Games Workshop and Warhammer: What Does the Data Say?
I work in online marketing, and today I got a bee in my bonnet about what the data would say if I started plugging Games Workshop and its many properties into the various SEO and Google tools that are available. Chiefly for this project I used Google Trends, Moz, Ubersuggest, and Yahoo Finance. I'll explain each one as I get to them.
Also: for all of this data, unless otherwise specified, I am looking at the last ten years: from May 2011 to May 2021.
How Does Age of Sigmar Rank Against Warhammer Fantasy Battles?
This was a little hard to parse because, after some digging, I got the impression that Google searchers weren't looking for "warhammer fantasy battles" but for "warhammer fantasy", and there's a good case to be made that many people continue to not be searching for "warhammer age of sigmar" but simply "warhammer fantasy". This seems to hold up in the Google Trends data comparing "Age of Sigmar" with "Warhammer Fantasy".
As you can see in the above Google Trends data, "warhammer fantasy" is holding pretty much steady. In 2015, Age of Sigmar is released, makes a big splash with that giant spike, and then continues to outpace "warhammer fantasy"--but it does not appear to have an effect on "warhammer fantasy" one way or the other, good or bad. I honestly don't know what to make of it.
It is worth noting that if you do a Google search for "warhammer fantasy" the first two results that come up are specifically for the Old World, the third is for Warhammer generally, and the fourth is for Age of Sigmar.
But, just in case you're wondering how "warhammer fantasy battles" fared against "age of sigmar", those results are pretty stark.
Yeah... "warhammer fantasy battles" is pretty much flatlined before and after "age of sigmar" comes out. This could either mean that no one was searching using the full name of the game, which is a fair assessment, or, as is also posited by some, Warhammer Fantasy Battles was essentially dead in the water.
So, there isn't much else to tell to the story of Warhammer Fantasy Battles being dead as a doornail. I tried another search term, just to see if there was any life there: "warhammer the old world", because that's the announced return that has been teased, and compared it to "age of sigmar". The results weren't stellar.
So, it looks like there just isn't a whole lot of life in Warhammer Fantasy Battles.
But, I was curious, what if we turned the tables? How does Age of Sigmar stand up to Warhammer 40k? I mean, we all know that Warhmmer 40k has performed better than any Warhammer fantasy game for a long time, but how much better?
The results speak for themselves.
Yeah, Age of Sigmar is hardly making a dent in Warhammer 40k. One thing that I do find interesting from this chart, however, is how there appears to be a lack of growth in Warhammer 40k. There's that spike at the beginning (sometime around 2012) that I can't account for, and then there's a minor bump in the last year (which, we'll find out below, is probably due to a big boost that the hobby got from COVID-19 and being cooped up in the house all day). But if you were to draw a trendline through this Warhammer 40k graph, you wouldn't see any upward trajectory for Warhammer 40k.
So, I wanted to see something else: what brand has stronger name recognition--Games Workshop or Warhammer 40k? Let's look:
Games Workshop and Warhammer 40k, while keeping at about the same trajectory, clearly show that people are searching more frequently for "warhammer 40k" than they are for "games workshop". I suppose this shouldn't be surprising, as Warhammer 40k is their flagship product.
Now let's get down to brass tacks: what does all of this say about Games Workshop's value?
What Does Analytics Say About Games Workshop's Stock Price?
(For reference, this chart also begins in late 2011.)
Much has been made about the new CEO's arrival at Games Workshop and the changes that he instituted. And it definitely looks like, once he got his feet under him, things really began to skyrocket. There are a few notable things about this graph:
The stock price is COMPLETELY stagnant from 2011 to 2017. Hardly a change at all.
The installation of the new CEO and the launch of Age of Sigmar (and death of Warhammer Fantasy Battles) had no immediate effect on the share price, at all.
The launch of Warhammer 40k 8th Edition (which, remember, is not only their flagship product, but 8th Edition was a major retooling of the franchise, with streamlined rules, the introduction or Primaris, and more) is the first place where we see the stock price begin to increase. The increase is slow, but it is definitely beginning at that moment.
The launch of Age of Sigmar 2nd Edition doesn't make a notable difference in the upward trendline of the stock price, but it likely add fuel to the fire.
