19/01/2023 - RICHARD COOPER
Exploring the niche SVoD opportunity: Warhammer+ reaches 115k subscribers

The niche SVoD service Warhammer+, from UK-based table-top battle games manufacturer Games Workshop, has reached 115,000 subscribers, according to the company’s 2022 financial report, released January 2023.

Launched in August 2021, the service has reported development costs of £2.4m but generated revenues of £3.0m over 2022. The service’s catalogue includes animated content based on the company’s table-top gaming intellectual property (IP). However, a subscription to Warhammer+ also provides access to game support apps, online access to the company’s magazine publication White Dwarf, and other related benefits for devotees of table-top battle and enthusiasts of the company’s grim-dark universe.

Such enthusiasts include the actor Henry Cavill, best known for his roles as Superman in the recent DC franchise films and the title role in Netflix’s The Witcher. Indeed, the actor has sought to produce and star in a Warhammer-themed movie, leading to Games Workshop now exploring opportunities to exploit Warhammer IP with Amazon Studios, according to the same financial report. It should be noted that at the time of writing no contracts have been signed, just “an agreement in principle to explore opportunities”.

As indicated in Ampere’s July 2021 Insight the drive for US-based and global SVoDs to secure exclusive IP for their services, coupled with Warhammer+’s relative success, should enable Games Workshop to leverage its extensive IP, albeit via a far larger alternative VoD platform.

The company has already successful leveraged its Warhammer IP for a number of successful video games franchises such as strategy series Warhammer: Total War and Dawn of War, as well as first-person shooter (FPS) titles such as Darktide. Upcoming titles include the collectible card game Warhammer 40,000: Warpforge, set to launch in 2023 via gaming platform Steam and likely to be followed by cross-platform availability

While the audience for niche video content, such as Warhammer, remains relatively small even in Games Workshop’s domestic UK market, larger global or regional players like Amazon are able to effectively target this same niche in multiple territories. This aggregated international audience can build to a significant size, more effectively justifying any content investment by simply increasing the size of the addressable market. Moreover, in presenting the IP through a more popular platform, such as Prime Video, Games Workshop is likely to benefit from gaining new audiences hitherto unaware of its existence, discovering the content via the more populous platform. The rapid rise in in the popularity of Japanese Anime outside of Japan – driven heavily by VoD availability – stands testament to this effect.

The difficulty may arise around the use of Games Workshop’s IP in the production of a high-profile, high-production value, third-party title. Typically with this size of investment companies such as Amazon will want to take a greater level of control around the IP, ensuring story narratives develop in the most commercially prescient direction. Games Workshop, which generally maintains tight control over the use of its IP, will continue to want to develop its 50- year-old Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 IP. As such, it is likely to want to ensure that any exploitation of its IP is consistent with the direction of its central narratives, should a content deal with Amazon be struck.

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