OGL Ryan Dancey -- Hasbro Cannot Deauthorize OGL

I reached out to the architect of the original Open Gaming License, former VP of Wizard of the Coast, Ryan Dancey, and asked his opinion about the current plan by WotC to 'deauthorize' the current OGL in favour of a new one.

He responded as follows:

Yeah my public opinion is that Hasbro does not have the power to deauthorize a version of the OGL. If that had been a power that we wanted to reserve for Hasbro, we would have enumerated it in the license. I am on record numerous places in email and blogs and interviews saying that the license could never be revoked.

Ryan also maintains the Open Gaming Foundation.

As has been noted previously, even WotC in its own OGL FAQ did not believe at the time that the licence could be revoked.


7. Can't Wizards of the Coast change the License in a way that I wouldn't like?

Yes, it could. However, the License already defines what will happen to content that has been previously distributed using an earlier version, in Section 9. As a result, even if Wizards made a change you disagreed with, you could continue to use an earlier, acceptable version at your option. In other words, there's no reason for Wizards to ever make a change that the community of people using the Open Gaming License would object to, because the community would just ignore the change anyway.


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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Not only did we expect it, I expected people to publish the SRD as a product and try to make money from it.
Thank you. If you don't mind a follow up, how did you reconcile this anticipation of something like Pathfinder with the stated business goal, as you articulated it here in this blog post:

The logical conclusion says that reducing the "cost" to other people to publishing and supporting the core D&D game to zero should eventually drive support for all other game systems to the lowest level possible in the market, create customer resistance to the introduction of new systems, and the result of all that "support" redirected to the D&D game will be to steadily increase the number of people who play D&D, thus driving sales of the core books. This is a feedback cycle -- the more effective the support is, the more people play D&D. The more people play D&D, the more effective the support is.
 



Scribe

Legend
I don’t feel like Pathfinder redirected support to the D&D game, quite the opposite, but it would be really interesting to me if I’m wrong. That’s why I asked the follow-up question.
I think Pathfinder is different, because Wizards fundamentally changed the game.

Looking at 5e, on release, and how 3PP then supported it, and it grew and then the feedback loop kicks in.

4e/PF is an aberration.
 

I think Pathfinder is different, because Wizards fundamentally changed the game.

Looking at 5e, on release, and how 3PP then supported it, and it grew and then the feedback loop kicks in.

4e/PF is an aberration.

All well and good, but my question was about Pathfinder and whether they anticipated something like it that would directly compete with D&D.
 

Nylanfs

Adventurer
Note, this was from BEFORE the OGL and SRD was made. The original idea was going to be that the PHB, DMG, and the MM were themselves the SRD and there by OGC.
 

Clint_L

Hero
All well and good, but my question was about Pathfinder and whether they anticipated something like it that would directly compete with D&D.
Very likely not, or they wouldn't have done it. I think they anticipated that the D&D community would follow along to the new edition, as had happened in the past, and besides - what choice would they have? But the new edition was quite different, while the OGL suddenly made it possible for Paizo to release a game that played more like what folks were used to, giving them that choice, and, yeah. (Also, WotC kind of made it so Paizo needed to create Pathfinder in order to support their existing and planned material, because they couldn't release it for 4e). WotC kind of shot themselves in the foot, there. With both barrels. Thus the rapid backtracking (rapid by editions standards).

Fortunately, they learned from that and never, ever did anything with the OGL that backfired ever again.
 



Tazawa

Adventurer
I don’t feel like Pathfinder redirected support to the D&D game, quite the opposite, but it would be really interesting to me if I’m wrong. That’s why I asked the follow-up question.

I think Pathfinder helped people stay in the hobby who might have otherwise left during the 4e era. When 5e came out, a lot of Pathfinder players returned.

And this isn’t a knock against 4e. I played it. But it wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea.
 

Tazawa

Adventurer
Thank you. If you don't mind a follow up, how did you reconcile this anticipation of something like Pathfinder with the stated business goal, as you articulated it here in this blog post:

Not to speak for Ryan, but WotC did not continue to pursue this strategy. So when they developed a significantly different product (4e), the network forces that had supported 3.0/3.5 D&D now supported Pathfinder, which was much closer to the game rules that built the network effects.

4e abandoned the previous network and ended up essentially being the newcomer trying to beat the successor of its more established prior version.

OneD&D is in danger of making the same mistake. The network effects of 5e are arguably stronger than they were in the 3.0/3.5 era. If WotC is not careful, their biggest competition will become 5e or a clone that is closer to 5e than OneD&D is.
 

Staffan

Legend
Yeah, true, but we also know they were originally consolidated in one license. I guess I’ll just always wonder if they ever anticipated something like Pathfinder.
What? No, they weren't. They were always separate licenses. It was expected that most 3PP would use both, but they were always separate.
 

delericho

Legend
But the new edition was quite different, while the OGL suddenly made it possible for Paizo to release a game that played more like what folks were used to, giving them that choice, and, yeah. (Also, WotC kind of made it so Paizo needed to create Pathfinder in order to support their existing and planned material, because they couldn't release it for 4e).
It's worth noting also that the OGL wasn't the only thing that made Pathfinder a success - arguably, not even the biggest.

