Feast of Blades '13

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why Chapterhouse Studios hurt the hobby and why we should defend Games Workshop.

Hey all, Kevin here to write about a topic I, as well as many underground gamers, have been avoiding. I have had enough talks with gamers that think t, ashe same way, as well as a few game store owners, on the topic to come to my conclusions. First of all lets talk about something the online wargaming community loves to do, which is hate Games Workshop. Why might you ask? Face it or not people love Warhammer Fantasy and 40k. Games Workshop has increased prices and have been very paranoid about protecting their Intellectual Property. In turn by being very protective of their IP and constant price hikes tends to hurt us as gamers as it makes us harder to play a game we all love. We have tended to demonize Games Workshop at every turn by being a Corporation only looking out for its stockholders profits and not the gamers. Yet we have to be honest, although we may not want to admit it we need GW to be successful for if not our game would not exist. BoLS would diminish and die and Game stores would shut down (without thier number one money maker in the game anymore). The hobby would die without the company. We also need it to protect its IP because without protecting its line GW would be swamped by the second party . We have all become idealists and have let pragmatism go by the wayside. I know a world with $20 boxes of 10 marines and dozens of other companies making alternative models sounds great but it is unrealistic. Truth is for our game to expand we need GW to be successful in an extremely niche hobby. Games Workshop has been martyred day in and day out, even by myself, for every single financial decision it has made and a lot of us will still hammer them for every dollar price increase and every civil suit made. By why are we pointing a gun at our own source of continued fascination and enjoyment. What would you do if we never saw a new codex come out. What would Goatboy do if he ran out of models to put goat heads on? What would you do if every single GT shutdown as an old, out of date, hobby fizzled without new players and updates. Why are we shooting ourselves in the foot?

Awhile ago we were again outraged as Chapterhouse came under GW legal scrutiny for some IP infringement. We immediately called GW evil for attacking a 3rd party company we all loved for making some sweet conversion pieces. How dare Games Workshop! was shouted from the roof tops. Yet did we realize then that we were hurting ourselves. This put GW in a legal dead end. According to US copyright law you cannot copyright a phrase or name in a book as your own IP and could only copyright a specific unit in a codex by making a named model for the army. Now many 3rd party companies legally make alternative models for the GW range whether it is "futuristic imperial soldiers" or ""giant spacebug seed pods" it did not hurt the hobby as a whole. Chapterhouse went ahead and made models from the codex entries in the Space Wolf and Tyranid ranges very specifically being their thunderwolf calvary. By doing this they put GW at this legal trouble since if GW released, as an example, their own Thunderwolf Calvary model they could be sued by Chapterhouse for attacking Chapterhouses IP! By doing so a few results have come out of this problem, some good and bad. This quite literally screwed tyranid players looking for newer models. It also left the door open for any model to be made by any company for a codex entry that does not have a GW published model and then sue Games Workshop. This could financially cripple the company and end 40k and Fantasy as we know it. IT also resulted in Games Workshop releasing a model for every codex entry it can as soon as possible. This did, however, benefit the hobby as we saw almost the entire Dark Eldar range come out soon after the book hit the shelves. Although this might seem good we can safely say that Chapterhouse set a precedent that can hurt the hobby as a whole, and royally screw tyranid players, in general.

Now no matter what you say, or think, Chapterhouse was at wrong to us by releasing actual named models. Now I try to be a middle ground person between fights and look for the factual right thing to do. I believe in the free market, the pursuit of happiness and, the right for a man, woman, or company to achieve financial greatness. I am fiscally conservative and like to find reason and practical paths through problem solving and solutions. Yet most importantly I believe in the rights of a business,complete fairness to all parties as well as every persons destiny should be achieved through thier own actions and will to thrive and should not be decided by another person or establishment. Did Chapterhouse make this move on purpose? I would say no as I believe everyone will try  to have good faith intended in their actions but as we all know this might not be the case. I would hope a settlement comes out of this case and GW learns from the events listed. I would also hope, as our small hobby is very fragile in its existence, Chapterhouse would not sue GW for making its own Thunderwolf model and copyrighting it. I would hope Chapterhouse, if it can, would change the names of its line and refrain from cherry picking new codex options by making its own models before GW does. I know a lot of people will read this with prior thoughts have ill will against GW but I hope after reading this the fine folks of our hobby will think these things through logic and pragmatism. I also hope people will try to think things through the next time something like this happens. I also hope people will give a little more good will towards the source of our enjoyment Games Workshop itself as I believe they do not like some of the bad thoughts given to them over their actions for the betterment of their company. More on this later...


  1. The thing that actually pissed me off the most about Chapterhouse was that a few years ago they showed up on Bartertown asking about the legality of selling Salamander shoulderpads and Thunderhammers. Many people explained the how complicated IP law was and how litigious GW had to be to protect their IP according to European laws. The brushed the advice off and said they had lawyer friends and were looking for a fight.

