2023 End of Year Update


Hello everyone,

Happy 2024 to all! As we start a new year, it is worthwhile reflecting back on what did (and didn’t) happen in our second full year of operations.

Firstly, we provided several operational updates during the year, so there may be some repetition in this post. You can read our Quarter One Review here and our Quarter Two Review here. You may note that there was not a Quarter Three Review - we supplanted It with our News Shorts post here.


We released four new titles during the year. That is twice as many as the previous year. All started with Panzer Campaigns Philippines ‘44 in March followed closely by Musket & Pike Great Northern War in April. These two titles were followed by Panzer Campaigns Orel ’43 in October and Musket & Pike Thirty Years War in November. There has not been four new titles released in one year since the mid ‘noughties’!

With the release of Thirty Years War, we delivered all the games we committed to publish in 2023. We continue to have a big pipeline of new projects, and we expect some will be ready later in the year. No announcements just yet, but once things become more concrete, we will share more. Whether we can eclipse the number of new titles that were released in 2023 is still uncertain.


As mentioned in our 2022 End of Year Update, there were four new Demo titles released in that year, doubling the number of demo games from four to eight. A further two were created and released in 2023, providing demos for all series other than First World War Campaigns and Strategic War.

The Naval Campaigns Spanish-American War Demo was released in July and covered the naval battles in both Cuba and the Philippines. Musket and Pike also received its own dedicated demo; Vienna 1683. We continue to see a very solid uptake of all the demo titles and are confident they are helping us to reach potential new customers.


Updates and upgrades for the existing catalogue were the biggest focus for the team beyond the work needed for new releases and demos. We continue to put a big emphasis on reviewing all the products and where possible standardize across all. One example is the changes to the user interfaces and hot keys in many series. We are continuing to work on the user interface, and you will increasingly see items such as resizable dialog boxes and lot less ‘Windows 95’ feel.

A change that was made early in the year was to move Civil War Battles, Napoleonic Battles and Musket & Pike under the same programmer. This has allowed these series to align features and updates across all.

By period, the Napoleonic Battles had the most updates this year, progressing from 4.05 in February with 4.06 in May closely followed by 4.07 in September. 4.07.1 was released in October and finally 4.07.2 in December. Napoleonic Battles probably went through the largest fundamental change ever for the series this year. Everything from movement to player aids through to AI and many more items were improved. Expect to see additional enhancements in the future.

Civil War Battles rolled out version 4.02 in April. Version 4.03 released in August, was the first integration of many of the new features now available in the Napoleonic series. The 4.04 patch was released in September, followed by 4.04.1 in December. Ease of play and improvements in AI are front and centre in the updates.

With an increased focus on Musket & Pike with the release of Great Northern War in April, the previously released titles in the series were patched to version 4.02 in May followed by 4.03 with the release of Thirty Years War in November. All four released titles and the demo moved to version 4.03.1 in December. Like Civil War Battles and Napoleonic Battles, lots of enhancements have been included and the games should be easier and more intuitive to play.

You can expect that all three series will continue to be improved programmatically, but there is also work to standardize game data values across titles. This reflects the different designers and tools available when the games were originally created, and we believe it is time to align values where possible. We are hoping to update the Napoleonic series this year.

The first title updated in the Early American War series with a new scenario and data updates was the Little Big Horn Demo. You can read about the changes here. The remaining four titles were all updated to version 4.01 in April.

Panzer Campaigns by product count, is our largest series with twenty-nine titles. With the release of Philippines ’44 the version number was incremented to 4.03. We had expected to roll out the previous 4.02 version, but a few subsequent issues prompted us to move immediately to 4.03.

With many titles, we staggered the update across a range of releases in March. You can read more on the various updates here; Western Front, First World War Campaigns and Modern Campaigns,   Pacific/Asia, Southern Front, East Front part 1, and East Front part 2. Other than a minor fix for wired bridges in August, this series of games has been robust.

