Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Content Shift

There has been an issue weighing on my mind for sometime and it involves GW. You see i love WHFB but hate GW as a company (it used to be that i strongly disliked GW but with recent developments i can now fairly say i hate them), and so the question was: Do i keep playing GW games and continue buying GW models? 

For the longest time the answer has been yes, i still really like WHFB as a game and Wood Elves as a army and my like of the game system and army has outweighed my intense dislike of the company and its practices, another factor keeping me from abandoning GW was that i hadn't found a game that i liked as much as or more than WHFB, until recently.

Enter Spartan Games, Firestorm Armada and Planetfall. I started really getting into Firestorm a few months back and with the release of Planetfall my attention is being drawn towards both those systems and the potential they hold. For those who don't know Firestorm is a Sci-fi Fleet based wargame and Planetfall is a Sci-fi ground based wargame set in the same universe as Firestorm and all signs are that Spartan Games (the creators of Firestorm and Planetfall) will be making a way for games of Firestorm to be combined with games of Planetfall, so fun times ahead. With me getting into these two games i found myself enjoying them more and enjoying WHFB less, not enough to the point where i want to sell all WHFB related things and jump fully into Firestorm but enough so that instead of constantly thinking about WHFB and thinking about what new unit to buy for the Wood Elves i now find myself thinking about Firestorm Fleet tactics and what new ship to add to my fleet.

Into this situation comes The End Times Khaine. Now i was largely unaware of how big a issue there was around this End Times book. I knew that there were no models and that did seem odd to me but no big deal, all the Elf books got recently re-released with new modes so no biggie. Then i learned about the limited,limited,limited availability of the book itself, so limited that some people who pre-ordered from 3rd party retailers didn't get their book because GW didnt print enough copies to sufficiently fill out the 3rd party retailers pre-order list. I learned all this after i had pre-ordered my own copy of the book, and i did so because the End Times Khaine dealt with the Elves and i had been interested in the whole End Times things and wanted to get this book and knew that copies sold out fast, which surprised me that i was able to pre-order the book at 10:15 am NZST. I thought they would have all been gone by then and my surprise at my pre-order only deepened when i heard about the extremely limited nature of the book elsewhere.

So why would this tip me over the edge and lead to the decision that this post aims to explain? Well its in large part due to the guys over at the Jaded Gamercast. On their most recent episode they discussed the extremely limited nature of the End Times Khaine as well as similar issues with 40k's Shield of Baal campaign. One of the hosts related how despite driving around the city in which he lived early in the morning, visiting every hobby shop in town, he was still unable to buy the End Times Khiane despite getting to some shops either just before they were opening or just after they were opening. It was during this episode that they pointed out just how big a issue the whole extremely limited availability things was. It was mentioned that this was GW training their customers to pre-order from the GW site or miss out altogether, just like GW has trained us to accept each stupid price increase they do for their product.

This would have been bad enough and may have well convinced me to abandon GW by itself but then Spartan did what Spartan does for all of its systems and released the rules for its Planetfall factions free on its website. Just to clarify Spartan sells the core rules (for a neat and well priced 40 NZD) for all its systems but releases the individual faction rules for free on its website. This was the last straw for me, here are 2 companies one of whom hates its customers and just wants to bleed them dry while treating them poorly and the other who has community forums, has decently priced rules and models and releases the individual faction rules for free on its website as opposed to charging 100 NZD for them.

So now we (finally) reach the core of this post, its this: I currently own 3 GW armies, Wood Elves, Demons and Grey Knights. I will be selling the Knight and Demons (on trade me, link to the Grey Knight auction) and not buying anything else for the Wood Elves. There will also be a shift on focus for this blog as more Spartan Games, Firestorm and Planetfall related posts will be written and less time will be given to GW.In other words the "Love Hate" relationship with GW is over, its pretty much "Hate Hate" but i still enjoy WHFB and Wood Elves are cool.

