I had the opportunity to talk with Boyan Radakovich, associate producer for the show, about its genesis and the main thing about the program that concerns retailers, the link directing viewers to Amazon if they desire to purchase a copy of that episode’s game.
TableTop originated out of Google’s desire to move towards providing more professionally produced videos on YouTube, getting away from user generated and scattershot material such as “Keyboard Cat” and “Charlie Bit My Finger”. While some videos racked up huge viewing numbers, millions of more didn’t. Google funded the project with approximately $100 million and tapped actress, writer and producer Felicia Day to create a channel. Day, best known for her webseries “The Guild, then contacted occasional Guild guest star and gaming aficionado Wil Wheaton to create a series for the new Geek & Sundry channel. introducing people to games he liked. Wheaton turned to Radakovich, a creative consultant for the games industry, to bring the idea to fruition. The result is TableTop.
TableTop’s first season will run 20 episodes, with a new episode released every other Friday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. With that release schedule, Radakovich expects the first season to run through early 2013. I found it interesting that the shooting schedule ran a total to 10 days with two episodes shot per day. Each episode took approximately six hours to shoot, not counting post-production, so by my count, that meant the crew put in 12 hour days during the filming of the first season. The company has already shot all of this season’s episodes, so no use contacting them to see if they will feature your game this year. A second season will depend on how successful this one turns out as YouTube will not decide until late 2012 whether to fund a second season. Success for TableTop will be determined by number of views and subscriptions to the channel. No idea what Google will consider good numbers but the Small World show, first in the series, has racked up just shy of 600,000 views.
The retailers I have talked with have overwhelmingly embraced TableTop. The only complaint is the link on each video directing the viewer either to the publisher’s homepage (in the case of Days of Wonder) or Amazon to purchase the game. Radakovich says that, after getting feedback from the gaming community, including retailers, the show will remove the links soon.
With the exception of Settlers of Catan and Munchkin(both of which are among our best sellers), all of the games featured on TableTop (save for Get Bit, out of print when I last checked) have seen a spike in sales since appearing on the show and it appears the same at a number of other retailers. Radakovich hopes that retailers will use TableTop to further grow the gaming community in their area and especially wants to make sure retailers take advantage of the two week lead time between the announcement of the next game featured and the show on which it appears (Castle Panic is next) to stock up if needed. There’s even talk of a DVD compilation available after the end of the season, which would be a great sales tool should it happen.