Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Recession Bights

The Wargames Factory affair is turning into a Motorway pile up, no winners and lots of flaming wreckage.

The ousted Tony Reidy has posted a very angry open letter on The Miniatures Page, which has been repeated in various forums. You can read it here:

Meanwhile, George Sivy, Managing Director, Wargames Factory has put up his own notice here:

It is worth reading as it invites people to write in for refunds or deliveries; apparently the records have gone missing with the change in management. Trying to sort out the management mess is a good step, essential to restore confidence if WF is to survive. Less impressive are threats of court action against people who, in the opinion of WF, make defamatory statements against WF or its agents: see below for quote.

"WEB POSTINGS AND FORUM ALLEGATIONS There is much misinformation as well as some serious allegations being circulated throughout cyberspace regarding the current state of affairs. As the new corporate manager of Wargames Factory, at the appropriate time, I will address all of the false and inaccurate statements and allegations that are being posted on the Wargames Factory website. There are more important and pressing operational matters to deal with right now without getting distracted or involved in a “mudslinging match” with previous management. Defamatory statements made about any individuals will be taken up with legal counsel and dealt with to the fullest extent allowed by law. "

That's a toothless threat, certainly to people who live outside of the USA or China. The wargaming community is so small that the people on these forums are also your customers guys.

I have freelanced in wargaming for more than thirty years. Wargaming has always been a cottage industry run by enthusiasts with minimal business sense who are woefully under-capitalised, selling to a tiny customer base that has fashion fads. The inevitable result is constant collapse. GW is a little unusual in its size, possibly bigger than all the other wargame companies put together, and the fact that it is really a toy company selling largely to kids through its own retail outlets, but even so it is a minnow in the corporate world.

There is another rumoured bankruptcy - Bastion, who make the Ex illis game. They had reinvented the idea of a mixed computer-miniatures game. This has been touted as original, but it isn't. The idea of using digital resolution of miniature and board games goes right back. I wtote an Apple II program for resolving fire of one of WRG's WWII grulesets back in the 70s. I never used it because (i) it took loner to resolve than rolling a dice and consulting a tableby the time you inputted the iformation (ii) the Apple and the wargame were never in the same room, and (iii) rolling dice was much more fun than pressing a button.

This concept has been reinvented constantly, e.g. DVD family board games, and it always fails.

Funnily enough, WF and Bastian are rumoured to share the same Chinese manufacturer, Ghost Studios. At this rate, they will own vast chunks of the independent wargames industry, all of it loss making. Best of British, chaps.


  1. Been following this story over the last few days and I think that whatever the truth of the matter (two sides to every story) its a crying shame for the industry. I hope the situation can be resolved but judging from the vehemence of the open letters mentioned above I suspect there is much more going on than we realise.

  2. Very good post there and you are right our industry is a cottage style type at the mercy and whim of its customers and mostly run by customers.

  3. Legal threats are indeed a joke. Has this guy seen the internet before? There are entire sites devoted to trashing specific companies that don't get shut down. Search (insertcompanyname)sucks.com and odds are you'll find something. US courts have upheld them before.


    As for the combo mini/computer games, I can see it happening eventually, as computers get more and more portable. Requiring a desktop or laptop won't pan out, but make it an app that will work on phones and I could see it.

  4. Thanks for keeping the rest of us updated, and for the reflections. I'm intrigued. Can it be made profit-making? It must be possible, but what would it take? Questions to ponder.

  5. Dear Lee
    There are clearly v. bad feelings.

  6. Dear Lurker
    Yah, it's a funny ole business.

  7. Dear Sons
    I guess so, phones/iPod might do it. I tend not to think in those terms - too old. :)

  8. Dear Porky
    Labours of love and business make bad bedfellows.

  9. I not sure the defamation threats were by George Sivy but Lonnie the paper cup guy.... don't want you to get a libel writ over a simple mistake ;-).

    It is all rather a mess, though the thread 'discussing' it on TMP is certainly an amusing read.

  10. No, you were right, George Sivy is the managing director and did in fact issue that announcement...

    I could have sworn it was the Lonnie guy when I looked yesterday.... no matter.

    plus ca change.

  11. Dear eeore
    Poor Lonnie is going to spend his life now known as the 'paper cup guy'. I had to feel some sympathy that, as evidence of his evil nature, it was pointed out that he 'once worked for Games Workshop'. Hey, it doesn't necessarily mean that you are a bad person. :)

  12. It is not a rumour that they have the same supplier, George confirms it in this post here.