OGL Why We Should Work With WotC

mamba

Hero
WotC accounts for only 22% of revenue but 72% of profit for Hasbro as a whole. MTG and D&D are almost 4 times as cheap to extract profit from than anything else Hasbro has, and they think this is a cheap way to squeeze even harder to support the rest of its underperforming lineup.
Your math is off. To make it slightly easier, I will be using 1/4 of revenue and 3/4 of profit...

Going by

Hasbro had 2B revenue in 3Q2021, and 400M profit (both rounded for simplicity). So WotC had a revenue of 500M and 300M profit. The rest of Hasbro had 1.5B revenue but only 100M profit. So WotC's profit margin is 60% while Hasbro's is less than 7%.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Takeaway: don’t copy stuff verbatim, be more careful the more unique something is, and don’t use the OGL unless what you’re making doesn’t touch stuff you want to publish that can’t be OGL.

Assuming wotc doesn’t finally back down and yeet whoever is actually the driver of all this. Unfortunately, I think there is a good chance y’all are aiming at the wrong people, especially when it comes to Williams.

This is Hasbro. Full stop. The only question is whether it was Chris’ idea or if he was given the order from the board.

Wotc is most of hasbros profit. Hasbro is flailing. That’s all we need to know to determine where the momentum on this originates, at least in rough terms.
 

raniE

Adventurer
Your math is off. To make it slightly easier, I will be using 1/4 of revenue and 3/4 of profit...

Going by

Hasbro had 2B revenue in 3Q2021, and 400M profit (both rounded for simplicity). So WotC had a revenue of 500M and 300M profit. The rest of Hasbro had 1.5B revenue but only 100M profit. So WotC's profit margin is 60% while Hasbro's is less than 7%.
The numbers aren't off as far as I can see, it's just for 2021 in its entirety. WotC's profit for the entire year was 547 million dollars, out of 1.29 billion dollars, or a 42.5% profit margin. Hasbro's total revenue was 6.42 billion dollars, and total operating profit was 763.3 million. Removing WotC and digital gaming (as the reporting segment is called), we get revenue for the rest of Hasbro of 5.13 billion dollars, and operating profit of 216.3 million, which is 4.2%. So WotC and digital gaming is about 10 times more profitable than the rest of Hasbro as an entity.
 

Scribe

Legend
Wotc is most of hasbros profit. Hasbro is flailing. That’s all we need to know to determine where the momentum on this originates, at least in rough terms.

And the thing is, if WoTC is most of Hasbro profits, MtG is the MASSIVE lions share of WoTC profits, and they have gained NOTHING by doing all this.

They are not missing out on some massive fortune. They are pissing away the only thing they had (and even that the community was too generous in giving them) a 'good name'.
 

mamba

Hero
The numbers aren't off as far as I can see, it's just for 2021 in its entirety. WotC's profit for the entire year was 547 million dollars, out of 1.29 billion dollars, or a 42.5% profit margin. Hasbro's total revenue was 6.42 billion dollars, and total operating profit was 763.3 million. Removing WotC and digital gaming (as the reporting segment is called), we get revenue for the rest of Hasbro of 5.13 billion dollars, and operating profit of 216.3 million, which is 4.2%. So WotC and digital gaming is about 10 times more profitable than the rest of Hasbro as an entity.
that is my point, you said it was 4 times as cheap to extract profit when it is about 10 times as profitable
 

Caerdwyn

Villager
Even if D&D mechanics were somehow patentable (an assertion I do not concede), it's far too late for that. The public disclosure grace period of one year, and the patent duration of 20 years, has seen to that. Patents are off the table, whether by applicability or by calendar. All that leaves is trade mark, product identity and copyright.

And as for US-centric views... Hasbro is a US corporation.

I stand by the above assertions. You are, of course, free to assert otherwise.
 

ECMO3

Hero
If 1.0a goes away, I cannot write Level Up! content because I'm no longer covered under the OGL 1.0a's sublicensing. At least not without risking lawsuits from both WotC and EN Publishing (though I know the latter wouldn't start anything).

