Us game store owners compare notes sometimes. If it's in an online forum, it usually devolves into posturing and flaming, while the best venue seems to be in a bar. If you ever want to learn about what really happens in this industry, forget a comprehensive business plan (well, do that too), just find out who to drink with at the Gama Trade Show. Money well spent.
Anyway, in a spasm of productive comparisons, we we're looking at why there was so much enthusiasm for Warmachine while Warhammer 40K sales were so tremendously better. There were various factors that each of us had that didn't correlate with the others, such as my observation that the 40K player base was much wider, comprising a lot of kids with constant allowances. Some people were getting lots of kids into Warmachine, so that didn't correlate. What we agreed on as the common factor was that Games Workshop encourages customers to expand their army and engage in a hobby, while Privateer Press encourages customers to improve their army and play a game.
Take my Warhammer Fantasy Ogre Kingdoms army, for example. In other games, there might be an optimal way to play your selected warband. Perhaps lots of big ogres charging is the best way. In Warhammer Fantasy, there are many good army builds. There's an army build that's good against undead, one that's good against flyers or shooters, and any of these builds can be yours, for the low, low, price of yet another box or two of plastic figures. In my case, I have a completely painted ogre army, yet I still drool over the various options I have yet to explore. I wonder if the scraplauncher really as as difficult as they say to put together. I wonder if I could find someone to paint a horde of pesky gnoblars for me for store credit.
Warmachine, on the other hand, has more set army lists. They come out with improved version of characters, epics, and the like, rather than lots of add ons and options. You're often not expanding your army as much as you are replacing and upgrading your army. This tends to really piss off those who cut their teeth on Warhammer. Why did I bother painting (let alone purchase) Sorscha when there's now an epic left-handed Sorscha? Warmachine also portrays itself more as a game than a hobby. All stores report silverfish, unpainted models, at Warmachine events. There is no incentive in game terms to paint, while Games Workshop official tournaments award prizes and points for painting. You'll see many partially painted armies at GW in-store events, but it's often practice for the real events, and you'll see those armies painted over time as the event draws near. So with Warmachine, you essentially have a game that might as well be a pre-painted plastic game, rather than paintable miniatures.