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Three Tiered License

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Jraynack

First Post
Wulf Ratbane said:
It's an interesting proposition, since a lot of smaller companies have products of quality far surpassing many of the bigger companies.

And especially since in some cases, "bigger" just means "the capacity to shovel a bigger pile of crap."

This is true. I am not sure if it will affect the small .pdf market. One of these "bigger companies" might just be White Wolf and their subsidiary, DriveThru. It would be in their best interest to get a d20 license for smaller companies to continue the .pdf push. It might mean some extra work, sifting through a lot of companies.

Overall, if that were the case, they would like to ensure quality thus raising .pdf sales in the long run.

I particularly do not like the idea of jumping through hoops to get a d20 logo on our products, but it might be a good thing.
 

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Wolfspider

First Post
GMSkarka said:
I'll wait until we hear this directly from Scott Rouse, or someone else at WOTC.

Until then, it's just Chicken-Little-ing over something that someone claims was said by a third party at a seminar in Italy.

Seems like sound advice to me. :)
 

Jraynack

First Post
GMSkarka said:
I'll wait until we hear this directly from Scott Rouse, or someone else at WOTC.

Until then, it's just Chicken-Little-ing over something that someone claims was said by a third party at a seminar in Italy.

Solid point and I agree (just avoided a giant d20 logo smashing through my ceiling).
 

Scribble

First Post
I agree with this process.

I just hope there are ways for the little guys to eventually become big guys.
 

Spinachcat

First Post
If this is true (and quite possibly is not) then it turns small press guys into freelancers for the established D20 companies chosen by WotC. This is NOT a bad thing because you will get lots of innovation as small press guys are cherrypicked by the bigger publishers.

In fact, this way will lead to more stable D20 publishers since they don't have to compete with a glut of substandard fare with the identical logo.

And watch this! If you did create something uber cool (say the next Midnight or True20), you will be able to shop it around and create a bidding war between the various companies.

That's fine for everyone. The OGL as-is will allow for a faux 4e SRD to be created the same way the OGL has been used to create OSRIC and LL. Like OSRIC, this faux 4e will have a name and that will become the banner / logo for the small guys to use for the works that are not approved by the big boys. I suspect this "Faux Fourth" will be online a few scant weeks after the 4e books hit the shelves.

Final result: net gain for everyone.
 


GSHamster

Adventurer
It does open an opportunity for someone to start a company who's sole purpose is certifying and editing RPG books. A model closer to the novel or book industry, where you have an editor who acts as quality control, rather than an RPG company paying staffers or buying works-for-hire.

The issue with having WotC or the bigger gaming companies certify books is that they are competitors, and have their own books to put out. A pure editor would have less self-interest. Hopefully you'd end up closer to an author-publisher relationship, where the author retains ownership of her works, and is paid residuals, but the publisher also gets a cut.

The issue would be getting the original permission from WotC. Perhaps one of the existing game companies would try and convert to being a "publisher".
 

JVisgaitis

First Post
Spinachcat said:
And watch this! If you did create something uber cool (say the next Midnight or True20), you will be able to shop it around and create a bidding war between the various companies.

Final result: net gain for everyone.

On paper your post makes a lot of sense. In reality is pretty far from the way things are. No publisher wants to be bothered to release some else's product no matter how cool it is. Publishers are really busy producing their own lines.

I've tried to work with Mongoose to get Violet Dawn released via Flaming Cobra. Nothing against Mongoose at all, they're great folks, but they have their own product lines to worry about. A publisher will talk to you when you have a finished product that perfectly fits into what they are looking for. That's it. The idea of a bidding war happening between companies over a d20 product is absurd.

I would guess that Paizo and Green Ronin don't want to sit there sifting through tons of 3rd party submissions. They want to be working on the new Freeport, Pathfinder, or whatever. They don't need a 3rd party company to have an engaging and successful product line.
 

Voadam

Hero
PDFs are categorized in rpgnow and dtrpg under the OGL/d20 category and contain a system category tag in the product description pages.

I agree this would likely affect the printed book end of things requiring them to go through hoops of these delegated companies, but I expect pdfs would just not use the d20 logo and be mostly OK.

It is only when scanning through listings of recent release titles that it will no longer be apparent at a glance which pdfs are designed to be D&D supplements.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Mouseferatu said:
Let me get this straight... Wizards of the Coast is allowing other companies--competitors, small as they may be, in a niche market--use WotC's proprietary material. It's a move that, until 2000, was absolutely unheard of in the industry in any meaningful way. It may be a move that benefited WotC, but that doesn't change the fact that it's an incredibly generous one, since most of the current companies wouldn't exist at all without it.

In effect, WotC said "Here, everyone! Play with my toys."

And now, suddenly, it's "Big Brother" or "unprincipled" for WotC to say, "Well, we only want some other companies to play with our toys"?

In a word, yes.

