D&D 5E Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition OGL?

Would a D&D 5E benefit from OGL use?


Kalontas

First Post
Perhaps. But it's nearly certain Pathfinder (or another 3.x knockoff accepted as legit) would not exist if there had never been an OGL for 3e in the first place.

In that case, most likely 4E would not exist either - as gamers would still be scattered among the older editions, 3E would not pay for itself, and the brand would be officially abandoned right there.
 

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Halivar

First Post
I can't see WotC using the OGL ever again, and I believe they sincerely wish they'd never OGL'd 3rd edition to begin with. It was good for the hobby, but perhaps not the wisest business move.

There will be no future forkable versions of D&D.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I would say that 5E will not have an OGL. What it will have is one of the following:

  • Much less restrictive GSL, drafted with the goal of bringing a lot of 3PPs back into the fold. The core PHB stuff will be off-limits, but monster and magic item statblocks--pretty much everything you need in order to create a good adventure--will be open for use, and companies won't have to worry about having their license yanked out from under them.
  • GSL so restrictive nobody uses it, or no GSL at all.
The first option is what WotC will do if they are smart. Hasbro isn't going to stand for a re-creation of the OGL; the execs will say, with some justification, that Wizards set itself up for the 4E/Pathfinder split. Opening up the core of the game achieved Dancey's goal of "saving D&D" so that it could never again be threatened by corporate mismanagement, but it's not clear it was good for WotC's bottom line even in the short term.

But a more licensee-friendly GSL, drafted to keep the core of the system off-limits while opening up the rest, would enable Wizards to "outsource" adventure development. This is a vital support task, which Wizards has never been very good at and which has never made them much money. Letting 3PPs handle it for them is just good business sense, while they focus on their core competency of building the game itself. It would also buy them some community goodwill. I think the importance of this goodwill is widely overstated, but it's not worthless.

On the other hand, media and publishing companies don't have a good track record when it comes to opening up their IP, even when it's clearly in their interest to do so. Witness how record companies have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. It's quite possible that Hasbro and WotC executives will take Pathfinder as evidence that opening up your property just comes back to bite you in the long run, and the answer is to clamp down on everything. If that's the case, 5E may not even have a GSL. If it does, it will be as bad as or worse than the present one; no major 3PP will touch it with a standard-issue ten-foot pole.

(To the question of whether Pathfinder would have happened if 4E had had an OGL, I agree with those who say Paizo wouldn't have done it, at least to start with. As I recall, Paizo was planning to go to 4E, but the complete bungling of the GSL release forced them to take a different route. However, I suspect somebody would have set out to snap up all the discontented 3E players. After all, under the OGL it's literally possible to reprint the 3E Player's Handbook, absent a handful of names.)
 
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Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
(. . .) the OGL (. . .) but it's not clear it was good for WotC's bottom line even in the short term.


This is an interesting interpretation because I've never seen anything that would point to 3E under the OGL being a huge success. The OGL and SRD releases even seemed to bridge the transition between 3.0 and 3.5. It isn't until WotC began distancing themselves from it (they tailed off on their SRD additions after a few 3.5 inclusions) that it seems to have become less successful. Can you elaborate on why you have the impression that this is unclear?
 

Dausuul

Legend
This is an interesting interpretation because I've never seen anything that would point to 3E under the OGL being a huge success. The OGL and SRD releases even seemed to bridge the transition between 3.0 and 3.5. It isn't until WotC began distancing themselves from it (they tailed off on their SRD additions after a few 3.5 inclusions) that it seems to have become less successful. Can you elaborate on why you have the impression that this is unclear?

Your ellipses are obscuring a key part of my point. I'm not talking about the whole OGL. I'm talking about the part of the OGL that opens up the core of the game; that gives you the ability to reprint the 3E Player's Handbook almost word-for-word and sell it as your own thing.

