Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thoughts on 3d Printing and War Gaming Miniatures

I wanted to call out an article from on 3d printing and the war gaming scene.   This is a good article and it echos something I heard time and again at the gaming convention.  "What is going to happen to war gaming when 3d Printing becomes mainstream?"  Seriously as a role playing guy I will totally go with the cheapest option to me and if that is scanning an pathfinder ogre, I purchased from ebay, and then printing as many as I need, I will do that.  Similarly if I was doing 40K I would print the hell out of any army I was playing.  My question to the industry is what happens when this becomes cost effective.

In looking at the picture this pretty obviously a copy but as printing and scanning improve you are going to see one for one copies coming out.  I am sure there will be some crack down both at Games Workshop events and at Friendly Local Gaming Stores.  Both of these will be losing out on sales and I don't see either of them opening play space to people whom evades sales.  Games Workshop will probably start miniatures inspections at their tournament events, with weighing and scratch tests of material. 

One odd thing for me is there are companies like Privateer Press that I don't really want to screw over, in this fashion but I would rather not have to put miniatures together, so this option continues to be appealing.  I am just not a crafter nor a painter; conversion modelling is right out for me.  Which gets me to a weird point say I was 99% actual product in my army and just did a 3d copy of a conversion that was not currently sold by Games Workshop, how is that wrong?  I lack the skills to do the conversion.

In thinking about the situation there is an easy solution for the folks at Games Workshop or your FLGS.  They need to be in the 3d printing business themselves.  Games Workshop have their own shops and could be in the best position to implement this.  They do the printing on site per order.  This cuts out all overhead related to shipping and a fair amount of storage as they would only be storing plastics that could be come any miniature rather than every miniature.  It also allows their whole back catalog to become instantly available to the customer while they wait and get a Cinnabon.  This solution would also work at the FLGS as well though they would have to cover more product lines and may need multiple 3D printing machines.

There is also the option of embracing change completely.  I have long thought, to the disagreement of my friends, that Games Workshop should put their rules completely online and charge monthly for access.  They could put up 3d printing versions of their miniatures and charge micro payment, well macro knowing GW, to download and print them.  I think a full monthly subscription allowing rights to a few minatures and micro payments for extras would probably benefit Games Workshop in the long run.  They could just say something like your account does not allow you to field this miniature at tournaments.  Making it so you are buying the right to play more than the miniature itself, wow that is totally fucked up!  The good thing there is they would be able to update rules via regular revision and not have broken rules sitting out there forever.  They would also be able to quickly get product out.  And for them no shipping or storage, becoming more kinko's than a game seller.

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