Gizmodo Reveals OGL v1.1's 'Term Sheet' Carrots For Selected Publishers

In December, WotC arranged meetings under NDA with a number of prominent third party 5E OGL creators in order to persuade them to sign up to the new Open Game License v1.1. before it was revealed to the world. Part of this approach included 'Term Sheets'. According to Gizmodo, which has sources at Wizards of the Coast, these term sheets offered: A 15% instead of 25% royalty Marketing on D&D...

In December, WotC arranged meetings under NDA with a number of prominent third party 5E OGL creators in order to persuade them to sign up to the new Open Game License v1.1. before it was revealed to the world.

Part of this approach included 'Term Sheets'. According to Gizmodo, which has sources at Wizards of the Coast, these term sheets offered:
  • A 15% instead of 25% royalty
  • Marketing on D&D Beyond (but not at times when WotC had its own releases)
It's not clear whether any publishers actually signed the contract at the time.

WotC has since walked back some of the terms in the upcoming OGL v1.1, but the OGL v1.0a still remains slated for 'de-authorization'.

According to an anonymous source who was in the room, in late 2022 Wizards of the Coast gave a presentation to a group of about 20 third-party creators that outlined the new OGL 1.1. These creators were also offered deals that would supersede the publicly available OGL 1.1; Gizmodo has received a copy of that document, called a “Term Sheet,” that would be used to outline specific custom contracts within the OGL.

These “sweetheart” deals would entitle signatories to lower royalty payments—15 percent instead of 25 percent on excess revenue over $750,000, as stated in the OGL 1.1—and a commitment from Wizards of the Coast to market these third-party products on various D&D Beyond channels and platforms, except during “blackout periods” around WotC’s own releases.

It was expected that third parties would sign these Term Sheets. Noah Downs, a lawyer in the table-top RPG space who was consulted on the conditions of one of these contracts, stated that even though the sheets included language suggesting negotiation was possible, he got the impression there wasn’t much room for change.

 

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That's not correct; the first iteration of the GSL prevented you from manufacturing and publishing any OGL versions of a given product line ("as reasonably determined by Wizards") that you converted to 4E and published under the GSL, but it didn't go further than that.

Thanks for the quote, but if say, Pizo wanted to do Golarion under 4e, then wizard could say: 3.5 Golarion is to close to 4e Golarion, so never sell 3.5 Golarion again?
That sounds very restrictive...
 

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Unless they are planning on dramatically expanding the SRD, it isn't a royalty on using WotC's IP so much as a royalty on being allowed to continue to support WotC's game line.
Yes this is a very important distinction that I see a lot of people missing, particularly on other sites.

Seems like the 1/3rd of the people commenting on some of the io9 articles for example have a completely irrational belief that the OGL entitles you to make books which:

A) Any WotC IP stuff you like.

and

B) Have "Dungeons and Dragons (TM)" written on them.

This of course inclines them to think this is a fairer deal than it is. Notably they tend to disappear when it's pointed out this isn't true, though a couple have tried to argue it lol.
 

Von Ether

Legend
"Overreaction"

Sounds like someone with no clue about the industry, and probably doesn't care in all honesty.

I know we keep screaming "WotC" but I'm pointing the finger at Hasbro, especially as a public company where it is a sin to make the same profit as you did last year. They are the ones who changed leadership and gave the marching orders.

I wonder there's still some old fart on board who has been sitting on there since the day they bought WotC and still can't figure out why he can't just print a book toss it on the shelf and forget about it like you do Sorry or Monopoly.

"Just why can't D&D be evergreen like a good game should be?!?"
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
"Overreaction"

Sounds like someone with no clue about the industry, and probably doesn't care in all honesty.

I know we keep screaming "WotC" but I'm pointing the finger at Hasbro, especially as a public company where it is a sin to make the same profit as you did last year. They are the ones who changed leadership and gave the marching orders.

I wonder there's still some old fart on board who has been sitting on there since the day they bought WotC and still can't figure out why he can't just print a book toss it on the shelf and forget about it like you do Sorry or Monopoly.

