Free RPG Day 2008 announced, expanded

Hot on the heels of this year’s inaugural event, Impressions Advertising & Marketing has just declared the second Free RPG Day to be June 21, 2008. Not only that, but as any of you who heard our post-FRPG Day interview with Aldo Ghiozzi of Impressions already know, next year’s event will be worldwide. How this expanded event will impact the demands upon the participating publishers remains to be seen. In any case, roleplayers are sure to turn out again next year for the chance at a fresh batch of new game products.

Impressions Advertising press release follows:

Impressions Announces Free RPG Day 2008

For immediate release: July 17, 2007 – Impressions Advertising & Marketing announced today the date for Free RPG Day 2008. The in-store event will be celebrated Saturday, June 21st.

Hot on the heels of a great first year, Impressions will once again work with hobby game retailers and RPG publishers worldwide to bring new RPG quickstart rules and adventure modules into the hands of gamers. Consumers will have the opportunity to play brand new material for a variety of RPGs – no overstock, retail-priced or dead product with this event.

“For 2007, we had nearly 300 retailers in the United States and 12 game publishers support the event. Now that we have year one under our belts, we will be opening up the event to retailers and consumers worldwide”, said Aldo Ghiozzi, owner of Impressions.

“Free RPG Day is the most successful promotion we have ever participated in.”, said Steve Chenault, owner of Troll Lord Games. Chenault continued, “After the quickstart rules hit consumers, we quickly saw an increase in sales with distributors and on our site.”

Some stores for 2007 reported Free RPG Day created lines waiting outside the store, the second biggest revenue day ever and over $1,000 in sales in the first hour!

The only thing gamers need to do is find a participating retailer (as they sign up) at

About Impressions Advertising & Marketing
Impressions handles the distributor sales and shipping for nearly 50 hobby game companies to over 40 distributors worldwide, while also being the publishers of GameBuyer Magazine, the only monthly business-to-business publication 100% devoted to the hobby game retailer. More information about Impressions can be found at


  1. Glad to see this continue – hopefully the sophomore effort will be smoother.

    I do think the FreeRPG Day needs to have its mission / purpose more clearly defined. The website says, “The goal of Free RPG Day is to get gamers inspired to play a new RPG, which will in turn, create sales through local game stores.”

    … whereas in the OgreCave interview, to me, the goal was to generate more sales for game stores that day, and not necessarily in rpgs … and not on “getting gamers to play a new RPG”.

    Either is a fine purpose, but they ain’t the same …

  2. “whereas in the OgreCave interview, to me, the goal was to generate more sales for game stores that day, and not necessarily in rpgs … and not on “getting gamers to play a new RPG”.

    What the goals were and what actually happened were (and often are) two different things. RPG’s are a funny animal. If I hold a Magic event, I’ll sell a ton of Magic cards and supplies. If I hold a miniatures event, I’ll sell a ton of miniatures and paint. RPG events often generate no sales or oddball sales.

    Also, as a first year event, I think we mostly saw two groups of RPG people: alpha gamers and drop-bys. If you were a drop-by, you just happened to be there that day and you got stuff. The alpha gamers are on top of events and product releases and often play games in multiple genres. Only alpha gamers cross over to board games or miniature games. Most customers rarely switch game categories, and very rarely play more than two. In future events, I hope to see more of my general RPG customer base.

    Getting people to play a new RPG is really difficult, especially if you have to choose between a product you can use with an existing game and something for a new game. For the next event, I plan on getting enough product so there are enough choices so a participant can get something for their current game AND a few new game items.

  3. Fair enough. However, again, in the interview the goal of Free RPG day that came across was not the same as the goal stated on the Free RPG day site. I listened twice. Opportunity for improvement, that’s all.

    I completely understand the challenges. However, to be clear, when you say things like “RPG’s are a funny animal … RPG events often generate sales or oddball sales … Getting people to play a new RPG is really difficult”, you’re speaking about your experiences at your store. To be fair, you’re highly constrained by your current location.

    I’ve seen RPG events that have generated sales of RPGs. I’ve also had very good results in getting people to try new games.

  4. True, I’m speaking for myself. The exception is probably game conventions or events with new RPG’s, which are an enormously tough sell in comparison to cards and miniatures. It’s not that RPG events never result in RPG sales, it’s just that there’s far less incentive, especially for an established game.

    If you’re playing at a CCG event and you’re getting trounced, it becomes clear your deck sucks and you need fresh cards, so you buy singles or packs. In miniature games, the same thing happens. You realize your army is lacking so you pick up a box of little men. In RPG’s, which are 70% D&D anyway by market share, you make a character and stick with it. Unless you’re playing a new system or your character just died, there’s not a lot of incentive to buy RPG’s right then and there. If it’s a small press game, there’s usually only one book anway, limiting follow-up sales. You may buy more books before and after an event though, it’s just less common to see good RPG sales that day.

  5. If it’s a small press game, there’s usually only one book anyway, limiting follow-up sales.

    Aw, c’mon now … that really does depend on how the flgs in question stocks the game, isn’t it? Maybe it’s just the stores I shop at, granted. But you can’t sell two of something you only have a single copy of …

    I will agree that both minis and ccg events have a much easier time in follow-up sales in “standard” events (need another squad / pack of cards syndrome). Absolutely.

    In any event, this discussion is entirely off-base. I don’t disagree with the whole results vs. purpose concept. My sole point was that the goals that were being stated were not identical. Consumers pick up on that sort of thing eventually (with less than joyous results). I stand by my constructive criticism that there’s opportunity to improve / synchronize the stated goal moving forward.

    I look forward to next year’s event. With that, I’m out. 😉

  6. Gotta agree with you there, Foe3. As the Ogrecave podcast mentioned, there were two different messages sent out by Free RPG Day: 1. make money for retail stores, and 2. promote RPGs. Both are good goals, but mixed messages about the day’s goals got mixed results. If the goal were stated as “Supporting retail sales and consumer knowledge of RPGs”, maybe that would work better.

  7. To both Foe3 and WilliamG:

    I will be the first to admit that nothing is perfect. 2007 was a total “hope for the best” and I don’t think it was a sophomore effort at all. Not to put blame to anyone, but the success of the event really lies in the hands of the stores. If they just bought the box of giveaways and gave them out at the register…that was not the spirit of the intent of the event. If they planned events and in-store gaming, then those stores probably had more success.

    I definitely want to hear more feedback as we are just getting the publishers together and would love to pass the info along to them.


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