OGL 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 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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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

MarkB

Legend
What does "marketing on DnDBeyond" mean? Because that would make or break the offer. Like if all it means is you can put ads there or something, that would suck.

But if it meant you could sell your products through DnDBeyond's store, that would probably be pretty tempting. That's an outlet with millions of users.

And if you could sell your products through DnDBeyond and they were added to the interface the same as WotC products, a 15% royalty would be a bargain and a half.

Anyone know what "marketing" means in this context?
What worries me is that this may be a sign of them planning to add third-party advertising in general to D&D Beyond. Banner ads on every page, maybe even clickthrough ads when you launch the character builder. Perhaps they'll be generous and offer reduced levels of ads to subscribers based upon tier level.
 

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And exactly why Hasbro hired two software executives. Hasbro hates PDFs and printed books. They want D&D-as-a-service you pay $5/mo for. When D&Done comes out it'll be $10/mo. DDB will receive new classes/feats/adventures in dribs and drabs to keep you paying. They'll be available months before the books arrive in stores. Many will be online exclusives.

Hasbro wants to eliminate competition and drive a majority of revenue through DDB. Hasbro does not want you to own their product, they only want to rent it to you. Forever.
I've been saying this for a while

They HATE that D&D is a hobby that you can just pay once for some core books, and you and your friends can play D&D in perpetuity.

They HATE that D&D is a hobby where there's a robust ecosystem of 3rd party add-ons (gaming supplements, minis & terrain, dice etc.) where fans go to spend money on the game for things from other companies instead of giving money to them.

I'd been saying for some time they'd love to turn D&D into a "software as a service" thing where you pay your monthly subscription to play D&D and if you don't pay them, you don't play.

I'd also been saying that the main thing that prevented them from doing that was the OGL, because older editions of D&D were out "in the open" in perpetuity,. . .so of COURSE they declare war on the OGL and use a dubious legal theory to try to shut it down and claw back the mountain of OGL content WotC has put out over the last 22+ years and use implied threats of expensive litigation to enforce that dubious theory.

I fully expect the next version of D&D to be entirely online, a paid subscription service where a service like D&D Beyond is welded to a proprietary VTT and you can only play 6th edition on WotC's own paid platform.

. . .and I fully expect it to crash and burn. I expect the fan rage they've cultivated to last, and the transparent money-grab nature of not having physical books (or the books being essentially collectors items at prices too high for fans to buy en masse) to be seen through by fans. It will be like the 4e debacle, but bigger.
 


Micah Sweet

Legend
I've been saying this for a while

They HATE that D&D is a hobby that you can just pay once for some core books, and you and your friends can play D&D in perpetuity.

They HATE that D&D is a hobby where there's a robust ecosystem of 3rd party add-ons (gaming supplements, minis & terrain, dice etc.) where fans go to spend money on the game for things from other companies instead of giving money to them.

I'd been saying for some time they'd love to turn D&D into a "software as a service" thing where you pay your monthly subscription to play D&D and if you don't pay them, you don't play.

I'd also been saying that the main thing that prevented them from doing that was the OGL, because older editions of D&D were out "in the open" in perpetuity,. . .so of COURSE they declare war on the OGL and use a dubious legal theory to try to shut it down and claw back the mountain of OGL content WotC has put out over the last 22+ years and use implied threats of expensive litigation to enforce that dubious theory.

I fully expect the next version of D&D to be entirely online, a paid subscription service where a service like D&D Beyond is welded to a proprietary VTT and you can only play 6th edition on WotC's own paid platform.

. . .and I fully expect it to crash and burn. I expect the fan rage they've cultivated to last, and the transparent money-grab nature of not having physical books (or the books being essentially collectors items at prices too high for fans to buy en masse) to be seen through by fans. It will be like the 4e debacle, but bigger.
I'm not sure I expect 6e to crash and burn, but I would be ok if it did. We really don't need them anymore.
 

Aldarc

Legend
On the contrary, they kept pretty much on the downlow, because the main reason Volo's was being retired was that it's an embarrassment. Specifically some elements of the lore are... not great. Like 1E not great. Maybe worse than 1E with Orcs. It was a bloody weird decision to go that way lore-wise at the time, and I think part of the "apology edition" deal that went too far.
Reads who Lead Designer was for Volo's. Yeah, that checks out.
 





Why do you think physical books are going away. Is it because of the guy earlier making naughty word up with no basis.
I wouldn't call it baseless. Is it 100% true? Don't know, it's enough to concern. Especially with the push for the 3d VTT and everything that has happened in the past several weeks. If they go bookless, that's one of my lines in the sand. I'll just have to wait and see.
 


I wouldn't call it baseless. Is it 100% true? Don't know, it's enough to concern. Especially with the push for the 3d VTT and everything that has happened in the past several weeks. If they go bookless, that's one of my lines in the sand. I'll just have to wait and see.
It's baseless. There is nothing absolutely nothing suggesting physical books are going away just because they want to do a VTT. The events of the past weeks also have nothing to do with physical books, people are just making stuff up to fear monger about cause they got angry.
 

It's baseless. There is nothing absolutely nothing suggesting physical books are going away just because they want to do a VTT. The events of the past weeks also have nothing to do with physical books, people are just making stuff up to fear monger about cause they got angry.
You asked, I answered. Gonna have to agree to disagree.
 


Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
people are just making stuff up to fear monger about cause they got angry.
Nah, people have been running around worried about this for a while. There doesn't seem to actually have been an original inciting incident other than "this would be bad if it happened!"

I mean, it'd also be bad if my wife left me for Idris Elba, but I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep over it until I catch him slowly driving back and forth past my house.
 

I can't say it's 100% baseless since it was brought up by WotC upper management. This comes from sources that some outright refuse believe. That's fair, I'm not calling anyone out for not believing it. Do I know if it's true? I can't say that. All I can say as I said above is it is a concern. With everything that has been leaked (some I didn't believe but later changed because it turned out to be true) I am in a wait and see mode. Like I said above.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
It's baseless. There is nothing absolutely nothing suggesting physical books are going away just because they want to do a VTT. The events of the past weeks also have nothing to do with physical books, people are just making stuff up to fear monger about cause they got angry.
The physical books aren't going away, and even the leaks don't make that claim. The speculation is that the physical books will become a secondary consideration to the VTT, boutique items aimed at completionists or something. For some gamers in an era of ebooks, etc, that's practically what they are already, so it's not a huge leap to guess that a business strategy focused on digital* might push in that direction.


* Just for the record, the push toward digital is not a baseless rumor, fwiw. That comes straight out of that shareholder meeting, the one with the "under-monetized lifestyle brand" quote.
 

The physical books aren't going away, and even the leaks don't make that claim. The speculation is that the physical books will become a secondary consideration to the VTT, boutique items aimed at completionists or something. For some gamers in an era of ebooks, etc, that's practically what they are already, so it's not a huge leap to guess that a business strategy focused on digital* might push in that direction.


* Just for the record, the push toward digital is not a baseless rumor, fwiw. That comes straight out of that shareholder meeting, the one with the "under-monetized lifestyle brand" quote.
I know there is a push for digital offerings not debating that. But Physical books are not going away.
 


Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
WotC, if you want to get more serious about online offerings, can we talk about how mediocre and under-publicized your organized online play opportunities are? What GenCon Online has been doing should be the minimum for the wealthy brand leader is capable of doing. Instead, GenCon laps your efforts, despite having a fraction of the working capital.
 

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