For what it’s worth, I’ve spent the last 6-8 weeks starting up a brand new meta in my town (Taunton, Somerset in the UK). I approached local stores to find out if they stocked Netrunner (answer: very little at that point), whether people bought much of it (again, not much) and found a store which seemed open to the idea of running some “Learn to play” nights to try and encourage people into the game.
This has now developed into a weekly meetup where we get 4-6 players every week right now and we’ve got our first tournament scheduled in for May, by which time I hope the group will have continued to grow. We’ve had new people turning up most weeks who’ve never heard of the game before, but have had their interest peaked by posters/flyers I’ve been putting up, word of mouth, or online advertising efforts I’ve been messing around with.
So I think if we accept that one metric of how healthy the game is (and certainly not the only one) is how effective our efforts to bring new people into the game are, we can see some positivity there. Obviously maintaining numbers over time, keeping people in the game and such are further challenges which might require different tactics to overcome, but having started from nothing but some cardboard and a dream, I can say the game itself is fundamentally strong enough to attract new players (and keep them for a few weeks at least based on my experience so far - hopefully a lot longer!).
Having said this, I have travelled to a bunch of GNKs and SCs in the last few months and the stories I hear are sometimes about significantly reduced numbers from previous months and years, players moving on to other games or just stopping playing entirely. However, I’m also hearing stories of (and seeing first hand) new players coming along. New players have become regulars at a meetup I go to most weeks (about an hour from where I live) and some of them are looking to cross over into organised play more regularly. Other SCs I have attended have included first time SC players, which is also encouraging to me.
I think there is definitely the potential to grow the game back to (and in excess of) the levels of popularity, attendance and game enjoyment that have been seen previously, but it’s just going to take some effort from those of us who want to see it happen, as we’ve all seen that FFG often just can’t/won’t dedicate the necessary resources to marketing and promoting Netrunner that it needs to achieve this growth.
We have a great community of content creators, tournament organisers, alt-art creators and other dedicated Netrunner fans who do a lot to try and increase the “health” of the game in a variety of ways. I like to think I’m playing my own small part in that too and together we can show a lot of people how much fun this game can be and get them excited about it!