What does this mean for my blog? It means the focus shifts from WHFB and 40k to Firestorm,Planetfall, Flames of War and Spartan Games. It means a shift from anti GW rant posts to upbeat and positive posts about Spartan Games. In the next few months you can expect to see posts explaining Firestorm/Planetfall lore and rules as well as narrative battle reports for both systems. Basically less GW stuff and more Flames of War and Spartan Games stuff.

On a final note i am sad that it went this way, i was genuinely excited when GW released free rules on the Black Library website, i thought it heralded a change in GW policy and that things were going to get better, but that wasn't the case and things have gotten worse.

If you have read this far then thank you, i appreciate it. This has mainly been a vent post and was mostly for my benefit. In the future things should be more upbeat so stayed tuned. Until next time.
Rex

23 comments:

  1. Why don't you download Khaine?

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    1. Because i dont like apple goods and all WHFB books are apple only, and the e-reader version is still 104 NZD while the actual book is 113 NZD and i (and others) would rather an actual book rather than some crappy apple e-book that forces you to download and use apple programs

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    2. Yeah great points Rex! Why the f**k should you pay $104 for an electronic copy when the real deal is so much more tangible and awesome...like that's why we play wargames over computer games right? So we can actually hold a physical copy of our hobby in our hands...

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    3. I would say why are we paying 104 NZD for a digital copy of a book, aren’t e-books cheaper and easier to make.

      As you may well know I play both video games and wargames, and right now I prefer video games over wargames because 1) they don’t cost as much, 2) if I want to play a video game all I have to do is fire up my pc/console and away I go as opposed to organizing a game, then traveling to the place the wargame is going to take place (usually a 20 minute drive) and 3) the video game companies, while some are very flawed, are nowhere near as bad as GW, and actually apologise when the screw up. With the recent Assassin’s Creed Unity debacle Ubisoft came out and apologized for the utter mess they made of it and offered Free DLC/games to certain groups of customers. Where is a similar response from GW over the End Times Khaine screw up?

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  2. Before you dump GW entirely, if you still want to try out your LOTR Wood Elves I'll gladly entertain you to a game, just drop me a line.

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  3. It amuses me how people are jumping to all sorts of illogical conclusions based on nothing. This series of expansions run volume has been based on previous sales volumes of expansions. It's not some massive conspiracy or plot to alienate customers. The books have been printed for months and there's no way to ramp up production after the print run is finished. They are currently rushing soft backs to market reacting to the popularity.
    Your hate of the company seams to be based mainly off internet warrior opinions and theories. Most of which have lost the plot. Very few of them are accurate.
    Take a step back mate, play some other games and don't worry about what some faceless nobody says on the inter webs as it does not represent the game or the company.
    GW make great models, have great customer service. They have never ever been cheap and never will be

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    1. The GW hate has been building for a long time in a lot of people. I'm guessing that Khaine was just the straw that broke the camels back here. As far as market projections go though, GW has been selling out a lot of their limited run stuff lately and hasn't been seen to make any effort to explain or reach out to the community. A post on facebook or such would go a long way to appeasing players and stopping things like this but instead GW is content to allow the market to characterize them, which is one hell of a mistake no matter who you are.

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  4. Welcome to the fold Rex. :)
    I like to think that the Directorate is actually GW in the far future.

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    1. Nah id go as far to suggest the Works Raptor or Pathogen forces... :P

      Yea man, just stick to the Lord of the rings stuff you got and your elves. The Dindrenzi need you!

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  5. @ Scott
    What with all the Firestorm stuff going on i completely forgot about the LOTR Wood Elves, so thanks for reminding me. They wont be going anywhere and i wouldnt mind having a game with the, once they are all painted.