The Panzer Battles 4.01 update that did not make the 2022 cut-off was released in February. You can ready what changed in version 4.01 here.

Probably the biggest series update in 2023 were the release of the 4.01 updates for Squad Battles. Last year we said:” The planned 4.01 upgrade is a monster and will be the basis of an increasing amount of news in 2023. This series includes some of the most diverse topics of any, covering battles from the First World War through to the present. The graphics requirements alone are very significant. Expect revamped order of battles, scenarios, and overall improved presentation of the series. Expect a staggered release over the year as titles are ready.” And that is how it has turned out. We managed to release the three Eastern Front titles in May and followed up with the Grenada Demo in June. Eagles Strike was ready by the end of December, but we waited to post it after New Years Eve. Eagles Strike was the first 4.02 version and we are close to releasing a 4.02.1 to remedy a few issues found in the Eagles Strike release. You can expect all updated titles to be bought to that level. We are planning further titles to be updated to the new standard during 2024.

 In all, ninety of the one-hundred-and-eleven titles have been upgraded in 2023. That is over eighty percent of the catalogue and has required significant time and resources to handle new builds, patches, and the support to migrate you, our customer base.


Blog posts and email continue to be an important way for us to both message and interact with the community. There were forty-four blog posts during the year, a rate of nearly four per month on average, and higher than the thirty-seven posts in 2022. Many of these posts have been linked to above, but increasingly they have prompted many questions and requests. This is where we saw the value of our dedicated forums with many of the more immediate questions and feedback being discussed and resolved there. There are now over 800 members of the forum with over 1,500 topics discussed. (Note: you only have to be registered to post, not to read.) We were also fortunate to have one of our team members, Rich Walker take the time and start to post some content on YouTube, you can see an example here.

In last year’s update we said, “Moving into 2023 we would like to post even more blog posts and would canvas submissions from the community. We would particularly welcome after-action reports (AARs), player reviews of titles or series, game play insights and game modifications.” A superlative series of articles covering an Introduction to the Napoleonic Battles series by one of our users, Alexey, was very well received. You can read the Introduction, Second Instalment, Third Instalment, Fourth Instalment and Final Instalment as per the links. With the release of the upgraded Squad Battles Advance of the Reich, a handcrafted campaign was provided by user Embis. This linked series of scenarios has a range of interesting situations including demolition missions, hostage rescues and a range of other original content. You can get the campaign here.


A few statistics for the year.

Our total orders were down by 6%, but keep in mind that 2022 grew by a mind-blowing 84%. Last year’s huge increase, was largely due to the volume of no value demo downloads, of which four new free products were released. The primary difference between the years is the number of downloaded demos. This had the opposite effect on average order value where it grew 14% year on year. In the prior year we had seen our average order value being down by 45% due to the high mix of demos vs. full product ordered.

We saw our site visits up by 29%, with growth in every month. This is much more significant than the 177% seen in 2022 as that was compared to a year where, prior to WDS ownership, different information was across multiple websites. Sessions are a way of measuring both the number of visits and time spent on a website, and it is pleasing to see this number still growing strongly.

An important, related statistic is the returning customer rate. This measures the number of customers who bought twice or more in a year. In 2022, over 68% of our customers bought from us more than once and the rate was higher for first time buyers. This year, the returning customer rate was down slightly at 65% but is still an exceptional metric. First time buyers continued to return more often, indicating that those customers saw value after their first visit. Overall, out of our total customer orders, 17% (up from 15% in 2022) were from first time customers who had never bought from HPS, JTS or WDS previously. New customers are always a good indication of how well you are reaching people who didn’t previously know about your products.

Looking at which series were the most popular.

Panzer Campaigns


Napoleonic Battles


Civil War Battles


Squad Battles


Panzer Campaigns led with 20% of all sales followed by Napoleonic Battles (14%) and Civil War Battles (11%) and Squad Battles (10%). Keep in mind these four series have the most individual titles compared to the other series, so have a range advantage. All four also have a free demo game. They have all had an update in 2023, apart from some of the Squad Battle titles.

