Games Workshop was founded in 1975 by three friends - Ian Livingstone, Steve Jackson and John Peake - who handmade and sold traditional wooden games from their London homes. They were originally an importer of American board games and RPGs. When they became publishers of the UK based role-playing magazine White Dwarf, Games Workshop created a national chain of gaming stores in the 1980s. Their publishing arm also created UK reprints of famous but expensive-to-import American RPGs.
During the 90s, following a management buyout in December 1991, the company refocused on their most lucrative lines, namely their miniature wargame lines. The retail chain refocused on a younger, more family-oriented market. The change of direction was a great success with a rising share price and growing profits, in spite of the fact that it lost the company much of its old, loyal fanbase. Games Workshop expanded in Europe and the USA, opening new branches and organizing events. In October 1997, all UK-based operations were relocated to the current HQ in Lenton, Nottingham.
During the early 2000s Games Workshop acquired the rights to produce Lord of the Rings miniatures. Taking advantage of the success of the then-recent Peter Jackson films, the company experienced a temporary boom. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the company was having problems with falling profits being blamed on collectible card games. The company has been attempting to create a dual approach that will appeal to both older, loyal customers while still attracting the younger audience. This has seen the creation of initiatives such as the "Fanatic" range that supports more marginal lines with a lower cost trading model.
In 2014 CEO Tom Kirby stepped down and was replaced by Kevin Rountree. By 2020 Games Workshop had experienced significant turnaround from its slump of the early 2010s. In 2018 its annual report indicated profits had nearly doubled from the previous year and the companies share price had risen by 150%. By 2020, its share price had risen by 1,000% over the previous five years.
Games Workshop originally produced miniature figures via an associated, originally independent, company called Citadel Miniatures (of which Marauder Miniatures was an imprint) while the main company concentrated on retail. The distinction between the two blurred after Games Workshop stores ceased to sell retail products by other manufacturers, and Citadel was effectively merged back into Games Workshop. Games Workshop also maintains a specialty, more expensive production line of miniatures made by Forge World.
The following games are the main production lines of Games Workshop.
- Warhammer 40,000
- Warhammer Fantasy, replaced officially by Age of Sigmar
- Middle-earth: Includes The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game and The Hobbit
The following games are official spin-offs games that are intertwined with the main production lines.
- Warhammer 40,000
- Age of Sigmar
- Warhammer Underworlds
- War Cry
- Blood Bowl
- Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower
- Warhammer Quest: Shadow Over Hammerhal
- Warhammer: The Old World - Reboot of the Warhammer Fantasy Battle setting
Out of print
The following are older, out of print spin-offs of Warhammer 40,000:
- Battlefleet Gothic - focuses on space combat
- Epic Armageddon - uses smaller versions of models to fight larger battles
- Inquisitor - a classic miniature RPG game
- Mordheim - gang warfare in the Mordheim city (Warhammer Fantasy)
- Warmaster - uses smaller versions of models to fight larger battles (Warhammer Fantasy)
- Dreadfleet - Warhammer Fantasy
- Space Marine: an expansion to the epic-scale Adeptus Titanicus introducing troops
- Advanced Space Crusade
- Space Fleet: predecessor to Battlefleet Gothic
- Tyranid Attack
- Ultra Marines
- Stormcloud Attack
- First Strike
- Lost Patrol
- Space Hulk
- Gangs of Commorragh
- Imperial Knights: Renegade
- Space Marine Adventures: Labyrinth of the Necrons
- Battle of Five Armies - uses smaller versions of models to fight larger battles (Lord of the Rings). Replaced by The Hobbit after the release of the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
These games were not made by Games Workshop but made by other toy companies and available in stores other than Games Workshop and specialist gaming stores.
- Cubicle7 currently publishes several licensed role-playing games including Warhammer Fantasy Role Play, Age of Sigmar: Soulbound, and Warhammer 40,000: Wrath and Glory.
- Fantasy Flight Games published a large number of Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy role-playing games from 2008 until 2017.
- Space Crusade
- Operation Dreadnought: an expansion for Space Crusade
- Eldar Attack: an expansion for Space Crusade
Many computer games have been produced by third parties based on the Warhammer universes owned by the firm. Some of the most notable include the Dawn of War series, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Vermintide, and Total War: Warhammer series.
Games Workshop's publishing arm is known as Black Library Publishing. It publishes an array of novels, short stories, and audio dramas across Games Workshops intellectual properties. Its main current product lines are divided into Warhammer 40,000, Horus Heresy, Age of Sigmar, Warhammer Chronicles (Warhammer Fantasy Battle), and Warhammer Horror brands.
Games Workshop's best known magazine is White Dwarf, which in the UK has reached 354 issues. Seven different international editions of White Dwarf are currently published, with different material, in five languages. Originally a more general role playing magazine, since around issue 100 White Dwarf has been devoted exclusively to the support of Games Workshop properties. Currently Games Workshop also publishes Inferno!, which contains anthologies of short stories.
Games Workshop also published Fanatic Magazine in support of their Specialist Games range, but it was discontinued after issue 10, though it lives on in electronic form. Fanatic was preceded by a number of newsletters, devoted to the particular games. There was also the Citadel Journal, intended as a "deeper" magazine for modelling enthusiasts and more experienced gamers. It often featured unusual rules and armies, and was occasionally used as an outlet for test rules. Under some editors, they also published fan fiction and fan art. It was taken over by BL Publishing.
Games Workshop has published comics through third parties, such as with Titan Comics. In 2019 it was announced that Games Workshop would be teaming up with Marvel Comics to produce a new line of comics based on Warhammer properties.
Television and Film
Games Workshop has released films in the past, such as Ultramarines - A Warhammer 40,000 Movie. However recently they have made a more seirous attempt to expand into the market, and in the 2019-2020 period a wide variety of media projects were announced such as an Eisenhorn Television Series, Angels of Death, and Hammer and Bolter which are available via Games Workshop streaming app Warhammer+.
- 1: Warhammer Community Old World?! New Warhammer!! (posted 11/15/2019) (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 2: BBC: Games Workshop annual report sees profits nearly double (posted July 18 2018) (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 3: Belfasttelegraph: Games Workshop to shrug off high street malaise with soaring sales (posted January 24th 2020) (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 4: PCGamesN: A Warhammer 40k TV series is coming, starring Inquisitor Eisenhorn (Posted 19/7/2019) (Last Accessed 4/24/2020)
- 5: An animated series from the far future? Yeah, it is!! (Posted 17/12/2018) (Last Accessed 4/24/2020)
- 6: Warhammer Community: Warhammer Preview 3: Revenge of the Preview (posted 4/18/2020) (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 7: Black Library Website (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 8: Dawn of War Website (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 9: Steam: Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 10: Vermintide Website (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 11: Total War Website (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 12: Forge World Website (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 13: Titan Comics Website (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 14: Marvel.com: Marvel and Games Workshop Team Up to Publish 'Warhammer' Comics (posted September 30 2019) (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 15: Fantasyflightgames.com: A New Path Forward (posted September 9 2016) (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 16: Cublicle7 website (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 17: The Independent: Games Workshop in fresh profit alert (posted January 6 2007 (last accessed 4/24/2020)
- 18: Escapistmagazine: Troubled Games Workshop Appoints New CEO for 2015 (posted November 11 2014) (last accessed 4/24/2020)