Since 2000, the "gateway" product has consisted of three 200+ page books costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 bucks. Even that might have been reasonable if the kids had been shown what benefits they would have received for their time and treasure. Was there even an attempt to overcome the fact that D&D was the game Dad played when he was in junior high? I never saw it. I never saw any outreach to these kids, any attempts to study their interests, or any attempts to adjust the game in ways that would appeal to them...On the one hand I think the $60 thing is somewhat of a red herring. In the current currency market $60 is about 40 quid, and 40 quid is peanuts to my spoiled adolescent cousins. It's what they spend on games for their Wii every weekend. I think sometimes us adults forget how much life has changed for children in Britain or the US since we were young - I saved for literally months to afford the AD&D 2e DMG when I was 12, but kids these days (kids these days!) just don't seem to have that experience. To a point, money isn't an object.
Where Trollsmyth is bang on the money is outreach. What are the most popular fantasy fiction series for children around today? Harry Potter by a country mile, followed by probably those awful Twilight books, and I suppose you could throw in the Chronicles of Narnia too, thanks to the films. But where are the rpgs based on these franchises? I know that J. K. Rowling is touchy about fan fiction and fan produced products, but there is a metric shit ton of merchandising for Harry Potter - I sincerely doubt the lack of a Harry Potter RPG is down to an unwillingness on the part of the copyright holder. (There may even be a Harry Potter RPG for all I know, but if so it's had the worst marketing campaign in the history of marketing campaigns, which is the same point made a different way.) Where is the White Wolf-produced Vampire: The Masquerade-lite for all of the swooning adolescent girls who flocked in droves to the Twilight movie?
More to the point: Where is the High School Musical rpg? Complete with statistics for Having Totally Great Hair, Having Really Clean Teeth and Being Like So Totally Cute? Would that not sell?
I wouldn't touch such games with a barge pole, personally, but that isn't the point, and is precisely the kind of thinking which has hindered the passing on of rpgs to the younger generation. Fatbeards, catpissmen and rpg.net-Right-On types thinking: "Yuk, kids' stuff."
Trollsmyth thinks Green Ronin have a good idea with Witch Girl Adventures. It's certainly on the right track. I also find myself hoping that the Maid RPG and things like it can do well - anime and manga are after all depressingly and bewilderingly popular with the young folk these days. What's also needed, of course, is something for young boys to get interested in. I liked Fighting Fantasy and Basic D&D as a kid because they were about killing things with a sword and general-derring do. I don't know if similar products aimed at boys exist, these days.