Do you think this OGL fiasco will be good or bad for the RPG industry on the whole?


Edit: Lets go YES - For good (positive) and No - For Bad (negative), for clarity.

With Paizo saying they have sold 8 months stock of the 2nd Ed Pathfinder in two weeks, a surge in order for the Beginners Box and are now expecting more stock in April. Chaosium saying they have sold all their Starter Sets months in advance and are now waiting on restocks in Feb and March.

Then there is Paizo's ORC open license initiative, which is gaining a lot of steam, Mongoose Opening Traveller Content, Kobold Press' Black Flag project, etc.

Do you think WotC's "rolling a 1", is actually going to turn out to be healthy for the industry as a whole.
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Financially I think it's going to be massively bad - the market as a whole will diminish, a number of 3pp (especially smaller ones) will simply disappear, and WotC and D&D have taken a big hit to the PR which I'm sure will impact on the movie, D&D Beyond and (mostly) One D&D when it launches. I don't think anyone is going to come out of this as a winner.

The one silver lining is that what is left will probably be more diverse, and less skewed towards D&D ridiculous market dominance. So creatively is might just end up being somewhat positive.


#1 Enworld Jerk™
Yeah, for me, as a consumer who also enjoys games that are not D&D and misses bespoke systems being more common, the silver lining is real.

If you are a 3PP, especially one who relies on a significant amount of open game content that may or may not ever get updated to a license you update your product to, yeah it be real bad, dawg.


Nobody knows.

Asking the question now would have been like asking whether 5E would be the biggest edition of D&D ever before knowing Felicia Day was starting her YouTube channel Geek & Sundry and bringing in a few voice actor friends to play their home D&D game live on stream.

For all we know... in five years time WotC's 3DVTT has become an absolute monster with hundreds of thousands of players playing their games online daily, and hundreds or thousands of designers are selling their 3rd party products through it to be used (even using whatever new version of the OGL WotC ended up on) and the game is bigger than ever.

Or... they can't get their VTT to work... Critical Role moves on from "playing a game" of their campaigns and just decides to do long-form improv instead... and another hobby comes to the forefront for a decade and RPGs are subsumed into the cultural fringes once again.

We have no conceivable idea and it's silly to make any declarations or even try to guess.


The last time WoTC screwed up, Paizo came out with Pathfinder 1st Edition. As a result, Pathfinder ascended to the #1 spot for a couple of years. Third Party producers began to produce a lot of Pathfinder content for 1st Edition Pathfinder.

History is repeating itself.

So I think this OGL fiasco is a good thing. Right now though, it's a major annoyance.


Jedi Master
I voted it's complicated. In the short term, this is bad for WotC and especially for the 3PPs who are facing so much uncertainty thanks to Wizards dumb move. In the long run, my sense is that TTRPGs will come out stronger than ever. It will be better for Open Gaming to no longer be tied to a single, massive publisher. A true competitor to WotC may arise out of the disaster, and that will be good for consumers.

D&D needs the new ideas created by 3PPs, and the rest of TTRPG publishers need WotC as the icebreaker ship promoting the hobby and atracting a new generation of players.

Hasbro has to forget the idea they can create a monopoly in the digital market, because they rest of megacorporations can create their own CRPG and VTT, and these can hire more lawyers. And even who wins in the justice trials doesn't matter too much when everbody loses prestige.

It is "good" in certain sense because the blunder is literally historical, but they should learn the lesson to not repeat the same mistake again. They will have to awake, open the eye, smarten up, learn their lesson. We are not compulsive buyer zombies. We don't spend our money in a business who doesn't respect us because they think they can cheat us to pay more really necessary. We aren't spendaholic.

They are closed within their buble, within the ivory tower, and they have forgotten the real consumer has to save money to can pay the bills.

They have to understand the business aren't only products and services, but also the trust by partners and customers, and the prestige for your work. The last two things can't be sold or bought, but earned by your own merits.

Some times you can make a lot of money in the digital market, but there are lots of failed projects, even by the biggest companies.


If D&D suffers, I expect that other publishers will see a bump. But I also think some of the newer fans who came in with 5e may just quit playing. This isn't directly because of the OGL, it's because the official 5e content will slow. Fewer adventures and supplements released means that interest will wane among some groups.
Because I'm an older gamer with experience (and love) for other systems, I'm pleased to see them get a boost.
However, let's take my group of 7 players (mostly all teenagers just learning 5e). I don't see most of them wanting to go to Pathfinder or Level Up or Call of Cthulhu.


