Thoughts on Free RPG Day 2017

While I would love to rave about another wonderful free RPG Day on today sadly I can not. This year for the first year in the last four years that no game store in 100 miles in any direction of the grand city of Charleston South Carolina even participated in the event. Shockingly enough when I expanded my search I did find a handful of stores with Free RPG Day kits. Three stores in the whole of South Carolina took part in the event this year, ouch! I don’t know if this is a growing trend in other areas but I for the first time in years felt the pain that I have seen other

Shockingly enough when I expanded my search with the store locator tools I did find a handful of stores with Free RPG Day kits. Three stores in the whole of South Carolina took part in the event this year, ouch! I don’t know if this is a growing trend in other areas but I for the first time in years felt the pain that I have seen other gamer’s struggle with.

With the explosion in popularity of tabletop games in the last two years, you would think that every store in the country would be looking for ways to draw in more customers to their venues. Tabletop gaming is rapidly closing on its first golden age. Why would you not want to take every advantage its current popularity to rise with it?

Now I understand we RPG players need to contend with the fact that many of the local stores run MTG three days a week or more here. Card floppers continue to outspend tabletop players likely more than ten to one, I get it. Yet when every FLGS turns their back on the opportunity to draw a larger audience they inevitably force their loyal customers to look elsewhere.

Please understand that by no stretch of the imagination do I think that Free RPG Day is free to the retailer. I know it costs money and I can only imagine that no stores locally took part because in years past they have failed to profit from the event. I also think that with proper promotion Free RPG Day could be profitable to stores if they market the events to draw the local gamers in. Demos and mini store conventions took place in many locations across the country with wild success. These things could be done here or in any location in the country to help ensure profitable Free RPG Days.

When Free RPG Day started it was about trying to draw in an audience of gamers. To Infuse the hobby with fresh to grow a new batch of gamers. But since then Free RPG Day has stopped being that. The kits can be costly and there just simply are not nearly enough of them to go around. So I think some of this falls on the FRPGD shoulders as well because the event is not nearly as well known as International Tabletop day and it is older than that event.

Also, I think some of this falls on the Impressions Distributors of Free RPG Day’s shoulders as well because the event is not nearly as well known as International Tabletop day and it is near twice as old. Not only did every store take part in International Tabletop Day but many of the locals had home parties. This is something you will never see with Free RPG DAY because they don’t support their event unless you are a FLGS. This goes againt the idea of Growing the hobby in a truly frustrating manner.

I will end with a personal experience when I was running the RPG portion of Storm-Con a few years back. Our convention date fell on FREE RPG Day. We as a convention reached out willing to buy kits for our con and we were iced because we were not a retailer. We were then told if we were to get a retailer to buy kits for us we still would not be allowed to give them away at our convention, Craziness! 300 gamers would have gone without Free RPG Day products that year. In the end, one of our vendors decided to bring their Free RPG Day kits to the con.

So what are your thoughts on FREE RPG DAY ? Were you left out in the wild or did your store particapte? Did it go over well or was it not well handled in your location? I would love to hear your thougths on the subject.