Yesterday Games Workshop finally revealed its big Warhammer+ offering, a multi-channel video and app package that bundles together its upcoming animations, app subscriptions, new shows, and back catalog content into one monthly subscription package. Here at Goonhammer we pride ourselves on having takes (usually bad ones), and so we sat down to discuss the new reveal and our feelings on it.
Today’s Round Table:
- Magos Sockbert
Q. Let’s start with your first impressions. How do you feel about the reveal?
Rob: Every part of the me who does market research and works in media was screaming internally when they first announced Warhammer+. Everything about it seemed like it was going to be a laughable disaster. So I’ll be the first to admit that GW surpassed my expectations on that front and just managed to cobble something together that’s worth the subscription fee, though I have some reservations about the different shows/content channels they’ve announced. Basically I didn’t find any one thing in the reveal to be terribly exciting or a “must-see/buy” but there’s enough here to pull me in.
The Vindicare rules, though.
Neon: If you’d told me even a year ago that GW was starting its own hybrid streaming/content subscription service I’d have told you to bugger off with complete shite. I’m pretty interested that we’ve crossed over to a weirder dimension now.
Rob: I am absolutely going to take that model off the terrain base and put it on a regular, shitty base, aiming down at the dirt like a huge dipshit, and then use the base for some cool terrain feature conversion work. I really hope the next three 40k models they do are the other three assassins and each one comes with a terrain feature that goes with this to make one big diorama/Sister statue that you can Voltron together using all four.
Magos Sockbert: I was… not expecting quality here. I was, both optimistically and saltily, expecting an excessively expensive Netflix knockoff that would limit their audience and perhaps, if we were unlucky, give us a way to preorder before the average gamer. What we seem to be getting is actually the whole package that might mean this is real, actual value.
Bair: I was potentially expecting a few more shows to be shown off? I mean, it’s their first foray into this sort of thing, I guess. Having 2 shows straight off the bat is cool, but not yet sure how I feel about 10-15 minute episodes over things like 30-45 min that we have generally come to expect from streaming shows. It’s definitely cheaper than I thought though, so that’s a win.
SRM: This was way, way more than I was expecting, for way, way less than I was expecting. On the Badcast I mentioned that the package would be more compelling if there was more to it than just some animations, and it sounds like they’re delivering exactly that.
Q. What are your thoughts on the animations?
Rob: The hand-drawn 2d animated piece with the Space Wolves is the most intriguing for me. It looks about a hundred times better than any of the 3D animated shows they’ve previewed. For as much hay as GW have made about “the most photorealistic animations ever,” photorealistic marines shouldn’t be their focus. The animation teams GW have hired are very talented, but they’ve mostly done their best work doing more with limited resources and covering some of those limitations with stylistic decisions – Helsreach using a very sketchlike style with limited environments and detail comes to mind – and I’m not sure that translates to trying to make something cinema quality. It’s way harder to make 3D work when you’re going for photorealism and that’s when you’ve got Pixar-level talent and budgets; they really need to focus more on creating something heavily stylized that will let them focus more on fluid motion, expressiveness, and quality action. Maybe they have that, but so far we’ve gotten a lot of really static stuff or people shouting and not so much what I’d consider great action, though I’m hopeful we’ll see more of that from the Astartes team.
Kenji: Based on the trailers, it really is hard to tell if there’s anything to these frankly. The animations tend to look bad, somewhere between Animatrix and average Netflix shows like Seis Manos. The cycling looks rough, the animations stiff, but the real killer is that there’s little pedigree on who is making/working on these other than for Astartes and Blood Angels. My biggest concern is that most BL material is too serious bolter porn and I don’t really want to see that animated; half the time I don’t even want to read it. For animation I either like slick stylized visuals or something fun that pops and bolter porn ain’t it. Give me like, Samurai Jack but GW or something.
Neon: Agreed with the above that it’s weird they’re holding details so close to the chest with these, with the only ones we really know… anything about being Astartes and Blood Angels. Itching feeling at the back of my neck tells me it’s for the same reason they don’t put credits in rulebooks any more, scared the shittiest parts of the community will pull some capital G Gamer shit or the like.
It’d honestly be nice to actually tell us what we can expect, if companies as obsessed with image as Disney can gush out details about shows still in pre-production, surely we can get a little more than we have.
Other than behind the scenes stuff, I am genuinely excited to see what they can do pushing Warhammer into a new medium.
