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  • Warpath Universe Marketing Strategy

    I was wondering whether anyone knows anything about Mantic's marketing campaign / strategy to make a success of Warpath / Firefight?

    I'm definitely up for getting heavily invested in the game (it looks awesome!), but am just a little concerned about spending larger sums of money only to find that the game doesn't really take off and I'm forced to play the same tiny handful of people repeatedly to get games in (or possibly not at all!). My concern comes from the more relaxed approach I have understood (I may be wrong!) Mantic to have taken towards marketing some of its other games, Kings of War in particular. As I've said many times in different posts, miniature war gaming is a market that is utterly dependent on network effects: the more people playing, the higher utility each player gets, and the more likely the game will survive. This effect increases in line with the barriers to entry (most notably price) because more individuals interested in games requiring less investment can 'take a punt' and buy without worrying too much about whether that money was wasted. Warpath is a mass battle war game and therefore requires significant investment, meaning a concerted strategy is far more necessary compared to something like Deadzone to get people playing it.

    Having the same models for Deadzone, Firefight and Warpath is obviously a cracking way to reduce barriers to entry into Warpath by enabling the use of models in smaller scale games. Is there going to be any particular push to encourage players to move up? Even if there is, there will be natural attrition going up that scale - not all current/future Deadzone players will purchase more models and start regularly playing Firefight, and not all current/future Firefight players will purchase yet more models and start regularly playing Warpath. However, even if all current Deadzone players suddenly started regularly playing Warpath, from my understanding I don't believe there will be enough to generate a lively scene.

    Are there any other ways that Mantic will be getting people in to the game? Will we see the same kind of concerted push to display and sell products in FLGSs like Mantic did so well with for Walking Dead? That game certainly boomed, so I'm hoping Mantic have connected success with a proper marketing strategy. Will barriers to entry be reduced in other ways? Even simple things like providing a proper way for players to find tournaments by providing a slick central repository (something long overdue in KoW) would really help to fuel enthusiasm and participation. I'm just trying to get a bit of confidence that Mantic are going to push this game properly, and that I will therefore still be able to play in a few years time without needing to go on some Golden Fleece-like quest to find another player.


    p.s. before anyone brings up comparisons to KoW - I completely understand that KoW has been able to grow without too much marketing activity from Mantic. However, I would argue that the situations are completely different, as well as that KoW could have been bigger than it is now with more concentrated effort from Mantic. With KoW the ground was entirely favourable: GW ****ed off countless fantasy war gaming players who were then looking for a new home and there were no real competitors (since 9th Age kept being unable to get its house in order). Mantic also massively reduced the barriers to entry by ensuring that pretty much every WHFB player would be able to use all their existing models to play KoW. With Warpath, Mantic is going up against THE big boy of sci-fi tabletop war gaming, and without the benefit of being able to use models interchangeably between the two. On top of this, far from being vulnerable like AoS was, 40K is receiving renewed interest due to the release of 8th Ed both from GW with new models and players because it's something new.
    Last edited by BAE; 14-06-2017, 03:04 PM. Reason: Typo

  • #2
    I'm watching this with interest, too, given the recent release of 8th edition 40K. I'm a new DZ player and really like the game, but won't scale up to Firefight and Warpath until I get a clearer picture of how things shake out. I also live in Japan, which makes finding players even more difficult. I've just been lucky in stumbling onto a pocket of Japanese DZ players here.

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    • #3
      Having already invested a lot in warpath, I would be keen to see a good strategy going forward. Unfortunately with mantic not wanting to support rules for other games armies, they have to produce top notch rules to hold on to people. Obviously this needs to happen with a strong release stratagey.

      As you say, deadzone -> firefight -> warpath is a good way to progress players. However, the firefight rules are very weak compared to warpath, very much an alpha release, which was very present while development was going on. With new 40k just around the corner this needed to already be a good balanced ruleset to catch anyone leaving GW. Added to this that GW have changed their rules to be more like warpath (blasts, simplified/quicker) and its going to be tough to convert lots of people.

      On top of this, its taken a long time since the rules were finalised to get a rules committee together, and there still isn't an FAQ for all the mistakes.

      Mantic have done an OK job of Facebook engagement, but have completely dropped the official forum in the process, which I'm not a fan of.

      I think at this stage the best thing mantic could do is have a load more army rules ready for roughly 6 months after the release of 40k to catch those that decide it isn't their thing. From what I've seen most players that left 40k are pretty excited for the new rules, so it could be interesting.

      It would also be nice to see a reprint of the deadzone book - it was really frustrating when I bought the book to see the level of mistakes. I think firefight will need this too, but we'll wait until the FAQ appears... (Pretty sure almost every unit needs to be repointed!)


