OGL Is Alta Fox the reason for OGL 1.1?

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Last year, in May, Alta Fox did a big presentation for shareholders of Hasbro and tried really hard to push for new management for Hasbro. Specifically they argued that due to poor capital allocation the company was underperforming. They wanted to add 3 people of their choosing to the Hasbro 10-person board of directors with the goal of increasing performance on behalf of shareholders because, let's face it, Hasbro is a corporation and making money for your shareholders is the start and end of their goals.

Wizards of the Coast makes up 70% of Hasbro's income year to year. With D&D a sizeable portion of that, but, y'know, Magic the Gathering is also doing well. Magic the Gathering is also intensely monetized with various releases, endless new ways to play, and an incredibly healthy aftermarket of rare and valuable cards.

In August, the Spelljammer book released and WotC saw significant backlash over the racist implications of the Hadozee. Q3 2022 had their profits almost $60 million down from Q3 2021.

December rolls around and Hasbro and WotC state that D&D is undermonetized. A sizeable subset of this forum argues that back and forth for a while and floats everything from the idea of D&D NFTs to making D&D Beyond Subscriptions practically mandatory to play, and even the idea of shutting out, or buying out, VTTs so that WotC's VTT (which has yet to manifest) will be the main way to play as to bring in more cash.

And then the OGL 1.1 is handed to Paizo and other companies with an NDA and a demand to sign it. Included in the new OGL is a requirement to give WotC and Hasbro cash, directly. To subsidize the work of third party publishers and homebrewers so that WotC can steal our labor and sell it for themselves.

Almost seven months passed between Alta Fox's actions and the comments about D&D being undermonetized. But could the pressure on the Hasbro brass have pushed the intention of increasing the income to the extreme degree of the OGL 1.1?

Personally, I think so.

And I think we also have Justin Lanasa to blame for it. As his bigoted Star Frontiers ripoff probably played into (or gave a reasonable cover of) their decision, as well.
 

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Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
Thanks for the insight. This actually tracks with what I was thinking was going on - it wasn't so much a Wizards decision as much as a Hasbro/VC decision. Since the other divisions aren't making money, they need to kill the golden goose and really go full-bore on monetization to drive up the other numbers - to me, it feels like what's going on with Disney where, to make Disney+ seem more successful, they had shows premiere a day earlier on Disney Channel so they could put those expenses on Disney Channel's books and not D+.
 


Last year, in May, Alta Fox did a big presentation for shareholders of Hasbro and tried really hard to push for new management for Hasbro. Specifically they argued that due to poor capital allocation the company was underperforming. They wanted to add 3 people of their choosing to the Hasbro 10-person board of directors with the goal of increasing performance on behalf of shareholders because, let's face it, Hasbro is a corporation and making money for your shareholders is the start and end of their goals.

In an indirect way, yes, Alta Fox is a little responsible for this. They were the ones who lit a fire under Hasbro management to monetize D&D more. Their entire argument was that WotC should contribute more to shareholder value. Hasbro managed to stop Alta Fox from taking over the board and forcing a split, but it surely motivated the board and shareholders to try and make D&D profitable in the short term. The new OGL is definitely part of that response.

That being said, it's still Hasbro's own fault that they managed to screw things up so badly. The actions of Alta Fox applied political pressure for them to act. But Hasbro is ultimately responsible for the steps they took. This could have been done better in oh so many ways.

And I think we also have Justin Lanasa to blame for it. As his bigoted Star Frontiers ripoff probably played into (or gave a reasonable cover of) their decision, as well.

I wouldn't give NuTSR any credit for, well, anything. There are a number of game companies that actually released bigoted content under the OGL for years before NuTSR started their BS. Star Frontiers New Genesis never even made it to market (and probably never will). It would be deceptive of Hasbro to try and hide their money grab moves with the OGL behind excuses like SFNG.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
I'm sure WotC would love to receive both licensing fees and right of refusal for stuff like that.
I mean, Dark Souls was such a clown show...and I would not be surprised if the chatter blew back on mainline D&D because it was compatible and the general audience bot understanding Open Haming as a concept.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
In an indirect way, yes, Alta Fox is a little responsible for this. They were the ones who lit a fire under Hasbro management to monetize D&D more. Their entire argument was that WotC should contribute more to shareholder value. Hasbro managed to stop Alta Fox from taking over the board and forcing a split, but it surely motivated the board and shareholders to try and make D&D profitable in the short term. The new OGL is definitely part of that response.