A fairer view is when the volume is divided by the number of titles in a series to get an average per title volume. This resulted in a very different mix.

Musket and Pike


Panzer Battles


Modern Campaigns


Modern Air Power


Musket & Pike was our best performing series per title, buoyed by the release of both Great Northern War and Thirty-Year War in 2023. Panzer Battles, like 2022 performed very well on a per title basis, despite it being quite a while since Battles of North Africa was released. Both Modern Campaigns and Modern Air Power were surprising in success, but with a new demo for each series released in late 2022, there was an increase in ranking due to the number of free downloads.

At a product level, demos took all top ten downloads with Modern Campaigns Quang Tri ’72, the highest. This was helped by it being released on December 31st, 2022, and many only downloading it in 2023.  Of the top five paid titles, four were the new 2023 releases, along with Campaign Waterloo.

These statistics underline the strength of the business and the continued engagement of you, our customers. The fact that we are being supported during a cost-of-living crisis, where every dollar matters is heartening.


Finally, some comments about the WDS Team.

We decided at the start of 2023 to reinvest essentially all of what we were making back into the business. This has been primarily in the personnel area. We were able to release the many enhancements and patches this year, due to the hiring of additional programmers. It was important for us to deliver on a promise we made a year or so ago to start to improve the AI in particular, and improvements should become more evident over time. We are blessed to have some amazing coders working with us and you will increasingly see the fruits of their labor over the next year.

We have also put a big emphasis on improving our artwork, particularly in the pre-twentieth century series. We have some very talented artists and art coordinators in-house, but we have also engaged some amazing external artists. The artwork in Great Northern War and Thirty-Year War are examples of improvements that have been made.

There is also an army of very dedicated individuals that either create and lead projects or help with the improvement of existing titles or series. These people are the heart and soul of WDS, and their work output, energy and enthusiasm are a godsend. These people ensure you get the games you want.

Finally, it would be remiss not to mention the unsung heroes, our support and testing teams. We pride ourselves on personalising any interaction with WDS and ensuring questions are answered as promptly as possible. Our testing team are there to ensure you get the best possible product, and when there are issues, help with the resolution. Support and testing are one of the reasons so many of you come back to buy from us again.

We survived our second year of operations! We have a very solid pipeline of new projects (more on that in the future) and are excited to keep moving forward.

We couldn’t do it without you all and your enthusiasm to support us and share your feedback has helped shape us into the company we are today.

Thank you again and Happy New Year!


  • Mark

    Speaking as an big consumer of PzC and MC titles in the beginning to middle years, followed by a long hiatus, it was interesting to awake from my long slumber to see a better organized business, with formal support, consciously planned product refinements and improvements, planned update timelines, etc. After perusing the Forums, the needs and desires (and opinions) of your customer base are quite diverse, to which I have added some input, so I look forward to seeing where you take product development from here.

  • James Lafer

    Thank you for a wonderful year. You control this genre.

  • Paul Walker

    Thank you for the highly informative and candid wrap-up for 2023 and a hint of what is to come in 2024. Your A-Team has indeed completed a phenomenal amount of work over the past 12 months! I’ve played many of these titles for more years than I care to remember, however the “recent” flood of improvements, new content and exceptional customer communications over the last two years have really served to reinvigorate the whole WDS environment! The pièce de résistance: “It was important for us to deliver on a promise we made a year or so ago to start to improve the AI.” Bravo.

  • Rick Trembley

    Your tactical CW games are great, are you considering developing a strategic CW game, there are a lot of examples out there.

  • Todd

    Interesting information. And, thank you so much for the new titles and updates. I’d like to encourage you to publish more on the Asia/Pacific WWII theater. China, Malaya, Burma, India, New Guinea, the list of interesting campaigns is long, I hope we will see some of those in the future.

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