This may be the most contentious issue in wargaming ever. Is Games Workshop expensive? Are their prices over the top?
Every year the prices go up. The models in the box go down and the collective rage of wargamers everywhere continues to boil.
But is it true? Do Games Workshop products actually get more expensive. We keep reading in their annual general statements that they are cutting costs and saving money. Why don’t they pass that on to us? Where is the consumer benefit?
Maybe they have….
“Woah woah woah.”
Bear with me here.
Models have gotten bigger, more detailed, and much more dynamically posed. In fact, its fair to say that Games Workshop is amongst some of the technically and aesthetically best manufacturers of wargaming components in the world.
Kits come with more options than ever.
That monopose Space Marine above! He was the cheapest way to build a space marine army when I started in the hobby. Now its these…
Now I hear you saying that these aren’t exactly cheap. Whelp…
Games Workshop adjusted for inflation is cheaper now.
They kinda are. When you compare the 1999 price of Assault Marines ( a metal kit with five models) to the current price of a box of Assault Intercessors, and take into account inflation using the RBA’s historical inflation calculator, the Assault Marines are $180 dollars in today’s money (you need two boxes to get the equivalent of ten intercessors).
“Well now your just cherry picking!”
Take a box of metal space marines from January of 1999, ten months before third edition released and we say the first multipart Space Marine kit. They retailed in Australia for $49.95. Today’s equivalent, the fourth iteration of the multipart plastic Space Marine kit, is $70. The 1999 models in today’s money $84.75
But for sake of completeness. Lets jump to November of 1999. The month they released the first Multi-Part ten man Space Marine squad. They were $35 on release. Today’s money – $59.39
The Lord of the Rings War Mumak cost $150 in 2004, in today’s money that is $215.53. It’s current RRP is $178.
Lets try a different comparison – Price relative to income.
In 1999 the average weekly wage was $748.70. In 2020 it was $1713. I tried to find the medians, but data was not available.
A box of space marines cost $35 at the end of 1999, or approximately 1.87 hrs wages. In 2020 a box of space marines costs $70, or approximately 1.63 hrs wages. That’s a drop in cost relative to income.
That pesky Mumak, well he chewed up eight hours of wages back then. Now he eats just a little over four.
Okay, okay. I’ll compare it to some other hobbies.
Let’s jump forward a couple of years and discuss the Nintendo Gamecube. 2001 RRP $399AUD. The current Nintendo Switch $469AUD. Even taking into account inflation, it is significantly cheaper to Nintendo today, than it was two decades ago.
X-Box RRP in 2001 was approximately $600 AUD. The Xbox Series X RRP is $749 at the time of writing this article.
Looks like other types of gaming got cheaper.
You could cost benefit this against the life of a console vs the play time of a wargaming army. Miniatures have an almost indefinite play time so they would probably win out.
What about compared to other household expenses?
Well, in 1999, milk cost $1.40 a litre. Adjusted for inflation that is $2.38.
A litre of milk currently costs $1.30… woah.
So whats the verdict?
Does it bring you joy to play your favourite flayva of Warhammer? Because you can’t really put a price on that.
Relative to the historical prices of Games Workshop products and adjusting for inflation, it doesn’t cost anymore now than it did 20 years ago. In many cases its quite a bit cheaper.
I think the main issue with the cost of wargaming these days, comes in when you do a cost benefit analysis. It may not cost much more in wages to buy an army, but it costs a hell of a lot more to buy or rent the room to game in.
It costs a lot of time…the most valuable currency
It also takes time and more money to travel to clubs to game, and to buy some lunch while you are there.
Unless you drink plain milk I suppose…
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