    @ Jossy
    I admit that the theory as for why Khaine was so limited could be wrong, but here is the situation as i see it: GW knew that the End Times was a hugely popular series and then proceeded to not print nearly enough books so that some 3rd party retailers were unable to fill out their pre-order lists. Instead of trying to explain the situation or do anything to alleviate the anger this caused we have had nothing but silence from GW. They have done nothing to compensate the 3rd party retailers and they have told us nothing as too why it happened this way. That on top of all the other crap GW does was too much for more, damm this anti consumer money grubbing greedy company and its greedy anti consumer practices, i have had enough and so am shifting my focus to Spartan games. If nothing else my bank account will happier for it. And while GW products havent been cheap, 55 NZD for 20 Zombies (or whichever core troops choice you wanted) was a far better deal than may of the box sets out today

    @ This Is A Helmet
    You are dead right, this is the straw that broke the camel's back. I am just fed up with them and while GW may well have great customer service Spartan Games has great community service in that they have a forum where they talk and interact with their customers as well as great customer services and prices

    @ Lange
    Cheers mate, i have to say that i am enjoying the change. And i agree, they do seem very similar

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    1. No worries, same goes for your mate Arnold and his Rohan if he wants to give them a whirl.

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    2. See that's the thing Rex. GW are not anti consumer, greedy or money grubbing. That's all internet hate from a tiny number of internet warriors. GW have the best customer service in the industry. None of their practices are greedy, they are all standard retail practices in closed or niche markets. Although you and I may find the prices very steep, they have never been cheap, and people are willing to pay them.

      Its a simple fact that the logistics around the books for a world wide simultaneous release would likely mean the Khaine books where already made before the Nagash book was even up for pre-order. The fact that they have rushed soft copies to market to meet demand shows that they are aware and responding to demand. This can be shown by the staggered release as they are putting them up for sale as soon as they arrive in warehouses no doubt. This is no mean feat.

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    3. I did see the softcover release news, that’s a good small step to fixing this whole mess but a good idea would have been to write a press release (or a blog post on their website) saying something along the lines of:

      “We apologize for not correctly anticipating the demand for the End Times Khaine book, we are also sincerely and deeply sorry that some customers who pre-ordered the book through 3rd party retailers didn’t reive the book on the day of its release because we had insufficient stock to fill out all 3rd party retailer pre-order lists. To try to fix this issue we have pushed forward the release of the softcover version of the End Times Khaine and will be prioritising delivery to 3rd party retailers who were unable to fill out their pre-order list. Once more we are deeply sorry for any inconvenience caused”

      If they issues a press release along the lines of the above them I would be signing their praises, but instead what have we got? Nothing but stony silence. On their White Dwarf blog all we have had is adverting for more of their product and overall we have had no indication they are at all sorry for this stuff up.

      As for the price issue I refuse to believe that a Treeman is took anywhere near 113 NZD to make, it’s a lump of plastic produced in China for crying out loud how expensive is it to make? And if GW is being charged anywhere near 113 NZD for kits such as the Treeman then they are being ripped off. similarly I refuse to believe that a hardcover full colour codex/army book costs anywhere near 100 NZD to be printed in china. It blows my mind that they have been allowed to get away with this daylight robbery. Meanhwile Spartan games releases its Army rules for free online (and will be releasing the current core rules for all 4 of its games for free online in the coming months) and by all accounts is doing quite well, so GW clearly doesn’t need the prices to be so high in order stay in business.

      How are they anti-consumer? The pricing, the moves they had made to make it harder for online only retailers to stock their goods, the reduction of the number of models per box (I long for the days when I could buys boxes of 20 Orc Boy, Skeletons, Goblins, Skaven ect), the endless price increases, the shutting down of the Facebook page, the refusal to talk to the community at all and the prices. That’s a long list of charges against them and they shouldn’t be brushed aside by claiming that those who make the case against GW are “a tiny number of internet warriors”. Remember that the recent petition against GW got 10k+ signatures, that’s not a tiny number

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    4. Its ok Rex, tell us where the bad GW touched you...
      GW dosn't need to apologise for anything. They don't owe you anything. There a business, that has found some great success with a recent product that demand had outstripped supply. Its also very common place that business don't engage with an online community. The internet is a feral place, and dosn't represent much of the target market.
      I'm not trying to sound like a prick here but you come across as if the world/GW owes you something.

