OGL Roll for Combat reveals the terms of the "sweetheart deal" offered to 3pp


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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
We are both making assumptions and yours are not the "Occam's Razors approach", they are just your assumptions. You are assuming that WotC was going for a win-win situation but that clearly is false based upon the fact they included in OGL 1.1 a clause that would let them change or cancel the license whenever they wanted, they just had to give 30 days notice. That is an absolutely outrageous provision that would grant WotC the power to destroy any business that signed on to OGL 1.1. There is no legitimate reason for such a clause and it made clear that they were not wanting to help 3pp's be more successful but to wreck them.
There is one legitimate reason for such a clause. If you are going to try and yank the rug out from under everyone by revoking OGL 1.0a, then you also put in a bunch of other ridiculous changes so that when you get pushback, you can "compromise" by removing those, leaving you with the change or changes you wanted to begin with. You get what you wanted and the customers feel like that got something out of it.

WotC just failed to anticipate the level of pushback they would get and continue to make things worse with their deceptive practices.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
A "win-win" means both sides benefit, not just WotC. The deal they were offering was not about helping 3pp's but to force them to grant complete control over to WotC which would only benefit WotC.
"We give you the resources to make tens of millions of dollars, in exchange for a cut." I'm not saying theybare being altruistic, but if you look a the numbers (15 million D&D Beyond users, all the marketing pushes being offered), then a selfish "we'll scratch your back if we scratch yours" calculus becomes pretty obvious.
 
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eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
There is one legitimate reason for such a clause. If you are going to try and yank the rug out from under everyone by revoking OGL 1.0a, then you also put in a bunch of other ridiculous changes so that when you get pushback, you can "compromise" by removing those, leaving you with the change or changes you wanted to begin with. You get what you wanted and the customers feel like that got something out of it.

WotC just failed to anticipate the level of pushback they would get and continue to make things worse with their deceptive practices.
Yeah, the door-in-the-face technique.

As to failing to anticipate, definitely. This is more than just shooting yourself in the foot. This is like, if you gave double-verified launch clearance to an Ohio-class submarine to launch a Trident ICBM directly onto your foot.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I don't believe that at all. They have those numbers at their fingertips. They are as likely to be out of touch about those numbers as they are about what players and DMs want out of the game. There's no way in hell that they haven't had long talks with some people who make those products or have employees who have done it themselves.
The thing is, to believe that they are masterminding some way to put 3pp out of business I have to believe that they're clever people using various tricks to try to misdirect people into thinking one thing while they're doing another.

Meanwhile I actually believe that they're just mediocre people who are bad at their jobs and don't understand the market they're working with. And aren't listening to people who actually do understand the market. The fact that the top people come from the software industry and are making all of their decisions make a lot of sense to me because the software industry is absolutely full of execs who think their knowledge in software transfers to other industries and then faceplant because little things like "manufacturing costs" don't enter their heads.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
There is one legitimate reason for such a clause. If you are going to try and yank the rug out from under everyone by revoking OGL 1.0a, then you also put in a bunch of other ridiculous changes so that when you get pushback, you can "compromise" by removing those, leaving you with the change or changes you wanted to begin with. You get what you wanted and the customers feel like that got something out of it.

WotC just failed to anticipate the level of pushback they would get and continue to make things worse with their deceptive practices.
I really think the most obvious explanation is that they believed that 15% off of millions of dollars of generated sales would make everyone happy, but didn't consider other angles. Venal and greedy, simple as that, same as it's always been.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
The thing is, to believe that they are masterminding some way to put 3pp out of business I have to believe that they're clever people using various tricks to try to misdirect people into thinking one thing while they're doing another.

Meanwhile I actually believe that they're just mediocre people who are bad at their jobs and don't understand the market they're working with. And aren't listening to people who actually do understand the market. The fact that the top people come from the software industry makes all of their decisions make a lot of sense to me because the software industry is absolutely full of execs who think their knowledge in software transfers to other industries and then faceplant because little things like "manufacturing costs" don't enter their heads.
Yeah, the simplest explanation (they saw an opportunity to make money, and thought others would agree to it because money, duh) really wx0lains the observed phenomenon throughly.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The thing is, to believe that they are masterminding some way to put 3pp out of business I have to believe that they're clever people using various tricks to try to misdirect people into thinking one thing while they're doing another.
I don't think that was ever their goal. I think it was a horrible thing that they would make concessions on in order to get what they did want.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yep. And definitely an insult and against the rules @Umbran

Mod Note:
Please do not use the mention functionality to summon moderators. Use the "report post" function - that puts it in a pool that anyone on the moderating team can pick up, and leaves us a record of the issue where, again, all the mods can see it.

