Warhammer Plus, Games Workshop’s ambitious digital subscription that includes the Warhammer TV streaming channel, has earned just 115,000 subscribers since its launch in Aug. 2021. The endeavor is profitable, according to Games Workshop’s half-year financial report, but viewership lags well behind similar fan-created content available for free on platforms like YouTube.
Compared to services like Netflix and Disney Plus, with hundreds of millions of subscribers each, Games Workshop’s community represents little more than a rounding error. Of course, going up against the giants of the streaming industry was never the goal here: That’s why Warhammer Plus is listed under the “Marketing” headline in these documents, most likely.
Instead, Games Workshop wanted to appeal to diehard fans of its marquee franchises like Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer: Age of Sigmar with a boatload of digital content. And it’s done so admirably, in my opinion. There are hours of exclusive animated series that can’t be found anywhere else, plus actual play sessions of all the major product lines led by knowledgeable presenters. Add in a rich series of advanced painting and lore videos by exceptional talents like Louise Sugden, a massive back catalog of digital books and magazines available through the Warhammer Vault, and an exclusive miniature, and it makes the $59.99 annual fee a reasonable expense. I pulled the trigger again myself for year two.
But it’s hard to weigh all that against the waning goodwill of the community. There were many fan-made projects and YouTube series that were sunset in the wake of the launch of Warhammer Plus, which along with messaging against 3D printing angered many long-time fans during the pandemic. I haven’t seen any straight-up cease and desist letters myself, but a handful of creators were spooked enough to wind down their pet projects and move on. Some — including the creator of the viral hit Astartes animated shorts — were integrated into the service itself (although not behind a paywall). A pirated version of that short still exists on YouTube, and that alone has more than 13 million views.
According to Games Workshop, of the many hours of content on the platform — including that Astartes animated shot — “Warhammer Plus shows and animations have now been viewed over 5 million times.”
Could there be more new content on Warhammer TV? Perhaps, but technical issues are still my chief complaint. Highlights of the first year of Warhammer TV include Interrogator, a near-feature-length animated drama, and Angels of Death, a more traditional action flick starring Blood Angels terminator Space Marines. But, much like the climactic battles in the last season of Game of Thrones, they are relentlessly dim and dark. Compressed for streaming, they look awful. Neither is available for download.
Warhammer Plus recently released a teaser trailer highlighting its plans for 2023, which include plenty of 40K content and a smattering of other franchises. I would have loved to see more announced, but Games Workshop clearly has bigger fish to fry. Henry Cavill is now leading an adaptation of Warhammer 40,000 for Amazon, and while Warhammer TV will necessarily remain a niche service, the star of Man of Steel and The Witcher will soon allow Warhammer to truly go mainstream.
Correction: Astartes is available on the Warhammer TV website, but is not behind a paywall. We’ve updated the original story to reflect that.