OGL Ray Winninger comments on the OGL

There's more going on that just WotC and the OGL. 3PP and the industry overall may like to have someone to point at and shriek, but the reality is pretty evident when looking at Hasbro's financials, which are driven by WotC and have been for years. The stock price has been steadily declining for over a year. They just got downgraded to sell by Bank of America, which will impact their ability to raise capital. Their debacle with Magic is making mainstream news, completely unrelated to the hobby news, because of the financial implications it has for investors in HAS stock. D&D has likely peaked, and likely it was long enough ago that WotC can see it. With rough economic headwinds in almost everyone's predictions, the contraction will probably get way worse before it gets better. It's easy to blame WotC, but none of those (well, most of those—one could make a case that WotC could have put out better products in the last couple of years or so and done better with the brand, but that's an argument for another discussion) but WotC has little ability to affect any of those factors. They're REACTING to the fact that they can see these factors, and many 3pps and fans can't or won't see them.

Ultimately WotC may well have made a terrible decision that will have long-term negative repercussions for the brand, as Winninger says in his statement. But that doesn't mean that 3pps weren't about to be in trouble anyway. Maybe in the long run it's best for them, if not for D&D as a brand, for them to forge their own path and become stronger and more self-reliant in the process.

Of course, that's making the assumption that WotC actually has the legal right (as opposed to legal might) to cancel the OGl, when it was specifically written with the assumption that they'd never be able to do so and D&D would be saved from exactly this kind of decision. But again; that's a different argument, that I'm sure has already been beaten to death in other threads.
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
I know that some are, but leaving aside questions of whether or not d20-based publishers (which can be a murky area, e.g. PF2) can just remove the OGL from their books and assert "this was never really derivative of the d20 rules! We just used the OGL for convenience!" (which strikes me as iffy), there are some games which are unquestionably derived from them, and so can't simply scrub the OGL and carry on. I play PF1, and liked that some publishers were still making PF1 supplements; they can't just keep doing that sans the OGL without exposing themselves to legal risk.

Not to mention that companies which do go that route will need to draft new compatibility licenses if they want other publishers to make stuff using their rules, which is at best a chore, and at worst can potentially lead us right back here in who knows how many years.

Notice I said "outside the D&D-sphere". PF (both 1e and 2e) are inside the D&D-sphere, as are the other games usually called "D20" (which is not every game that uses a D20, just those derived fairly obviously from D&D). This is absolutely a big problem for them. But they aren't the whole of the hobby.

Your latter statement is obviously true, though its amazing how much of this would have been a non-issue if the word "irrevocable" had been used properly in the OGL.
 

Yes. This is moment in our hobby where we learn that we no longer matter, that we can't play the way we want, that content is packaged by a corporation that has no foundation in games anymore (when even WotC had connections to magic cards).
I felt that way in 2017 when I couldn't find any 4e games and had to 100% move to 5e
I also felt that way back in early 2000s when New World of Darkness came out and I couldn't find mage or vampire games to play or run... but then V20 came out and M20 and I had games again... but then V5 came out and M5 is either out or coming out and they dried up again.
D&D has lost its soul. I'm not going to sell my imagination, my hobby time, my precious moments with friends and family, to the highest bidder ... people who clearly can give a rat's behind about how we enjoy the game.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Oh they could certainly put Roll20 and similar services out of business. But I'm not sure what that gains WotC. I doubt the 5e players on Roll20 are going to appreciate being forced onto One D&D's VTT, even if their Roll20 digital purchases are ported over.

My group would probably switch to pure Discord and Theater of the Mind, or a barebones VTT like Owlbear Radio. I don't think we would be outliers.

Honestly, people have gotten (and this will probably come across as more insulting than intended--I'm certainly someone who can be lazy on occasion) lazy when it comes to how they use VTTs. Nothing about a VTT requires the computer to handle the mechanics. You can use one just to upload maps and shuffle tokens around and then do the rest of the game handling the way you always did. At worst you might want a die roller where everyone can see it (and I wonder even if you want that, how many people bother to monitor die rolls that closely in-person, in which case why worry about it over the Net?

I've been using nothing but Maptool (and without macros) for some years now. I get by.
 

Certainly true, private ownership is no promise that either the company will operate ethically either.

