"GW could, if they wanted to, update rules on a regular basis and still produce codices for fourteen armies on a quarterly basis. It’s not a question of difficulty but of interest. It won’t be long before we’re all using iPads/Kindles/generic tables or the like anyway. The printed book is going the way of metal models."
TKE can has reply:
I dunno Wyly, I genuinely think this is about as quickly as possible.
You've gotta remember they've a very small team working on the BTs, SMs, DAs, BAs, SW, IG, GK, CSM, CD, Orks, SoB, Eldar, DE, Tau, Nids, Necrons (which is 16, not 14) and then they also have to deal with WE, HE, DE, Empire, Brets, Ogres, TKs, VCs, WoC, Lizzies, Skaven, Beastmen, CD, Dwarfs, O&G...that's 31 Army Books they've to update 'regularly' and then we've got the 10 factions of WotR (although actually, this is significantly more, but they roll several together for a few of them) and the three core rule sets themselves. Then we've to add the gimmicky shit they like to release for a little Q2/3 sales boost like Dreadfleet or the excellent Space Hulk.
So, that's actually a mammoth task for the small Design Team as is, even before we take into account the sad fact that they've often to wait for miniature production to catch up before they can actually release x or y book.
With the fact that so much of a range's success is tied to having a big 'release day' and selling 3-3 month's worth of stock on a single Saturday every couple of months, GW's entire business model would falter if they didn't have these 'events' for people to come down to their store...and just as importantly, for passers-by to see the large number of people having a great time in the 'toy soldier shop' and wonder how and why people their age enjoy it so much they can be heard halfway across the mall, and fancy giving it a go themselves.
Another point I cba seguing into a more coherent writing structure here is that GW have already been forced to change their release schedule because of companies like (well, primarily this one example) Chapterhouse Studios.
When GW releases rules for a unit, they will in future be releasing a model alongside said rules, or else they won't be publishing it at all.
What happened with Thunderwolf Cavalry and Mycetic Spores is that GW's legal ability to make these models is tied to their making these models, not to simply 'inventing' the concept and publishing it, even though they copyright the name. If another company makes models for them before GW gets too, and are able to legally establish that they made "Thunderwolf Cavalry" models before GW did, then they own the rights to that model, and GW producing a "Thunderwolf Cavalry" is a challenge to the other company's IP, and can see them sued.
This means that we simply won't see the level of innovation in future Codexes we've seen in the like of Necrons (barring any already written books) but we have to put up with things like Terrorgheists being released through White Dwarf (sensible, from a business perspective, to give players an actual reason to buy that rag again...)
So for instance, if the Necron Codex came out under this new paradigm, it'd be shorn of Triarch Stalkers, Doomscythes, Nightscythes, Tomb Blades... Possibly even Canoptek Wraiths and Spyders, although I'm sure they could prove they were a repackaged version of the existing Wraith and Spyder models.
Finally, as I said above in this thread, GW makes a significant amount of profit on Codexes, more than they do on the average box set, so they're happy to keep them as is for as long as they can, I'd say.
TL;DR - Even IF GW thought it was to their benefit to massively up the release schedule, there are a number of obstacles, from the small size of the design team, to the massive number of rules they produce, to their (misguided) belief that narrative play sells more and so should be more actively catered for, to the profit margins, to the potential growth benefits, to the not-exactly-swift process of getting a sculpt mocked up, refining it, getting a 3-up done, refining it further, testing it, making moulds, and going into mass production. Simply put - they'll change when they're forced to change by circumstances beyond their control, not before.
Companies with mass market share are rarely innovators anymore, there's no real profit in it.
I know how the pic has nothing to do with the article, but I Googled "Critical Hit!" for an image, and this was ssimply my favourite. *shrug*