      [For the record, I really like warpath proper rules. Having only a weekend to proof read it has lead to a few printing issues (fire in the hole missed from loads of entries). Also as I've said several times, forcing the books to be printed so early was a mistake IMO. I'm in favour of shipping models with digital rules and printing the book after people have had play test time with their models]

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      • #4
        Yeah I agree they dropped the ball on the rules and the delays. I have been very vocal about some mistakes and grave inbalances, and we have no official FAQ or errata so far. What's worse is that the kickstarter's official shipping date was October 2016, and it is now becoming evident that a year later, October 2017 is a hopeful date; which makes the official launch of the game around next christmas. This year of delay gave time for WH40K to come earlier with renewed rules and invigorate the sci-fi wargamers. I have seen this in my area, and it will be really difficult to ask them to try warpath later this year.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by dimonju View Post
          Yeah I agree they dropped the ball on the rules and the delays. I have been very vocal about some mistakes and grave inbalances, and we have no official FAQ or errata so far. What's worse is that the kickstarter's official shipping date was October 2016, and it is now becoming evident that a year later, October 2017 is a hopeful date; which makes the official launch of the game around next christmas. This year of delay gave time for WH40K to come earlier with renewed rules and invigorate the sci-fi wargamers. I have seen this in my area, and it will be really difficult to ask them to try warpath later this year.
          Actually, the game has officially launched. Rulebooks and armies are available in stores right now to pick up and kickstarter backers will have received most, if not all of their pledges. The only thing that are delayed are 4 vehicle kits (with 7 total variants) which was unavoidable and is being worked on as fast as possible.

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          • #6
            It is hard to know for the UK or world but in my local gaming scene I would say Warpath is dead in the water already. Yes it was easy to miss the official launch absolutely zero effective promotion. I don't know of anyone who has swapped from 40K to Warpath. 40K eighth edition has created a real buzz, with disillusioned players willing to give the system another go. I get the over whelming feeling Mantic are more interested in the next kickstarter that supporting existing systems like Warpath. I only play mass battle. I would say the rules are OK but not inspiring. A lot of balance issues. There is so much churn in the gaming market now it is a real challenge for any new system to gain traction, I don't think that has happened or will happen for Warpath.

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            • #7
              I think mantic are planning on changing it, but the kickstarters are a problem for flgs. My local store have said they can't stock mantic stuff since there is little market after a kickstarter. If mantic focused on just the new plastics, and then left everything else to clubs/stores then it would be easier to promote. As it is you get lots of players backing the kickstarter with complete armies, and others with nothing and little motivation to start. Having said all this, my local store now stocks the walking dead... But that does have a successful IP behind it doing all the promotional work for them.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by MrPieChee View Post
                I think mantic are planning on changing it, but the kickstarters are a problem for flgs. My local store have said they can't stock mantic stuff since there is little market after a kickstarter. If mantic focused on just the new plastics, and then left everything else to clubs/stores then it would be easier to promote. As it is you get lots of players backing the kickstarter with complete armies, and others with nothing and little motivation to start. Having said all this, my local store now stocks the walking dead... But that does have a successful IP behind it doing all the promotional work for them.
                Yeah, I think you might be right on Kickstarter campaigns soaking up so much of the market that is pushes out FLGSs, and Mantic have said that they are looking to move away from them. Still, it's important to remember that despite how many people know about their games, the company is still absolutely tiny compared to a behemoth like GW: from their last financial reports GW had turnover of around 120m while Mantic was still under the audit exemption limit of 10.2m, and I'm guessing it is quite a way under this figure. For a directly comparable figure, GW had total current assets of 31,160,000 while Mantic only had 879,859. If you then think that only a fraction of current assets will ever be spare (and liquid enough!) to fund NPD and marketing, it completely justifies Mantic's need to raise serious amounts of capital first. Obviously, a bank loan would be the usual method, but newer companies like Mantic, which from a bank's perspective are essentially trying a new approach to an already relatively saturated market that contains high barriers to entry in the form of network effects, will only be able to access considerably worse interest rates than established big boys like GW, who if push came to shove would be able to liquidate enough of the company to cover the amount of any loan they took out. I'm guessing that when the interest rates offered by banks drop to a lower figure than the fee required by Kickstarter, which will inevitably happen as Mantic grows and becomes more stable, we will see less and less Kickstarter activity.

