Xanathar's, Wizards, and FLGSes Charging For Playspace


Rotten DM
Amen ccs. I got back into gaming last year. So games at my home, some at other people homes, some at a community center, and most at the game store.
Having a neutral location is great. Because some of yall ping my radar or my wife's radar. So you maybe invited the first time to house but that is it. I am over the lie "all gamers are wonderful people".
I have supported by flgs by dropping $400 on minis. And have started one for them one for Amazon. Swapping out where I buy the books. The good at buying from the store is early release. The bad from Amazon. Well the next books drops on Tuesday. If Amazon keeps with it last shipping date I get on 1 dec.

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First, apologies: though I'm not new to the Intarwebs, quoting multiple posts in one reply is beyond my knowledge with this forum software.

I truly appreciate people who support their FLGS via MSRP buying of products in the store. There just aren't enough of them. In fact, I've bought the arguments I hear from those who *don't* pay MSRP while trying to convince people to do so. I find it akin to accepting charity: you know, and I know, that you could get that product 40% cheaper. In essence you're donating money to me. It feels as if I am ripping people off or depending entirely on their goodwill and, well, businesses don't really succeed if they're relying on people to realize they should *not* take the bargain offered elsewhere.
This is false, and I'm sorry you feel that way.

Paying more is nothing more than a willingness to support a higher standard of living. It's no different from the higher minimum wage argument. We here in America (and the West in general) want to live in a certain style, at a certain level, with certain amenities. In order to have the style of our preference, at the level of our desire, with the amenities we want, we have to be willing to pay for it. I want a well-kept game store within short driving distance run by my friends with products I want to purchase. I'm willing to pay for that.

I don't see that as charity, I see that as supporting the sort of country I want to live in, the sort of economy I want to be part of. Companies like Amazon do not, and I go through (often expensive) lengths to avoid utilizing them.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
One thing I'd like to point out - [MENTION=6802666]scottaroberts[/MENTION] mentioned that he had run a traditional FLGS before. I was a customer, and we've been friends forever. The feel that it was "charity" to pay MSRP also is the feeling that a lot of customers have. Especially with earlier editions of D&D where there was a book a month, the $20 difference between MSRP and Amazon drives lots, possibly even most to buy online. I felt it, and I've been gaming with him - the store owner - for three decades.

So if we look at the majority of people who will purchase cheaper, then the choice is a razor thin margin - that doesn't cover staff or the square footage (including all that play space he was giving away for free) - just to get price parity with Amazon, which is not a guaranteed sale. Or have reasonable profit but sell a very low volume.

Dire Bare

I'd be willing to pay for playspace if the space available was of premium quality. Nice furniture and lighting, clean and not stanky, and well-enforced community rules (no cursing or other poor behavior tolerated). But if I could get that same quality at another store for free . . . . .


Lord of the Hidden Layer
I'm willing to pay for space PROVIDED the cost is not going to eat up my weekly "Petty Cash" account - which also has to cover gas tank, forgot-a-grocery, replace something broken at home, rip in clothes, &c. If the charge quoted is for the space, splitting that cost up among the players can get an affordable result.

If the space is going to be expensive, balance that out with amenities (of some sort - good lighting, a dozen minis available to borrow, munchies, and/or something creative) included.

I like to look at books before I buy them - it may not be as neat as the cover implies, after all. So I will buy from FLGS at printed price instead of Amazon at discount. I have been known to ask for something expensive as a Christmas present - I pay in waiting time for a 'free' item.

But I'm also willing to be the DM so I can get in for free - paying with labor and time instead of cash.


I am not in your market for books. I do PDFs (bought) pretty well exclusively.

Playspace I can see paying for. I don’t at this point in my life because of friends and houses and well organized and all, but I could very much see that in a different situation, including the neutral ground argument. Right now I’m even looking at starting up a second group just to get more New blood into the community, and wouldn’t be able to use my normal space. So that would be useful.