    Then they got sued and sang a VERY. DIFFERENT. SONG.

    They make good stuff and have quite a bit of inventive product that is more supplemental than it is GW replacement. I just wish, like you'd mentioned, they had their heads on straighter about challenging IP directly.

  2. First, I wonder what the reason for GW's original delay in producing new models for the Tyranid Codex?
    The codex was released in Jan 2010.
    What is an acceptable delay time between model release waves? How about 3months? 6months? 9months?
    Chapterhouse first released their own model in November with a Mycetic Spore. 11 months later.

    What were GW hoping to achieve by this long delay in model release? If it was to force me to convert the model, then after a year, force me to buy the official model, therefor forcing me to effectively buy the model twice?

    I would feel better for GW if Chapterhouse had jumped on their IP gap within a couple of months. That would not have been fair. But GW left it about 2-5months too late in my opinion (as a Tyranid player).
    GW screwed me by not releasing the model in a sensible time frame. Chapterhouse freed me by releasing the models they wouldnt.

    How long have Nid players been waiting for model releases? What about Space Wolf players waiting for some thunderwolves to appear?

    Lets take this away from GW for a second and use a hypothetical.

    A well know and respected hypothetical washing machine company releases a new washing machine. It publicizes how much it can do. The adverts show how it can do an express wash in 10mins, or wash and dry a king size duvet in just 1 hour.
    The public love it, and buy the machine. However, in the small print it had that the express wash would require an extra "wash accelerator" to be sold separately. Also, the king size duvet function would require a "expansion kit", again to be sold separately. Oh, and neither extra part is yet available.
    Its all legal, because it is mentioned in the small print.
    But it screwed the customers who bought the washing machine for those purposes.
    So if after 11 months, a rival company started selling 'wash accelerators" for these poor customers - who is the bad guy? The rival company for making money off the hypothetical company, or the hypothetical company for not releasing these parts in the first place?
    Who would the customers blame?

  3. @ Rob Godin. Would you prefer Gw not realase a new codex because all the models are not ready?

  4. No, but would prefer all models to be released within a 6-9 month window.
    (Possibly excepting special characters, because they can usually be made from existing kits easily)
    If GW then wants to a later release, then do a terrorgiest style WD release.

  5. I have to agree with Rob. GW has no problem releasing almost all of the Dark Eldar and Grey Knight lines in a timely manner.

    What really made me mad was that I cheaply made spore pods for my nids planning on buying the official kits when they came out. In the mean time I was told I couldn't use the pods I had made in GW tourns(ie Ard Boyz), but had to buy Space Marine ones and convert them. Really?

  6. The hobby as you call it existed before GW and will be here long after they are gone. Game stores will adapt, players will find new games to play. If their entire business model is based around one game then they desrve to go out of business.

    At my local store, GW product is languishing on the shelves because no one plays. The last price hike drove people to Warmachine and Hordes which is thriving at the local shop. He cant keep product in stock.

    Games Workshop can drag their feet all they want on new releases because they know the fanboys have no choice but to wait. If you dont like their practices then let them know with your dollars. Theres a whole world of games out there beyond GW.

  7. I find the contention that Chapterhouse would sue GW for "infringing their IP" somewhat laughable- GW is a corporation immensely larger than Chapterhouse and with far, far greater resources to draw upon, and in a battle of IP law, that's essentially what it boils down to: who can throw money at the case for longer. GW will win that, every time. Now, it will be costly and unpleasant for them, but it would drive Chapterhouse under to attempt it, so they have a pretty strong assurance that it wouldn't happen.

    This is further exacerbated by GW's lack of interest in producing models for some figures; certainly, it's understandable that this happens, and I'm fine with that, but to then turn around and blame 3rd party manufacturers for filling a hole that GW created? I'm sorry, I don't buy that. GW likes making double monies off people converting figures; I'm fine with that. Heck, I like converting, so I'm extra-fine with it. But not everyone wants to do so, and if a sufficient demand exists, someone will attempt to satisfy it. It happens in plenty of other industries- Apple is not dying because someone else made a generic iPod cover. GW will not die because someone else made a CombiMelta.

    If some other large company were jumping to market and stealing away GW's unmade models and then litigating it? Yes, I would be pretty pissed. But that isn't what is happening here- GW is letting things languish for years (Tyranids still lack models for... two of the four most common units in the book) and other companies are quietly slipping into the backwaters of the internet to provide what Big Daddy does not.

    This doesn't mean Chapterhouse are a bunch of angels; in fact, they kind of strike me as tools. But I don't see what they're doing as illegal, immoral, or harmful to the hobby.

  8. It is amazing how little thought and research went into this post..

    Chapterhouse Studios has never made a wolf or thunder wolf type model among other critical points..

  9. Nick I would ask you are you sure but I assume your nick of chapterhouse from the name, I apoligize if I made a mistake in my example but my main point gets across fairly well....btw I like your combi-weapons