That being said, it's still Hasbro's own fault that they managed to screw things up so badly. The actions of Alta Fox applied political pressure for them to act. But Hasbro is ultimately responsible for the steps they took. This could have been done better in oh so many ways.
I say "Reason" as "Impetus" not "Responsible". But yeah this is 100% Hasbro's awful no good terrible decision. I was just thinking Alta Fox might be the start of those dominoes.
I wouldn't give NuTSR any credit for, well, anything. There are a number of game companies that actually released bigoted content under the OGL for years before NuTSR started their BS. Star Frontiers New Genesis never even made it to market (and probably never will). It would be deceptive of Hasbro to try and hide their money grab moves with the OGL behind excuses like SFNG.
I meeeeean....

Those other game companies made bigoted games for years and Hasbro and WotC made no move to stop them. They've entered into a legal battle with NuTSR in the same year they decided to change the OGL.

Also: It would be deceptive. But we all read their corp-speak statement on the OGL 1.1 Backlash, too. Deceptive is a good descriptor of them!
 

Scribe

Legend
Personally, I think so.

In a way, yes, but not for the reasons you describe.

I believe that what this incident did, is draw real attention to the actual math behind Wizards (Hasbro) value. MtG was being driven into the ground, and it was starting to look like there was a problem, but then someone got wise to the fact that D&D has been devaluing itself, from a brand perspective, and giving all the power away.

What has a more definitive brand.

Pathfinder 1
Forgotten Realms
Critical Role
"D&D"

Now, I would be hard pressed to say as far as definition of the brands, that D&D is in the top 3. D&D is (especially 5e) INTENTIONALLY and AGGRESSIVELY generic. It is INOFFENSIVE to a fault.

So now you are Hasbro, and you have people looking into the core of your business. Not a great feeling, and you have these software types in charge. The types who probably know that 'source code' is an important thing.

You know what is actively available, freely distributed, and has a license that has been capitalized upon by oh...I dont know...Level Up?

The 5.0 SRD, as of 1.0 OGL, the actual D&D "Source Code". Sold by others, and you dont get a direct $0.01 for it.

Now, you are a software Executive, and someone brings that to your attention. Whats your next step?

"Call the Lawyers."
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Last year, in May, Alta Fox did a big presentation for shareholders of Hasbro and tried really hard to push for new management for Hasbro. Specifically they argued that due to poor capital allocation the company was underperforming. They wanted to add 3 people of their choosing to the Hasbro 10-person board of directors with the goal of increasing performance on behalf of shareholders because, let's face it, Hasbro is a corporation and making money for your shareholders is the start and end of their goals.
...
Almost seven months passed between Alta Fox's actions and the comments about D&D being undermonetized. But could the pressure on the Hasbro brass have pushed the intention of increasing the income to the extreme degree of the OGL 1.1?

Personally, I think so.
One thing to support what you are saying is that I've heard that D&D used to be too small a portion of the total Hasbro revenue to come to much attention of the shareholders, but now it's grown enough to be one of the things that is worth their interest to maximize. Basically, D&D grew to the point where it was noticeable, and that makes it a tasty meal.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
I don't think the OGL was "Devaluing" D&D at all.

It made other people money, yes, but the biggest seller D&D always has is the PHB. And to use 3pp OGL compliant materials you needed the PHB/DMG/MM/Etc.

The OGL outsourced a ton of labor and advertising costs for WotC over the 2 decades it existed. It wasn't a drain on them at all.

You could argue Pathfinder was taking cash out of their pockets... But I think that's, really, the only one that a serious argument can be made for because they specifically put out their "Own Game" built off D&D...

