Rumours: WotC Announcement Today; Insider Email Reveals Plans

There's a couple of rumours going round today. I cannot verify either, but I'm reporting them as most of the recent OGL rumours have proven true.

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First -- it is rumoured that today at 3pm ET Wizards of the Coast will make some kind of video statement about the current Open Game License situation. This rumour came from the folks at Roll For Combat who were the first to break the draft OGL scoop.

[[UPDATE -- This didn't happen!]]

Second -- an email has been circulating from an anonymous WotC insider. Again, I must reiterate I cannot myself verify this, so read this with that in mind, but the email says:


I'm an employee at WotC currently working on D&Dbeyond (DDB) and with D&D business leaders on the health of the product line. If you want I can provide proof of this.

I'm sending this message because I fear for the health of a community I love, and I know what the leaders at WOTC are looking at:

-They are briefly delaying rollout of OGL changes due to the backlash.
-Their decision making is based entirely on the provable impact to their bottom line.
-Specifically they are looking at DDB subscriptions and cancellations as it is the quickest financial data they currently have.
-They are still hoping the community forgets, moves on, and they can still push this through.

I have decided to reach out because at my time in WotC I have never once heard management refer to customers in a positive manner, their communication gives me the impression they see customers as obstacles between them and their money, the DDB team was first told to prepare to support the new OGL changes and online portal when they got back from the holidays, and leadership doesn't take any responsibility for the pain and stress they cause others. Leadership's first communication to the rank and file on the OGL was 30 minutes on 1/11/23, This was the first time they even tried to communicate their intentions about the OGL to employees, and even in this meeting they blamed the community for over-reacting.

I will repeat, the main thing this leadership is looking at is DDB subscription cancellations.

Hope your day goes well,

P.S. I will be copying and pasting this message to other community leaders.

If both rumours are true, I guess at 3pm ET today we'll find that out.
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Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I find it incredibly ironic (and somewhat depressing) that just a few months ago that same gif was being used over and over again in the NuTSR thread. A thread where WotC was doing the right thing...and now all this.

It's just more than a little surreal.
Do we need a "who wore it better?" thread about the dumpster fire meme where we compare the community reaction between NuTSR and WotC? "This was definitely a social media blunder on NuTSRs part, but look at that unforced error that Hasbro just did. It's anyone's race!"

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How do I feel about this?


I don't find any of this surprising or shocking:

"They are still hoping the community forgets, moves on, and they can still push this through."

Not bloody likely! There's a lot of long memories in the hobby, some people have been holding grudges for almost 40 years! And this whole matter is another HUGE grudge for everyone to remember.

A lot of this is coming off as a combination of TSR being run by suits who don't understand the business itself and WotC's stumbles with 4e. Maybe it won't matter too much in the long run, but I also wouldn't be surprised if this causes problems for 6e. At the very least, the 3pp support they had with 5e is probably not going to be there, as there's a great deal of mistrust now.


Morkus from Orkus
I'm thinking they didn't actually care much about informing any 3PPs, big or small, and only sent this to their more intermediary partners such as Kickstarter (to get them on board policing the crowdfunding projects for them) and those they have existing contracts with (outside of the OGL) such as the VTTs that have direct licensing deals with them (to reassure them they'll be blocking other VTTs to make their license fee worth something). Possibly DTRPG for similar reasons to Kickstarter and because they have the DM's Guild stuff and to talk about how it'll push more stuff onto that rather than smaller 3PPs doing their own thing. Likely nobody who the new OGL would actually hurt directly.
Morrus said that WotC attempted to contact him over the holiday, but he was busy and that as of a few days ago he hadn't heard anything further. His recent posts seemed to indicate that he still hasn't been contacted again as he is still looking for information.


-They are briefly delaying rollout of OGL changes due to the backlash.
-Their decision making is based entirely on the provable impact to their bottom line.
-Specifically they are looking at DDB subscriptions and cancellations as it is the quickest financial data they currently have.
-They are still hoping the community forgets, moves on, and they can still push this through.
This sounds horrible but is actually probably pretty reasonable.

Plot twist: WotC is a business and they always care about their bottom line first. If something sells, they'll make more. If something is hurting sales, they'll stop.
This isn't unique to them. When Pathfinder went big in the early 2010s, Paizo released a glut of PF1 content with small monthly books aimed at players, throwing out content as fast as people would buy.

Also, all companies know now that all social media backlashes are not the same. There's actual fan revolts and then there's brands becoming the "enemy of the week" and hated online my a few thousand misanthropes who shortly move onto their next outrage. It takes time to see if it's just a loud minority of angry people or the actual fans.
Again, using Paizo as an example, like the backlash following the firing of some customer service people and a few ex-staffers spilling the tea that was a huge issue here and elsewhere online but largely didn't seem to impact Paizo's sales and most Pathfinder fans ignored the allegations.

It feels reasonable for them to want to see if it's actually people playing the game and spending money on the hobby complaining or not.
How they respond when they see they've actually lost subscribers and actual current fans are leaving will be the big question.

At this point, it's bemusing to see clickbait videos like "WotC blinked!" when they never even said that they were going to make an announcement yesterday. Anything they do or don't do is going to be viewed as confirmation. I fully expect that the supposed date of the start of the new OGL of today in the leaked document is going to come and go without the new OGL starting. Whether that's a result of Wizards delaying or of it being made up in the first place, I couldn't say.

If the whole thing does turn out to be fabricated, it's amazing that a heretofore bit player YouTube channel managed to have a seismic impact on the hobby.

I just had a random thought float through my head trying to catch up on this.

I read a lot of the other sites attached to Gizmodo - like io9 or Kotaku. The comments here remind me of when I read the comments over on their sites in the sense that... for example, the comments about Kumail Nanjiani's response to Scorcese and the MCU seem to all be heavily 'Your site only writes these articles because you have six hundred words due by noon'.

That being said, I just have the sense that there never was an announcement going to be made, and perhaps someone expected it to be covered during the weekly stream. That someone put out that they'd talk about it, figuring Twitch would be on fire to know answers and WotC would have to field it. WotC then saw all this uproar, and made the mistake of instead of coming out and saying 'No comment at the present time', they MADE no comment at all - either way, as someone said upthread, a comment or no comment will be taken the same way as a dodge.

I think it was Neil deGrasse Tyson that said on Joe Rogan, with conspiracy theories, our brains will accept absence of evidence AS an evidence.

While the ironic echo is indeed funny, I am starting to get uncomfortable with the amount of flak Williams is getting while VP of D&D Dan Rawson and CEO of Hasbro Chris Cocks are mostly unscathed. We might have a certain degree of implicit bias in pointing the finger to the female executive in the middle and not the guy directly responsible for D&D or the bigger fish who's running the whole show.
How's this meme I made then? I put a lot o' heart into it. ;)

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