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

Reynard

Legend
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
1D&D isn't (as far as we have seen) a radical (or even moderate) departure from 5E. Prior to the OGL debacle, no one had any reason to jump ship during to the evolution, least of all successful 5E 3PPs.
 

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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 it indirectly helped D&D, because it kept gamers that rejected 4th edition because it was so unlike third edition in the hobby. They didn't quit gaming, they stayed involved, and they were still around when fifth edition came out
 

What? No, they weren't. They were always separate licenses. It was expected that most 3PP would use both, but they were always separate.
Obviously, by the time they were released, the OGL and d20 STL were two separate licenses. But they were originally conceived as a single license, according to Ryan. Perhaps he can confirm if he returns to answer my follow-up question.
 

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.
this is my only issue with the OGL and I find it funny. Coming out in 2000 when there were so many changes from 2e. Today (and 2008) when you try to make such stark changes you end up with not just "Well I will just stay with the last edition and never get new content" but "Well I can stay with a retroclone and people still supporting it like it's the current edition" and I have to wonder if there was a 'pathfinder' of 2001 if 3e would have caught on at all.

I played 2e, I loved it, but my biggest issue trying to go back would be Thac0 and saves... but I still have a player and hear people on here and elsewhere talk like those two things were amazing.

4e COULD have done better if marketing hadn't been as bad and if the OGL had not been abandoned... but people from PF say they were not going to support it anyway... leading to that split being almost a forgone conculsion.

If there were no 3rd parties I wonder how many people that didn't try 4e would have after a year or so said "Well I guess I could try it" the way I saw people slowly come in from 2e (and even my group only slowly came into 5e)

now llooking at the changes for 1D&D I can see somethings I like and some I don't (and lets be honest there are some people that hate most of the changes even here on this board), so I wonder if WotC is doing this now to be like "If you want to stay behind you get left behind"
 



overgeeked

B/X Known World
The more they tighten their grasp, the more 3pp's will slip through their fingers.
But, unless they are grossly incompetent, they could not have even hoped in their wildest dreams that any 3PP would sign this disaster. So, assuming they’re not grossly incompetent, why would they do this? What benefit does it give them to drive away all the companies who’re actively supporting their game?
 


Art Waring

halozix.com
But, unless they are grossly incompetent, they could not have even hoped in their wildest dreams that any 3PP would sign this disaster. So, assuming they’re not grossly incompetent, why would they do this? What benefit does it give them to drive away all the companies who’re actively supporting their game?
Its very possible that the decisions were compartmentalized, and the people who could have made a difference from within didn't find out until it was too late.
 

Branduil

Hero
But, unless they are grossly incompetent, they could not have even hoped in their wildest dreams that any 3PP would sign this disaster. So, assuming they’re not grossly incompetent, why would they do this? What benefit does it give them to drive away all the companies who’re actively supporting their game?
I think they absolutely thought 3PPs would sign on.

Let this be the year people start realizing you are not necessarily intelligent or good at making decisions just because you're wealthy or run a massive corporation.
 


UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
But, unless they are grossly incompetent, they could not have even hoped in their wildest dreams that any 3PP would sign this disaster. So, assuming they’re not grossly incompetent, why would they do this? What benefit does it give them to drive away all the companies who’re actively supporting their game?
A clear run at the electronic space. The VTT and allied applications. I do not believe that they really care about the pen and paper game. You will be able to continue that unmolested even if they win their claims with respect to the OGL (which I doubt). If they can force online VTT traffic to their services and application, particularly paid services then they can charge for this and sell utility to enhance the user experience (i.e microtransactions).

The services do not have to be bad, just not exploitable by third parties in a way that prevents WoTC from getting a cut.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
But, unless they are grossly incompetent, they could not have even hoped in their wildest dreams that any 3PP would sign this disaster. So, assuming they’re not grossly incompetent
This is where you lost me.

All kidding aside, it's hard to imagine that this in any way is part of some sort of strategy on WotC's part, or that the reactions are at all in line with what they were expecting. I know some people are theorizing that this is meant to soften the ground up so that they can roll out a less-bad license down the line, under the idea that people will happily sign it because they're just so thrilled that the original, horrendously bad OGL v1.1 has been withdrawn, but even that strikes me as being a little too close to a conspiracy theory for me to believe in it.

