Sunday, February 20, 2011

Observation: Grey Knights Marketing

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last 24 hours there is some breaking news: There is a leaked PDF of the Grey Knights codex out there. It looks polished and well put together almost like a preproduction test created for game testing and editing. Which begs the question, is it a trap?
Probably not – for a few different reasons. Yesterday morning I was discussing the recent leaked codex with a couple friends of mine and we compared a few things in the 'leaked document' to what are considered ‘accurate rumors’, if there is such a thing, noting that while a few of the individual point costs changed, the overall accuracy was fairly good.

In checking some of the ‘meta data’, whatever the hell that is, one of my friends pointed out that some of the data that would point out where the file came from or had been, looked to be purposefully removed. Now, how you check that is beyond me, but it does make sense that whether you were releasing it in secret or you were hijacking it from a GW hard drive and posting it on the internet, either way you don’t want to be discovered, so that particular piece of the puzzle is useless.
What we do know is that this happened with the Blood Angels previously and not much of a peep out of GW about it. In fact, it was quite quiet from their corner, disturbingly so in fact. We have seen GW crush people for posting rules, points and other ‘Intellectual Property’ in the past, but in the case of Blood Angels and now Grey Knights, copies of entire codices, nothing from GW? All Games Workshop would have to do is send out a few strongly worded emails and 90% of the leaked codex links and posts would disappear. You can’t make me honestly believe that when the Blood Angel codex leaked out they didn’t know exactly who had access to it.
But in reality, Games Workshop is getting exactly what they want, all kinds of excitement about the release prior to it hitting the shelves and they haven’t had to lift a finger to get it done. Sure, they had to release the 85% complete version of the codex and as a result some of the fluff is already out there – but people who were going to buy it were going to buy it anyway, all this did was convince some fence sitters to jump onto the Grey Knight train early.
Nobody is going to show up to their LGS with a printed out copy of the codex that contains inaccurate points costs and no art at all. What they are going to read it, speculate over army lists, debate unit builds and discuss the merits of the codex now – before it even hits the shelf. Once it is released they will see an increase of 25-40% in sales due to all the ‘buzz’ on the internet about it. Quite the crafty piece of marketing if you ask me, they really gave up nothing in the end and gained a ton of free marketing. But don’t kid yourself, if Games Workshop didn’t want this document ‘leaked’ they would have plugged any holes long ago.


  1. Great article Mr T. I agree that illegal PDF releases don't damage sales (unlike DVDs and CDs you pretty much have to buy an authentic copy of a codex), but if GW got found out would it not open the floodgates? i.e. 'Well, GW released it as a PDF, so I'm printing and playing!'

  2. Those players who are a bit long in the tooth still remember the update vehicle data cards that were distributed in white dwarf; people used those until the printed codex came out and superseded those. Even if people figured out GW’s trick, once the printed codex was released people would switch to that. The brilliant part of it all is having incorrect values in the *leaked* codex that render it useless for people with mild OCD like all of us. Because we just can’t stand having to write in the real costs and line through the ’misprints’ lol.

  3. Too true! We'll have to see if it becomes common approach for other Army Books and Codexes.

  4. Now only if there was a way you could actually give feedback to GW on it...

    Thanks for the post Admiral!