Wednesday, July 7, 2010

10 Questions with Aldo Ghiozzi, Free RPG Day Follow up

I am somewhat fascinated how so many passionate people seem to produce so many interesting things in a somewhat niche hobby. Aldo Ghiozzi is the owner of Impressions Advertising and Marketing, the company responsible for bringing us Free RPG Day. He was kind enough to spend some time answering our questions, and for that we thank him. From his very active responses to questions on the to today, he's really shown an effort in working with the community to make Free RPG Day the best day of free stuff out there.

On with the questions!

Why did impressions decide to partake in the effort that is Free RPG day (FRPGD)?

Well, I always have to give Joseph Goodman from Goodman Games the most credit for FRPGD. I always enjoy telling the story when we sat down for lunch at an Indian restaurant and he said, "I want to start Free Adventure Module Day." I very quickly said, "That is a horrible name...why don't we just call it Free RPG Day?" Ta dah! The idea combined with the fact that RPGs seemed to be losing the limelight (shifting to board games), and I thought that it could be a "cute" fun event to do.

How has your approach to FRPGD changed since it started in 2007?

Well, to follow up on the "cute" comment above, 2007 was seen as that...something "cute" that a couple of publishers might enjoy being a part of. Now, it is all organized: deadlines, databases, schedules, promotional material...and a little bit more professionalism!

How have friendly local game stores (FLGS) responded to FRPGD?

That's a fun question. The first response from stores is tons of excitement. Why? Because it is something that can help spur sales in their store (as the event is only for brick-and-mortar retailers). After the initial excitement though, the stores go about 50/50 for a response. The first half being even greater excitement because they plan for in-store gaming and a celebration day of sorts. The other half are stores who plan and figure that by signing up for the kit that consumers will magically run into their stores...Unfortunately, we are a small company, do what we can to help, but always tell the stores that the kit of freebies is a tool for them to use to attract people...and this half doesn't plan in-store gaming, doesn't have incentives, doesn't have a sale that day, nothing...they put out the freebies and that's it.

What was your biggest surprise (either positive or negative) about this year's FRPGD?

The amount of anger from stores that could not participate. Honestly. There are always stores that are bummed they missed out on the sold out event, but this year there was a ton more anger from the retailers that missed out (as it sells out every year and there are only so many freebies given from each publisher). And the anger stems from them getting upset because their customers told them about the event vs. them knowing about it. We do the best we can to get the word out, but again, we're a small company. We have mailing lists, Facebook and go to tradeshows, but even all of it combined does not have the guarantee to reach everyone.

Do you have a limit on the number of items included in a box, thus limiting the number of companies that can participate, or will you put in as many companies as want to participate?

We have levels that publishers choose ("X" per box equals "Y" total in the kit), then we add up all those "X" per box to make 1 minimum, no, there is no limit on how many publishers can participate.

This year's FRPGD sold out according to the website. Are there plans to expand the number of boxes available or is there a limiting factor, such as a company needing to print more giveaways, that will limit the number of boxes available?

I'm happy to say that FRD sells out every year. And everyone asks every year, "Why can't you just make more boxes...?" Unfortunately, the publishers do not have a limitless supply of money and we graciously accept any amount of freebies they commit to...and the retailer and consumer should as well. This year publishers donating over 46,000 freebies to the event.

This year's FRPGD offers were especially exciting (at least for my interests). Does the feedback from retailers, game companies, and gamers reflect that? (Gamers are hard to please, I know.)

I don't know. I'm excited every year just on the sheer fact that so many publishers are willing to support this endeavor. Now that we have 4 years under our belt, retailers and consumers are now expecting certain things: a D&D module, a full color throughout offering from Paizo and FFG, a nice thick offering from White Wolf, etc. Hopefully, that all continues! In terms of feedback from retailers, they always wonder why certain key publishers don't support the event, but say that those that support FRD get a little extra effort from their end...and that is the hope. In terms of feedback from consumers, half are "thank yous" and the other half are informing us that they don't have a FLGS around them participating.

Reading various forums has led me to believe that, at least in some areas, people who have never or rarely visited a FLGS show up merely to grab free stuff without buying anything else. Is this an urban legend or are retailers saying the same thing?

It's definitely real, but not in a large is just that even one person that runs in for the D&D module and quickly runs out without even a "thank you" makes a long-lasting impression in the minds of the retailer.

How can game companies looking to get involved find out more information about FRPGD and what it takes to participate?

There is a publishers section on the site. The PDF there explains how many freebies they need to commit to for each level and how many that means per kit.

Bonus Question: What was your favorite item given away (can be from a previous year)?

I don't want to say "favorite"; I want to say "happy to see"...and that was AEG's L5R 4th Edition Quickstart. This is their first time participating and they went all out on the giveaway: nice size, full color, and they sent us DOUBLE what they was a nice surprise in the kits that I don't think many retailers noticed. =)

I just want to say thanks again to Aldo. It is clear that Free RPG Day takes a good amount of hard work, and I personal appreciate all of the effort. My best suggestion if you did not have a retailer participate near you is to monitor the Free RPG Day website for when retailers can register and then inform your FLGS about the event so they can register as early as possible. Also, if you have a game company you would like to see participate, contact them and let them know! Word of mouth means a lot in this hobby.

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