We don’t often get definitive sales numbers in the world of tabletop gaming, but when we do, it’s because a publisher has something to crow about. Catalyst Game Labs’ BattleTech line had one hell of a 2022… and also a pretty good 2021 and 2019. 2018 wasn’t too shabby either, it turns out. In fact, at the current rate of sales, by mid-summer 2023, the publisher will have sold some 9 million little plastic mech miniatures since conceiving its all-new line of sculpts in 2015. BattleTech is back, and the next expansion kicks off crowdfunding soon.
BattleTech began in 1984 with Jordan Weisman and L. Ross Babcock’s miniatures wargame, before morphing into a tabletop role-playing game, a franchise of video games, and a destination pre-VR arcade experience. Catalyst took the reins of the tabletop game some years later, and relaunched the line in 2015.
“That meant all-new, ready-to-play, high-quality plastics — and completely redesigning the core products to match that quality,” the BattleTech tabletop blog team wrote wrote on Jan. 2. “These were a success from the moment they became available in January 2018; advance order sales were so high that we began second printings before the first even got to market. The seventh printing of A Game of Armored Combat and the eighth printing of the Beginner Box were being loaded on ships at the end of 2022, and once they go on sale there will have been 160,000 copies between these two boxes moved into the market in four years.”
Since then, the line has expanded. First came the ForcePacks — discrete boxed sets of four to six miniatures. Catalyst sold half a million of those, plus another 160,000 of the follow-on mercenary-themed packs. Its BattleTech: Clan Invasion Kickstarter pulled in an eye-watering $2.5 million in 2020, ranking it among the top 10 most-funded tabletop games on that platform that year. Then the Alpha Strike boxed set landed at Gen Con 2022, with another 30,000 copies sold in the first few runs. All-in, the company expects to have sold some 9 million 28mm miniatures by the middle of this summer.
Why has Catalyst been so successful? A healthy relationship with its peers in the video game space helps a ton. Harebrained Schemes’ BattleTech turn-based strategy game remains a fixture on top 10 lists across the video game industry, its lifespan far exceeding even the developers’ own desires, thanks to multiple outstanding fan modifications. Meanwhile, Piranha Games’ MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries had a middling launch, but has found success with follow-on expansions. The next entry — Rise of Rasalhague — is due out later this month.
Most importantly, the three companies are sharing resources, including artists, to create a cohesive and thematically consistent set of mech sculpts across all of its incarnations. Enjoy your test drive in first-person or isometric mode? Why not buy your own, and paint it up to suit your fancy?
Catalyst has its own plans for expansion. The company says an upcoming crowdfunding campaign will unlock 50 new designs, including an expanded range of plastic tanks and airborne vehicles. The campaign will launch during AdeptiCon 2023 this spring.
“By any metric, BattleTech is now more successful and more popular than ever before,” Catalyst said. “With the coming Mercenaries Kickstarter and the lead-up to BattleTech’s 40th anniversary, there’s an excellent chance our current staggering success will be eclipsed as BattleTech reaches even more fans.”