This really gets to the heart of why I don't think WOTC can actually deauthorize OGL 1.0a. If they do, as you alluded to then they have deauthorised you from publishing something that is not based on their content but rather another organization's content.
 




doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
And the thing is, if WoTC is most of Hasbro profits, MtG is the MASSIVE lions share of WoTC profits, and they have gained NOTHING by doing all this.

They are not missing out on some massive fortune. They are pissing away the only thing they had (and even that the community was too generous in giving them) a 'good name'.
They are missing out on huge sums of money, though. That's the thing.

Building an inclusive and open big tent platform could have helped the industry grow even more, and put dnd in a position to be essentially making money from most of the industry, and doing so would have helped monetize secondary products like videogames and shows/movies, and various kit. IMO obv
 

I can't help but feel that the success of Critical Roll must be one of the reasons WotC now wants a cut of the profit. And even if they slightly backtracked on the money issue recently, they've left the door ajar to go back on their word. Which seems on brand, going back on their word is kind of their thing.

But assuming CR's roll's success was one of the motivations for this terrible plan, which I can't know for sure of course, then that would be terribly short sighted.

In the last few years, shows like CR have really helped make D&D more mainstream. More people are aware of this hobby and want to try it than ever. D&D is no longer perceived as a hobby for just basement dwelling nerds. Even hollywood celebrities have come out as fans of it recently, and have even joined Matt Mercer for a game. That is the sort of advertisement you can't put a price on.

But to then want even more money and to then tarnish all that good will in one big swoop... oof. What were they thinking?! Do they not see how much revenue is being created for the brand BY CR and the OGL?
 

raniE

Adventurer
I can't help but feel that the success of Critical Roll must be one of the reasons WotC now wants a cut of the profit. And even if they slightly backtracked on the money issue recently, they've left the door ajar to go back on their word. Which seems on brand, going back on their word is kind of their thing.

But assuming CR's roll's success was one of the motivations for this terrible plan, which I can't know for sure of course, then that would be terribly short sighted.

In the last few years, shows like CR have really helped make D&D more mainstream. More people are aware of this hobby and want to try it than ever. D&D is no longer perceived as a hobby for just basement dwelling nerds. Even hollywood celebrities have come out as fans of it recently, and have even joined Matt Mercer for a game. That is the sort of advertisement you can't put a price on.

But to then want even more money and to then tarnish all that good will in one big swoop... oof. What were they thinking?! Do they not see how much revenue is being created for the brand BY CR and the OGL?
I’ve said this in other places, but asking Critical Role, or any streamer really, to pay royalties to Hasbro for using their game system would be like asking Usain Bolt to pay royalties to Puma for using their shoes.

At least one D&D streaming show (Viva la Dirt League) has now said “if the new WotC stuff continues to be bad, we’ll just change our campaign over to another game”. So they’re starting to lose the streamers. That’s not good for them. Because that is a lot of marketing that will suddenly be for a different game.
 

I can't help but feel that the success of Critical Roll must be one of the reasons WotC now wants a cut of the profit. And even if they slightly backtracked on the money issue recently, they've left the door ajar to go back on their word. Which seems on brand, going back on their word is kind of their thing.

But assuming CR's roll's success was one of the motivations for this terrible plan, which I can't know for sure of course, then that would be terribly short sighted.

In the last few years, shows like CR have really helped make D&D more mainstream. More people are aware of this hobby and want to try it than ever. D&D is no longer perceived as a hobby for just basement dwelling nerds. Even hollywood celebrities have come out as fans of it recently, and have even joined Matt Mercer for a game. That is the sort of advertisement you can't put a price on.

But to then want even more money and to then tarnish all that good will in one big swoop... oof. What were they thinking?! Do they not see how much revenue is being created for the brand BY CR and the OGL?
They were thinking "That's not money we're getting. We should get a piece. We should have more control."

It's the same thinking that lead to Gleemax. They saw all these social networks rising, and through "We should have a piece of that." And found out the hard way that social media platforms are hard to build.

They've tried the Walled Garden approach with 4e and the GSL, with all these big plans for digital that came to naught. And while I'm sure the tragedy that sunk the 4e VTT and Character Builder was a massive part of derailing those plans, I'm not sure they'd have worked even if it hadn't happened. Even the people who like 4e mention that it feels very different from "regular" D&D, and they constantly alienated fans by changing the lore of old settings to fit with their new paradigm.

