Games Workshop Group PLC
Games Workshop Logo
Type(s) Public
Foundation January 1975
Location Nottingham, England
Industry Miniature wargaming publisher
Key People Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone (founders)
Bryan Ansell, original chief of Citadel Miniatures became Managing Director until Tom Kirby
Mark Wells (Chief Ex.)
Tom Kirby (Chairman)
Products Warhammer Fantasy Battle
Warhammer 40,000
The Lord of the Rings SBG

Games Workshop Group PLC (usually known as simply Games Workshop and often abbreviated to GW) is a British game production and retailing company. The company has extremely strong links with Fighting Fantasy not least because it has the same co-founders, in Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. It has also produced a number of licensed products bearing the Fighting Fantasy brand. Games Workshop is one of the largest wargames companies in the world.


Games Workshop FoundationEdit

In 1974, Ian Livingstone, Steve Jackson and John Peake, the three Shepherd's Bush flat mates, together decided to start their own business which they eventually decided would revolve around their common interest in playing games. The fledgling enterprise was to be called "Games Workshop", which they came up with after a "Name Brainstorming" session.[1][2]. Thus Games Workshop was born in January 1975.[1]

To get themselves more widely known they had been publishing a magazine called Owl and Weasel. Somehow, an American called Gary Gygax got hold of a copy and sent them a copy of his new game to review, called Dungeons & Dragons. Having played and reviewed the game Ian and Steve thought it was fantastic in both senses of the word. The Fantasy genre had not been in their minds when setting up Games Workshop but now it was placed firmly in the centre. John Peake felt this was a departure from his vision and separated company in mid-1975. Steve and Ian set about securing an exclusive three-year European distribution agreement from TSR Hobbies for the game which unbeknownst to them was also a fledgling company at the time. Issue 6 of Owl and Weasel was dedicated to Dungeons & Dragons.

In 1976, Steve and Ian decided to go to America and headed to GenCon in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. This games convention, organised by TSR to support the growing popularity of Dungeons & Dragons, had many other role-playing companies and Ian and Steve struck deals with many of them. The business flourished and Games Workshop began its expansion from being a bedroom mail-order company to a successful gaming publisher and manufacturer.

Jackson admits that the centre of a new era in gaming history was Dungeons & Dragons, but as the agents they were the centre of the European scene. The early promotional magazine - Owl and Weasel - was superseded in June 1977, partially to advertise the opening of the first Games Workshop store, by the gaming magazine White Dwarf, which Livingstone also edited. Games Workshop went on to organise the first non-US gaming convention. They also started the first major miniatures company (which would become Citadel Miniatures), and opened up the first dedicated FRP shop in 1977 in Hammersmith, London. It is Jackson's assertion that "not even TSR, had such an "integrated" games company."[1] Jackson attributes the success because of two main reasons:

  1. The established companies in the games field expected it to be a flash in the pan and left us to it.
  2. He and Livingstone were young, full of enthusiasm and attracted like-minded people from the games world. As such they got the best people in the field.[1]

Their publishing arm also created UK reprints of famous, but then expensive to import, American RPGs such as The Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, Traveller and Middle-Earth Role Playing.

References for Games Workshop FoundationEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1998 interview with
  2. The company was nearly called "The Games Garage", "Megagamic Explosion", or "Galaxian Games". "Workshop" was an arty-type, cool word in the 1970s according to Jackson, and what little business they initially had was based on John's skill at making Backgammon and Go boards out of wood.


In 1979, Games Workshop provided the funding to help found Citadel Miniatures, in Newark-upon-Trent, a company that would produce the metal miniatures that were used in role-playing and table-top wargames. The Citadel name has become synonymous with Games Workshop Miniatures and continues to be a trademarked brand name used in association with them long after the Citadel company was absorbed into Games Workshop.[1]

US ExpansionEdit

In 1984, Games Workshop ceased distributing its products in the USA through Hobby Games Distributors and opened its Games Workshop (US) office. Games Workshop (US), and Games Workshop in general, went through a large growth phase in the late 80s and early 90s. Issue 126 of the White Dwarf stated the company had over 250 employees.[2]

1991 - Management BuyoutEdit

Following a management buyout in December 1991 the company refocused on their most lucrative lines, namely their miniature wargame Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WFB) and Warhammer 40,000 (WH40K) 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. The complaints of these old customers led a breakaway group of GW employees to publish Fantasy Warlord in competition with GW, but this met with little success. Games Workshop expanded in Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia opening new branches and organising events.