I honestly don't understand why people always rush to defend the rights of corporations when it's much smaller groups, and individuals, who lose out more based on a corporation's decisions.

When you offer an amount of (creative) freedom to a group, it is unprincipled to attempt to dial it back at a later date because you don't like what they're doing with it. As an analogy, Congress made television media public domain several decades ago - if they now decided that they don't like what's being shown on it, and decided to only let a few companies broadcast, giving them license to let smaller networks also broadcast - people would be up in arms. I see WotC's move as tantamount to this.

WotC's giving out the d20 system in 3E was a vastly generous move; now they're saying they're uncomfortable with other companies having that much creative freedom, because they might not like what's produced. I call that unprincipled.
 

Michael Morris

First Post
Alzrius said:
WotC's giving out the d20 system in 3E was a vastly generous move; now they're saying they're uncomfortable with other companies having that much creative freedom, because they might not like what's produced. I call that unprincipled.

Is it unprincipled to learn from mistakes? It was a mistake to release the d20 logo free and clear just like it was a mistake for Atari to not place any kind of lock out chip on the 2600. At least WotC can claim naivette for the first go round - not so with the second. They have an obligation to maintain the quality of the brand - to fail to do so would be unprincipled.
 

Alzrius said:
In a word, yes.

You and I must have very different definitions of "principle," then.

I honestly don't understand why people always rush to defend the rights of corporations when it's much smaller groups, and individuals, who lose out more based on a corporation's decisions.

I don't normally do so. Fact is, I hate the very notion of corporations. However, we're talking WotC here, not Hasbro. These are decisions that WotC makes with little, if any, input from Hasbro. And in this particular case, even if they were getting orders from on-high, I don't think there's anything wrong with them.

When you offer an amount of (creative) freedom to a group, it is unprincipled to attempt to dial it back at a later date because you don't like what they're doing with it. As an analogy, Congress made television media public domain several decades ago - if they now decided that they don't like what's being shown on it, and decided to only let a few companies broadcast, giving them license to let smaller networks also broadcast - people would be up in arms. I see WotC's move as tantamount to this.

Except that analogy is 100% flawed. We're not talking about the government, and we're not talking about laws.

We're talking about a private entity allowing other private entities to work with their privately owned property.

You want a more accurate analogy? Let's say I have a brand new game system. I tell everyone in my apartment building "Feel free to come over at any time and play with my game system."

I realize after a few weeks of not getting any sleep that the offer was too generous. I institute a sign-up list, and only people who I know will be respectful of my sleep schedule are permitted to play the game.

D&D is WotC's privately owned property. They did everyone a favor back in 2000. Now they're (hypothetically, if the rumor is true) doing fewer people that same favor.

Being nice once does not constitute an obligation to do so again, legally or morally.

WotC's giving out the d20 system in 3E was a vastly generous move; now they're saying they're uncomfortable with other companies having that much creative freedom, because they might not like what's produced. I call that unprincipled.

WotC isn't limiting anyone's creative freedom. To do that, they'd have to have the power to say "You can't publish anything, ever." They don't have that power, and they're not trying to claim that power. All they're saying is "Hey, if you publish, you might not be able to use the rules system and trademarks that we own."

I cannot even fathom how people can't see the difference between those.
 

Lonely Tylenol

First Post
So let me get this straight: they put the largest d20 companies in charge of deciding whether or not they'll have any competition in the 3rd-party publishing market from up-and-comers?

Isn't that like giving Burger King, McDonalds and Wendy's the ability to decide whether or not you should be allowed to open a hamburger restaurant?

edit: I understand that this analogy is a bit inadequate, as it requires there to be another company which is licensing the idea of hamburgers to the aforementioned restaurants, but I think the metaphor regarding a syndicate controlling whether or not there will be any competition stands fairly well.
 

Scott_Rouse

Explorer
I just want to officially say that this is not official and that the information presented in the 25th Edition news item is full of inaccuracies one of which is the subject of tiered D20/OGL licensing.

We are not looking to implement a tiered licensing structure. This is stuff we talked about in the seminar at GenCon it was just talk/idea sharing and we long ago decided we would not implement such a system.

There will not be tiers within the OGL.

There will be Wizards official D&D products (which will include licensed D&D products for foreign language translation) and OGL products made by third parties like Paizo, Expeditious Retreat, etc.

We will try to address the other inaccuracies immediately. Sorry if this caused any grief we were caught off guard as well.
 
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Odhanan

First Post
Mouseferatu said:
Let me get this straight... Wizards of the Coast is allowing other companies--competitors, small as they may be, in a niche market--use WotC's proprietary material. Without cost. It's a move that, until 2000, was absolutely unheard of in the industry in any meaningful way. It may be a move that benefited WotC, but that doesn't change the fact that it's an incredibly generous one, since most of the current companies wouldn't exist at all without it.

In effect, WotC said "Here, everyone! Play with my toys."

And now, suddenly, it's "Big Brother" or "unprincipled" for WotC to say, "Well, we only want some other companies to play with our toys"?

