Kevin Douangmany

Pricing Your Gamemastering Services

February 21, 2023

It’s awkward to talk about money. To me, there doesn’t ever feel like there’s a good moment to bring up payment. For instance, I can talk all day with a customer about the crazy NPC’s we could include, the secrets of the world’s lore and the excitement of the upcoming storyline, but when it comes to asking for money, I can’t help but feel like I’m being selfish for even entertaining the thought of asking for payment.

But the reality is that for my business to survive, I have to make money. But  finding a price point that people are willing to pay while also covering my costs has felt like a treacherous balancing act. It hasn’t been an easy ride to be on, but today I want to share my thought processes on how I set my prices.

Pricing Structures

First let’s take a look at the different ways of charging for your services. I mainly see two ways, which are to Charge By Session or to Charge By Seat. There could be a subscription model too, but I haven’t quite figured that one out, so let’s talk about the first two.

Pricing by Session

In this pricing structure, you would charge a fixed rate based on the hours that you’ll be working. This pricing structure is common for other entertainers like DJ’s, magicians, and photographers, who get booked for things like birthday parties, weddings, and corporate events. I n my case, I might charge $100 for a 4-hour session. What I like about that model is that it values your time. It’s consistent in that you are paid for the amount of time that you are there.

The problem with this is that whoever is booking you might bring a party larger than what you’re used to in order to keep the cost down per person. A five-person party would pay $20 each while a seven-person party would pay $14.29 each. There is also the possibility that you might get less bookings overall because of the extra steps involved because it requires a customer to plan, book and host the Gamemaster. We all know how hard enough already it is to coordinate a small party to play D&D even without throwing money into the mix.

Pricing by seat

In my experience, this seems to be the most popular pricing structure for both online and in-person Gamemasters. With this pricing structure, you would run a game and sell individual seats for people to buy tickets for. For example, you would run a drop-in adventure at a local café. You have 6 seats open and each seat would cost $15. This way, the price point might be a little more palatable for the average person and it works well for players who don’t want to go through the hassle of booking a Gamemaster. All they need to do is buy a ticket and show up.

The downside is that it may or may not be worth your time.  You’ve already put in the effort to set up and advertise a game and there is the real possibility that no one will buy tickets for it. If you value your time, this pricing structure can be especially hard because some nights you’ll only make 15 or 30 dollars for four hours of work. This was the reality for my early games. During the initial few sessions of a campaign I started, there were many sessions where only 1 or 2 people would show up. This can be detrimental to the experience as a customer may buy a ticket specifically looking for that party-like experience only to see that they are the only one there.

Competition, other Gamemasters

Another thing that I do is I look at what other Gamemasters in the city are doing. Right now, there are so many Gamemasters who are not only are they experienced and passionate, but they are also willing to run games for free, so competing on price might not be doable. I have also seen paid Gamemasters offered at places like gaming stores and board game cafes. Tickets at those places usually range from $15 to $20 depending on the type of session. In some cases, for larger events that include multiple parties, we can see tickets go up to $25 a person.

Competition, entertainment industry

I see running D&D sessions in the same category as many other in-person “night out” entertainment events such as concerts, cinemas, board game cafes, laser tag centres, bowling alleys, and virtual reality arcades. That means I need to compete for not only the customer’s money but also their time. The prices for a something like a movie can be $14 for a 2-hour movie. On the higher end of entertainment like the virtual reality arcade, prices can go up to $30 per person.

Finding My Price Point

In the creative industry, undercutting on price is a common problem for the people like graphic designers, musicians, photographers, and videographers. A common thought process is “why would I pay for X when [a friend’s cousin] could do it for free?” I think the answer to that is we need customers to understand that paid professionals can bring them exceptional value and experience that hobbyists Gamemasters can’t . In my case, I feel like I can provide value by aligning D&D with a good cause such as revitalizing Chinatown or raising money for the Stollery while also providing a unique convention or conference-style experience that other Gamemasters can’t. I also want to keep my events affordable. By looking at what the other “night out” entertainment businesses are up to, I felt like I could price my tickets somewhere in the middle. That’s why for my last two events (Cavern of Fuzanglong and Lake of Xuanwu), I’ve hovered around the $25 range.


So I can’t say that I’ve got pricing down to a science. Even now, I’m still trying to find out what works for me and the public at large. I think that by focusing on what makes my services unique and constantly innovating, people can see the value that I bring to their experience while also staying affordable for the average consumer.

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