The latest round of Games Workshop price increases has hit the shelves. There has been the usual uproar on the Internet. People threatening to leave the hobby, switch systems, boycotts have been planned, and there has even been some nay-sayers predicting then end of Games Workshop.
Thus far I have been un-scathed by the price increase - I haven't bought anything new in the last two days (almost a record) - but I know the time is coming when I will want to pick up a new blister or box set and the price increase will rear it's ugly head.
For the most part the price increase doesn't really get me down that much. I usually don't go out and buy a whole army all at once so the increase in cost will be spread out over several weeks and months of purchasing - I likely won't get stick shock the next time I pick up a box of Warhammer 40k Marines or Orks.
The people that this will impact are the ones that are the most important to the hobby - the younger players. The high school and college age kids who play Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k are the most important customer base out there - they are the new players. Without an influx of new players the hobby will eventually stagnate and die off. When the new players see how much a full army will cost it can be very daunting.
When you look around on different forums and blogs you see time after time people asking about how to cheaply build an army, or how to cheaply convert a unit. Online retailers that offer a discount are claiming more and more market share from local gaming shops. This ends up being a double edged sword - you want to get your product cheap, but you also want a local venue to play. If you don't buy anything locally you will end up without a place to play or shop.
Now I'm not gonna say that I don't ever order anything from an online retailer. I order Warhammer items quite frequently off of The War Store and other sites, but it is usually items from companies other than Games Workshop that I have a hard time finding locally. I also order different bits and vehicle pieces - Rhino Chassis, Turrets, Sponson Weapons - that would be impractical to get by buying a full kit. On the whole I spend a lot more money locally on Games Workshop products than I do online, as do most people I know - this helps keep the local hobby alive and thriving which is important to everyone who plays.
What does all the local vs. Internet shopping rant have to do with the price change? Well, the way I see it there is probably going to be a short term shift where players start buying more product off of the Internet to offset the price increase. In time the new prices will become 'normal' instead of high, and the purchasing will shift back to a more even mix of local and online. Hopefully local hobby shops across the nation will weather this storm and come out the other side, but I am sure a few won't in this economy. Just something to think about.