"Just why can't D&D be evergreen like a good game should be?!?"
In the Roll for Combat Dancy interview, he points out that a few years ago some venture capitalists dug into Hasbro and discovered that essentially all the value in the company was coming from WotC and that got everyone -- board included -- finally noticing WotC.
 

The really significant part of the Gizmodo article:

"According to multiple sources, these immediate financial consequences were the main thing that forced them to respond....According to those sources, in meetings and communication with employees, WotC management’s messaging has been that fans are “overreacting” to the leaked draft, and that in a few months, nobody will remember the uproar."

This makes it clear that WotC is not changing course, just trying to play for time mitigate the PR disaster.

Hasbro has basically become the villain in one of their own cartoons: "You may have won today G.I. Joes, but you haven't seen the last of us!!!" /Shakes fist.

Although come to think of it, at least COBRA is willing to admit when they lost. The Hasbro version would be "You haven't won today G.I. Joes - we BOTH won. We never intended to fire the destructo-ray and are merely executing the retreat we planed ALL ALONG!" /Shakes fist.
 
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Voadam

Legend
That is not totally correct.
The first GSL disallowed you from selling anything that was under OGL except for your backstock.
So the GSL was a lot more binding, now that the OGL grandfathers in OGL 1.0a stuff.
Nobody went with the 1st GSL, they went with the revision of the GSL that took out the OGL poison pill clause. That is why there is a Kobold Press Midgard 4e GSL bestiary as well as an OGL Pathfinder one, and OGL 13th Age one, etc.
And I am not entriely sure if it the old OGL 1.1 disallowed it either... we have never seen the ecact wording, have we?

According to the article, the accompanying WotC FAQ went with de-authorization as disallowing any new stuff under 1.0.

One of the most telling parts of the OGL 2.0 FAQ included a statement that clarified one of the most inflammatory points of the leaked OGL 1.1—whether or not the original OGL 1.0a would be deauthorized. The leaked FAQ said that the “OGL 1.0a only allows creators to use ‘authorized’ versions of the OGL which allows Wizards to determine which of its prior versions to continue to allow use of when we exercise our right to update the license. As part of rolling out OGL 2.0, we are deauthorizing OGL 1.0a from future use and deleting it from our website. This means OGL 1.0a can no longer be used to develop content for release.”

Although many people have come forward to debate the legitimacy of this interpretation, including former WotC executive Ryan Dancey, who helped write the original OGL 1.0, the FAQ continued to push this language.
So no more new 5e OGC using the 5e SRD released under 1.0 OGL.

No more new anything that used the 3e SRD, no new Pathfinder, no new Mutants and Masterminds, no OSR stuff that used OGC.

That also puts a cloud on any of that type of stuff moving to the new ORC or being used outside of the OGL.

De-authorization under their interpretation is big.

It is also disputed. Paizo in particular has come out publicly against that interpretation of the ability to de-authorize the existing OGL.
 

Von Ether

Legend
In the Roll for Combat Dancy interview, he points out that a few years ago some venture capitalists dug into Hasbro and discovered that essentially all the value in the company was coming from WotC and that got everyone -- board included -- finally noticing WotC.
That must of started that funky take over last year.

Again, they could have just left well enough alone and provided support WotC and just kept riding that gravy train.

I still think the "under monetization" is a lack of official merch.
 

Both 1.1 and 2.0 deauthorize the 1.0a. The GSL never attempted that.
Correct. The GSL did try to poison-pill it, very clumsily, but even that wasn't very aggressive.
The really significant part of the Gizmodo article:

"According to multiple sources, these immediate financial consequences were the main thing that forced them to respond....According to those sources, in meetings and communication with employees, WotC management’s messaging has been that fans are “overreacting” to the leaked draft, and that in a few months, nobody will remember the uproar."

This makes it clear that WotC is not changing course, just trying to play for time mitigate the PR disaster.
That is important, yeah, and I suspect WotC are going to find that they're wrong.

They don't seem to understand that this is some folk-tradition stuff, and even a lot of younger players have been playing for a long-ish time. People have had to wait six months or a year or more for a book they want to come out. It's not a videogame where if you're not in day 1 you're "behind" and you're going to be spammed with FOMO stuff. And there's not much upcoming to really induce FOMO either - some books I might have bought, but none I'll be mad not to have.
 


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