Gunum: Well. I think the platform needs to start somewhere. I’m very happy that we are getting a location that will have a place for talented 40k creators to put forward their works. As this is a platform that will allow for development, I’m glad we’ve gotten the previews we have.
Magos Sockbert: “You. Will. Comply. Or. By. The Emperor. You. Will. Wish. You. Had.” Okay, so the writing seems to be a bit schlock on occasion, but I am unspeakably excited for the cartoon style products. While quality of 3D animation has improved drastically over the last few years, and we’ve seen some truly incredible stuff coming out (Astartes probably did more for GW’s exposure outside the gaming community than anything the company has done, ever), it’s also a medium that ages *poorly*. I’m a little worried that they’ve invested so heavily in 3D animation but in a few years they’ll look, well, ugly. Cartoon animation doesn’t really age in the same way, but you can definitely see where best in class professional 3D animation from even 2015 looks a bit more like a university project every day while cartoon animation still holds it’s shine.
Q. How do you feel about the live action content, e.g. the painting, lore, and battle report shows?
Rob: The painting and lore shows are the most interesting to me. The former because Louise is a fantastic painter with a lot of enthusiasm and I’m excited to see what she can do and the latter because it looks like it’ll have great production values and potentially give us something far beyond what standard “reading from Lexicanum entries” videos can give us. I’d like to see author interviews and an examination of how the lore has changed and get a better exploration of the intent behind some of the lore and where the push-and-pull between making a game and telling a story becomes a factor. I’m dreaming way too big on this, though.
Could I teach a course on Warhammer 40k lore myself? Yes. Does admitting that I could teach a course on 40k lore out loud make me feel like my life has gone very wrong in some ways? Also yes. Does that mean I won’t watch this? No it does not.
Kenji: This is probably the ‘best’ thing offered as a video service, but… There are already copious amounts of these, for free, all over the internet. There are in fact so many battle reports that you can select to watch them based on personality of players, production values, and even narrative or competitive play. The market for Battle Reports is literally oversaturated. Lore and painting are similar. If they do something similar to Duncan’s service, I can maybe see some value, but they already provide GW painting guides that do basics, and there are lots of free, very high quality alternatives that cover advanced techniques ranging from oil paints, airbrushing and more that are a dime a dozen on Youtube.
Gunum: I agree with Kenji here for sure. You can get this stuff… well… everywhere. From Dice Check, to Art of War, to Duncan Painting Donuts (I’m told that is not the name of his service.) I think having an “Official” GW location for this kind of thing, will provide an outlet for rules questions and allow us to see a direct RAI situation when it comes to muddied rules interactions. I’m looking at you Mont’ka.
Magos Sockbert: Thirded. They’re charging a service for something that exists for free (leaving aside Patreons and subscription channels), and while GW will clearly be trying to offer a high quality product than what’s already out there, it’s clearly the weakest part of what’s on offer. Fortunately, it’s free, since I’ve already paid for the subscription!
Rob: I’m incredibly skeptical that the battle reports will be something I’ll want to watch. Warhammer is not an incredibly spectator-friendly game and so if you aren’t bringing gaming expertise to the reports like you’d get from Vanguard Tactics or Art of War, I don’t see why you’d tune into these more than once as a novelty. I like 40k so much that I write about it on a weekly basis and even I find the concept of watching people play a game of 40k boring. Basically what GW battle reports bring to the table are 1. High production values and 2. Amazing terrain and painted models, and the latter will likely get very lost on a stream.
Kenji: You know what, I changed my mind a bit. If GW can give us BatReps that actually get the rules right I would pay money for it. Stop making “getting rules wrong” your channel’s quirky personality, Youtubers.
Neon: While I’m not too fussed on the Battle Reports and Lore videos (outside of thinking lol, maybe it’ll push the latter genre beyond dully recounting Lexicanum pages for easy clicks), I’m very into the Painting Academy. Beyond being a fan of Lou, it would be nice to see advanced techniques and the like with the ease of access in the writing of GW’s other painting videos. While obviously they’re gonna stick hard to only using Citadel and not touch into stuff they don’t provide as mentioned above, I’ve personally found a lot of independent painting videos online actively AWFUL at actually explaining technique, often feeling less like a lesson and more like “Look how well I can paint.”