1994 - FlotationEdit

The company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in October 1994. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange with the symbol GAW.[3] In October 1997, all UK based operations were relocated to the current HQ in Lenton, Nottingham. This site now houses the corporate HQ, the White Dwarf offices, mail order, and the creative hub.

By the end of the decade, though, the company was having problems with falling profits being blamed on collectible card games such as Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon.


In recent years, Games Workshop 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 (the Internet is used widely in this approach, to collect ideas and play-test reports). Games Workshop has also contributed to designing and making games and puzzles for the popular television series The Crystal Maze.

The release of Games Workshop's third core miniature wargame, The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game (LoTR SBG), in 2000 signaled their intention to capture the younger audience with a simple, yet effective and flexible, combat system.

Other key innovations have been to harmonize their core products, and to branch out into new areas of growth. The acquisition of Sabretooth Games (card games), the creation of The Black Library (literature), and their work with THQ (computer games) have all enabled the company to diversify into new areas which have brought old gamers back into the fold; plus introduced the games to a whole new audience.


Alongside the UK publishing rights to several American role-playing games in the 1980s (including The Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest[4] and Middle-earth Role Playing[5]) Games Workshop also secured the rights to produce miniatures and/or games for several classic British science fiction properties such as Doctor Who[6][7] and several characters from 2000 AD including Rogue Trooper and Judge Dredd. Alongside the rights to reprint ICE's Middle Earth Role Playing Citadel Miniatures acquired the rights to produce 28mm miniatures based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

In conjunction with the promotion of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy in 2001, Games Workshop acquired the rights to produce a skirmish wargame and miniatures using the movies production and publicity art, and also on the original novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. (Although it should be noted that the current line uses 25mm scale).[8] The rights to produce a role-playing game using the films art were sold to another firm, Decipher, Inc.. Games Workshop was also able to produce a Battle of Five Armies game based on The Hobbit, although this game was done in 10mm scale for the normal warriors, and "heroic" scale for the named characters.

Games Workshop Group PLCEdit

Games Workshop has expanded into several divisions/companies producing products related to the Warhammer universe.

Sales have decreased for the fiscal year ending in May 2006. "For the fiscal year ended 28 May 2006, Games Workshop plc's revenues decreased 16% to £115.2M. Net income decreased 78% to £2M. Revenues reflect a decrease in sales from Continental Europe, United Kingdom, Asia Pacific and The Americas geographic divisions."[9][10][11]

In 2007 the group showed a pre-tax loss of £2.9M.[12] after issuing profits warnings, closing non-profit-making stores, undertaking management restructuring and laying off staff in order to cut costs.

Links with Fighting FantasyEdit

The founders of Fighting Fantasy, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, were also the founders of Games Workshop. It was, in fact, at the Games Workshop day in 1980 that the two authors-in-the-making first approached Penguin Books. This almost inextricable early link led to a number of other personnel working in both areas, be that as artists, authors or other vocations, and the names are too numerous to produce a definitive list here. However, apart from sharing the creative output of certain individuals, Games Workshop also produced a number of Fighting Fantasy licensed merchandise including:

Fighting Fantasy JigsawsEdit

Main article: Fighting Fantasy Jigsaws

Fighting Fantasy BoardgamesEdit

Main article: Fighting Fantasy Boardgames

Fighting Fantasy MiniaturesEdit

Main article: Fighting Fantasy Miniatures

Through their miniature-producing arm, Citadel Miniatures, they also produced the Fighting Fantasy Heroes branded items that included:

Citadel Miniatures also produced The Warlock piece and The Imperial Dragon from the competition with the very first edition of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.


  • Warlock - Games Workshop were the publishers of this magazine from issue 6 onwards.
  • Also White Dwarf, the Games Workshop magazine, apart from heavily advertising Fighting Fantasy had the following notable links with Fighting Fantasy:
  • It ran a Fighting Fantasy adventure called The Dark Usurper (issues 61, 62 and 63).
  • The Warlock miniature from Citadel Miniatures was only advertised in White Dwarf (issue 82).

Miniature GamesEdit

Games Workshop originally produced miniature figures via an associated, originally independent, company called Citadel Miniatures 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.

Current Core GamesEdit

The following games are in production and widely available.

Specialist GamesEdit

These games are aimed at the "veteran" gamers. These are gamers who are more experienced in the core games produced by Games Workshop. This is because the rules and the complexity of tactics inherent in the systems are often more in-depth than the core games.