And then launched a new product -not- based on D&D with PF2e. Which is an -actual- competitor in the marketplace.
 

Now, you are a software Executive, and someone brings that to your attention. Whats your next step?

"Call the Lawyers."
The funny thing is that Microsoft, over the past decade (IMO since Satya Nadella took over) has developed a much better understanding of how open source software can actually benefit their business. I would have expected people from there to have a better understanding of how ecosystems around open licensing work.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
Ryan Dancey was talking about "network externality", where the number of people using a product creates more value than the product itself.

He gave the example, of the telephone. If only one person has a telephone, it lacks value. But the more people have telephones, the more value a telephone gains.

D&D depends on network externality. If only one person knows how to play D&D, it is of limited value. This is precisely the problem of many "heartbreakers", where the system is excellent but few people play it or are aware of it, so it is of limited value.

The OGL 1.0a caused a gaming community to become aware of D&D, even those who didnt play it directly.

The original OGL caused D&D to become a popculture phenomenon.

The OGL 1.0a enormously increased the value of the "D&D" brand.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Do I need those now?

Use this book without using the PHB, DMG, and MM as a person who doesn't have the core rules and may be entirely new to the game, seeing as how most of the populace has never played D&D in their lives.

Also, the very name "Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition" directs people to buy the 5e core books.

Like I get what you're saying. As someone who already owns those three, I don't need 'em. And someone using the SRD alone wouldn't need them, either. But they are -incentivized- to make that initial purchase. Which puts money in WotC's pocket. And is likely as not to lead them to buy more WotC products because they're the "Official" material.
 

Scribe

Legend

Use this book without using the PHB, DMG, and MM as a person who doesn't have the core rules and may be entirely new to the game, seeing as how most of the populace has never played D&D in their lives.

Also, the very name "Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition" directs people to buy the 5e core books.

Like I get what you're saying. As someone who already owns those three, I don't need 'em. And someone using the SRD alone wouldn't need them, either. But they are -incentivized- to make that initial purchase. Which puts money in WotC's pocket. And is likely as not to lead them to buy more WotC products because they're the "Official" material.

I understand you, but I get a feeling there is some tiptoe action going around the topic.

I agree 3PP lifts wizards up, but when the PHB is replaced by a 3rd party... I am not sure Wizards looks at it the same way.
 


GreyLord

Legend
The funny thing is that Microsoft, over the past decade (IMO since Satya Nadella took over) has developed a much better understanding of how open source software can actually benefit their business. I would have expected people from there to have a better understanding of how ecosystems around open licensing work.

Have you seen Windows 10 and 11?

They practically hijack your computer when they want to do an update, at some point whether you want that update or not if you are a home user.

Sure, MS donates to Open Source and other things, but their own ecosystem has gotten far more aggressively closed and demanding, as well as being more subjective to their demands over the past 10 years than anything they did before.

(IMO)
 



In an indirect way, yes, Alta Fox is a little responsible for this. They were the ones who lit a fire under Hasbro management to monetize D&D more. Their entire argument was that WotC should contribute more to shareholder value. Hasbro managed to stop Alta Fox from taking over the board and forcing a split, but it surely motivated the board and shareholders to try and make D&D profitable in the short term. The new OGL is definitely part of that response.

That being said, it's still Hasbro's own fault that they managed to screw things up so badly. The actions of Alta Fox applied political pressure for them to act. But Hasbro is ultimately responsible for the steps they took. This could have been done better in oh so many ways.



I wouldn't give NuTSR any credit for, well, anything. There are a number of game companies that actually released bigoted content under the OGL for years before NuTSR started their BS. Star Frontiers New Genesis never even made it to market (and probably never will). It would be deceptive of Hasbro to try and hide their money grab moves with the OGL behind excuses like SFNG.

Alt Fox didn't tell WotC to breach contracts or act stupid, they meant more and better quality D&D products.

If anything this opens up Hasbro to attacks from Alt Fox for mismanaging things so they can get their own folks in. Then they spin off WotC, sell their remaining Hasbro junk stock and put it all in WotC instead, with better leadership then it has now.
 

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