SRM: This is extremely cool to me. The animation is probably a sexier sell for the sizzle reel than “here’s a person rolling some dice or talking at a camera”. GW taking cues from the Youtube hams community and doing them with a budget and oversight are real cool though. Looking forward to seeing lore videos that aren’t just a dude reading a Lexicanum article verbatim or delivered by an actual fascist. Louise doing more in-depth painting tutorials is extremely cool too, and it sounds like they’re keeping the existing Youtube stream of free content going as well which was my concern. Battle Reports aren’t really my thing, but I like that there’s more or less something for everybody here. If they’re cut to be pretty short and just focus on the highlights instead of a dull 3+ hour stream of a couple folks around a table, they could be cool.
Q. What about the other content – the apps and the Vault?
Rob: The 40k app isn’t particularly great but I’ve heard good things about the old AoS app. I’m already paying for the 40k app and so announcing that this will include the app subscription basically makes it a thing I may as well pay for to get the extra value. The Vault is interesting but for it to be a real home run for me they’ve got to load it with stuff that’s legitimately difficult to get: Put in the old Citadel miniatures catalogs for me to dig through, or stuff like designer’s commentary on older rules and books. Give me the old Eye of Terror campaign updates. That’s the kind of stuff I’d really like to see in the Vault.
Fowler: As a satisfied Azyr user, I hope the new app is on par with that one. I’ve happily paid for a sub (and a few books) and worry a bit about having the ecosystem disrupted right as games start ramping up. I don’t mind losing the stuff I bought there as long as the new AoS app includes the previous edition books with the sub (like the 40k one did).
Gunum: 40k app is bad. AoS app is good. This doesn’t seem like it will change any time soon. The vault is kinda fun for old heads, so I appreciate that. Though I think it’s lame they’re cutting the old rules out of the old publications in the archive.
Neon: A good move to tie their subs into Warhammer+ at the very least. I’m not as down on the state of the 40k app as others are but hopefully this move really kicks them into hiring a bigger staff to work on the various game apps, especially if the implications that they’re adding more pan out.
Vault is interesting but lmao that they’re pulling the rules parts out of the included books, particularly when the old style of rules formatting and profile pages often included the kind of lore chunks this feature is supposedly preserving access too.
Bair: The Vault I’m interested in seeing what’s there in terms of the Old World, because I wasn’t really paying attention to lore at all when it existed and am playing catch up anyways on that. It’s not a secret that the 40k app had an awful launch and hasn’t really recovered since; the aos app however is fucking gorgeous and I love it and I’m happy it’s just included. But really, this is still cheap as anything. A fiver a month? That’s the cost of a hipster iced coffee, or a pint, in London.
Magos Sockbert: The Age of Sigmar app is probably the best Warhammer app out there right now, official or otherwise, and while I’m excited to hear it’s getting a bit more support, I’m terrified of them doing to it what they did to the 40k app. On the other hand, depending on what goes into the Vault this may prove to be the best thing about the service. I’m one of those poor fools who trawls buy swap sell pages looking for old Warhammer Fantasy and earlier 40k edition products, so the ability to just access the End Times whenever I like is an incredible sell for me. Easily accessible books behind a paywall is going to do more for reducing piracy than a million 40k apps.
SRM: Sockbert makes a good point; having this stuff readily available seems like a good way to combat piracy just by offering good products at a good value. I’ve always wanted an archive of old White Dwarfs since there’s just so much cool stuff that gets lost to time with them, and a slow rollout of backissues via this service is fantastic. There’s like 40 years of old stuff they can just dripfeed out, and that excites me. I also share some of the hesitancy here about the AoS app changing, as the existing app is pretty lovely. We’ll see what happens, but their vague mention of other apps makes me hope they offer some more for Necromunda campaign tracking or what have you in the future.
Q. What are you most excited about/what’s the best part?
Fowler: Louise is a phenomenal artist, and I’m psyched to see her presenting the painting masterclass. She has painted the coolest and most bonkers model I have ever seen, and I hope we get a bit of behind the scenes on how you put that absolute madness onto plastic.
Kenji: I’m hoping that maybe this will morph into something more entertaining. Perhaps the animated shows will be good, or they’ll make more diverse content like comedies and the like. I’d love to see skits or even cheesy live action stuff. Anyone remember those Sports Center skits with mascots in an office? Give me that but with Space Marines and Orks or something.
Gunum: Astartes. Gimme it. All of it. Give me official GW data sheets and chapter tactics produced by the vision of the artist. I’m excited for all the independent* artist support and I’m excited to see the growth provided.