                I have to disagree on that last comment though - Mantic ran a great marketing campaign around Walking Dead. I'll admit that the winds were favourable what with the success of the TV series, but that by no means guaranteed the success of a tabletop game and a range of unpainted miniatures, which is rather a niche product. The high quality promotional material and stands available for any FLGSs, the hyperactive push at gaming and board gaming conventions, and the variety of interviews and walkthroughs with gaming news vendors created a real buzz, which then translated through into sales. Zombies don't do it for me so I've not picked it up, but the amount of energy surrounding it did make me think twice!
                Last edited by BAE; 21-06-2017, 11:36 AM. Reason: typo

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by MrPieChee View Post
                  Having already invested a lot in warpath, I would be keen to see a good strategy going forward. Unfortunately with mantic not wanting to support rules for other games armies, they have to produce top notch rules to hold on to people. Obviously this needs to happen with a strong release stratagey.
                  I was chatting to people at HQ when I was there at the weekend, raised the question I posed in my first post, and was pleasantly surprised by the response. Understanding the issues that a resurgent 40k would pose for a new sci fi skirmish / mass battle game they have decided to hold off on the marketing push for two months. This seems like a sensible approach to take what with GW hogging the airwaves as they are: any marketing expenditure at the moment would be ****ing in the wind. However, once the initial heat of 8th ed has died down they will be hitting the marketing hard, and are already gearing up for it. They said they have learned the lessons of the Walking Dead marketing campaign and are looking to repeat the same biltz, this time with more Mantic-organised events thrown in to the mix (hence the employment of a barbarian Scotsman, Andy, as a new Organised Play Coordinator!). Considering the capital constraints that a company as small as Mantic will face this seems like the most appropriate strategy - the usual marketing push, but with Mantic taking a more hands-on approach to ensuring that there are events that people can go to for games (at the start there will most likely not be enough of a scene to produce the number of TOs required to keep it alive). This then produces a stable enough base for word of mouth (which is free marketing!) to grow the games to a self-sustainable level. It also has the benefit of allowing players who already know about the games now to learn the rules, paint up some miniatures and start playing some games before the party really starts to get going, making the word of mouth aspect more effective from the get-go.

                  In light of the above I decided the risk level was acceptable enough to go ahead so I am now the owner of a Forge Fathers Mega Force box. Now time to start painting...!


                  Disclaimer: the only information that I gleaned from Mantic HQ was that the big marketing push for the games would be starting in 2 months and that they will be looking to organise more events as a company. Anything written in the above post further to these two pieces of information are my own assumptions based on this knowledge.
                  Last edited by BAE; 21-06-2017, 12:15 PM. Reason: Disclaimer

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BAE View Post

                    I was chatting to people at HQ when I was there at the weekend, raised the question I posed in my first post, and was pleasantly surprised by the response. Understanding the issues that a resurgent 40k would pose for a new sci fi skirmish / mass battle game they have decided to hold off on the marketing push for two months. This seems like a sensible approach to take what with GW hogging the airwaves as they are: any marketing expenditure at the moment would be ****ing in the wind. However, once the initial heat of 8th ed has died down they will be hitting the marketing hard, and are already gearing up for it. They said they have learned the lessons of the Walking Dead marketing campaign and are looking to repeat the same biltz, this time with more Mantic-organised events thrown in to the mix (hence the employment of a barbarian Scotsman, Andy, as a new Organised Play Coordinator!). Considering the capital constraints that a company as small as Mantic will face this seems like the most appropriate strategy - the usual marketing push, but with Mantic taking a more hands-on approach to ensuring that there are events that people can go to for games (at the start there will most likely not be enough of a scene to produce the number of TOs required to keep it alive). This then produces a stable enough base for word of mouth (which is free marketing!) to grow the games to a self-sustainable level. It also has the benefit of allowing players who already know about the games now to learn the rules, paint up some miniatures and start playing some games before the party really starts to get going, making the word of mouth aspect more effective from the get-go.

                    In light of the above I decided the risk level was acceptable enough to go ahead so I am now the owner of a Forge Fathers Mega Force box. Now time to start painting...!


                    Disclaimer: the only information that I gleaned from Mantic HQ was that the big marketing push for the games would be starting in 2 months and that they will be looking to organise more events as a company. Anything written in the above post further to these two pieces of information are my own assumptions based on this knowledge.
                    Good to hear all that!

                    I really was worried about the apparent dead silent that we were feeling on Mantics behalf regarding Warpath. We LOVE the game and are trying really hard on pushing the game and deadzone in our area. Check the event we are running BAE to see the magnitude of the effort we are making, you might even want to join the ranks of your fellow compatriots that are already on board, we've been told that a the plane tickets are cheaper than most train fares in Britain!

                    The thing is, a small group can only do so much and we need the support from the people making the game to succeed, hearing that they are going to push the game hard makes me happy, but please don't forget about Spain, we've proven that we're able to do huge things, like for example THE BIGGEST DEADZONE TOURNAMENT IN THE WORLD, btw KoW and Warpath are next on the list!

                    Tales of a Stranded Ghekkotah

                    KoW Painting Blog

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