A Look at the History of Shut Up & Sit Down's Impact on Board Game Trends

5 points

Today, content creators are an integral part of the board game industry. And Shut Up & Sit Down is without doubt the most influential. Ever since uploading their first video review of Citadels and Memoir '44, SU&SD has gained a massive following of 254K YouTube subscribers, and this doesn't even include their forum community and podcast listeners.

With this in mind, I took a deep dive into our google analytics to see the extent of SU&SD's influence on a game page's rate of traffic. Here's what I found after looking at a week by week comparison for each of SU&SD's 100+ video reviews.

Before we get into the numbers...

Here's how I got them and what they mean:

  • The data I present is based off of a combination of Board Game Atlas and Board Game Price's analytics (we acquired BGP late last year).
  • The impact of SU&SD's coverage is represented by the % increase in number of views on the game page. This is based on the change in number of views a week after the review (including the day of release) vs. the week before.
  • If a game page had zero (or practically zero) traffic prior to the review, I categorized them as "Underappreciated". Otherwise, I chose to present only the top 5 "SU&SD success games" for each year starting 2016.
  • I've noted SU&SD's subscriber count at the start of each year so that you can see the progression of their growth and influence. I only managed to get the numbers starting from May 2017 so I extrapolated to estimate the past subscriber counts. See here for where I got the data.
  • If you're curious about any of the games not mentioned here, or if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!

With that out of the way, let's take a look at the results.

2016

Subscriber Count: ~8K Estimated

Memorable Moment: Matt's Cooking Lesson in Arboretum

General Observations: SU&SD is in its growing phase but continues to drive significant traffic to a number of games they cover.

Top SU&SD Success Stories:

5. Lords of Vegas (+157%)

4. Ra (+330%)

3. Concordia (+543%)

2. Captain Sonar (+692%)

1. Loony Quest (+750%)

2017

Subscriber Count: ~43K Estimated

Memorable Moment: Paul in the "Cuddle Room" in Caverna

General Observations: SU&SD is making leaps in subscriber count and average number of views on videos, and starting to generate significant traffic to underappreciated games. There's also a noticeable improvement in production quality which makes a full transition in style starting 2018.

Top SU&SD Success Stories:

5. Troyes (+212%)

4. Spyfall (+450%)

3. Flamme Rouge (+650%)

2. Watson & Holmes (+1317%)

1. Tigris & Euphrates (+1514%)

Underappreciated:

2. Secrets (+3400%)

1. Imperial 2030 (+3500%)

2018

Subscriber Count: 78.6K

Memorable Moment: Quinns achieves Networking Nirvana in Railroad Ink

General Observations: There's an overall air of professionalism in their approach. Better camera quality and angles, clear audio, and use of animations and voice-overs.

Top SU&SD Success Stories:

5. Brass: Birmingham (+373%)

4. Lowlands (+395%)

3. War of the Ring (+414%)

2. Railroad Ink (+414%)

1. 878 Vikings - Invasions of England (+658%)

Underappreciated:

3. Cockroach Poker Royal (+1900%)

2. Container (+2500%)

1. Bargain Quest (+6400%)

2019

Subscriber Count: 153.3K

Memorable Moment: Matt has 5 minutes to review Altiplano

General Observations: SU&SD doubles its subscriber count and passes the 100K mark. Their reviews are changing the industry landscape and most of the top SU&SD successes sell out in days after the release of the video.

Top SU&SD Success Stories:

5. Klask (+354%)

4. Dune (+518%)

3. Too Many Bones (+1006%)

2. The Quest for El Dorado (+1119%)

1. Treasure Island (+1462%)

Underappreciated:

3. Crokinole (+4000%)

2. Don't Get Got (6900%)

1. Combo Fighter (20600%)

2020

Subscriber Count: 222K

Memorable Moment: Quinns shows that great card games are everywhere.

General Observations: If you're part of any online board game community, you've probably seen a number of posts from people sharing about these underappreciated card games. SU&SD's voice in the industry is only magnified as a result of COVID-19 and the shelter in place. 

