WotC Hasbro's CEO Reports OGL-Related D&D Beyond Cancellations Had Minimal Impact

Hasbro held a quarterly earnings call recently in which CEO Chris Cocks (who formerly ran WotC before being promoted) indicated that the OGL controversy had a "comparatively minor" impact on D&D's revenue due to D&D Beyond subscription cancellations. He also noted that D&D grew by 20% in 2022 (Magic: the Gathering revenues grew by an astonishing 40% in Quarter 4!) WotC as a whole was up 22%...

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Hasbro held a quarterly earnings call recently in which CEO Chris Cocks (who formerly ran WotC before being promoted) indicated that the OGL controversy had a "comparatively minor" impact on D&D's revenue due to D&D Beyond subscription cancellations. He also noted that D&D grew by 20% in 2022 (Magic: the Gathering revenues grew by an astonishing 40% in Quarter 4!)

WotC as a whole was up 22% in Q4 2022.

Lastly, on D&D, we misfired on updating our Open Gaming License, a key vehicle for creators to share or commercialize their D&D inspired content. Our best practice is to work collaboratively with our community, gather feedback, and build experiences that inspire players and creators alike - it's how we make our games among the best in the industry. We have since course corrected and are delivering a strong outcome for the community and game.
 

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BlueFin

Just delete this account.
I chose to be happy and not take a view of the world that always puts me in opposition to those who are out to get me.
So, nothing to offer in relation to your response to my post. What a surprise. 🤷‍♂️

And seeing as this statement appears to be trying to suggest I "take a view of the world that always puts me in opposition to those who are out to get me", you clearly didn't read my whole post.

But that seems to be a common theme here ... take a single statement in isolation and comment on it, misinterpreting it because one didn't take the time to read someone's whole post. Yah well, ok 🤷‍♂️
 


Ahhh, what an interesting morning to wake up to 🤩 ...

So here's my comment that has stirred up drama (I truly didn't think this was in question) ...




"Ridiculous hyperbole"? Hhhhm, is it though? Let's have a little summary shall we, seeing as it seems to be needed (this is not going to go through everything, just enough to make the point) ... 1.1 attempted to -
  • force the majority of 3P creators to "register" their works with wotc - How onerous would this be on small creators? How off-putting? How many might decide instead "what's the point"? And if they thought they needed
  • force 3P creators to report their financial information
  • force the "large corporations" (ie. Kobold Press etc, not facebook) to pay a very hefty royalty (even the 15% sweetener was hefty), thereby putting them in a position of having to seriously consider whether they could even publish under that license. wotc very clearly stated their belief the intent of the original OGL was for homebrewers etc, not for "big corporations" to make money - a statement that is a lie, given what we know was the actual intent of the original OGL.

1.2 and its VTT Policy attempted to -
  • Allow wotc to void that license at anytime a legal decision didn't go their way. Not just cancel, but void. Given how 3PPs were worried about their livlihoods in light of 1.1, just imagine for a moment the kind of precarious nightmare they would be in if the license they published under suddenly never existed?
  • Allow wotc to change the terms at any time
  • Allow wotc to at its own discretion refuse a publisher the right to publish their material. Oh yes, of course, they were only ever going to use that power appropriately in regard to "hateful" content that, let's remember, they controlled the definition of. Would they have ever used this clause to shutdown a competing product because it was a competing product (and not really because of its content)? Oh, no of course not, wotc can be completely trusted to do the right thing, can't they???? 🙄
  • Control VTTs to the point that using a visual affect of a streak of energy moving across the screen was wotc's property - the implication being you might just get sued if you do anything that even remotely looks like "a video game" or one of their properties.
  • Leave multiple doorways for them to have another go at everything they were attempting in 1.1 at some point in the future
Let's also remember that the stated intent of 1.0 in the first place, as stated by one of its main instigators, was to get 3PPs to abandon their own games and make games for D&D.

Let's also remember that they attempted to do all this in secret (completely contrary to their now-stated claims about being open and wanting community feedback - see my comments below regarding Kyle Brinks).

So, rather than simply calling my statement "ridiculous hyperbole", perhaps you could provide some reasoning as to how it is?

But, now let's consider the above in view of the position that D&D holds in the hobby -



D&D is the only RPG that is synonymous with "RPG". I was maiing a couple of D&D books in my local, small-village post office. The 50+ female postmaster saw them and said "Oh, Dungeons and Dragons, my daughter plays that". The chances of that happening had it been any other RPG are close to nil. If we say to someone not in the hobby "I play roleplaying games", there is a very good chance they will say something like "oh do you mean Dungeons and Dragons?" - but there's almost no chance they would say "oh, do you mean Pathfinder?" (and I'm picking Pathfinder in this example, because if people aren't going to recognise that one, they sure as heck aren't going to recognise Mork Bork!). If we do say "I play Dungeons and Dragons" most people now have heard of it in some form and there will be some recognition - not so with any other RPG on the market.