Neon: Besides the Vindicare and having some more hot content to pour down my ravenous attention span, the vouchers. I’m serious. I’m genuinely curious what GW, with the notorious attitude against reducing prices and the like, will consider putting out on vouchers/coupons for subscribers. Also count me in as part of the Lou Crew.
SRM: It seems kind of reductive given all the cool new stuff being rolled out, but I’m really excited to see old books, old White Dwarfs, and so on coming out. It really seems like they’re trying to make this not just a platform for a couple of streaming shows, but an essential ‘ham companion. I’m also pretty stoked they’re legitimizing a lot of the amateur video content out there by both assumedly doing it better (Loremasters, Battle Reports) or hiring on the folks who’ve made fan content (Astartes II, Angels of Death) and it seems like a real smart 21st century move.
Q. What’s not so great here/what were you hoping to see?
Rob: I didn’t have a ton of expectations here but I still want GW to move to a digital rule subscription model, even if that’s an added subscription cost on top of the $6/month for this. Also I’d really like to see the 40k app finally become worth subscribing to – having some kind of update on the 40k app and ongoing updates would have been really helpful, since there’s a lot that still doesn’t work in the app.
Kenji: A service like this needs a lot more ‘pop’ and nothing here makes me feel the usual GW FOMO that gets me going. At the basic ask, I am paying, over time, for a miniature and access to some GW shows. But how do I watch them? Where? How long are they? What’s the content schedule? What will next year look like? I think that, when compared to what is already easily available for free on YouTube, I’d have a hard time buying into this.
Rob: That’s a good question – they need to answer where and how you watch the shows here. It’s stuff we’ll learn soon enough, I imagine, but it’s a pretty big question mark. For my money, this needs to be something I can put on my PC monitor while I paint.
Gunum: Paywall models? I think? That’s the thing I was really iffy on. If it was a year total in time, instead of constantly in time, I’d be happier. I really want it to be a year in total. Allow me to subscribe for 9 months, take a break, then do the next 3 and still get my Vindicare model.
Fowler: I’d like to see this system expand a bit beyond the pure “app” world. Having some manner of web interface for the 40k / Sigmar specific apps so we could use a laptop would be excellent. My eyesight isn’t going bad that fast but a bigger screen is much easier to share.
Bair: I kept low expectations, so like, nothing disappointed here really. I’m happy that the content creators making kick ass animations are getting paid for their work and that it doesn’t actually cost us much either. I’m very happy to support this so they can do more moving forwards.
Magos Sockbert: A digital rule subscription needs to happen *now*. With this model they’re proving it isn’t difficult, and there are some serious issues in their supply chain when I can find a complete copy of a Codex online before my Games Workshop pre-order even ships…
SRM: Despite some of their vague wording otherwise, I’m a little worried this will detract from their existing video content. Not for any real malicious or greedy reason, more that they only have so much staff with so much time available to them. The existing stuff on Youtube is a great place to point newcomers and I’d hate to see that lose support.
Q. Overall, have GW sold you on the Warhammer+ subscription?
Rob: I mean, yeah, if only because I already subscribe to the app. I was worried this might be a $10+/month service but at $6 they’ve managed to cobble together just enough value that I’ll sign up day one. It’s also worth noting that GW – for better or worse – haven’t made it so you *have* to have a subscription to play AoS or 40k yet, so you can safely ignore this if you don’t feel it’s for you. I *think* that’s a good thing, but again I’d love to have a digital rules subscription model in place that allows the rules to be more of a living ruleset.
Gunum: Well. I feel like I have to because I’m a sucker for paywall unique models lol and I’d hate to miss out on what I get for being with them for TWO years!? Give me that special Space Marine LT, baby! Sadly, that is the main draw for me to sub, as the 40k benefits are all really hard to truly enjoy. App is still just a nightmare imo, and though I love the video content, I don’t see myself subbing for longer than a month to watch said content then never use it again.
Kenji: This is essentially a way to get 50 dollars out of me to give me a miniature next year, or 60~ if I do monthly, and then I get some stuff I’ll forget about and won’t watch. So, not for me, yet anyway.
SRM: Yeah, I’m down. I’d probably sub for a month if it was just the animations so I could catch up on them, but the apps, regularly updating back issues of books to page through, live action content, sweet models and more make a good argument here. They’re really trying to put out something for everybody here, and I like that a lot.
Have any questions or feedback? Want to share your own thoughts on the reveal? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.