And now we have a CEO from a computer games background, whose surrounded himself with executives that share that background, and not a one of them actually knows their audience. So they don't see Critical Role as free advertising, they see Live Plays as leeches on their product and wonder why they aren't getting paid.
 

reelo

Hero
As someone very much embedded in the OSR scene, this is my POV:

Large parts of the OSR scene need access to old SRDs (d20 , 3E) because that is what was initially used to reverse-engineer the retro-clones released under 1.0(a)

Large parts of the OSR made generous use of sub-licensing, meaning that a lot of games are now 2-3 steps away from the original SRD stuff.

If 1.0(a) gets pulled, and SRD 5.1 is the only thing that gets to be used by the new "OGL", that is completely unacceptable.

1.0(a) CANNOT be revoked or deauthorized without completely vandalizing the OSR scene. WizBro doesn't seem to have any interest in legacy editions. To them , the OSR is probably just a collateral damage. But to many people in the OSR scene, 1.0 is the ONLY thing that matters if they want to continue doing what they do: releasing new stuff for old systems.

Any outcome other than "1.0(a) will not be revoked" is unacceptable, because it is vital to the whole scene.
 

They've tried the Walled Garden approach with 4e and the GSL, with all these big plans for digital that came to naught. And while I'm sure the tragedy that sunk the 4e VTT and Character Builder was a massive part of derailing those plans, I'm not sure they'd have worked even if it hadn't happened. Even the people who like 4e mention that it feels very different from "regular" D&D, and they constantly alienated fans by changing the lore of old settings to fit with their new paradigm.
With 4E there were just so many negative factors, and it's interesting to look at ones which were different and which similar.

1) With both 4E and 1D&D, Hasbro has announced a demand that certain IPs must make more money "or else". I forget what this was called with 4E, but the value was $50m/year, and with 1D&D it's Blueprint 2.0, and it seems like D&D needs to make hundreds of millions, possibly even a billion.

So you have a similar pressure in both cases.

2) 1D&D is designed to be largely-compatible with 5E in a 1E to 2E sense - and as a player of Anciente Tymes I will say it is true you could just let a 1E class/race play at a 2E table and whilst it wouldn't be perfect, it'd be fine, and I think the same will be true with 5E and 1D&D.

So that's very much a reaction to 4E and a key difference. Probably the one that will help 1D&D the most.

3) 4E's VTT and digital initiative had a short timeline and seemingly a fairly tiny budget. 1D&D's VTT and digital initiative also has a short timeline - but not as short - nearly two years instead of one - but it apparently has a gigantic budget, it things are to be believed.

Will that help with success? Maybe, but I can't help but think both projects are on unnecessarily short timelines and seem a bit confused. Esp. if it's true Chris Cao didn't want to buy Beyond.

4) Bad press/marketing. WotC really seem to have done a "hold my beer!" here. I don't think anyone thought they could create more of a stink than 4E did with 1D&D. Everything was going relatively well. They'd even managed to announce a 3D VTT with heavy microtransactions without people rioting. Then Armageddon. A huge trashing of good will, and not just of aging grogs like most of us here. You can see in the places the Younglings discuss D&D that they're also very unhappy about this.

I think press/marketing-wise, considerably more damage has been done to 1D&D than 4E ever took. The advantage though is there's still like 1.5 years before 1D&D actually hits, but good they've gone from "sitting pretty" to having to make up incredible ground to get people back. I mean I had no doubt I'd buy the 1D&D initial set and so on, even if I wasn't super-enthusiastic, but now? Hah.

5) GSL vs OGL 1.X. The GSL was aggressive but tightly delimited. It raised ire and drove away 3PPs, but it was basically just a self-own, because it lead to 4E feeling like it was "missing something" compared to 3E. The OGL 1.X, even ignoring the PR damage seems like it's created a very different legal environment by being vastly more aggressive and less delimited. Ironically I think it may lead to 1D&D getting okay 3PP support, but quite possibly from companies who haven't signed the OGL 1.X. It also has some potential to cause further bad press and enmity towards WotC/1D&D if WotC does actually sue anyone.

