Over the last couple of days I have been thinking about the size of our hobby, its opportunities and its future. The following is my tuppence worth on this subject and I really would be interested to get peoples views.
Interestingly the TMP forum carry some statistics that reveal that they have over 28,000 members, of these 10,000 are based in the US and 5000 are based in the UK. The sum of all the countries does not equate to the overall total so I suspect that many members have not completed the section on where they reside. If we took membership as a broad brush would seem to suggest that the US is twice the size of the UK market. Of course not everybody in the hobby is signed up to these forums (the Lead Adventure Forum only has 4000 members) – a ratio of 1 in 7 compared to TMP. This is also born out in my own page stats for every hit I have from the LAF links I get at least 6-8 from TMP.
So how many hobbyists are actually online ?
Lets see if we can work this out?
I read somewhere recently that Salute the UKs largest show attracted 10,000 visitors during the day (2500 advanced tickets sold). Although the Show is based in London it is the UK & Europe’s biggest so let us assume from a convenience perspective that 75% of these visitors came from the greater London catchment ie 7,500. Again if we assume that 75% of the potential London catchment attended then we could say that there are 10,000 wargamers of some form in Greater London. So If we further surmise that wargamers in the UK are dispersed evenly across the population and by geography and that greater London accounts for 20% of the UK population then the total number of Wargamers in the UK would count 50,000 individuals. (as a reference this is about 2 gamers per 1000 homes)
This means that 1 in 10 UK wargamers are registered to TMP ( somehow this seems about right so lets stick with this number)
With 50,000 in mind we could therefore surmise that the North American market is at least 100,000 players strong (using the TMP ratio of membership) and that there are possibly a further 50,000 players elsewhere in the world. A total of 150,000 gamers.
Now to try an calculate spend...I personally spend about £100/month on the hobby. I am told by my friends that this is probably at the high end. So taking the law of averages into play lets assume the average gamer will spend £50/month or £600/year. This gives a notional global market of £90million and makes the UK hobby worth about £30million.
Lets bring up the thorny issue of Games Workshop – in their last annual report they published sales of £120million globally (40% revenues came from North America, 30% UK and the remainder from the rest of the world). If my assumptions of the UK Wargames market is correct it must exclude Games Workshop. They are a very different market aiming squarely at the teen market where interest is shortlived. I doubt that less than in 1 in 20 GW teenagers carries on the hobby into adulthood. If this assumption is correct it starts to balance books. Combining the two markets we begin to see a global industry worth around £230million.
To further reinforce my hypothesis It is interesting to note that the Financial times (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c9587c8c-d0a6-11d9-abb8-00000e2511c8.html#axzz2hzl6cqT5) suggested the worlds Model railway industry was worth around £1.1billion in 2005. Given the larger number of hobby magazines operating in this sector it must be reasonable to assume that as a market it is bigger.
So we are not really a big market – we are very niche. To put it into context the UK sells around £700m worth of bananas a year (I know this because I was once the UK Marketing Director for one of the largest importers).