For everyone else - how about we stop arguing over exactly which dismissive idiom was used, and exactly what each one means, and instead realize dismissive idioms should not be used around here at all - because, you know, being dismissive to people is not civil behavior, and Rule #1 is Keep it civil.

Thanks, all.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I really think the most obvious explanation is that they believed that 15% off of millions of dollars of generated sales would make everyone happy, but didn't consider other angles. Venal and greedy, simple as that, same as it's always been.
I guarantee that whoever came up with those numbers threw them together without understanding things like "manufacturing", "printing" and "shipping" costs.

"Everything is digital these days. Your marginal costs are 0 once the stuff is made right? So we can scrape a tax off the top with no problems because we're just wetting our beak with your profits."

Basically being trained in how to executive at Microsoft isn't the worst thing in the world, but you have to be humble enough to walk in the door at a new industry and realize you need to do a lot of work to figure out how it all works. And yet humility is not a trait that is selected for when it comes to rising through the ranks of upper management.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I don't think that was ever their goal. I think it was a horrible thing that they would make concessions on in order to get what they did want.
15% on the millions in revenue theybfelt they were offering seems obvious and sufficient motivation. Seriously, 15 million subscribers. Versus thousands of book buyers. I can see the value on offer.
 


...or that third party publishers might not be cold calculating business Reptialians...
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MarkB

Legend
Contracts were 2 years, and granted the following:
  • Pay 15% instead of 25% on revenue over 750k
  • 6 articles about your product on D&D Beyond
  • 6 emails about your product to D&D Beyond users
  • 8 social media posts on D&D Beyond or D&D branded channels
  • 2 YouTube videos on D&D Beyond or D&D branded channels
  • 6 days of D&D Beyond home page placement


This was the carrot to the OGL 1.1 stick. Notably Wizards disclosed that they have 15 million registered users on D&D Beyond.
How many articles does D&D Beyond publish routinely? I don't really keep track, but my impression wouldn't be more than one or two per week.

With this deal, even if they only signed up ten companies, that's 30 articles per year not including WotC's own regular content. That's a whole lot of advertorials.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Then why did so many companies turn them down flat and start running for ORC?
Because they have a different perspective than the WotC numbers guy, who was probavly missing some key information on their motivations and situation. I mean, obviously it was not an offer that people wanted to take up. But it is casually easy to see given this information how somebody thought it would be a great deal on the WotC side.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
"We give you the resources to make tens of millions of dollars, inexchange foe a cut." I'm not saying theybare being altruistic, but if you look a the numbers (25 million D&D Beyond users, all the marketing pushes being offered), then a selfish "we'll scratch your back if we scratch yours" calculus becomes pretty obvious.
Looks more like "you scratch our back, we'll stab yours" to me.

And making tens of millions of dollars (as if!) isn't much use if none of it ends up in your pocket after production costs, expenses, and WotC's cut.
 


Jer

Legend
Supporter
I think the person making the number calculations probavly assumed that third party RPG companies had better margins than they actually do.
I suspect they probably assumed margins similar to what Wizards has, adjusted slightly for the fact that Wizards is bigger and can afford to make larger print runs of things.

I also suspect that they guessed wrong about how much bigger Wizards actually is and how much more leverage they have to negotiate prices than even a very successful not-Wizards ttrpg company does.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I suspect they probably assumed margins similar to what Wizards has, adjusted slightly for the fact that Wizards is bigger and can afford to make larger print runs of things.

I also suspect that they guessed wrong about how much bigger Wizards actually is and how much more leverage they have to negotiate prices than even a very successful not-Wizards ttrpg company does.
I think that you are right, using their own sales and pricing data as a basis probsvly is what happened. And WotC could probsvly easily pay 15% to Disney for, say, a Disney Princess campaign or a new d20 Star Wars, so assumed that more freedom to use WotC material and get major.marketing assistance would seem great to the small press guys. I thinknthey underestimated hoe small most of them are.
 

HomegrownHydra

Adventurer
"We give you the resources to make tens of millions of dollars, in exchange for a cut." I'm not saying theybare being altruistic, but if you look a the numbers (15 million D&D Beyond users, all the marketing pushes being offered), then a selfish "we'll scratch your back if we scratch yours" calculus becomes pretty obvious.
If they were going for a win-win situation then they would have negotiated with the publishers. They would have said, "This is what we want, what would make it worthwhile for you to sign off on that?" Then the different parties would have traded ideas and worked cooperatively to craft a license. But WotC didn't do that at all, they simply went to all the top publishers in December with a demand that they sign a new license or else a much worse license would be forced upon them on January 13th. That is not negotiating, that is coercion. And coercion is used to make people agree to something that is NOT good for them.
 

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