I believe the most significant hurdle (a hurdle that’s always been the bane of our industry, simply more so now) is market penetration. With kids not driven out of their houses to get their geek on and discover gaming by accident along the way, getting them to find our games is all the more difficult.
Yet it’s important to recognize that the market still exists. It allows us to see that instead of giving up on RPGs, we need to think outside the box for how to deliver RPGs to a hard-to-find market. Instead of bemoaning the lost days of yore, we can step up to the challenge and declare emphatically that RPGs still rock, are cool and can find a great audience, including the next generation.
As I've mentioned before, I think MMOs and console gaming are a distraction. The real threat is freeform online play based on beloved IPs like Harry Potter and X-Men and Middle Earth.
That said, the fix remains the same, as Mr. Bills points out. People are not going to show up until they're invited.
And we need to start extending that invitation. ICv2 Insider’s Guide reports that the second quarter of 2009 saw improvement in nearly every segment of the hobby games industry except:
The roleplaying game category remains deeply troubled, with most brands down, and the gap between Dungeons and Dragons and the rest growing.
UPDATE: James Edward Raggi IV riffs on this topic as it applies to the Old School Renaissance.