Thoughts on Free RPG Day

Free RPG Day is coming up June 21st, when gamers will drop into their favorite participating FLGS, pick up a free release from a host of participating publishers and hopefully noodle around the store, pick up some weird dice and maybe, just maybe, stave off the doom of the Brick & Mortar gaming store that has been prophesied since days of yore.

As with anything "free" or "rpg", questions come up. Rather than go mano a mano on some g+ thread, I'm internet pre-partying and getting my thoughts down early.

1. Every other publisher releases a PDF of their Free RPG Day release the same day! Where's yours?
I totally agree, it sucks to be a fan isolated from an FLGS, unable to pick up a release. My own FLGS is 4 hours away. 

The intent behind Free RPG Day is to give gamers a reason to visit their Brick & Mortar stores. That's why some publishers don't release the PDFs right away – to drive business to the store. Other publishers do release their PDFs right away, but I can't speak to the reasons behind their decisions.

2. My FLGS doesn't participate because they have to pay.
Yes, the FLGSs pay to participate. The event is free for the gamers, not the stores or the publishers. 
Here's why: 

The publishers produce books for free. But in-between the publisher and the gamer are the folks that coordinate, collect, and distribute all those books. Asking publishers to pay the authors, artists, editors, printer AND front the distribution expenses would sink a lot of folks. 

There's also an argument to be made for motivating game stores to leverage Free RPG Day to the best of their ability. If all the packages were simply sent out to every store that signed up, you could imagine some kits languishing in the storeroom under piles of packaging. But if a store has a material investment in FRPGD, then they have skin in the game, and you know they are going to do their best to promote the event. 

3. I own an FLGS, we participated, and no one showed up. 
The successful Free RPG Day events are the ones that see a lot of promotion in the store. They invite GMs to run games, throw hot dogs on the grill, and make it an event. They know that free stuff – alone – might not be enough of a draw. If you, as a business owner are going to invest finite resources into FRPGD, it makes sense to do your best to ensure the event is a success. The end goal for everyone involved is successful game store, and Free RPG Day is just a tool to be used towards that ends.

Edit courtesy Daniel Cisek:
" ... if you are going to participate as a consumer, please buy something at the store you visit. Don't just take the free stuff and run, stay, play a game and spend at least $5 in the store that cares enough about this hobby to participate."


At 10:05 AM, Blogger Marty Walser said...

I believe Free RPG Day is not often executed at the FLGS in the way is should be. It definitely needs to be an event, but is often just a table laid out with a few of the freebies and the early bird gamers grab up all of the supplies off the bat.

I absolutely agree that there needs to be some evangelism to get GMs to come in and run some demos of those games featured in the packets. The whole point is to introduce gamers to a system they may not pick up on their own and I rarely see that happening in my area.


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