So, in many ways, D&D is the "entire hobby". Yes, of course there are many hundreds, indeed probably thousands, of other RPGs, but the vast, vast, majority of potential new players are going to make their way into the hobby because of D&D, and via D&D, and probably only ever hear about D&D. And depending how that gateway is managed, they won't ever find their way elsewhere, and that liklihood was only going to be strengthened by what wotc was attempting. wotc was very clearly (IMO) attempting to funnel people into a digital only space that they had full control of (see link to video below for an excellent opinion piece regarding this).

Was what wotc did "hostile" to other games directly - no, I guess not, but neither did I claim that. However, their actions were very much done in a "hostile" manner (in my opinion) - ie. presenting a new license with vastly different terms, under an NDA, with a week to sign wasn't it? (yes, yes, I know in this statement I am taking what was reported as "true", but IIRC, wotc haven't actually denied it either, they have simply tried to tell us that "oh, we were always going to seek community input" - but that statement flies completely in face of what actually happened, and so is BS). So, I'd hardly call their approach open and friendly, or even neutral - (so using the options from their own game for social interactions?) "hostile" seems quite an appropriate term to me.


This barely relates to what I said, but actually, you didn't shoot anything down here - the DMs Guild is controlled by wotc, so in fact you're affirming my point. 🤨


Well that's a very generous view, and not really in-line with the statements made by Ryan Dancy as to the purpose of the original OGL. In relation to your statement, it is more accurate to say they were attempting to "take back" something they had "given away", but, there is a lot of legal conjecture on both sides around "irrevocability" and so on, and I guess now that will never get tested in court. But, as to the question of "taking over", refer above to my (limited) summary of 1.1 and 1.2, and then if you wish, please describe how those weren't an attempt to "take over". With regards to my assertion of them attempting to control the "entire hobby", this whole post is my explanation of why I see it as that - because of the unique, and extremely large, position that D&D has within the hobby.





The reason, in my opinion, why KB is getting so much flack is because pretty much everything he says in relation to 1.1 and 1.2 is completely contrary to the events that took place. He, but really wotc (as he is just the poor fella stuck in the awful position he is in), is dealing with the community in a completely disingenuous manner.

Further, there are many examples of CEOs clearly apologising and taking ownership and having a much better outcome. See @talien's article regarding Patreon for an example. You can read this too, which has some examples of CEOs taking ownership of a data breach. It really shouldn't have been hard for Cynthia Williams to, you know, lead her company.

So, that's what my opinion is based on ... what is your opinion based on?


Of course other perspectives exist. In what way have I said they don't? Did you read my entire post? While I made one particular statement that you have quoted, it was in a rather lengthy post where I very clearly expressed what I was writing was my own opinion, and where I took the time to explain my reasons - the point being the statement you quoted wasn't just a single off the cuff remark. But, what other perspectives are you offering? I have in different posts and threads, happily acknowledged others' opinions.



I did. In fact I read it last night when it was first posted in this thread. It is very good.

It doesn't apply here though. And no, that's not just an example of the very point of that comic. In this instance, it actually replies in the reverse. The folks I have quoted in this post have taken a single remark out of a very long post and reacted to it without, it seems, any consideration of anything else I wrote, which was the point of the comic you linked to. So perhaps you should be @mentioning them to read it. 🤔😉



So, here's my stance and issue with the whole wotc OGL fiasco.

I don't care one iota about wotc. I don't particularly care about D&D as an RPG in and of itself - it's good enough, and I've been playing 5e for the past couple of years as it was an easy way to get back into RPGs after an extended hiatus, because it's what I started with back in the 80s. But I was already looking for my next game before all this happened. In my opinion as a ruleset, it is mediocre - not particularly nuanced, but sure, there is fun to be had.

What I do care about, is the important position and role that D&D has within the hobby. It is by far the primary gateway that people make their way into the hobby. wotc were very clearly wanting to control that gateway and doing their utmost to ensure people are more or less "stuck" with playing D&D (through their digital first strategy - for an excellent opinion on this, see this video by Baron de Ropp).

I also understand that many people want to just get back to their D&D beyond subs now that they've more or less got what was wanted. I understand that "staying angry" is energy sucking and feels like a waste of time. I do respect, and understand, those feelings. In other areas I would make that same choice.