There's a pretty good argument that enabling third-party publishers to put out adventures and sourcebooks for 3E was beneficial to WotC. But the OGL went a lot farther than that. It put the whole game up for anyone to do whatever they liked with. I've yet to see a convincing rationale for how that would have helped WotC's sales, and I find it hard to imagine how it could be proven without detailed access to their market research--how can you disentangle the effect of that one portion of the OGL from everything else going on?
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
Your ellipses are obscuring a key part of my point. I'm not talking about the whole OGL. I'm talking about the part of the OGL that opens up the core of the game; that gives you the ability to reprint the 3E Player's Handbook almost word-for-word and sell it as your own thing.

There's a pretty good argument that enabling third-party publishers to put out adventures and sourcebooks for 3E was beneficial to WotC. But the OGL went a lot farther than that. It put the whole game up for anyone to do whatever they liked with. I've yet to see a convincing rationale for how that would have helped WotC's sales, and I find it hard to imagine how it could be proven without detailed access to their market research--how can you disentangle the effect of that one portion of the OGL from everything else going on?


You can license out creating adventures without an OGL (the GSL does that) but the innovation and level of fervent participation you get from being a full OGL partner cannot be matched by half measures (again, witness the GSL). I'm surprised you cannot see a convincing rationale when the success of 3E under the OGL and the PR nightmare and subsequent lack of success with the GSL stand in such stark contrast of one another and are perfect examples in their own right. If you cannot be convinced without the detailed numbers, fair enough, but I think you'd be in a fairly slim minority of people if not able to understand essentially what happened without access to those numbers.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I really doubt we will ever see OGL product from WOTC at least not D&D OGL product. I have great doubts we will even see a GSL in the future. That said I am also not convince we will see 5e anytime soon either.
 

TheAuldGrump

First Post
Pathfinder was not the first repackaging of rules under the OGL, others were not nearly as successful. And Pathfinder only came into existence because WotC was abandoning the OGL.

Folks creating new rules sets under the OGL was part of the point of the OGL, to diminish the number of redundant game systems.

But, had WotC stuck with the OGL, I doubt that we would see any other game challenge D&D for the number one spot.

The Auld Grump
 

Dausuul

Legend
You can license out creating adventures without an OGL (the GSL does that) but the innovation and level of fervent participation you get from being a full OGL partner cannot be matched by half measures (again, witness the GSL). I'm surprised you cannot see a convincing rationale when the success of 3E under the OGL and the PR nightmare and subsequent lack of success with the GSL stand in such stark contrast of one another and are perfect examples in their own right. If you cannot be convinced without the detailed numbers, fair enough, but I think you'd be in a fairly slim minority of people if not able to understand essentially what happened without access to those numbers.

But the GSL went screamingly far in the opposite direction. In addition to closing off the core of the game, they imposed a bunch of weird and confusing restrictions (you can make up new monster statblocks but you can't use ours as listed!), and gave Wizards the right to yank the license at will. A company that built itself on producing adventures for 4E, the way Paizo did in 3E, could be terminated at the whim of WotC's executive of the week.

Furthermore, it was delivered months late, and in its original version it tried to prohibit producing GSL and OGL content side by side. This was utterly unacceptable to pretty much everybody, so it got sent back for a rewrite, adding more months. By the time Wizards finally came out with a GSL that some of the big-name 3PPs were willing to sign up for, it was too late.

If the GSL had just been "the OGL, but you can't reprint the Player's Handbook any more," things would have been very, very different.
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
But the OGL went a lot farther than that. It put the whole game up for anyone to do whatever they liked with. I've yet to see a convincing rationale for how that would have helped WotC's sales, and I find it hard to imagine how it could be proven without detailed access to their market research--how can you disentangle the effect of that one portion of the OGL from everything else going on?
At least in theory, the case would be the same as with any number of free-to-play MMOs, or other similar business models. Offer the basics for free to get people hooked, then sell them premium products. The hypertext SRD could be seen as an excellent marketing tool.
 

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