I’ve already made a few comments about this story on Twitter, Facebook and G+ but I think it’s really worthy of a full on blog post. The short version, if you don’t want to follow the link, is that some people are already using fabbers to make copies of physical objects or to produce models similar to those produced by certain companies.
Yet again, as with ebooks, gamers seem to be a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting new tech, but companies it seems are still lagging behind.
We’ve been through this before with MP3, we’re going through it with ebooks and movies and the same mistakes are being made over and over again. It sickens me to see companies refusing to learn from history and getting into the same, pointless, expensive, litigious, good-will burning cycle over and again.
The music companies did the absolute wrong thing in going after music ‘pirates’, suing little girls and trying to shore up a broken business model. Until the apple store came along anyway. Even now they’re still trying to stop the various streaming and radio-alike services and yet again, all it’s doing is making people resent them.
We’re still seeing it with films, but the better solution – Lovefilm, Netflix, on demand movies, that’s coming around slowly though companies still seem too keen on doing staggered releases which only feeds piracy as people get frustrated waiting for their favourite shows or films to come out.
Ebooks? We’ve still not quite gotten to the iTunes or Netflix stage there, though it’s coming. Book publishers still seem intent on over-charging for ebooks and, again, doing the frustrating, staggered release model that, again, feeds piracy. Wizards removing their old PDFs from the market is a prime example of a ‘Wrong Move’ in this arena.
Now we see GW making the same mistake only with physical objects. What you have here is not a threat, but an opportunity. GW has had some… questionable business practices over the last twenty years or so (since 1990) and has a bad rep. Here’s an opportunity to fix a lot of that damage and steal a march on competitors like Fantasy Flight or Privateer Press who have been gobbling a chunk of GWs business.
Engage with your fans. Put your patterns up FOR SALE at a reasonable price. Go through your back catalogue of designs, all the way back, scan your old figures. 3D printing doesn’t wear out moulds. You have decades of great designs and games and you could make a bundle off the patterns for playing pieces from all the old greats. Gamers would go nuts for it and you’d get a huge amount of good will and be able to create a trusted space in which hobbyists could share their own conversions, modifications and figures.
If you don’t, somebody will. A company less hidebound, more forward thinking, agile enough to innovate and take a risk with a view to the long term.
Not that anybody ever listens to me…