      As for the product. First things first their plastic kits are not made in China. They are made in Nottingham in the UK. They also have manufacturing capacity in the US. The only kits they make in China are the low grade scenery kits like the towers or Imperial sanctums. The books however are mostly printed in China these days.

      Next thing, as far as pricing goes, the so called lump of plastic isn't just a material. The design and research that goes into making one of these kits is expensive, its not something that can be dreamt up overnight. The theres the tooling cost. A multi sprue kit for a high res injection mould costs 10's of thousands to make. The injection moulding machines cost millions, and have a high maintenance regimen. Your imaginary cheap lump of plastic is a fallacy. Add to that logistics, marketing, world-wide simultaneous release etc the list goes on. It would not surprise me if that $113 kit cost them $70-80 to put on the shelf. I don't expect you to realise all this as not many people have any idea about vertical integration of a product line.
      Are the products pricey, yeah sure. Are we getting ripped off? no. Before you mention the disparity is pricing between NZ/AU ad the rest of the world, yes it is more expensive down under, however that is entirely to do with GW's distribution model in these parts. Thats all together different and a sore point for me as well.

      As for your last paragraph. Where to start. A little thing called inflation... You site other companies being cheaper. Thats laughable. PP are far more expensive, most other companies do not match the high level of quality nor the massive catalogue of plastic models. As for your numbers, 10k is tiny. Lets say an average customer would spend $1000NZ a year on their product, thats roughly 500,000 unique customers. 10k represents 0.02% that have signed up to some hollow open ended statement. Why would you even bother listening to that?

      I know you will read a lot of what I type and dismiss it, but maybe you should look at the situation from a business perspective. Why would you as a company try and engage with a small hostile audience? Once again they don't owe you anything. They survived one of the worst recessions in living memory all while making a profit. All while being a tiny niche company entertaining a very small market

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    5. They touched me in bank account, and then proceeded to insult my intelligence by claiming that my favourite hobby was “buying GW product”. For a start GW doesn’t owe my squat I didn’t get screwed over by the End Times release. Instead I got incredibly lucky with this most recent End Times release and it would be utterly wrong of me to think that GW owed me anything. They do however owe 3rd party retailers and their customers who didn’t get their pre-ordered copy of the End Times: Khaine an apology because GW screwed up and didn’t put a cap on 3rd party retailer pre-orders or print enough books. I always love it when people are trying to explain why a company doesn’t interact with its community online that they always go for the old “The internet is a feral place”. Yeah there are quite a few trolls around but I was on the Spartan community forums last night and I didn’t see a forum full of trolls or people slamming Spartan, I saw a community that had a place to come and talk about their favourite hobby, yeah there were a few threads with angry customers but it was a small minority. So no the internet is not “Feral”, only a small section of its users are.

      As for the claim that GW’s kits are made in Nottingham I can’t confirm that, I have a Wild Rider box and all it says was that it was “Produced in Australia”. Perhaps when I have time I will find something more concrete but for now I can’t say that they do make their kits there. As for the books you have still yet to explain how a full colour hardback book made in China costs anywhere near 100 NZD to make.

      As for this claim that the R and D of a GW kit is an expensive process, I can’t disprove that however you can’t prove it either. Also think about this, how many 113 NZD Treeman kits do they need to sell before they re-coop the R and D cost? At which point do they make back the money spent on developing the kit?

