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

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.



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Supporter7 months ago

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

Supporter7 months ago

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. 

7 months ago

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


Supporter7 months ago

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

7 months ago

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

Supporter7 months ago

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

7 months ago

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. 

Supporter7 months ago

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

7 months ago

You earned the day to yourself!!

Supporter7 months ago

Definitely

7 months ago

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!

Supporter7 months ago

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. 

Supporter7 months ago

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.

7 months ago

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!

Supporter7 months ago

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

7 months ago

#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. 

Supporter7 months ago

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.

Supporter7 months ago

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

7 months ago

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. 

Supporter7 months ago

Yes I really like that to!

7 months ago

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.

Supporter7 months ago

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?

7 months ago

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.

Supporter7 months ago

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

7 months ago

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.

Supporter7 months ago

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.

7 months ago

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).

Supporter7 months ago

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.

7 months ago

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.