The Wheaton Effect – A Follow Up

It’s been a few months since Tabletop started; and since then numerous new games have been released.  As a follow-up on our previous article I thought I’d track both the effects of the new releases and the lingering effects (if any) on the older series.  Once again, Starlit Citadel is a Canadian game store.  One store, Canada, not representative of the industry necessarily; etc.

An explanation on the graph is required before we talk about results:

  • There are 4 line charts below – Total Sales, Sales of Geek Games (i.e. products found mostly in Game Stores only) and Total Mass Market Games (games that are found in the mass market; specifically Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan & Say Anything).  All three above lines are averages of sales for each product since it is much easier to read this way).  The last straight line is a trendline for the Total Average Sales of Geek Games.
  • I’ve included the data for Munchkin & Munchkin Deluxe Edition in the data set since both seemed to have been positively affected by the video. Get Bit is included in this data for the most part; even if it has been out of stock for most of the period.
  • The horizontal bar on the bottom shows number of weeks since the launch of the Tabletop video (with Week 1 being the week it launches).
  • It’s also worth remembering that the jumpiness is numbers sometimes has to do with lack of stock / out-of-stocks on both our side and the distributor / publishers as well as timing (e.g. sales are always more at the start and middle of the month when people receive their paychecks).
Wheaton Effect - On-Going Data
Click on Chart for Larger Image


Total Geek: Significant increase in the first week it is launched, with a substantial drop afterwards (about 50%).  The next 2 months sees a smaller decrease overall; but it seems to last with sales continuing to be pretty good till a least 20 weeks (5 months!) afterwards.

If you understand turn rates, if we sell only 1 copy a week that’s a turn rate of 52! That’s amazing considering the average turn rate of a retail store is between 2 – 3.  So, the question of  whether this is a flash in a pan effect seems to be ‘No’.  There’s defintely an on-going interest especially among game store only games.

Total Mass Market: Strangely enough, it seems like the week that the game comes out; we see a dip in sales.  It might just be a matter of luck & timing; it might be because people are just waiting to watch the show and decide.  Since these products are easily available in mass market retailers; there’s no ‘rush’ to buy them perhaps.

In addition, as you can probably see; sales continue to be pretty consistent (and at a higher level) than the Geek Games.  However; this isn’t too surprising – Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride have always been bestsellers for us.  In fact, I’m not sure that Tabletop has made any real difference in our sales for these games.

The Wheaton Effect

FYI – A new chart with updated statistics has now been added

As many of you know, Wil Wheaton has a Youtube channel dedicated to board gaming called Tabletop. It’s been phenomenally successful – his Small World video has garnered over half a million views. Our review has generated just over 2,000.

With such a spotlight on the game, it’s had a knock-on effect on sales (mostly). Here’s a little chart to show the ‘mostly’ for us.

As you can see, I added a few weeks of pre-Tabletop / Wheaton to all the sales figure to give an idea.  You can see there’s a lot of variation on a week to week basis for bestsellers like Settlers of Catan, so the 0 sales on release date means very little.  Yet, there’s no real change in demand there; unlike the other 3 games showcased.

My guess? Settlers is such a popular, mainstream game that is easy to find; it’s no wonder that we don’t see a change in sales.  Customers don’t need to come to a game shop to find it – Chapters, Amazon, B&N all have the game in-stock.  The other 3 though are harder to find; and thus we receive the ‘knock-on’ effect from the publicity.

Overall, the sales of these games have certainly increased.  The danger for game store owners is correctly guessing the amount of sales we’d garner; and making sure we don’t overstock when the demand dies.  If that happens, especially for really slow-sellers like Tsuro, we’d be caught with ‘dead’ stock once again.

I’ll update this chart in a few months once the current season of Tabletop is over to get a better idea of the Wheaton Effect on sales of board games in Canada.