There's a big drop when the recession hit, which is to be expected
Games Workshop skyrockets back into new heights in the middle of the pandemic, when stores and clubs are closed and no one can play games. I think this must be attributable to people staying home and BUYING lots of product to do while they're stuck inside.
I'm no stock analyst, but it looks like buying Games Workshop stock wouldn't be a bad idea at the rate they're going.
What Else Does the Google Trends Data Tell Us About Warhammer's Popularity?
How Do The Other Factions Rank Against Space Marines?
So while I had things opened, I wanted to see how various factions fared against each other. Given that Space Marines are known to be the big kid on the block, I wanted to see just how big they really were.
The first place I targeted was the new Sisters of Battle line, because they're new and I expected them to make some sort of splash. The results showed they did make a splash--or maybe a ripple--but they're nowhere near Space Mariness.
So, not really on par with the Space Marines, but still a contender.
Because you want to know who didn't make a splash of any kind, at all, in any way?
Yep, as much as people are saying they're dying to get new Eldar, there seems to be no searches. (I'll spare you the graphs but they're about the same for Aeldari and Drukhari).
But surely someone had to give the Space Marines a run for their money, right? Well, I found one, and they put up a pretty good fight: Orks.
Still not as good, but they fared better than any other faction that I tried. (Some of the factions were admittedly hard to search for as searching for "Khorne" or "Tzeentch" or others would yield results from both 40k and Age of Sigmar.)
How Do The Other Factions Rank Against Stormcast Eternals?
So, turning it back at Age of Sigmar, I wanted to see if the Stormcast were really the fantasy Space Marines that people claim them to be, at least in terms of popularity. In my first look, it really seemed like we were going to see another runaway victory for the Stormcast:
Yes, Legions of Nagash didn't fare very well against Stormcast. What about another Death faction?
The Ossiarch Bonereapers are a big hit, but then make a quick downward trend. Better than Legions of Nagash, but still not Stormcast Eternals level. I was beginning to think that we had another runaway winner, but then:
Yes, the Nighthaunt come in with a huge splash at release of Age of Sigmar 2nd Edition, and they perform every bit as good as the Stormcast from then on.
But then I hit on an idea: what about the factions that existed before the Stormcast ever came to be? Who has been around long before Age of Sigmar was a twinkle in Games Workshop's eye? The Skaven.
That's results, and they're fascinating. Not only do the Skaven vastly surpass the Stormcast Eternals, but they see a major uptick when Age of Sigmar releases. Skaven are ready to play.
But that led to to a different question: was all of this popularity for the Skaven due to Age of Sigmar, or could it be that--because they existed in the Old World--they're getting traffic because of Warhammer: Total War?
How Does Warhammer: Total War Stack Up Against Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40k?
Warhammer: Total War absolutely dominates Age of Sigmar. Which got me thinking: how does Warhammer: Total War stack up against Warhammer 40k?
Warhammer: Total War gives Warhammer 40k a run for its money, but 40k continues to be the big man on campus.
So what do we learn from all of this data? Here are my big takeaways:
"Warhammer Fantasy Battles" as a search term was completely unused, while "warhammer fantasy appears to be common, and unaffected positively or negatively by the release of Age of Sigmar.
"Age of Sigmar" does not hold a candle to "Warhammer 40k" when it comes to Google Trends. 40k is absolutely dominant.
"Warhammer 40k" is searched for more often than "Games Workshop"
One big point: "Warhammer 40k" and "Games Workshop" do not show any major trendlines up or down in the last ten years. "Age of Sigmar" is trending up.
When it comes to stock price, Games Workshop was completely flat for seven years before a slow trend up when Warhammer 40k 8th Edition was released. It continued up after Age of Sigmar 2nd Edition. It grew quickly, dropped hard during the recession, but then rebounded like a rocket during the COVID lockdown.
In Warhammer 40k, Space Marines are very dominant. Only the Orks give them a run for their money.
In Age of Sigmar, Stormcast Eternals are not as dominant, and Skaven come out of nowhere with a big lead.
The release of Warhammer: Total War and the release Age of Sigmar seem to have no correlation in Google Trends.
Warhammer 40k continues to outpace Warhammer: Total War.
What do you think looking at these numbers? Is there something that I missed? A question I didn't ask?