GW’s Marketing – Do They Secretly Know What They’re Doing?

By Rob Baer | May 12th, 2016 | Categories: Editorial, Finance, News / Rumors, Warhammer 40k

gw mall store - Copy

Sometimes we all come in hot and say things we regret. A few months back I had a lot to say about something GW did, and now I realize I may have been wrong.

In February I was just minding my own business trying to go see Deadpool in the threatre, when GW dropped their teaser video for the upcoming Deathwatch Overkill box set.

I literally got the call walking into the 8pm showing of the movie one Friday night, and was pretty mad that once again “work was interfering with what little time I had to myself”. I feel like even if my boss is a cat, work is still work right? There is science to prove this is a true statement (false).

dead pool

So after the movie I started trying rationalize WHY they would put out a video teaser at 8pm on a Friday night, when there was still a whole weekend of new releases ahead of it, and The Deathwatch box wasn’t even going to go on sale for another whole week.

I thought it was madness, and to me at least, it seemed like it would “steal” interest and sales AWAY from the Ork and Tau releases that weekend. Even worse – no store could even take a pre-order for the items as there was no pricing info currently available.

Best case scenario they would make a sign-up sheet and call people back the following week to lock in their order right? Stores would be confused, causing customers to be confused… and no wallets would be  getting opened the whole time..

So WHY would they drop a teaser video on a Friday Night at 7pm Eastern when most of Europe was asleep, and America was out enjoying their Friday evening? 

I never “figured it out”. Heck even made a satirical video about it, pretending to have an “intervention” with GW about their “marketing” (Sidenote: it’s one of my top viewed videos to date, and it’s only two months old).

Fast forward to now, and I was tracking a lot of trends that are staring to form with the new heading that Game Workshop has taken, and noticed a few things that I thought was interesting:

Oh and let me clear the air here about my “qualifications”, I’m not an economist, or a financial guy. I’m just a “kid” that’s been in the hobby for 25+ years, with about as many of those logged on the retail side of things as well.

Long story short I’m basically just an analyst that’s good at spotting trends, or I’m just good at reading and stuff – I don’t know which….


Here’s a macro look at search traffic centered around 40k and Games Workshop via Google since roughly 2004 and the release of 4th Edition Warhammer 40,000.  As you can see there are lots of spikes in interest, but they fade with intensity over the years.


Overall “interest” seems to have trended downwards to since 2004 as well (above), but started to stabilize and even slowly start to rebound right around late summer 2014. Coincidentally the lowest point of interest in this segment was the last week of September 2015 when the negative impact of Age of Sigmar  started to wane.


Taking a closer look at the stabilization of web interest for 40k and Games Workshop from 2004, you can clearly see that it started happening in about July of 2014.

That was the start of what many are calling GW’s switch to a splash release schedule that seemed to official kick off the with Stormclaw box set (featuring a variant of the 40k mini rulebook). Many more splash releases followed; the Deathstorm cycle of products with Blood Angels /Tyranids, and the New Imperial Knights, Space Marines, Eldar, and more.  Basically lots of stuff that had already been released, just slightly tweeked with some new rules, and/or models splashed in.

You can clearly see that according to this, interest was starting to rebound for the first time since 2004, but then something happened in late June of 2015: the Impact of Sigmar.

There really isn’t much to say honestly that hasn’t been said already, here you can clearly see growth was stunted until September / October of 2015 with the heralding of new Tau and Betrayal at Calth.

Interest once again accelerated to the end of the chart (with dips for further “splash” AoS releases), to the point where the news of Dawn of War 3’s release had just hit.


Here’s the trend for Age of Sigmar (blue), which if you reference the chart above this one, clearly correlates to 40k and Games Workshop interest after AoS’s huge interest spike (and descent) over the summer of 2015.


Chart with both AoS (blue) and 40k /Games Workshop (red)

Furthermore checkout this graph of tabletop web traffic overall for the same time period on Bell of Lost Souls:


courtesy of Bell of Lost Souls

Again you can clearly see the impact of Sigmar, and while users visiting the site dipped only slightly (uniques – blue), the amount of articles they read, heavily suffered (impressions – gray).


In conclusion I think we can see that interest is starting to once again grow, and has been growing for nearly the last two years. and Currently we are even experiencing a “peak” in interest in the hobby to boot. Plus with all the new entry level products that should be hitting chain stores and big box retailers soon, I hope we see this trend continue!

According to these trends, it literally IS the most exciting time for the hobby out of the last twelve years!

And then there was this one little trend I found intriguing:


What your looking at is a hour by hour chart of the same 40k/ Games Workshop trends from above, equated to the East Coast of the US (-4GMT). Now you can tell from the day stamps that the peaks for these trends occur just about every night at roughly the same time, 7-8 pm EST, with the biggest peak being mid week. Those peaks are also roughly around the same time of night that GW likes to drop their teaser videos.

So it’s very possible that I was wrong about Games Workshop’s release timing of these videos, as it seems to be a very good time for hobbyists the world over to notice them for sure. And yes folks will literally talk about the new product(s) all weekend long when they game with their buddies I agree too.

So perhaps I was a little heavy handed with my opinion of their timing, and speaking more from the frustration of needing to be seemingly all knowing when it comes to covering a breaking story.

forgot how to cat

Forgive me?

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About the Author: Rob Baer

Virginia Restless, Miniature Painter & Cat Dad. I blame LEGOs. There was something about those little-colored blocks that started it all... Twitter @catdaddymbg
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