Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks at why Wizards of the Coast did well and what Games Workshop could do better.

Well, I guess we can expect another year of Wizards of the Coast doing what the company did in 2022 (see "Wizards of the Coast Tabletop Sales up 40%").  Booking a 12% sales increase for the year, especially when the total company sales increased only 5% and overall gaming sales, which included the Hasbro game lines, dropped 5%, indicates that the company did a number of things right, at least from the point of view of increasing sales.  Even D&D Beyond increased revenues by 20% since WotC acquired the platform last May.  Despite the pushback over the $999 pack of what are essentially Magic proxies and the controversy over WotC’s OGL 1.1, it does appear that the company did quite well last year and given that, it will likely repeat doing what worked for it last year.

Despite the complaints about WotC, the company still supports retailers better  than most other companies in the game industry.  Just consider the Retail Grant and Premium Store programs.  Even though our store has chosen not to officially pursue Premium Store status, any store would improve its customer experience and appearance by utilizing the Premium Store checklist (see "Wizards Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is And Other Trends").

Meanwhile, Games Workshop had flat sales for the last half of the year through both third party sellers and its own stores (see "Games Workshop Woes"). This happened despite the company opening up five additional Games Workshop stores and adding another 119 trade outlets in North America (see "Games Workshop Sales Flat in North America"). How a company adds on 124 new places to buy its products and still winds up with year-to-year flat sales indicates this company needs to take a look at its current business model, which according to a couple of emails I received after last week’s column, views the UK market as saturated and looks to North America to provide growth. Based on some responses to last week’s column, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Get back to what the company was doing pre-COVID shutdown.  Pre-COVID, I had the same sales representative for at least two years, could regularly expect a sales call on Tuesday, and would receive both restocks and new releases in time to take advantage of weekend sales.  From what I understand, GW, to avoid spreading COVID, cut back drastically on warehouse staff.  While this likely helped reduce the spread of the disease, it also slowed shipping down dramatically.  GW should get its warehouse staff back to levels that will allow it to achieve similar turnaround times to those it had prior to the shutdown.
  2. Communicate with stores better.  This means getting information out on new releases more than a week before the release date.  It gets really annoying to have customers keep contacting us asking about new releases before our sales representative does.  WotC, The Pokemon Company and Konami all manage to get us information about new products months before they release with no impact on sales.  Get us the information weeks ahead of time so that we have weeks, rather than days, to determine demand.
  3. Work with stores around Games Workshop stores. GW is the only game company to sell through its own brick and mortar stores. Hasbro tried it a couple of decades ago and that worked out poorly for them (see "Hasbro Improves Results").  Many retailers feel that GW looks for markets with third party stores doing well with their products in determining when to place GW stores.  If GW wants to move into a market and "play well" with the stores there, outreach and cooperation works wonders.
  4. Prune the product lines.  Are both Combat Patrol boxes and Boarding Party sets needed?  Inventory creep has proved a problem with GW’s range for years.

Any other recommendations on how to "fix" Games Workshop?  Send them to

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of