Warhammer FantasyEdit

Warhammer 40,000Edit

  • Battlefleet Gothic - a game based around spacecraft combat
  • Epic - a game for fighting larger battles with smaller (6mm) miniatures.
  • Inquisitor - a skirmish game using larger (54mm) more detailed miniatures
  • Necromunda - a skirmish game

The Lord Of The Rings Strategy Battle GameEdit

Forge WorldEdit

Forge World has recently released its first in-house game:

Warhammer HistoricalEdit

Out of PrintEdit

Warhammer FantasyEdit

Warhammer 40,000Edit

  • Codex Titanicus - expansion rules for same
  • Lost Patrol
  • Space Fleet (Simple spaceship combat game from before Battlefleet Gothic)
  • Space Hulk (two editions were published, expansions below were for 1st edition)
  • Deathwing (expansion boxed set)
  • Genestealer (expansion boxed set)
  • Space Hulk Campaigns (expansion book in both soft and hard-cover)
  • Space Marine (original Epic-scale game concerning troops and infantry, 1st edition is a pair with Adeptus Titanicus, 2nd with Titan Legions)
  • Titan Legions (effectively an expansion of Space Marine, though it extended the game system)
  • Tyranid Attack
  • Ultra Marines - introductory game in same series as Space Fleet

Licensed GamesEdit

These games were not made by Games Workshop but used similar-style models, artwork and concepts. These games were made by mainstream toy companies and available in standard toy and department stores rather than just in Games Workshop and speciality gaming stores.

  • Kellar's Keep (Expansion for Hero Quest)
  • Return of the Witch Lord (Expansion for Hero Quest)
  • Against the Ogre Horde (Expansion for Hero Quest)
  • Wizards of Morcar (Expansion for Hero Quest)
  • The Frozen Horror (Expansion for Hero Quest)
  • The Magic of the Mirror (Expansion for Hero Quest)
  • The Dark Company (Expansion for Hero Quest)
  • HeroQuest Adventure Design Kit (Expansion for Hero Quest)
  • Adventure Design Booklet (Expansion for Hero Quest)
  • Operation Dreadnought (Expansion for Space Crusade)
  • Eldar Attack (Expansion for Space Crusade)

Role-Playing GamesEdit

Several of the miniatures games (e.g. Inquisitor) involve a role-playing element, however Games Workshop has in the past published role-playing games set within the Warhammer universe. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was first published in 1986 and returned to print with a new edition on March 29 2005. It is being published by Black Industries. Black Industries has also announced a brand new game, Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay, to be published in several parts starting with Dark Heresy in early February 2008.

Out of PrintEdit


Games Workshop had a strong history in boardgames development, alongside the miniatures and RPGs. Confusingly, several may have had role-playing elements, or for that matter had miniatures included or produced. Currently one board game is set for release via the Black Industries arm of the company, the fourth edition of Games Workshop's classic game "Talisman".

Out of PrintEdit

Computer gamesEdit

Games Workshop produced and published several ZX Spectrum games in the early years, not all of which were based in the usual Warhammer settings

  • Apocalypse (1983) based on the original boardgame
  • Argent Warrior (1984) Illustrated adventure
  • Battlecars (1984) 2 player racing game written in BASIC
  • Chaos (1985) multiplayer turn based "board" game, written by Julian Gollop
  • D-Day (1985) based on the Normandy Landings
  • HeroQuest (1991) based on the MB board game
  • Journey's End (1985) text adventure
  • Key Of Hope, The (1985) text adventure
  • Ringworld (1984) text adventure
  • Runestone (1986) text adventure
  • Talisman (1985) multiplayer turn based "board" game
  • Tower Of Despair (1985) text adventure

Many computer games have been produced by third parties based on the Warhammer universes owned by the firm. These include: (Miniature game they are based on is included in parentheses after the game name)

In developmentEdit

As of January 2006, there are also some future games in development:

  • Blood Bowl, a fantasy American football style game being developed by Cyanide. Cyanide developed the Chaos League series of games, similar in format to Blood Bowl.
  • Unnamed Warhammer 40,000 MMO by THQ. Information is found on the site that it is in development, but not releasing information.
  • Warhammer 40,000 turn based strategy game Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command which focuses on a squad of ultramarines fighting chaos space marines.


There are yearly Games Day events held by Games Workshop which feature the Golden Demon painting competition.

