Friday, July 13, 2012

CaulynDarr's Unifying Theory of Game Company Evolution

Given x time where x approaches infinity, all game companies will also approach one of two states.  The first state is bankruptcy. The second condition is a state of existence indistinguishable from Games-Workshop.

I get a certain schadenfreude whenever a game company implements a new business practice that at one point or another was used as a reason to like them over GW.  I got it when Privateer started their own magazine and hobby line.  I got it when Privateer started going plastic/resin.  I had it when Apple switched to Intel processors and abandoned RISK architecture(OK, not a miniature company, but same type of situation).  I'm having it now that Battlefront is disallowing non Battlefront miniatures at official events.   

These things don't make either Privateer or Battlefront bad companies(or Apple).  They make business decision that are in their best interest, just like everyone else.  I just like deflating fan boys who think some company has their best interest at heart.  All companies want all your money.  Deal with it.  



  2. I'm pretty disappointed with BF's decision, and hoping JP counteracts this in a statement soon. Last Feb He went on record stating BF would NEVER do something like that.

    I wonder how much PSC releasing a boatload of minis in the last year has influenced this change. Like the WWPD guys have said, a great majority of their models are BF, not PSC, or another manufacturer.

    but at the end of the day, BF wants to pay the bills and make profit.

    1. I'm sure it all has to do with PSC. Before then, you really couldn't save that much money by buying Old Glory or another line. You'd also loose a measure of quality doing so.

      PSC blows BF's prices away and the quality is a close match too.

      I wish BF would have started releasing plastics at comparable costs instead. People would probably spend 20-30% more for the official models, but you can get PSC tanks at 2 for 1 at least. People stand up for 50% off.

    2. Well, I'm not that happy about this. Not that it's affected me personally... yet. But I had been looking forward to FoW at Adepticon next year.

      Which means either skipping the big official events or spending (does quick calculation) $112.50 on BF tanks for my current list. Though the War Store would get that down a bit if I ordered from them.

      And yeah, I'm sure that PSC is the reason. BF has been raising the quality of it's resin casts quite a bit in response. But the lower cost of the PSC stuff is hard to compete with. I would prefer that BF go plastic themselves instead of going with a ban. But I'll assume that they've worked out the cost/benefit of doing that.

      So I'm disappointed, but that's business. It's part of the risk of having one company publish the rules, sell the miniatures, and also run the big events. They couldn't be enlightened angels forever. Even Apple makes stuff I hate and behaves in bad ways from time to time. But they get enough stuff right that I mostly overlook it. :)

      Like you CD, I do believe that for-profit companies have every incentive to march closer to a GW-state the longer they're in business. Particularly if they give in to the lure of going public and shackling themselves to the desires of investors.

      That's one reason that I want M42 to be non-profit. So that there's less temptations to give in to down the line.

    3. The difference between non-profit and for-profit companies isn't that one is driven by profit and the other isn't, it's that the latter want more profits. There's a reason why so many charities have such high overheads, and it's generally because quality labour requires hiring people for what the market will bear, rather relying on the charitable donation of time and labour.

    4. That's a good point Nurglitch. The real difference between a for-profit and non-profit is what's done with those profits and the expectations of the investors who contribute money to the organization.

      I would expect overheads to be high in an NPO, since the 'mission' of your NPO is what you're supposed to (by law) be investing your profits in. Not giving them away in bonuses, dividends, and stock options to corporate officers and outside investors. You can make money and a good living running an NPO, but your compensation is going to (by law and IRS regs) be pre-defined and not subject to fluctuations based on 'performance'.

      Which (according to the article you linked to) should improve such a company's ability to focus more on it's mission and productivity than wringing every last possible penny out of it's (insert something silly here). Because you have a corporate structure where, ideally, you're beholden to your mission first and arbitrary measures of monetary efficiency second.

      So you might, if you're a NP game company, decide to fund tournament events out of your profits from other activities; even if you lose lots of money on them. Because that's part of your defined mission to the community. So you, as a company, just accept it and apply your creativity to making it work instead of worrying about the bonuses you could be getting instead. :)

    5. I've always considered company size to be a big factor in company behavior. When a company gets too big they can stop seeing individual employees and customers as distinct human beings. This is especially true if you have a forum full of rabid gamers poo-pooing every dicision you make no matter what.