WotC doesn't seem to be playing 4D chess here. I really think this is the result of new management acting like they were still at Microsoft, and not understanding just how wrong of an idea that is.
 

What benefit does it give them to drive away all the companies who’re actively supporting their game?
taking back control. No longer would there be a HUGE market of possible D&D, but there would and will still be a small market for it... my bet is stage 2 will be some kind of integration between beyond and DMsGuild
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I think they absolutely thought 3PPs would sign on.

Let this be the year people start realizing you are not necessarily intelligent or good at making decisions just because you're wealthy or run a massive corporation.
Not to sound snarky, but is that honestly a thing people need to learn now? In the sense that they didn’t already know it and need to start learning it as if it’s new information. Examples of that are literally everywhere and have been since I can remember. I knew that as a kid decades ago.
 

That's still better for WotC. A single, unified 3PP front could potentially be a real competitor.
20 other TTRPGs 10 of them being 'not' D&D off springs is better then 11 1 being a direct competitor... especailly if new players are not interested in learning new systems.

5e is (IME) the compromise edition. As such they may feel that 1D&D will be too... it doesn't need to be the best just the one that most people play.
 

Not to sound snarky, but is that honestly a thing people need to learn now? In the sense that they didn’t already know it and need to start learning it as if it’s new information. Examples of that are literally everywhere and have been since I can remember. I knew that as a kid decades ago.
I have friends that make the argument that if someone is rich the must have gotten rich because they both (not 1 or other both) are smarter and work harder then others...

The funny part is if I point out ANY luck or advantage those people have they dismiss it out of hand (all of my success is as much luck as hard work and skill so I don't know why they don't think the same) and if anyone making less then them complains the answer is ALWAYS to work harder and smarter... even if the complaint is they are working 2 jobs and not getting by.
 

BrokenTwin

Biological Disaster
I think they absolutely thought 3PPs would sign on.

Let this be the year people start realizing you are not necessarily intelligent or good at making decisions just because you're wealthy or run a massive corporation.
Maybe WotC should have offered the 3PPs blue checkmarks to verify them as official.

... Wait, that's essentially what they did. 🤣
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
This is where you lost me.

All kidding aside, it's hard to imagine that this in any way is part of some sort of strategy on WotC's part, or that the reactions are at all in line with what they were expecting. I know some people are theorizing that this is meant to soften the ground up so that they can roll out a less-bad license down the line, under the idea that people will happily sign it because they're just so thrilled that the original, horrendously bad OGL v1.1 has been withdrawn, but even that strikes me as being a little too close to a conspiracy theory for me to believe in it.

WotC doesn't seem to be playing 4D chess here. I really think this is the result of new management acting like they were still at Microsoft, and not understanding just how wrong of an idea that is.
They don’t strike me as playing 4D chess, either. I’m just trying to figure out what they were thinking. There’s the hubris angle, we’re the best and everyone knows it and they will fall all over themselves to sign away 25% and be thankful. There‘s the divide and conquer angle, get some to sign and leave others in the cold so there’s a war of attrition between the smaller dogs so we come out even more on top. Etc.

And sure. It was compartmentalized is one option. Not understanding the customer reaction is another. It’s usually easier and quicker to assume malice or incompetence, but that’s frequently wrong or only half the picture. Regardless of the actual outcome or our shared hatred of it, they made a decision and likely had, to them at least, what seemed like good reasons. I’m just trying to figure out what the hell they were thinking.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I think they absolutely thought 3PPs would sign on.

Let this be the year people start realizing you are not necessarily intelligent or good at making decisions just because you're wealthy or run a massive corporation.
Hard to say. I wouldn't be surprised if they thought a few, but not many, would sign on to OGL 1.1. I think it may be more of a stick to drive substantial 3pp into more traditional licensing arrangements with less draconian but more limited in scope provisions. I think the most likely 3pp to sign on to OGL 1.1 would be one with products in the pipeline who would be afraid of suddenly being cut out and be stuck with bills to pay/mouths to feed on a product they can't sell.
 

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