RPGs are important to me though, for many reasons. I started playing in the 80s when it was the province of "nerds" (of which I am happily one). I have absolutely loved watching D&D become mainstream over the past 10 years, and become so popular, and reach so many more people, and see the richness of diversity that has come with all of that. I love all of that. I love watching that all take place. RPGs are great, right? I want to see D&D succeed, and I want to see other RPGs succeed. What I want to see is a hobby where their is healthy "competition" to produce better and better games and content.

What concerns me then, is the potential influence and/or control that any owner of D&D has over D&D and the hobby as a whole. And in this case, instead of using "influence", wotc have attempted "control". And this is NOT the first time they have attempted this. And the more easily wotc "get away with" what they have done yet again, the more easily everyone forgets and forgives, the more likely they will try "something" again in the future.

And their behaviour does have a ripple effect throughout the entire hobby, whether directly or indirectly, the evidence for that statement being many things, but for example, the fact that this fiasco reached mainstream media, was discussed in legal forums outside of this hobby etc - says a lot about the impact/influence/control that wotc can have.

A lot of comments I have read have appeared ready to forget about wotc's behaviour because "oh well, they're just a big corp and that's how big corps behave". Well, if that's true, then the only real language those big corps speak is money, and so the only way to ensure they really get the point, is a definite impact on their bottom-line. With how things are now unfolding, and the comments I am reading, I am feeling that isn't going to happen, and that worries me, because they are, sadly, very poor "stewards of the game".
If being miserable makes you happy more power to you.
 



BlueFin

Just delete this account.
If being miserable makes you happy more power to you.
What a bizarre response. Yet another where, it appears, someone hasn’t taken the time to actually read what I wrote and makes a comment that has nothing to do with it.

I was merely responding to a bunch of people who have done exactly what you have done, but there was nothing “miserable” in my post. It was detailed, thought out, and provided examples (that doesn’t presume anyone has to actually agree). Perhaps that’s what you, and others actually have a problem with - putting some effort into your posts. 🤷‍♂️

Unless you want to conflate being concerned about this hobby and they way wotc are treating it, with being miserable, then “all power to you“. 🤷‍♂️
 

Oofta

Legend
I mean, it could also be based in poor judgement but simply driven by greed and high profit expectations. I don't see why you are so dismissive of that idea and have to create a benign explanation for it.



I don't understand this defense. If you shut down 3PPs, you don't need to steal from anyone anymore because there's no one working in the same space that people can compare your product with.

Also it weakens your defense to say "It wasn't meant to destroy 3PPs" and then go around and say "Actually it was probably an attempt to stop this 3PP and also 'protect the brand'". Like, there's no reason to believe it had to be that specific given how low Wizards specifically set the bar on the royalties (and we know this because Brink has basically said as such in interviews).

Also also, "protecting the brand" is not some sort of magical defense against criticism and could be done just as maliciously as anything else. In fact, it doesn't preclude greed coming into the picture: if you want to hit high profit targets (like sextupling your profits), you might see competitors as being impediments and hurting your brand in the long run.



I mean, there's really no reason to assume it's not an attempt to maximize profits given what we know about Wizards and how they view D&D right now. They need to go from $150M to $1B, so acting like these decisions aren't being taken in an effort to clear the field and make it as easy as possible to farm big profits seems to be way more biased than anything.

Honestly, there is plenty of motivation for them to control as much of what they view as their space as possible, and that can involve shutting down 3PPs or bringing them to heel under an agreement that is more beneficial to Wizards.

At this point, it would be more biased to simply ascribe this entirely to ignorance than simply them making a move to dominate what they view as their own market. There's no reason to give them the benefit of the doubt in the matter and all the reason in the world to think that they wanted to seize a whole lot of market so that they can become the $1B they told their investors they could be. This action was meant to be future-proofing for that target.



You don't need to be cartoonish to be malicious, nor does incompetence remove maliciousness from the equation.

And you can't really bring in Occam's Razor when you are simply removing profit motive entirely from the reasons as to why they would do these things (and you are). The simplest explanation is that they did this because they wanted to maximize their hold on the market, and that is really reflected in OGL 1.1, OGL 1.2, and their VTT policy.

Companies try to maximize profits. You can call that greed if you want, I call it business as usual.

I'm not excusing the OGL 1.1 or .2 in any way, shape or form. It was a bone headed move. Was it motivated by a profit incentive? Of course it was.

As far as shutting down all 3PP, there is zero evidence that was ever their intent. There were posts that claimed both that WOTC wouldn't write anything new, just copy other people's work. Simultaneously, all 3PP was going to be shut down. That is what I was referencing.

I don't blame companies for wanting to make a profit. I just think there's a lot of assumptions that HASBRO is evil just because they're a big company.
 

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