Especially not a propaganda machine like the social media hell sites.
Indeed, let's look at Twitter. Since Musk's takeover, downloads and activity on Twitter as reported by independent analysts Apptopia and Sensor Tower, are up 23% since the month before Musk took over, and 42% since this time last year. And, as has been proved in numerous data drops from Twitter internal files, ethical and even criminal wrongdoing were rampant at Twitter. Whether anyone in Washington will actually bring any consequences to anyone because of that remains to be seen, but it's not a secret that Twitter before Musk was a disaster in many ways, and was hemorrhaging users and activity. I'm sure that there are people who loved the old twitter, and I'm sure that many of the people who post here are among those (I mean, the moderation strategy is basically the same, so no surprises), but from an objective standpoint as opposed to emotional one, it's pretty hard to say that Musk's twitter is worse than pre-Musk twitter. If nothing else, Musk buying Twitter may have nearly if not completely gutted any attempts to build alternate twitters, like Parler, or Truth Social. Gab, I think, has enough legs to not care, but all of the people who ran off to Parler or Truth Social in a huff were only too eager to run back to twitter and dance for the nuts over there.
Not 100% sure that this comparison that we're wandering into has any bearing on D&D or not. But I will point out that the Free League, for example, is free from this kind of corporate nonsense. Whatever else you may think about them, the designers actually play their own games.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I mean ... no one is forced to play D&D. You can easily do your own FKR game. There are a lot of great and indie games available on, inter alia, itch.io

And no matter what happens here, you can still play your 5e game (or your B/X game) just like you want.

So, following that, the next step obvious step is for WotC to yank the .pdf's of all the old rule books from sale.

There can't be only ONE, if there are more, right?
 

hojulation

Explorer
I think that's a fair reading. Once WOTC's virtual tabletop is fully up and running, or close to, I wouldn't expect those agreements with Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds to ever be renewed.
If true, I wonder why they would have just announced that DMs Guild Community Created content is "officially unlocking" for Roll20? Seems like they may permit them to keep using D&D content, but I imagine the terms of the agreement with Roll20 (and Fantasy Grounds) will be different than the currently active agreements. So at that point it's on the VTT's whether they would continue to support D&D.
 

payn

Legend
Honestly, people have gotten (and this will probably come across as more insulting than intended--I'm certainly someone who can be lazy on occasion) lazy when it comes to how they use VTTs. Nothing about a VTT requires the computer to handle the mechanics. You can use one just to upload maps and shuffle tokens around and then do the rest of the game handling the way you always did. At worst you might want a die roller where everyone can see it (and I wonder even if you want that, how many people bother to monitor die rolls that closely in-person, in which case why worry about it over the Net?

I've been using nothing but Maptool (and without macros) for some years now. I get by.
Just filling out some character sheets can be a PITA and some of these tools like an SRD can make it a breeze. Its really about convivence and not about total restriction. Though, there is no distinction for some folks.
 

Indeed, let's look at Twitter. Since Musk's takeover, downloads and activity on Twitter as reported by independent analysts Apptopia and Sensor Tower, are up 23% since the month before Musk took over, and 42% since this time last year. And, as has been proved in numerous data drops from Twitter internal files, ethical and even criminal wrongdoing were rampant at Twitter. Whether anyone in Washington will actually bring any consequences to anyone because of that remains to be seen, but it's not a secret that Twitter before Musk was a disaster in many ways, and was hemorrhaging users and activity. I'm sure that there are people who loved the old twitter, and I'm sure that many of the people who post here are among those (I mean, the moderation strategy is basically the same, so no surprises), but from an objective standpoint as opposed to emotional one, it's pretty hard to say that Musk's twitter is worse than pre-Musk twitter. If nothing else, Musk buying Twitter may have nearly if not completely gutted any attempts to build alternate twitters, like Parler, or Truth Social. Gab, I think, has enough legs to not care, but all of the people who ran off to Parler or Truth Social in a huff were only too eager to run back to twitter and dance for the nuts over there.
Not 100% sure that this comparison that we're wandering into has any bearing on D&D or not. But I will point out that the Free League, for example, is free from this kind of corporate nonsense. Whatever else you may think about them, the designers actually play their own games.
Strangely you don’t mention the significant downturn in advertising dollars since Musk took over.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Just filling out some character sheets can be a PITA and some of these tools like an SRD can make it a breeze. Its really about convivence and not about total restriction. Though, there is no distinction for some folks.

