must survive else they work themselves out of business. It is in GW's (and every manufacturer's) best interests to do whatever they can to stimulate sales by whatever means necessary, to get people in to the hobby, to spread the hobby as much as possible...and I firmly believe that with the brains and retainer fees, bean counters and lawyers involved in GW's machine, that they might just be aware of this and may just be moving in that very direction.
I very seriously doubt GW is the evil empire with a goal of becoming a monopoly (why would they when they know as well as anyone that they have a better chance of sales in a free market with competitors) or trying to single out and crush the little stores (the vast majority of stores that sell GW product are independant stockists).
My own perspective is that GW wants to stay alive by keeping the industry alive, and is doing what they can to insure their own survival by insuring the survival of the gaming industry. Their methods are to spread as far as possible, get the product to as many as possible and maintain the single highest standard in product and support.
I don't think that is evil...it's a strong sense of self-preservation, which is good business sense in my book.