Worldwide campaignsEdit

Games Workshop has run numerous Worldwide Campaigns for its three core game sysyems. In each campaign, players are invited to submit the results of games played within a certain time period.[13] The collation of these results provides a result to the campaign's scenario, and in the case of Warhammer, often goes on to impact the fictional and gameplay development of the fictional universe. Although in the past, campaign results had to be posted to the United Kingdom to be counted, the more recent campaigns have allowed result submission via the Internet.

Each Warhammer campaign has had a new codex published with the rules for special characters or "incomplete" army lists. Below are listed the Games Workshop Worldwide Campaigns (with the campaign's fictional universe setting in parentheses):

These Campaigns were run to promote its miniature wargames, and attracted interest in the hobby, particularly at gaming clubs, Hobby Centres and independent stockists.[13] Forums for the community were created for each campaign (in addition to those on the main site), as a place to "swap tactics, plan where to post your results, or just chat about how the campaign is going."[13] In some cases special miniatures were released to coincide with the campaigns; the promotional "Gimli on Dead Uruk-hai" miniature, for example, was available only through the campaign roadshows or ordering online.[21] As a whole these events have been successful; one, for example, was deemed "a fantastic rollercoaster", with thousands of registered participants.[22]


thumb Games Workshop's best known magazine is White Dwarf, which in the UK has now passed over 330 issues. Nine different international editions of White Dwarf are currently published, with different material, in five languages. Originally a more general roleplaying magazine, since around issue 100 White Dwarf has been devoted exclusively to the support of Games Workshop properties.

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. The electronic form, known as "Fanatic Online" was originally released weekly, and contained 3 downloadable articles, but around November 2006 it changed to a monthly schedule. The first monthly edition, December 2006 still only contained 3 articles, though it is hoped that more articles will be in forthcoming issues. 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. This is no longer published.

For a brief period in the mid-1980s GW took over publication of the Fighting Fantasy magazine Warlock from Puffin Books. The magazine turned into a general introductory gaming magazine but was discontinued after issue 13.

There was also a fortnightly series called "Battle Games in Middle Earth", which came with a free Lord of the Rings SBG miniature. Though the miniatures were made by Games Workshop, the magazine itself was written by SGS (part of Games Workshop) and published by De Agostini. It was published in Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, and Poland. The magazine became more popular than the publishers had anticipated, and the deadline was extended several times and ended on Pack 91. Battle Games in Middle Earth was reported as being the biggest selling part works magazine in De Agostini's history.

Other MediaEdit

Many novels, and comics have also been produced based on the Warhammer universes, published by the Black Library.

Games Workshop illustrators also published artbooks covering parts of their commissioned work for the company. Among them, one can find Adrian Smith, John Blanche...

See AlsoEdit

External LinksEdit


  1. Vector - The Critical Journal of the British Science Fiction Association (#229, 2006) "Freedom in an Owned World: Warhammer Fiction and the Interzone Generation"
  2. White Dwarf (#126, June 1990)
  3. GAW on the London Stock Exchange
  4. White Dwarf (#300, ????) "The History of White Dwarf"
  5. White Dwarf (#58, ????) "Newsboard"
  6. White Dwarf (#63, ????) "Editorial"
  7. White Dwarf (#304, ????) "Thirty Years of Games Workshop"
  8. Painting the Lord of the Rings Mines of Moria Game - "Note that these figures are 25mm and not the 28mm figures that are more popular today."
  9. ICv2 - Games Workshop Sales, Profits Decline
  10. Games Wrokshop "Profit Warning" Causes a Loss of a Quarter of its Market value
  11. Games Workshop Final Results
  12. / UK - Lord of the Rings wizardry fails at Games Workshop
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Battle Games in Middle-earth, Issue 56
  14. Third War for Armageddon Campaign Site. Games Workshop. Retrieved on 2007-06-30.
  15. Eye of Terror Campaign Site. Games Workshop. Retrieved on 2007-06-30.
  16. Storm of Chaos Campaign Site. Games Workshop. Retrieved on 2007-06-30.
  17. The War of the Ring Campaign Site (United Kingdom). Games Workshop. Retrieved on 2007-06-30.
  18. The War of the Ring Campaign Site (Canada). Games Workshop. Retrieved on 2007-06-30.
  19. The Fall of Medusa V Campaign Site. Games Workshop. Retrieved on 2007-06-30.
  20. Nemesis Crown Campaign Site. Games Workshop. Retrieved on 2007-06-30.
  21. "The Wrath of Umbar"
  22. Alessio Cavatore, "Victory for the Free Peoples". UK White Dwarf 312, p 98-99

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