Most of the time we hear that Games Workshop ignores its customer base, does what it wants with only profits in mind, and the other so many rants we constantly hear on the Internet. This conversation is about that, and I hope that readers below will take the time to really read the section that is not by me.
This is a behind the scenes conversation and contains opinions and views of the game and hobby. Parts have been removed so that this could be shared with the community. If it gets a little broken I apologize.
The Me part
Around the online community and elsewhere there is a very "GW does not care" or "doesn't listen to its customers" feeling. Personally I thought that was the most illogical and biggest pile of crap, but that sentiment has pervaded the hobby, even saturated it. I'm sure you do not need examples, but it was commonly thought that 5th edition was written mostly to sell tanks, and that the bottom dollar was all that was of concern and what drove GW at every level.
My site is just a very small fish in the big pond of the online community that makes up this hobby, but in the time frame that I have been online I think there is the start of a shift in thinking. Yes there is still the vocal "always will be pissed off" minority out there, but they are getting smaller. I believe that GW has always listened to the hobby, and I can't tell you the number of at the game store arguments (all the way back into 3rd edition) I have had regarding this, even with good long time friends.
I think 6th edition is just the culmination of this love of the hobby that many people at GW have. I know and understand there is always a bottom line and profits need to be made, after all without the success of the company, there is no 40k, fantasy, or other tabletop GW products.
With this edition, it really takes the angry bull by the horns, and tosses him out of the way. There is a lot of well thought out plans, a faster paced release schedule, and nothing short of great set of rules. I think we are sitting on the doorstep of a new era for the game, and the hobby. I only hope that those holding onto their "i will be pissed off at anything and find the negative" hurry up and jump on board, because this ship is not slowing down, and its already set sail.
The Not me part of the conversation
What is not understand is the process.
Hundreds of thousands of people play this hobby. (#) officially playtest, and I'd say roughly (#) actually play test (as many of the playtesters will play games with their immediate friends and submit their findings having been heavily influenced by their friends opinions).
After a game goes live, the amount of feedback potential that's there is staggering in comparison to what was there before.
I remember when 4th became 5th. The two prime motivations behind it were: put tanks onto the board and give players everything they need to make whatever unit they want in the rules in one box.
Both of which were positive things. It wasn't about "selling tanks," it was about people wanting to use tanks. It wasn't about nerfing unit options, it was about saving people money.
Take the tactical squad for instance. It lost it's 5 man special weapon option not because of imbalance, but because of the "Combat Squad" box not having special weapons. You can't take 2 special weapons at 10 either, because it also wasn't in the box.
Sometimes the rules are motivated by the product, like the Tactical squad. The box was a certain way, and was made that way due to production costs and sprue space, and now the rules mimic the box. People just didn't like having to buy 2 boxes of terminators just for that extra assault cannon bit. Hand cutting a set of legs, torso, arms, head, shoulders and backpack to package with a pewter plasma gun just wasn't worth the (at the time) $12 price tag. So things change.
When you look at the releases that have come after that though? The Grey Knight box with halberds, swords, a hammer, a staff, psycannons, psilencers, everything really, plus extra bits.
The Lemon Russ that comes with 3 different turrets, so you're not forced to make your own.
In many ways, it's hurt sales because of magnetization, but overall the people behind it are happier because the customer is happier.
Games Workshop listens. A lot more actively than you might think. They're not offended when they see rage, they're wounded. They don't do things to spite the customers, they question how they can do things better.
GW has been integrating newer and newer technology and planning ahead for a long time, but it's not like a light switch you just turn on. What they want to steer away from are kits that only work for a specific campaign (read: 13th company Space Wolves, Ulthwe Strike Force, Clan Eshin force), and instead use the campaigns as justification for new units for all armies where they're needed.
5th edition saw a lot of new units, and very limited upset (I don't think anyone complained about Sternguard or the Storm Talon), so the waters already been tested for new units.
Now is when we get to remember why GW is on top.
A Dynamic rules set that is very balanced, and engaging.
The best writing team on the planet when it comes to story and fluff, with a hundred years of collective experience.
A monthly, world-wide, magazine for which to release rules through.
Digital rulebooks that can be updated at the cost of a few minutes of someone's time and no cost to the customer.
Finecast and injection molds to produce the highest quality, non-metal miniatures on the market.
And a huge push to make sure that this game is everything 4 guys in their basement wanted it to be 30 years ago. Grim, Dark, Bleak and most importantly: Fun.
Another me part
Lets keep this a discussion, angry rants will be removed.