For short: yes, it would be.
 

WhatGravitas

First Post
Scott_Rouse said:
(which will include licensed D&D products for foreign language translation)
A bit unrelated, but as a foreign customer (with some English-challenged players): Is WotC involved in a translation of the SRD for any language or planning to do that? I know there's some grief about the non-existence of a German SRD (due to the copyright of the translation, due to the switch of the publisher, i.e. Amigo to Feder & Schwert, which makes the situation... involved).

More than probable that you guys are a) either not decided or involved or b) you cannot talk about it - but if you can chime in on this, it's more than appreciated.

EDIT: And thanks for swooping in so fast to correct misunderstandings!

Cheers, LT.
 
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Scott_Rouse

Explorer
Lord Tirian said:
A bit unrelated, but as a foreign customer (with some English-challenged players): Is WotC involved in a translation of the SRD for any language or planning to do that? I know there's some grief about the non-existence of a German SRD (due to the copyright of the translation, due to the switch of the publisher, i.e. Amigo to Feder & Schwert, which makes the situation... involved).

More than probable that you guys are a) either not decided or involved or b) you cannot talk about it - but if you can chime in on this, it's more than appreciated.

Cheers, LT.

We are not involved in any official "we are doing it ourselves" capacity of translating the SRD. That being said because the 3.5 SRD is open I don't believe there is anything stopping a publisher or individual from translating it.
 

Scribble

First Post
Dr. Awkward said:
So let me get this straight: they put the largest d20 companies in charge of deciding whether or not they'll have any competition in the 3rd-party publishing market from up-and-comers?

Isn't that like giving Burger King, McDonalds and Wendy's the ability to decide whether or not you should be allowed to open a hamburger restaurant?

edit: I understand that this analogy is a bit inadequate, as it requires there to be another company which is licensing the idea of hamburgers to the aforementioned restaurants, but I think the metaphor regarding a syndicate controlling whether or not there will be any competition stands fairly well.

Aren't there already companies existing like this in the d20 Market?

S&S seems like it has a whole slew of smaller print companies under its wing.
 

Oldtimer

Great Old One
Publisher
Scott_Rouse said:
That being said because the 3.5 SRD is open I don't believe there is anything stopping a publisher or individual from translating it.
Well, I certainly didn't feel stopped when I did it. :D

Lord Tirian said:
I know there's some grief about the non-existence of a German SRD
Don't wait for someone else to do it. The SRD and the OGL are out there - get to it!
 

Michael Morris

First Post
Dr. Awkward said:
So let me get this straight: they put the largest d20 companies in charge of deciding whether or not they'll have any competition in the 3rd-party publishing market from up-and-comers?

Isn't that like giving Burger King, McDonalds and Wendy's the ability to decide whether or not you should be allowed to open a hamburger restaurant?

Utterly and completely wrong.

Wizards owns the d20 license. They can have it as open or as closed as they wish. They can dispense the rights to the license through whatever mechanic they desire. The hamburger analogy fails utterly because no one owns a trademark on "hamburger restaurant." There is no "like" parallel to be drawn here at all - don't even try.

Again, if you want to release something under the OGL go for it. There is nothing stopping you. If you want to use the d20 license you must abide by the rules and restrictions WotC sets for that use.

Are the small publishers losing out here? Unfortunately, yes - they are losing the ability to put the d20 mark on their products. But for every publisher that put that mark on something useful and worthwhile 20 have put it on utter crap. After awhile the consumer gets tired of wading through the detritus to find the gold. After awhile the retailer gets tired of purchasing product that doesn't move. The trademark becomes useless.

The trademark, as it currently stands, is useless. There are many retailers that will not order products with a d20 logo on them at all. Unless something changes this attitude will remain, and no amount of crying by the small publishers will change that. However, WotC has a vested interest in increasing the value of the mark. Several ideas where bandied about - this was only one. Another was a fee for use of the logo on a per product, per quarter, per publisher basis. The idea behind these plans was to raise the cost to enter the market and use money as a barrier to entry. All publishers - small and large alike - balked at this idea though it was the most equitable between them. Also WotC isn't interested in hiring someone to process the fees or the applications, so this was put forward as a possibility - basically deferring the process to outside agencies. The room split at that point - the large publishers liking the idea and the small hating it. I'm thinking this might float simply because it pleases somebody and not nobody as the former plan does.

The issue this is meant to address is not a simple one - and definitely one that cannot be summed up into an analogy involving fast food restaurants. I fear no solution will be universally equitable or palatable to all parties concerned. I also feel this proposal is probably the one that best serves the consumers since quality should be improved by this process, WotC since the mark will be improved, and the large publishers for obvious reasons. Small publishers lose - well sometimes in life there will be losers - this is unavoidable. The choice is either prove your merit and build your brand using just the OGL, or cede the hubris and submit the draft of the product as a freelancer.
 

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