Top SU&SD Success Stories:

5. Nemesis (+189%)

4. Wavelength (+512%)

3. Unmatched: Battle of Legends Vol. 1 (+988%)

2. Undaunted: Normandy (1016%)

1. The King's Dilemma (1914%)

Underappreciated:

5. Bruxelles 1897 (+2030%)

4. Mandala (+3400%)

3. Air, Land & Sea (+3500%)

2. Tournament at Avalon (+6143%)

1. A War of Whispers (62600%)

Final Thoughts

If you're a fan of SU&SD, you may have noticed that some of these games didn't receive their "Recommends" badge. I think this goes with what I love about their reviews. They walk you through the ins and outs of the game and strike a nice balance of giving their own opinions. By the end, even if there's a surprising mid-review turnaround, I typically have all the info I need to judge the game based on my preferences. I think this is why a number of games like Too Many Bones and War of the Ring only benefited from getting their spotlight. Here's what Matt had to say about Taverns of Tiefenthal that I think it sums this up nicely: "It's not perfect, but it doesn't have to be a 10/10 for you to really enjoy it".

Phew. That's it everyone. Thank you for reading and if you want more content, you can take a look at this article I put together showing the changes in rankings of top 50 most visited game pages during April. You'll get a clear look at how SU&SD's reviews have completely changed the hierarchy of the game pages.


Marshwiggle92 Supporter33 days ago | 4 points[-]

Wow, very interesting article. I'll bet it took a lot of time to write. 

philryuh Supporter32 days ago | 3 points[-]

Thanks Chris! It sure did, but I think it was worth it. SU&SD is a big part of the industry so I'm glad to have done this as a fan. 

hoppities 32 days ago | 3 points[-]

I bought Crokinole because of them. Muzzies out of Nova Scotia makes great boards :)


philryuh Supporter32 days ago | 1 point[-]

I'd love to own one of those boards some day. Love flicking games and I'm sure it would be a blast for the family. I don't think I have any storage space for it right now though (even if I could afford it) haha

nealkfrank 33 days ago | 3 points[-]

Yessss I have been waiting for this! Thanks Phil!!

philryuh Supporter32 days ago | 3 points[-]

You're welcome! Glad I finally finished it. I.... spent way too much time on this but I hope you enjoy the read :)

nealkfrank 32 days ago | 1 point[-]

I definitely did enjoy the read! Some definite surprises and I also do not think I realized the impact that they have on the market. Pretty neat. 

Hey it is quarantine time where you are allowed to spent too much time on things lol. 

philryuh Supporter32 days ago | 1 point[-]

I watched so many of their videos while pretty much doing an all-nighter last night. I never really have problem with not sleeping and concentrating so I actually had fun lol

Now... time to sit back and not do work all day. I'll just be hanging out in the forums :D

nealkfrank 32 days ago | 1 point[-]

You earned the day to yourself!!

trentellingsen Supporter32 days ago | 1 point[-]

Definitely

nealkfrank 33 days ago | 1 point[-]

There are  a lot of games I have never heard of here and that I probably will not get into, but it is neat to see that a media outlet can do wonders for games from little developers or games that are not advertised as well as others!

JamesReid860 Supporter29 days ago | 2 points[-]

This was fascinating. Well done! I know that they've gotten me interested in a number of titles. I also find that some of the games that they give "negative" reviews to still can look very much like a game I'd enjoy. 

philryuh Supporter28 days ago | 1 point[-]

Thanks! And from what I've seen in the comments section for SUSD's videos, the "negative reviews" typically have lots of fans offering their personal insights while also agreeing on where they might be coming from, so it'd be in the best interest for anyone viewing the video to check out both.

Lehao van Baritone 30 days ago | 2 points[-]

I have supported them for years and 80% of the games I own I got based on their reviews. They have yet to steer me wrong!

philryuh Supporter28 days ago | 1 point[-]

Woah that's a lot! Which game out of all of them worked the best for you?

Lehao van Baritone 28 days ago | 1 point[-]

#The Quacks of Quedlinburg has been the biggest success. I feel like they perfectly captured the feeling of tension and delight and seeing how you and your friends deal with the Joy of a great draw and the despair of exploding! My family like lighter games and this fits the bill, but it is still fun after playing 26 times over the winter holidays. 

philryuh Supporter27 days ago | 1 point[-]

Ah, that's a great one. I tried introducing that to my wife but I was surprised she wasn't that impressed. I think the key for Quacks (especially if it's with someone like my wife who wants games with more interactions) is that it gets better and better at higher player counts for reasons you mentioned. I could see that at 2p, it wasn't the same level of fun as when I had played with three others at the table.

