For some people the answer is easy. They buy models because they love the look of the sculpt then paint them and put them on display. But for others it is more complex; they complain about changes to the rules; they complain about poor quality sculpts; they complain about price rises; but they keep coming back.
I started wargaming in the mid-1980s with Rogue Trader. Since then I have had two proper breaks from the entirety of Games Workshop, where I had no intention of painting a model or playing a game. Each time I found myself one day with the desire to start painting and playing again, and returned. So, what draws me in?
I have never painted miniatures from other companies – even miniatures I believe are great sculpts – so the draw is not in painting miniatures.
Apart from the occasional game where a friend is passionate about a different system, I do not play other wargames – even those I believe have a good system – so the draw is not strategy and tactics.
On the surface the answer appears to lie with the background. Whether or not I am actively seeking games or making time to paint, I read Black Library novels and the fluff sections of rulebooks. Even when I believed myself to have stopped the hobby I read the occasional novel. However, I love the Cthulhu Mythos more than either Games Workshop universe, and yet I do not collect Mythos models or own any of the many Lovecraftian strategy games on the market.
After much thought I wonder if the answer is not in the things I enjoy, but in their combination: Games Workshop do not offer the perfect tactical game, or the perfect beer-and-crisps slaughter-fest; they do not offer the best models; but they do offer rules and models that support my mental journey into the background in a way that reading novels, miniatures, and even role-playing does not.
So, while we might discuss changes to one aspect of the hobby, often passionately, we might be missing why we are really there in the first place. And we might be happier if we stepped back to look at the whole now and then.