D&D's new Open Gaming License

m7600

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There has been a huge discussion lately in the world of tabletop RPGs regarding D&D's new Open Gaming License. I thought it would be useful to have a thread for this topic here at the Tavern.

As you may recall, D&D will no longer have Editions. Instead of 6th Edition, the next iteration of the game will be called "One D&D" (though the name might be modified in the future). There are many changes that will be made, and the most controversial one is the new OGL.

Here is a very clear article that presents this issue from a legal standpoint:

 

Antimatter

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It doesn't come as a surprise to me, especially after news like this before: "According to an investor-focused “fireside chat” with Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks, and WotC’s new CEO Cynthia Williams, D&D is under-monetized."


A few months ago Bank of America downgraded Hasbro’s stock over fears it was “killing its golden goose” by oversaturating the market with Magic: The Gathering cards.

They seem to be doing not that great financially, which is further confirmed by this news: "Wizards of the Coast has canceled at least five unannounced video game projects."


I agree with Noah Downs that OGL 1.1 takes a foundational document (OGL 1.0a) that creators have relied on for two decades, and replaces it with something that introduces WotC’s monetization of D&D at the Third Party Creator’s expense.

This is a very unpopular move and I won't be surprised if in a year or so some big company acquired Hasbro/WotC.
 

m7600

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I think the following quote from one of the links that @Antimatter provided is very interesting:

"Fans began stewing over the onslaught earlier this year, and now even Wall Street is starting to balk. Bank of America downgraded toy company owner Hasbro’s stock earlier today after accusing it of “killing its golden goose” with greed."

If a regular person accuses Wizards of the Coast of being greedy, that's one thing. But if Wall Street and the Bank of America accuse them of being greedy, then they must be quite greedy indeed!
 

Chronicler

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Running your business into the ground in pursuit of short term profits is basically capitalism 101. Would have to be pretty extreme to get a response like that. Very little projected gain, lots of projected loss, very little chance of segueing to something new after you've gone all scorched earth on the current enterprise.

Hopefully this is one of those things where they'll just end up seeing reason once all number crunchers finish crunching their numbers.
 

m7600

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Ryan Dancey, former Vice President of Wizards of the Coast, and creator of the original OGL, is speaking against the new OGL. He also believes that Hasbro/WotC won't be able to revoke the original one. But this is something that, ultimately, would have to be proved in court.

 

Urdnot_Wrex

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I have to admit my brain starts to tune out when reading through articles full of law and ecenomy speak. I fail to grasp the conclusion and what it practically means.

What I have understood is this:
WotC have realized that (probably mainly with BG3, the upcoming D&D movie and all that) D&D is very popular and no longer a niche occupation mainly for teenage nerds gathering around the kitchen table in their pajamas with dice and character sheets.

So they decided they need to find a way to make everyone who wants to create D&D content, e.g. tabletop campaigns

1. pay a fee (probably via a subscription for a time) to use the new license,

2. heavy royalties on their sales (if they pass the threshold of 750000$, but gross revenue, not profit! which can easily happen in Kickstarter campaigns for example. Also, that threshold can be lowered any time), and then

3.WotC also has the right to freely reprint and redistribute the work of the third party creator without compensation.

Or did I misunderstand?

That sounds like something only a Ferengi would come up with.

If they see this through, it's going to be the death of D&D, not the more successful monetization.
 

m7600

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@Urdnot_Wrex yep, your understanding of the situation is correct. As for D&D's popularity in recent years, I'd say that it's primarily due to shows like Stranger Things and Critical Role. And, to a lesser extent, episodes from The Big Bang Theory and Community.

Here's a pretty good take on the current situation that provides some more context:

 

Fandraxx

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For as much of a mess as all of this is, the silence from literally anyone that could probably actually give WoTC/Hasbro pause (Critical Role, one of the celebrity ambassadors such as Joe Manganiello, hell, even Larian could probably make quite the statement if they wanted) is disappointing, if completely unsurprising.
 

m7600

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For as much of a mess as all of this is, the silence from literally anyone that could probably actually give WoTC/Hasbro pause (Critical Role, one of the celebrity ambassadors such as Joe Manganiello, hell, even Larian could probably make quite the statement if they wanted) is disappointing, if completely unsurprising.

I hear you, but we have Ginny Di on our side! Granted, she's not as popular as Critical Role or Larian, but she made an epic statement that had a lot of impact. She noted that Hasbro/WotC was checking D&D Beyond's subscriptions as a relevant metric, so she cancelled her subscription and asked others to do the same. Turns out, a lot people did the same, and the site crashed!


Quote: "But when D&D personality Ginny Di tweeted that people should cancel their D&D Beyond subscription in order to send a clear message to Wizards of the Coast regarding what the fanbase thinks of the developments around the Updated OGL, the message was widely shared. A stream of subscribers turning off their payment to D&D Beyond appeared to temporarily shut down the landing page for subscription cancellations because of server errors. The result of these cancellations and their impact on the bottom line of Wizards of the Coast is not negligible, according to io9's sources at the company, and has caused upper management to scramble to adjust their messaging around the situation, leading to the delays in the OGL release."

 

Antimatter

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More news:


WotC has apparently cancelled an announcement yesterday about its updated Open Gaming License for a second time this week. Inside sources at Wizards of the Coast told io9 that the company is scrambling to formulate a response to backlash against the new OGL that has occurred over the past week, following io9's story about a leaked draft of the document.

At the same time, Paizo Inc. (Pathfinder TTRPG creator) announced plans for a new neutral Open TPG license system.


And another leak:

 

m7600

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I wonder how big this will get? Will Hasbro/WotC backtrack on their licence? Or is the thinking that the appetite for D&D is so great that fans will eventually just accept it?
From what I've seen so far, Hasbro/WotC's strategy is simply to "tough it out" and just soldier through all of this. They believe that this is just the weekly drama, and that most people will forget about it in a few months. Kind of like the news cycle. Plus, they seem to think that D&D's community is potentially larger than what it currently is. And by that I mean that they might lose a lot of current fans, but there's always new fans to be made in the future.

But they're playing a risky game here, because they already took a huge hit with their other product line, Magic: The Gathering. It would be very bold of them to antagonize both of their key communities at the same time.
 
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