6) 4E vs PF1 against 1D&D vs ???. This is a tricky one. Two months ago, I'd have said there would be no new real competitors alternatives to 1D&D, because there was just no motivation to really do that, and by making it a 1E-2E transition you basically don't give much of a reason. But with the OGL insanity, suddenly an awful lot of companies are thinking about this. Will any of them go as relatively large, compared to D&D, as PF1 did to 4E? No. Certainly not. And I doubt that one individual one will be particularly huge - but I do think several with moderate followings could act as a braking force on the success of 1D&D, and ironically the safe-ness of 1D&D may play against it here to some extent.

7) Old settings. 4E alienated people by publishing old settings and changing the lore. 5E has just done a really unimpressive job with old settings (only Eberron got a genuinely good setting book). The FR got the rough equivalent of 1989's Forgotten Realms Adventures, except less fun/detailed with SCAG. Ravenloft got the divisive and arguably under-detailed VRGtR. Spelljammer got the bizarre "cram literally all the rules AND setting into 64 pages" approach, and Planescape seems doomed to a similar fate. So I don't think 5E has really bound people to D&D with settings, and 1D&D seems very unlikely to change that unless there's a Dark Sun early in 1D&D that is also amazing, which seems... unlikely.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
This really gets to the heart of why I don't think WOTC can actually deauthorize OGL 1.0a. If they do, as you alluded to then they have deauthorised you from publishing something that is not based on their content but rather another organization's content.
Derivative work of a derivative work.

Level Up! is based on 5th Edition. It's called A5e. It has tons of new writing, tons of new material, but it still uses some of WotC's material, like Owlbears and Ankhegs, even if it radically reinvents some of them.

Therefore anything I create tied to A5e is also a derivation of WotC's work.

It's not fair, or reasonable, in my opinion. But that is how it all shakes out.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
At least one D&D streaming show (Viva la Dirt League) has now said “if the new WotC stuff continues to be bad, we’ll just change our campaign over to another game”. So they’re starting to lose the streamers. That’s not good for them. Because that is a lot of marketing that will suddenly be for a different game.
The streamers can easily move to other games. Any other ttrpg company that isn't WotC[*] wouldn't think to try to treat them as someone who owes them money to play their game online. That's a very video game company attitude. I'd be surprised if WotC got any money from streamers because it is so easy to just switch to another system - even if you're leery of moving to a system like Pathfinder or 13th Age with ties to Wizards SRD, jumping to an unencumbered system like Dungeon World or Runequest isn't going to be hard.

And according to my kid the YouTube D&D folks they watch are definitely talking about jumping ship. My kid spent part of yesterday watching videos about Pathfinder, going through my Pathfinder 2e rulebook and trying out making a character with the system. They've never really been interested in running anything but 5e before but now they're checking out options to see what's out there because of all of this mess. (They like a lot of what they heard about Pathfinder btw - the extra modularity is interesting to them, but they are worried that it's a bit rules-heavy for group of friends who they play with - they're all very casual about the game and don't get into the rules much themselves).


[*} I mean, maybe also Palladium. Not sure where they are now, but I could see old-school Palladium being the kind of company that would get very protective of their game being streamed online.
 

Dreamscape

Crafter of fine role-playing games
The streamers can easily move to other games. Any other ttrpg company that isn't WotC[*] wouldn't think to try to treat them as someone who owes them money to play their game online.
Literally every other industry would be offering these streamers sponsorship deals. I mean, does WotC also ask their advertising agency to pay them?
 

Art Waring

halozix.com
By releasing the core rules to the CC, it does in fact help out third parties. A somewhat fuzzy line as to when a company would have cross into violating their trade dress is answered cleanly by it being in the CC. There is value to that certainty for a company.
While I agree the CC stuff is a good thing, it still only provides a fraction of what is available in the SRD, and doesn't include classes, spells, or monsters. They could still sue for "trade dress" of monsters or classes, & the CC material doesn't protect you from all future litigation like the SRD theoretically did before this snafu.

If they made the entire SRD catalogue available under CC, I don't think anyone would be complaining right now.
 

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