A few years prior to the launch of 4e, Paizo had been publishing Dragon magazine. When that license came to an end and WotC elected not to renew, Paizo were forced to do something to stay in business, but were also left with a massive boon - a database of tens of thousands of subscribers who were used to getting quality product from them. So they were able to launch the Pathfinder Adventure Path product (still for 3.5e at that time). That instantly made them the biggest third-party producer and gave them a big source of reliable, repeatable income.

Plus, of course, they had some very talented designers in-house. The Pathfinder AP would still have failed had the quality not been good, the Pathfinder RPG would have failed had it taken the game in too many wrong directions, and so forth.

The OGL obviously made an awful lot of things easier (and made some things possible that wouldn't otherwise have been). But it wasn't the only factor in Pathfinder's success.
 

Tazawa

Adventurer
It's worth noting also that the OGL wasn't the only thing that made Pathfinder a success - arguably, not even the biggest.

A few years prior to the launch of 4e, Paizo had been publishing Dragon magazine. When that license came to an end and WotC elected not to renew, Paizo were forced to do something to stay in business, but were also left with a massive boon - a database of tens of thousands of subscribers who were used to getting quality product from them. So they were able to launch the Pathfinder Adventure Path product (still for 3.5e at that time). That instantly made them the biggest third-party producer and gave them a big source of reliable, repeatable income.

Plus, of course, they had some very talented designers in-house. The Pathfinder AP would still have failed had the quality not been good, the Pathfinder RPG would have failed had it taken the game in too many wrong directions, and so forth.

The OGL obviously made an awful lot of things easier (and made some things possible that wouldn't otherwise have been). But it wasn't the only factor in Pathfinder's success.

This is very true. I was one of those Dragon and Dungeon subscribers that switched over to their adventure paths—I had already been DMing their Shackled City and Age of Worms paths.

I ended up DMing the Paizo adventure paths using the 4e rules (my players wanted to play 4e). The adventures Paizo were producing were very high quality and more interesting than what WotC was producing at the time.

It wasn’t only that the rules content was more familiar to players, but the superior content also led to Paizo’s success.
 

It's worth noting also that the OGL wasn't the only thing that made Pathfinder a success - arguably, not even the biggest.

A few years prior to the launch of 4e, Paizo had been publishing Dragon magazine. When that license came to an end and WotC elected not to renew, Paizo were forced to do something to stay in business, but were also left with a massive boon - a database of tens of thousands of subscribers who were used to getting quality product from them. So they were able to launch the Pathfinder Adventure Path product (still for 3.5e at that time). That instantly made them the biggest third-party producer and gave them a big source of reliable, repeatable income.

Plus, of course, they had some very talented designers in-house. The Pathfinder AP would still have failed had the quality not been good, the Pathfinder RPG would have failed had it taken the game in too many wrong directions, and so forth.

The OGL obviously made an awful lot of things easier (and made some things possible that wouldn't otherwise have been). But it wasn't the only factor in Pathfinder's success.

This is a very important point: Paizo had produced great product for WotC for many years and then were cut loose without a lot of notice. And, the reason why Paizo produced that great product for WotC was because WotC didn't want to do it themselves, so they hired out for the job.

joe (all of this post has the caveat, 'if I'm remembering properly) b.
 

Branduil

Hero
This is a very important point: Paizo had produced great product for WotC for many years and then were cut loose without a lot of notice. And, the reason why Paizo produced that great product for WotC was because WotC didn't want to do it themselves, so they hired out for the job.

joe (all of this post has the caveat, 'if I'm remembering properly) b.
Hmm, that sounds familiar...
 

The Pathfinder AP would still have failed had the quality not been good
Absolutely. I know some DMs who went to PF1 instead of (or in one case, alongside) 4E, and all three of them were fans of the Pathfinder APs already, and had quite a few of them. It was clearly a big factor in getting them off the ground and the extreme compatibility of PF1 and 3.5E (I mean basically the same game, just with EVEN MORE rules!) meant you could just use those APs and so on.

One thing I noticed with 3.5E and I think which really hurt 4E in a way WotC didn't expect and which isn't much discussed is that tons of 3.5E DMs had a whole bunch of cool pre-made adventures/campaigns that they still wanted to run. Most at least connected to Paizo - like Age of Worms which was from Paizo-era Dungeon magazine.

I think this is part of why 1D&D has wanted to maintain compatibility, because I suspect people have an awful lot of 5E campaigns they'd still like to run one day.

(4E's GSL also had a poison-pill clause which meant if you converted any of your stuff to 4E, you could no longer publish any other versions of that stuff, which helped prevent anyone publishing stuff to convert them, too, talk about perverse!)
 

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