The character sheets were the biggest things for my 13yo and his friends.

I was using standard art programs for the VTT during COVID.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
So, following that, the next step obvious step is for WotC to yank the .pdf's of all the old rule books from sale.

There can't be only ONE, if there are more, right?

I don't think it's about that.

If I had to hazard a guess, this is all about D&D as a brand. Pure and simple.

In a certain way, the existence of the OGL is a happy accident of a certain time and a certain place. For the most part, corporations don't want to allow open commercial licensing of their IP for a lot of very good reasons- not just competition, but also because it can seriously hurt the brand. Whether its a glut of weak products (such as the 2000s) or it's offensive products, there's a reason that, for example, Disney doesn't do open licenses.

Again, not to defend this move ... at all. But it's about getting and retaining control of a core brand.

A lot of the things that make us gamers happy about the existence of the OGL (for commercial purposes) are not the same things that corporations, generally, like.
 

Haplo781

Legend
At minimum the latter, but the former is also a distinct possibility. Here's how it would happen:

In a world where (for example) Roll20 loses its "custom arrangement" with WotC, the WotC content (5e PHB, etc.) most likely just disappears.

In that world, if OGL 1.0(a) stands, Roll20 can still offer the OGC from the SRDs as preprogrammed automation—and Roll20 can offer 3rd-party content that fills in the gaps. For many players and DMs it would be a hassle, but I think that a lot of groups would continue playing on Roll20 with this reduced functionality rather than switch to WotC's VTT.

In a world where OGL 1.0(a) falls, Roll20 marketplace probably can't offer anything that natively is automated specifically for 5e. ("But WotC doesn't own the mechanics" is a common counterargument that in my view seems very unlikely to prevail.) Roll20 would remain a robust VTT from a technical point of view, and you could code up whatever macros you want or use those coded by others, etc. But precious few of the groups currently playing 5e on Roll20 will be willing to do that.

Roll20 probably survives in those circumstances, primarily used as a platform for non-D&D games, with severely reduced profitability and a correspondingly reduced capacity to continue improving the platform by adding new features, etc. But with its revenue likely reduced by more than half, there's a nonzero chance it folds entirely.
Oh no not Roll20

Anyways
 

Strangely you don’t mention the significant downturn in advertising dollars since Musk took over.
And strangely, you don't mention the Twitter Files. Equally strangely; is it bad for WotC to be grasping and go after every penny at any moral cost, but GOOD for Twitter to do so?

Look, it was probably a bad comparison anyway, and shouldn't have been made, and I shouldn't have jumped on to point out that it was a bad comparison and shouldn't have been made. Hopefully we can agree that Musk taking over twitter has barely any relevance to the idea of someone other than Hasbro taking over D&D, if any, especially as nobody is threatening to come buy D&D from Hasbro anytime soon.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I don't think it's about that.

If I had to hazard a guess, this is all about D&D as a brand. Pure and simple.

In a certain way, the existence of the OGL is a happy accident of a certain time and a certain place. For the most part, corporations don't want to allow open commercial licensing of their IP for a lot of very good reasons- not just competition, but also because it can seriously hurt the brand. Whether its a glut of weak products (such as the 2000s) or it's offensive products, there's a reason that, for example, Disney doesn't do open licenses.

Again, not to defend this move ... at all. But it's about getting and retaining control of a core brand.

A lot of the things that make us gamers happy about the existence of the OGL (for commercial purposes) are not the same things that corporations, generally, like.

I completely agree and was being mostly tongue in cheek based on your two example games being B/X and 5e.

While I don't see them pulling the classic B/X, 1e, 2e, whatever things. Is there any reason at all they would leave the 2014 5e stuff up? (Partially wondering if my son and his friends want to continue using 5e but not ONE if I should go get some used 5e PHBs for people who might join in the future).
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
If true, I wonder why they would have just announced that DMs Guild Community Created content is "officially unlocking" for Roll20? Seems like they may permit them to keep using D&D content, but I imagine the terms of the agreement with Roll20 (and Fantasy Grounds) will be different than the currently active agreements. So at that point it's on the VTT's whether they would continue to support D&D.
The easy answer?

Their VTT is probably at least two years away. Why not do it?