      As for your second to last paragraph you cite one company and act like you have proven other companies aren’t cheaper. How about Spartan? Mantic? Avatars of War? You can’t juts pick one company and rest your case, come on try harder. Just to back up my own case with AoW you can buy a core box of 30 marauders for 55 NZD, at Mantic you can buy a box of 20 skeletons for 30 NZD and at Spartan you can buy Patrol fleet (the only thing you need to buy to play because Spartan will be making ALL their rules free to download) for 88 NZD. And the Spartan and AoW kits look just as good as GW kits for a whole lot less. That is how you make a case with evidence

      Such arrogance displayed in your last paragraph, to assume you “Know” what I would do, its laughable. I have, in fact, not dismissed what you typed. I read all of it and have typed out a long and thought out response to what you wrote proving that I did not simply dismiss it. Once again I do not think GW owes my squat, but that wasn’t my point to begin with so why you are attacking a strawman is beyond me. Your dismissal of GW critics as small and hostile group is strange. Yeah there are trolls and people who are rally pissed off with GW, but there are also people with legitimate concerns who present them in well thought out manner and to dismiss all GW critics based on the actions of the most rabid and crazy is dishonest to say the least.

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    6. If you can stand reading all the crap on their website they state they manufacture in Nottingham and Memphis under the "What we do" heading. http://investor.games-workshop.com/our-history/

      The reason why your box has "produced in Australian" is because GW ship the plastic sprues loose to Aus, and pack them there though a work strategy with IHS (or the Aus equivalent) to get a tax break for the Aussie market, hence "produced" not "made". Forgeworld stuff is likewise now all made in Nottingham (although in the past some was made in China). Items like the terrain sets and tables are still manufactured in China I believe.

      As for production costs of plastic miniatures. All I can ask is to do a little research about the manufacture process. A good place to start would be Secret Weapon Miniatures Tablescapes Kickstarter. The guy running that went into a bit of detail and cost involved in manufacturing the steel moulds on his kickstarter. There is a bit of information out there to look up. GW generally tool a complex multi part mold for them to manufacture the undercuts and reliefs. Its not cheap
      Wiki has a broad overview of the process and notes the cost of tooling is expensive http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Injection_molding

      Wargames Factory in China does most of the mould and manufacture for the smaller companies that cannot do so themselves.

      When the CEO said that their customers spending was the favorite part it was amusing. I took it as management out of touch with the customer base. The foot was squarely in the mouth with that one. Like most people I know, I buy from UK/US independents where I can get the best prices. NZ/AU prices have been 30%+ above where they theoretically should be for as long as I can remember.

      As for the other stuff, wont bother replying, as it is to easy to take out of context, and a lot of it is just opinion.

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    7. Behold the results of research. I admit that I was wrong on the model manufacture part and where GW make their models and that you were correct on those points. But here is the thing, the real point. You have GW with its high prices and all its practices, they aren’t doing well. This year they recorded a huge lose and instead of trying to try out new methods and plans they stick to the same old same old, limited release, high prices and non-contact with their customers aside from when said customers email their customer service. On the other side of things we have Spartan who make the core rules as well as the faction rules for all 4 of their core systems free to download, who make decent models and (this is the important bit) sell them at affordable prices and don’t sell kits at 113 NZD, and by ball accounts Spartan just go from strength to strength, success to success.

      When Spartan released the Planetfall starter box they failed to correctly anticipate demand for the box and sold out quickly and also caused delays in shipping, instead of Stoney silence that left their customers scratching their heads and angry they came out on their forums and addressed the issue head one, explained to everyone what was going on. And for the most part their customer understood and all was well, now contrasts this to GW and the Khaine debacle, where they didn’t bother to explain what was going on and we see GW customer being far angrier and feed up with GW then Spartan’s customers were when they had similar issues.

      The point is that I would rather buy from and support a company that respects its customers with affordable prices for its models and will let them now what’s going on when things go wrong than I would buy from a company that insults its customers with neigh on unaffordable prices and refuses to speak to them when things go wrong. If GW changes back into what it was 10ish years ago then I will come back, but until then they will get nothing from me, and my bank account will be far happier for it.