JamesReid860 Supporter29 days ago | 1 point[-]

They seem to just play so many games that they have a large context to draw from when making recommendations. 

Lehao van Baritone 28 days ago | 1 point[-]

That’s an excellent point! I appreciate that in their more recent reviews they give examples of similar games that are good options if the one they are reviewing isn’t for you. 

JamesReid860 Supporter26 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yes I really like that to!

xldh 31 days ago | 2 points[-]

I have never really much enjoyed SU&SD's videos. I have only watched a few of their videos about games that interest me. Those videos I did watch did very little to change my opinion of the game. And no, I am not one of their suscribers.

philryuh Supporter30 days ago | 1 point[-]

It's certainly not for everyone so it's nice that we have so many different reviewers out there. Are there reviewers you tend to rely on frequently?

xldh 30 days ago | 1 point[-]

I usually try to focus on play-throughs rather than just someone's review/opinion. I will also read the rule book. This gives me a better picture of how the game actually plays and a pretty good idea of whether or not I will like the game.

philryuh Supporter28 days ago | 1 point[-]

Gotcha, I personally tend to refer to Rahdo's videos a ton and that usually helps me make a decision.

xldh 27 days ago | 1 point[-]

I used to watch Rahdo quite a bit, but not so much anymore. His playthroughs, at least to me, appeared to be somewhat scatterbrained. I do still enjoy and watch his "Final Thoughts" segments though as he is rather blunt about what he likes and dislikes.

philryuh Supporter27 days ago | 1 point[-]

Interesting, part of that is true for me too. I still like his videos a lot but I'm definitely watching less of it these days. He does tend to be all over the place, but I do like seeing his thought process and also how it can sometimes reveal how AP prone the game is. I like his change in setup with the fixed camera because him going back and forth with his decisions + the camera going all over the place sometimes got too much in the past. Still a very helpful resource since his tastes and preferences align quite well with mine, but I think I also watch less these days because a lot of the games he's been showcasing lately are ones I have zero interest in or are Kickstarter previews.

wizz0 31 days ago | 2 points[-]

Thanks for this breakdown! I've really enjoyed SU&SD's reviews for a while now but recently noticed they have started streaming games on Twitch. I was able to follow along live playing Railroad Ink (Lakes Expansion) with Matt and Tom and their demeanor throughout the game was spot on with their reviews. It was reassuring to know that they review games honestly and with the same authenticity as they do playing in person (well online that is).

philryuh Supporter30 days ago | 1 point[-]

To be honest I've yet to watch any streams on board game playthroughs. I do enjoy watching Rahdo's runthroughs but it'd be nice to see how the group dynamic unfolds. Seeing SU&SD's latest content, it sure seems like they're trying their best to cater to the current needs.

wizz0 30 days ago | 1 point[-]

I hadn't watched any streams until very recently when I caught several different ones from notable reviewers (a lot I'm betting are now available because of these current events). While I watch a lot of video reviews, SU&SD's stood out to me because they seemed the most like themselves represented in their reviews and I value that. I can't say if they're my favorite reviewers, but I appreciate them a little bit more and glad to see an article like this one.

rlupino 31 days ago | 2 points[-]

Great Article...and probably one of the most underappreciated influences in the hobby are these game reviewers,  I've bought more games because of SU&SD or Game Night or The Dice Tower or Rahdo or various podcasts, I can't even image what i would own without them.  I bet 75% of my collection is due to them.  An invaluable resource and one the gaming industry needs to pay more attention to and perhaps support directly.  Even if the reviewers don't always give their approval, the important part is that we the consumer get to see the game and get a feel for if we would like it or not.  No ad or game announcement or game page is going to do that for you.


Thanks

Rich

philryuh Supporter30 days ago | 1 point[-]

That's very true, and I've been trying to think of another idea for an article to highlight a different reviewer.