Open Gaming Enthusiast
It's certainly bad for a number of 3PPs and it could be bad for WotC, but for the industry as a whole, it's mostly beneficial. There was a vicious cycle of content providers feeling they had to support 5e to gain views and in doing so further cemented 5e's dominance. This fiasco might be (or already is) a literal game changer for many people. This gambit might still pay of for WotC, but even than, it could still result in other games gaining new players.


The last time WoTC screwed up, Paizo came out with Pathfinder 1st Edition. As a result, Pathfinder ascended to the #1 spot for a couple of years. Third Party producers began to produce a lot of Pathfinder content for 1st Edition Pathfinder.

History is repeating itself.

So I think this OGL fiasco is a good thing. Right now though, it's a major annoyance.
I’m pretty sure while PF was a fan fave it never surpassed the sales of 4E.

And that’s the thing, even when D&D craps the bed it usually keeps trucking just fine because it has brand power.

The only thing this might turn out like is 1E to 2E and everyone kept playing the old Ed. But that PLUS a myriad of bad financial mistakes is what almost killed D&D. And even then someone else bought and things moved on.

D&D will fine. It had been the king of the hill of RPGs even on its worst days and it likely will continue to be.

Be interesting to see the sales figures when they start releasing One D&D for real.


The EN World kitten
It's bad. It's bad bad bad.

For one thing, whether we like it or not, the tabletop RPG market seems (to me) to follow its own variation of hegemonic stability, where the single largest game (i.e. D&D) either buoys the entire market, or sinks it. I know that a lot of people like to look at historical instances of other games (possibly) surpassing D&D, such as Pathfinder briefly eclipsing 4E or White Wolf's World of Darkness products reaching their peak in the late 90s, but in both cases these were D&D faltering so badly that they fell below thresholds met by those other RPGs rather than those other games truly surpassing D&D.

Maybe it's not fair, but the reality is that as D&D goes, so goes this particular niche market; if it falls, the entire thing becomes small, highly balkanized islands of games which might meet the lowered expectations of their individual publishers, but won't ever represent any sort of major influencer.

So yeah, given that this is a self-inflicted wound to D&D, this is bad for the RPG market as a whole.

That's without getting into the idea that it's bad because there's a lot of games which are based off of the 3.5 SRD which are going to take a massive hit in terms of third-party support. I don't see WotC putting the 3.5 SRD under Paizo's ORC License, I don't think they'll release it (or at least, not much of it) under Creative Commons, and even if they do release it under the OGL v1.2, I don't expect any publisher in their right mind to sign that agreement. So that means that publishers who made PF1 content, Mutants & Masterminds content, OSR content, etc. won't be able to continue supporting those games. As a fan of those games, I find that to be a loss with no upside to it.

It's also a bad thing because if D&D turns into the VTT experience that Chris Cao wants, it's going to influence how newcomers play the game, by which I mean that if you start playing D&D in a quasi-video game environment, you'll think about it in those same constrained parameters. The entire idea of "you can try to do anything" will contract to "you can try and do what the computerized environment allows for." Outside of the box thinking is now measured in terms of what the DM can force the system to handle, rather than "rulings, not rules," which compromises on one of the most central aspects of what makes tabletop RPGs different, unique, and special.

I know that some people think that a post-OGL community will lead to some upswing in creativity, as new systems are invented. I don't think that'll be the case, but even if it is, I don't think it'll ameliorate the above points enough to make this seem like a beneficial turn of events.


Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
I think it's bad for the community, and 'okay' for the industry. And I'll tell you why:

Imagine it's 1992. The Sega Genesis has been around a few years, computer gaming is picking up steam, but Nintendo is still the "Big Dog" in the room. Sure Apple sold 2 million computers that year, but the SNES was still king of the ring with 11.2 million and the Game Boy with 11.9 million, blowing all competition out of the water.

Playstation's still 2 years away, and the n64 is 4 years out.

But Nintendo, with it's massive library of games produced by literally dozens of game development studios, sends out a new licensing agreement which basically gives Nintendo complete rights to -everything- that everyone produces for them, and the ability to ban companies from making software compatible with the NES, SNES, or Game Boy. Bear in mind the NES was still selling 6.6 million units in 1992.

MAYBE SEGA would've won the console wars if that had happened. Though with how SEGA has repeatedly been nearly top-dog then gimmicked their status away over the years I wouldn't count on it. Much more likely IBM, Apple, Compaq, and NEC (Bet you barely remember those last two) would've wound up essentially killing the console industry in favor of the PC.

Can you imagine those game dev studios creating their own consoles to try and rival SEGA and Nintendo? Sure. Can you imagine them succeeding? Bit harder to say. I'm not sure console gaming would've survived that.