Then, you can tell tell people, oh, you're DMs guild stuff that unlocked? That's over on DnDB VTT too now (or whatever they end up calling it).
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I completely agree and was being mostly tongue in cheek based on your two example games being B/X and 5e.

While I don't see them pulling the classic B/X, 1e, 2e, whatever things. Is there any reason at all they would leave the 2014 5e stuff up? (Partially wondering if my son and his friends want to continue using 5e but not ONE if I should go get some used 5e PHBs for people who might join in the future).

Well, who knows, right? Remember when Disney used scarcity as a weapon (pre-Disney+) by releasing movies from their vault only occasionally?

I wouldn't worry about 5e for a while simply because so many books were sold for so long that you'll likely be able to find PHBs and DMGs on the used book market, cheaply, for some time. But ... it wouldn't hurt to download the Basic Rules, would it?
 

Remathilis

Legend
Indeed, let's look at Twitter. Since Musk's takeover, downloads and activity on Twitter as reported by independent analysts Apptopia and Sensor Tower, are up 23% since the month before Musk took over, and 42% since this time last year. And, as has been proved in numerous data drops from Twitter internal files, ethical and even criminal wrongdoing were rampant at Twitter. Whether anyone in Washington will actually bring any consequences to anyone because of that remains to be seen, but it's not a secret that Twitter before Musk was a disaster in many ways, and was hemorrhaging users and activity. I'm sure that there are people who loved the old twitter, and I'm sure that many of the people who post here are among those (I mean, the moderation strategy is basically the same, so no surprises), but from an objective standpoint as opposed to emotional one, it's pretty hard to say that Musk's twitter is worse than pre-Musk twitter. If nothing else, Musk buying Twitter may have nearly if not completely gutted any attempts to build alternate twitters, like Parler, or Truth Social. Gab, I think, has enough legs to not care, but all of the people who ran off to Parler or Truth Social in a huff were only too eager to run back to twitter and dance for the nuts over there.
Not 100% sure that this comparison that we're wandering into has any bearing on D&D or not. But I will point out that the Free League, for example, is free from this kind of corporate nonsense. Whatever else you may think about them, the designers actually play their own games.
You bring up a good point. Lots of people wanted to leave Twitter after Musk's ownership and the choices he made. Lots of noise was raised, and lots of people tried to move to alternatives like Mastodon, Hive and Post. But no clear winner has emerged that has dethroned Twitter, if for no reason other than inertia (no one wants to start again somewhere new) and familiarity (most Twitter users know how Twitter works, they aren't learning new systems to do what they were doing before.) And so Twitter survived Musk's antics for now. Some left, but not enough did.

Take what lessons you want from that and apply it to WotC's current situation. D&D will survive because it's got familiarity and inertia on its side. There is no clear alternative so those who want to leave will end up in different competing ecosystems. People may prefer to be in a different system, but there will be plenty who end up back in D&D because that's where other people are.

I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but if Twitter can survive Musk, D&D will survive this OGL flap.
 

Haplo781

Legend
You bring up a good point. Lots of people wanted to leave Twitter after Musk's ownership and the choices he made. Lots of noise was raised, and lots of people tried to move to alternatives like Mastodon, Hive and Post. But no clear winner has emerged that has dethroned Twitter, if for no reason other than inertia (no one wants to start again somewhere new) and familiarity (most Twitter users know how Twitter works, they aren't learning new systems to do what they were doing before.) And so Twitter survived Musk's antics for now. Some left, but not enough did.

Take what lessons you want from that and apply it to WotC's current situation. D&D will survive because it's got familiarity and inertia on its side. There is no clear alternative so those who want to leave will end up in different competing ecosystems. People may prefer to be in a different system, but there will be plenty who end up back in D&D because that's where other people are.

I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but if Twitter can survive Musk, D&D will survive this OGL flap.
Ah, but Twitter is hemorrhaging money. And so too might the D&D brand, if people don't buy the new books/VTT MTX.
 

mamba

Hero
you mean the revenue and profit...

by some standards if your way of using the tool is better but the company makes less money that is a win (at least as far as I can tell with all the talk about monetized D&D being bad)
that is certainly not the metric Musk is using however, he is after profit…

As to WotC, I haven’t seen anyone saying they are not allowed to increase sales and profit, the objection is with how they intend to do so
 

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