I know it's a bit odd to see a post about Warhammer on this page but must comment immediately!
After all the rumors, buzz, hype and hubbub has finally climaxed with the release of the Age of Sigmar we can now definitely see what's up.
First off I'll tell you exactly what they did, they gave everyone exactly what they wanted, what they have been saying for years that they wanted and what their buying dollars have been saying for years they wanted.
If you look at games workshop sales Warhammer 40k has been outstripping Fantasy battle for years. People like skirmish games more these days. Loose units and formations and measuring range from the miniature not the base.
The biggest competitors of Fantasy battles went this way a while back so...
Cool, here's a fantasy version of 40K. It's a skirmisher game.
Even the miniatures are more like the popular marines etc of 40k. People like that look more, fine here you go.
Number 2 all those books
People have been complaining ever since 4th edition about the army books. Too many books, new books every addition, too many rules, to many rulebooks. Separate books for Magic too?
New edition to balance all those new army books, new army books to balance those rules?
Need to rebuy miniatures every time there's a new army book or rules update?
Cool, free rules are now online. And all the armies and figures rules too. Have stuff from old armies, cool, we've got rules for those too. All free just like you wanted.
Number 3 too many miniatures required to play warhammer, too much cost
Old versions of Warhammer required you to buy large amounts of rank and file troops to field and army. People loved the armies but didn't like paying for all the models.
Cool, well people who still like rank and file can use those but you other guys can field either way less models or only buy the cool hero guys. Hey look the rules are written to allow you guys to play together and you can all still take part in tournament play.
Games workshop did exactly what you wanted
If you don't like the way warhammer changed then look no further to place blame than the fans of warhammer. Not Games Workshop.
Those people who loved the world and stuck with it because the background world is still awesome. The way they played and they way they bough led to this.
For all of those who like the old warhammer (that's me) we still have our mouldering 3rd edition books and we can gather and play our Oldhammer games.
For those who are totally down with the new game (that's me) I'm going to go print off those new rules and play this new game. I've already got minis, just need to print of 10 pieces of paper to play this awesome new game. For free.
Spend your money on minis
If you want to continue to see warhammer thrive then revel in the fact you can spend money on miniatures instead of rules. Games workshop is a miniature company now and when you get right down to it they are awesome miniatures, look great, assemble great, paint great. And now no big buy in for rules to play.