LScott 31 days ago | 2 points[-]

I have watched many if their videos and really enjoyed this article. I'm not at all surprised at their influence. Thanks for giving us all the details. I love stats! 

philryuh Supporter30 days ago | 1 point[-]

Thanks! I'm trying to think about what else to jump off to for my next article haha

stainedglasshouse 32 days ago | 2 points[-]

Great article - does this take into account other popular reviewers releases that may have occurred around the same time?

philryuh Supporter32 days ago | 1 point[-]

Thanks! And good question, I looked at several reviews to see if other content creators may have released a review at the same time. In general, I've found that SU&SD acts completely different from the rest of the pack. Channels like Dice Tower and Rahdo tend to cover the latest hot games as they come out, and they overlap in release times every now and then. SU&SD never really seems to follow the trend and instead releases a review of the game much later after the hype. They also tend to do more coverage of games that are older and obscure at times.

holmezzz 32 days ago | 2 points[-]

I was so captivated by Quinns' love of #Arctic Scavengers: Base Game+HQ+Recon and bought it entirely based on his recommendation.  It was the first video of theirs I ever saw, and i didn't even know it was a youtube channel, I just thought he was an obsessed fan! SUSD forever.

philryuh Supporter31 days ago | 1 point[-]

How did the game turn out? Have there been any other games you've gotten after watching their video?

holmezzz 31 days ago | 1 point[-]

It's really good! the multiplayer interaction is so cool, with little mini-battles every round. As for other games, strangely I have not purchased anything based on their recommendation, but there have been times when I have NOT purchased something based on their discouragement.   

philryuh Supporter30 days ago | 1 point[-]

Do they happen to be Root and Scythe? haha

holmezzz 30 days ago | 1 point[-]

Very perceptive! Scythe yes, Root no; I still am fascinated by Root and look forward to playing it someday. #Near and Far is another one they steered me away from.  

philryuh Supporter28 days ago | 1 point[-]

There are lots of others on here who'd have something to say to you about Scythe lol (@Skurvy5, @Marshwiggle92, @sdirrane)

sdirrane Supporter27 days ago | 1 point[-]

As usual, since Scythe and Root are on the top of my list, a bad review from SU&SD usually peaks my interest in a game.

Marshwiggle92 Supporter28 days ago | 1 point[-]

I would just like to say that the SU&SD video of #Scythe has a few good points, but mostly they were expecting the game to be something that it clearly is not. When it is seen and played on its own merits it shines very brightly. 

holmezzz 28 days ago | 1 point[-]

I think I was surprised that SUSD was so unimpressed by what I thought was a universally beloved game. I've since played it and I like it... I should rewatch the video to see what all the fuss was about.  

Marshwiggle92 Supporter28 days ago | 1 point[-]

To be clear, their negative review was what finally convinced me to buy it. That is one thing I like about their reviews. I generally know whether or not I will like a game, regardless of whether or not they do. 

holmezzz 26 days ago | 1 point[-]

yeah I agree completely. 

Skippan 32 days ago | 2 points[-]

Someday Brass:Birmingham stock will return to online stores... someday

nealkfrank 32 days ago | 1 point[-]

The deluxe edition is available on the Roxley site :) 

philryuh Supporter28 days ago | 1 point[-]

I've checked it out before and it was so tempting. Maybe next year :D

nealkfrank 28 days ago | 1 point[-]

IT really is awesome...The iron clays are used in a lot of other games too, they are just so pretty and versatile!!

theDL 33 days ago | 2 points[-]

Holy cow, that #A War of Whispers jump!

doover25 18 days ago | 1 point[-]

So many "great" games have horrible covers, but I looked at this game just because the cover got my attention.

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philryuh Supporter32 days ago | 1 point[-]

Yup, it seems to be slowing fading away though, unlike #The King's Dilemma, which has been showing a much more solid staying power.

doover25 18 days ago | 1 point[-]

My 17yr old son had to add #Undaunted: Normandy to his birthday wish list after seeing SDSU's video.

doover25 18 days ago | 1 point[-]

I couldn't agree more with the other comments, that this was a VERY interesting article.

I had never heard of #Imperial 2030 before this article, so I had to go check it out. It is surprisingly in the top 250 on BGG.