That's kind of where we are now. There's a few "Big Dog" systems that might be able to step in. But without the, as @Alzrius describes, "Hegemonic Stability" of a community backing that system there's very little chance they'll galvanize the community around them like SEGA's Diehards.

The result would be a fairly fractious community. With too many consoles, not enough games for any one of them, and so many wires you have to unplug and reconnect to your TV that you have to ask whether it's worth it.


Open Gaming Enthusiast
What I forgot to mention in my earlier post is that I really like the idea of the ORC. It's still WIP, but the whole idea of a significant part of the industry working to create a common license is a huge positive, especially when you consider that publishers were inspired by it to release SRDs for all the systems they own. DSA2 is the game that got me into the hobby all those years ago. It's not a very good game, even in comparison to other games of its time, but it's nice that people will be able to release commercial supplements for their preferred edition.


Mod Squad
Staff member
It is complicated.

First, I'm going to note that my answers are about the industry, which is not the same as the hobby community.

Short term sales, right now, are not indicative of anything for the industry in the medium or long term.

Ultimately, it depends on what kind of license WotC comes out with. If they actually listen, and the license is decent, then in the long run this won't mean a heck of a lot for the industry either way.

If the license is crummy, I think the result will be bad for the industry, both overall, and individually for WotC and independent publishers (won't be calling them 3pp any longer at that point).

I think there's some very positive dynamics between WotC and independent publishers, mediated by the gaming community. A crummy license will tend to weaken that effect, possibly severely. The gaming community upon which all publishers depend will tend to become balkanized, such that each independent publisher will have a smaller pool of people they're likely to sell to. That'll be bad for business.


So it's complicated. I think it's unpredictable in a lot of ways.

But overall I think it's bad for the industry in the short term because it creates a lot of chaos and unpredictability. Even if that chaos ultimately is to your benefit as a business, in the short term unpredictability is usually bad.

Long term I think it makes things worse for anyone in the D&D ecosystem because it leads to more fracturing among non-D&D D&D-like games and a general increase in distrust of Wizards as the "steward" of D&D. Reduced trust in the producers of D&D can only produce worse results for folks dependent on D&D.

For other games long term it's a "who knows" situation. If D&D takes a hit in popularity and people leave the game, it partly depends on if they leave completely or leave for other games. But even if they switch games but keep playing, in the past when D&D has performed poorly the whole industry takes a hit. D&D has historically been less a competitor to other games than a whale that creates opportunities for smaller games in its wake. But this time around there's opportunity there for other games to capitalize on Wizards alienating content creators. The trick is that if they are able to do it it will likely fragment the market among many games, which might be good for each of those individual games but makes it harder to keep communities around those games together because they each have less momentum.

There's also a question of whether any other companies can really fulfill the role of being "baby's first RPG" the way D&D has been able to. At least at the level that Wizards has been able to achieve. For all of their other faults, Wizards produces D&D retail boxed sets that are everywhere and also good introductions to the idea of roleplaying. Other companies starter sets might do the second, but nobody else has been able to do the first.


It's complicated. It will definitely hurt the D&D 3pp ecosystem (I'd argue it already has), it will hurt WotC and benefit other TTRPGs short term (this is already happening). Others are banding together and break free of the OGL by creating their own license and releasing SRDs under it, probably even games which so far never had an SRD. Youtubers are moving from being D&D channels to being TTRPG channels, giving more room to other games to be noticed and grow. All of this (apart from the 3pp part) is unequivocally good. This is the easy part, what the long term implications are is not really clear to me.

I assume that this trend more or less continues, i.e. WotC has managed to create stronger competitors and scattering its allies, dealing itself a bit of a blow in the process. They are still the 780 lb gorilla however and can return to full strength if they do not screw this up more. The OGL 1.2 probably is enough to create a new ecosystem around D&D, not sure it will reach its current size again however and I doubt WotC cares if it does not.

The more interesting question is whether the competition manages to consolidate around maybe two or three competitors that manage to make inroads in the market share and that then have their own ORC ecosystem surrounding them. I hope it does, but it is too early to tell. If it doesn't then this will be a blip on the radar and disappear again, to the detriment of the TTRPG community, because WotC is moving away from TTRPGs and towards MMOs.
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Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
The good, some systems will see more expansion, more support and the whole will be future proof.

The bad, the whole will contract and become a smaller pie. Plus we are going to lose a good portion of the OGC for good.


Mostly bad, with a side order of complicated. D&D will wind up mostly consolidated under WotC, and while 3PPs will move to other systems where they're less constrained, they won't keep the same numbers of users and the incentive for new creators to enter the market will be reduced.

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