Well we’ve been living with the new Games Workshop magazines for a month now so I thought it was time to revisit my Cost of Living blog post regarding the changes when they initially happened.
White Dwarf, a magazine that has been alive and kicking for only two months longer than I have (yes! Really! The first issue was in 1977) and had only recently had a revamped look (and price) was a monthly publication. A monthly publication I hadn’t missed an issue of for seven years. It was always handy to refer back to – for example at the moment I’m painting the Dark Vengeance armies (you may have noticed…) and the spread from when the set was released has been very helpful.
There have been complaints and rumblings for a while that it had become little more than a glorified monthly catalogue, but there was still Jervis Johnson’s regular column (Standard Bearer), Blanchitsu which had been introduced regularly fairly recently (comparatively speaking), the new layout was good and although there had been a price rise, it didn’t feel like daylight robbery.
Then, at the beginning of February 2014 the magazine was split into White Dwarf (now a weekly magazine and as far as I’m aware only available from Games Workshop stores) and Warhammer: Visions – A new monthly magazine. Let’s tackle Visions first…
Well, to start with, it’s £7.50 an issue. That is a lot of money for any monthly magazine, let alone one that is arguably missing some of the best bits from the original White Dwarf. It does come in at nearly 230 pages and is described as a “photographic showcase”. It’s multilingual throughout, no doubt to save on print costs, and really only does what it says on the tin. It is over 200 pages of photographs of (fantastically painted to be fair) Games Workshop miniatures and models. The bits of the old White Dwarf that can be found here are Blanchitsu and the Army of the Month feature – albeit with a far reduced commentary because of the space needed to print in three languages.
The White Dwarf weekly on the other hand at £2.40 for a 32 page issue contains the New Releases section (models, rules and books), painting and modelling tips, gaming advice and so on. Gone is Standard Bearer in its regular format, but introduced instead have been mini-games, army book interviews and a regular article in the shape of Sprues and Glue. It really is specifically aimed at whatever the Games Workshop happens to be releasing or pushing that week though, so over the first four issues that has tended to be Tyranids, Dwarfs and the new Imperial Knights.
So you’ve got a few choices… Keep buying everything. That’s a pretty expensive proposition. If it’s modelling or gaming you’re really interested in, you don’t really need Visions – you don’t even need every issue of White Dwarf Weekly. You could just get the ones that interest you. I would quite like to see the move of Blanchitsu from Visions to Weekly, but you never know… I like the article as much as the photos. The real problem is that the Games Workshop know, as an undisputed fact, that they are dealing with collectors, and collectors are by their very nature completionists. I can bitch and moan about the price, the format change, even the difficulty of getting a copy of the weekly issue (my local GW store is closed on Sundays and Mondays – guess what my regular days off work are?) but I’m still buying them… So, for a while at least, the loyalty and the interest of the money paying hobbyist will keep things ticking along – but will that be enough to sustain it longer term? I honestly can’t answer that.
There seems to have been a move towards digital media, well, that’s unfair… There HAS been a move towards digital media. Being able to turn up to a game with everything on an iPad instead of three different books is incredibly helpful. And the Games Workshop’s website blog has been very good. I suppose there’s a chance if the magazines don’t work that there’ll be a final push into a completely digital format, but I think we’re a way away from that yet. I also think it would be a mistake. Collectors are like that – they like to be able to hold their hobby in their hands (no sniggering at the back), look at a shelf full of books and magazines, painted miniatures, future projects… I don’t know how well a completely digital magazine/blog would fit with that.
So for the time being at least I suppose we’ll live with it. But with other games companies moving in to fill some of the niches left behind by the Games Workshop as they have abandoned some of the specialist games (Firestorm Armada filling the breach left by the departure of Battlefleet Gothic for example) it will be interesting to see what Spartan, Mongoose et al will do next.