Photo by Games Workshop, Gaming table by Forge World
I happened to be out the other day and stopped by a gaming store in my greater area, not one I've ever played at, but one I heard charges players to use the gaming tables for 40k.
So I figured what better to do than to stop by and see how this works for myself.
Apparently it goes like this...
Want to play 40k for the day? It will cost you $2.
It doesn't matter how many games you play or how long or if you even get a chance to play apparently, just hold onto your receipt and you can "play" as much as you please during the day.
Want to buy a month pass? It will cost you $18.
I guess you can play all month then.
If you buy $20 worth of merchandise, you get one pass for a single day of gaming. Buy $40 and get two passes and so on.
I believe they even charge people to watch games but I don't have much information on that aspect.
I can honestly say I've never heard of this before, I can't think of any other store out there that does this, but the guy behind the counter assured me lots of other places have been doing it for a while now. Uh, ok then.
I asked about this "fee" scaring away players and while I didn't exactly get a straight answer, I don't think it's affected the store's core gaming group... that much. From what the store clerk told me, they had a higher than average number of observers and young kids that would come in all day and play and hang out and this was a way of discouraging those gamers in particular.
And then I started thinking, there are other places that do something similar... bowling, darts, pool tables. You have to pay to use them. But they provide everything you need too. They provide all the extras so to say and if they're doing it right, those extras are really nice too. Well maintained equipment, comfortable environment, good services, etc.
Maybe there's something to this I started to wonder.
And I thought about what "makes" a game of 40k outside of the players with their armies. Sure it's the store and the environment, but it's really the table with all the terrain that sets the stage.
I wonder how much terrain is at the "paying" players disposal at this store that charges players. Is it more than usual? Are all the tables well maintained with a variety of unique stuff used to create great, themed battlescapes? Looking at what was in the store when I stopped by, I'm guessing no and that would be my issue with this whole "pay for play" idea.
If you're going to charge me to use the tables, what am I getting for my money? Are you just going to throw a green painted table at me with some aquarium pieces on it or do I get to play on the kind of battlefields you see in White Dwarf? The tables the Forge World guys create, you know... the tables that can tell a whole story without any miniatures on them.
That's what I want if I'm going to have to pay for the chance to play 40k at your hobby store.
So now I'm curious, does anyone else have to "pay to play?"
Would anyone else pay to play?