Scent of a Gamer

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Divining games sales

I’ve talked about the latest sales charts for non-collectable miniatures as recorded by ICv2. There is also a discussion going on at Quirkworthy.

I decided to engage in a game of assumptions and take these figures further. Games Workshop’s latest annual report breaks down their sales by region. Accounting for currency conversions, that puts their annual North American sales at ~$52 million. ICv2 puts the sales value of non-collectable miniatures as a whole at $120 million annually in the same region.

We can use this figure to divine what other games might be selling. Privately held companies don’t typically divulge the same level of information as a publicly traded company like Games Workshop will. 

Now we go sailing in the good ship Assumption.

Assumption 1: That the proportion of direct sales in North America is comparable to the company’s reported overall figure of 13%. Therefore we’ll be looking at 87% of that $52 million.

Assumption 2: But wait! Games Workshop don’t just sell non-collectable miniatures. They also sell books, paints, brushes and other sundry items. We’ll assume that those aren’t counted, and that they represent 10% of that 87%. Still following?

Assumption 3: The 80/20 rule applies. Warhammer 40k account for 80% of the remainder, with Warhammer accounting for 20%. Converting these back into numbers gives us the ‘bracket’ for games sales. No game in the top 5 is selling more than 40k, no game is selling less than Warhammer Fantasy.

Assumption 4: That if the Top 5 selling games were expanded to six, Warhammer would be at number 6.

Assumption 5: That Warhammer 40,000 is top by a fair margin. The hobby games industry in general has grown massively over the past five years, while GW has gone sideways in terms of sales. Warhammer 40,000 must be top by a fair margin not to have been overtaken the way Warhammer has been. Therefore I shall assume that the second best selling game is selling 60% as much in dollar terms as Warhammer 40,000.

Assumption 6: That other games are closer in sales to each other. There has been a shuffling of positions in the top 5 every time ICv2 have recorded them, though Warhammer 40,000 has been a constant leader. I assume the other games are closer to one another in sales, which is why they change places frequently. Therefore each other game will sell 80% of the game above it.

The test

Still reading through all that? The real test of these assumptions is in the bracketing. With Games Workshop’s sales figures known, Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy were fixed in place. How would everything else look if I applied my other assumptions?

One Excel spreadsheet later and we have this:


That actually fits together quite well. I should caution anyone who scrolled down this far that none of those figures are real. This is all divining – based on some hard numbers and a lot of assumptions. Still, the ICv2 figure and Games Workshop’s sales figures fit together more snugly than I had expected.

The total at the end is over $20 million less than ICv2’s $120 figure for non-collectable miniatures. This can be accounted for by retail channel sales for smaller games such as Flames of War, Infinity, Reaper, the various historical miniatures, and so on.


(I generated a second table by assuming that 100% rather 87% of the Games Workshop’s sales were my starting point, but things came out very similarly, the overall figure was a little higher, but that was it.)

We are talking about a very niche set of games here, and this article is a thought experiment based on one annual report and one sales estimate (and a fair few assumptions!). You may like to try something similar yourself.



5 comments on “Divining games sales

  1. eriochrome
    August 23, 2014

    I am not sure how the 120 m figure was generated so i am not sure if the gw retail side would be included at all. Only this year did they provide the trade, retail, web breakdown again. Also the 40% trade sales for gw was their wholesale value while i think the report is for retail sales totals.


  2. Quirkworthy
    August 23, 2014

    The assumptions sound reasonable enough to me.

    Eriochrome’s thought about whether GW retail would be included or not is fair, though GW has much less retail presence in the US than in the UK, and I doubt that the ratios would be very different between 40K and WH. IN other words, it won’t make much difference. Even if WH moved up a step, the changes in its position are relative to last year’s numbers, which were presumably collated the same way. The change, therefore, is likely to be real.

    On these numbers Wh sells 25% of 40K. Where does their 3rd “core game” come then ;P


    • davekay
      August 23, 2014

      Sadly, that 3rd game looks like a rounding error! (I liked War of the Ring, too).


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