A while ago, I wrote this article about my operation for the Adventurer's League website. The pics on the article show parts of the playspace and the several-thousand-minis collection. It was built as a gaming social club. We provide miniatures, and maps, and markers, and terrain pieces, and an extensive Dwarven Forge collection, and old-school Dungeon Tiles, and boardgames, and canned-soda-and-water for a dollar each. We keep a library of the current D&D books in the store for people to use. We provide free wifi, and we have a setup with a conference mic, a giant TV, and a webcam where players who can't attend in person because they're travelling can Skype in (and if the DM uses it, sign in to FG as well). I sell books to my regulars at slightly over Amazon prices.

Our community members regularly bring in coffee and donuts and baked goods and snacks to share with each other. We're a BYOB operation, as well--geared primarily towards adults, although teens also come & their parents are appraised of the environment (we have a group of 13-14 year olds who are referred to as "Stranger Things", often accompanied by "Stranger Mom", and they love the appelation).

We have a definite code of conduct which is given to every person, which can be found here.

Financially, we started at $5/ticket; moved to $7/ticket B5G1, and then we moved to a donations model, when pushback against another price raise came up. During the donation phase, people valued the space at an average of about $6/session. Last month we dropped that and went to the current model of $8/ticket; $15 for two tickets. A ticket was entry into a 5-hour gaming session (we run 1 on Wednesday and 2 on Sunday). DMs get 1 ticket for every mod they run. If a mod is a wash--there's a problem, or something happens around the Code of Conduct, or it just seems appropriate--I refund tickets to the affected people; this has only happened twice in the 3-year history of the operation.

This price is exceedingly low. Comparing it to several pay-for-entertainment-venue-and-equipment hobbies in my (NJ) area:
Bowling Alley: 2 hours of bowling; $12/person
Driving Range: 120 balls (~3 hours): $12
Miniature Golf: 1 round (~60-90m): $7/person
Batting Practice: One hour unlimited pitches $60; 75 pitches $13
Go Karts: 4 laps, $8
Movies: 2-3 hours; $15-20/person

I'd love to charge those or similar amounts, but my market won't bear it. A large part of this, I think, is because they're used to the FLGS "trope" of playspace always being free. They regularly spend more money at the 7/11 next door on snacks than they do on the session tickets.

What would *YOU* pay?


Staff member
For a clean, we'll run space? I'd pay your current price...per hour.

I think your CoC has strengths and weaknesses. I understand why you have them, but the rules on DM/Player gaming conduct are a little too micromanagerial. I'd have stuck to the more general type rules you set out: they're clean, clear, easily enforced.
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I think your concept is good. I'd be comfortable pay $20 for a well run 5 hour session if I needed to and the space was beneficial and comfortable (which yours seems to be). I would be more comfortable paying your existing ticket prices and then adding to that with mini transactions' like snacks, book/mini/tool rental fees or other things. I think part of it is ticket shock, and why I suggest more smaller payments, though then at some point people feel nickeled and dimed to death.

If I played at an FLGS or club like yours, I would also consider a monthly subscription model (would need to be automatically recurring on my charge card or your overhead would be too high).

As for those that complain about the ticket price, I suggest you make up a poster or flyer that lists competing entertainment costs like you did in a previous post. Something like: "For $8 you can by a movie ticket for a 2 hour movie, or play here for 5 hours." "To hang with your friends at a cafe for 5 hours you'll likely spend $##" Add pictures to them, of people hanging out and playing (get releases if you take them at your store).

Personalize it, not only the experience, but the space. Help people understand the value they are getting. You might even go so far as even list some of your expenses... like "rent last month was $### and we had ### players"

Also make sure people understand what they get for their ticket (free loaner

Oh, an idea my brother and I have talked about is rental lockers. Especially for wargamers. It's a pain in the butt to drag around cartons of mini's or piles of books. And war gaming tables are usually pretty deep, after you leave some leg room, a nice cubbyhole I can rent and put a lock on would be of value to me (and I suspect others).

Of course you would have to have theft/damage/loss disclaimers/waivers, but that's easily enough done.

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