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    8. They made 12.4m pounds 2013-2014 year. Down from 2013 (almost half but still a profit). They remained in profit throughout the global financial meltdown. Not many UK companies can say that. They havn't made a loss in about 8 or so years
      http://investor.games-workshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Games-Workshop-Group-14-combined-FINAL-cover-version.pdf

      A quick shop around and you could buy a treeman for approx $70 including shipping.

      Ive had a few games of Dystopian Wars. Made me reminisce the old days of Man'O War. GW will never go back to being what it was. Hope you enjoy your next adventure in wargaming, wherever it may be.

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    9. How about this for a reason to leave. GW games aren't fun or engaging anymore. With an increase of models needed and the igougo system you end up sitting there doing nothing while your opponent takes their turn. That's anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes of doing NOTHING.

      Also look at the potential to put down an army that you know will lose the moment you see what your opponent brings. Thats not fun nor competitive.

      Add to that the pricing that is designed for GWs botton line solely. There's a reason a unit goes from great to useless in an army book/codex change. And that reason isn't to make the game better.

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  6. Flicking through WD 168 (circa mid-nineties) blisters went for 3 pound, equivalent miniature amounts now go for 20+ pounds. Even accounting for inflation this is an unreasonable increase given that the materials are now cheaper and the production technologies have improved. Production advancements should reduce costs not increase them. For example a computer worth $3000 in the 1990's (using the GW pricing model) would now be worth $20,000. Totally unrealistic, and as we now know computers are now cheaper than ever.

    Go Rex stick it to them mate. Good on you.

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    1. Cheers Rory, thank you. This wasn't necessarily the easiest choice to make, GW has been quite a big part of my life for some time but hopefully it turns out for the best. Hopefully my blog can still interest and i have some interesting things planned for it

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    2. I feel your pain Rex. I've played Warhammer for 25 years. 40k for 14 or so. Got rid of a bunch of GW product for Spartan Games too. Seems like a sane move to me ;-)

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  7. Hi Rex Sorry to hear about your decision. Fair comment, and many of us share the same sentiment. I posted an equally scathing post, announcing my impending departure from the game when the End Times supplement came out. Rage-quitter one comment on my blog remarked. Sticker-shock, Pete called it. Then came the quality of the models, and what I believe, is actually an improvement and refinement in the game. I'm hoping that 9th Ed will actually condense the huge array of races into what now appears to be streams of good and evil, WoC-Daemons-Beastmen (as it was before) and Empire-Bretts-Dwarf Alliance, Undead (both VC and Nehekaran) what whatever the Skaven-O&G-Lizardmen-Oges will hold. WHFB has in my opinion become an unwieldly juggernaut that encourages obsolescence of models. I will refrain from ranting about price, etc. GW is a business. They can charge whatever they like. It is take it or leave it. It hurts, because we love their intellectual property, and each little model we build and paint is an expression of ourselves, our artistic skill and aspirations. It's hard to love and not be loved back. But that's the way GW rolls now-days. Some perspective for me though: I moaned about the cost of the End-Times books and the models, If you had to start from scratch with a new Nagash (ex GW); the books, extra models, etc etc, it would have come to about $700 NZ. The Nagash model alone is $170-180 (forget about the exchange rate and getting shafted for living down-under). Two weeks ago I went fishing. I filled the two petrol tanks on my boat, bought bait, and set off to fish around Kapiti Island. Petrol $100 + Snacks and cold drinks to consume on board $20 + Bait and burley $25 + drinks at the clubhouse on returning (me, a mate and my daughter) - a rum and coke each, soft drinks for her $15. Add in wear and tear, etc, and the day's entertainment comes to approx what the Nagash model costs. WE CAUGHT NO FISH worth keeping. We had a great day out, but nothing to show for it. Nagash would still be sitting on the shelf, useful for as long as you wish to play him. Just sayin'.It's all a matter of opinion and perspective. Yes, there are cheaper games systems out there. Saga, Deus Vult, KoW... start looking, there are plenty out there. Many models can cross over too. Think outside of the square. Love the game. You don't have to love the company.

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