WotC Announces OGL 1.1 -- Revised Terms, Royalties, and Annual Revenue Reporting

There has been a lot of speculation recently about WotC's plans regarding the Open Gaming License and the upcoming One D&D. Today, WotC shared some information.

In short, they will be producing a new Open Gaming License (note that the previous OGL 1.0a will still exist, and can still be used). However, for those who use the new OGL 1.1, which will be released in early 2023, there will be some limitations added with regards the type of product which can use it, and -- possibly controversially -- reporting to WotC your annual OGL-related revenue.

They are also adding a royalty for those third party publishers who make more than $750K per year.

Interestingly, only books and 'static electronic files' like ebooks and PDFs will be compatible with the new OGL, meaning that apps, web pages, and the like will need to stick to the old OGL 1.0a.

There will, of course, be a lot of debate and speculation over what this actually means for third party creators, and how it will affect them. Some publishers like Paizo (for Pathfinder) and others will likely simply continue to use the old OGL. The OGL 1.0a allows WotC to update the license, but allows licensees to continue to use previous versions "to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License".


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1. Will One D&D include an SRD/be covered by an OGL?

Yes. First, we’re designing One D&D with fifth edition backwards compatibility, so all existing creator content that is compatible with fifth edition will also be compatible with One D&D. Second, we will update the SRD for One D&D as we complete its development—development that is informed by the results of playtests that we’re conducting with hundreds of thousands of D&D players now.

2. Will the OGL terms change?

Yes. We will release version 1.1 of the OGL in early 2023.

The OGL needs an update to ensure that it keeps doing what it was intended to do—allow the D&D community’s independent creators to build and play and grow the game we all love—without allowing things like third-parties to mint D&D NFTs and large businesses to exploit our intellectual property.

So, what’s changing?

First, we’re making sure that OGL 1.1 is clear about what it covers and what it doesn’t. OGL 1.1 makes clear it only covers material created for use in or as TTRPGs, and those materials are only ever permitted as printed media or static electronic files (like epubs and PDFs). Other types of content, like videos and video games, are only possible through the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy or a custom agreement with us. To clarify: Outside of printed media and static electronic files, the OGL doesn’t cover it.

Will this affect the D&D content and services players use today? It shouldn’t. The top VTT platforms already have custom agreements with Wizards to do what they do. D&D merchandise, like minis and novels, were never intended to be part of the OGL and OGL 1.1 won’t change that. Creators wishing to leverage D&D for those forms of expression will need, as they always have needed, custom agreements between us.

Second, we’re updating the OGL to offer different terms to creators who choose to make free, share-alike content and creators who want to sell their products.

What does this mean for you as a creator? If you’re making share-alike content, very little is going to change from what you’re already used to.

If you’re making commercial content, relatively little is going to change for most creators. For most of you who are selling custom content, here are the new things you’ll need to do:
  1. Accept the license terms and let us know what you’re offering for sale
  2. Report OGL-related revenue annually (if you make more than $50,000 in a year)
  3. Include a Creator Product badge on your work
When we roll out OGL 1.1, we will also provide explanatory videos, FAQs, and a web portal for registration to make navigating these requirements as easy and intuitive as possible. We’ll also have help available to creators to navigate the new process.

For the fewer than 20 creators worldwide who make more than $750,000 in income in a year, we will add a royalty starting in 2024. So, even for the creators making significant money selling D&D supplements and games, no royalties will be due for 2023 and all revenue below $750,000 in future years will be royalty-free.

Bottom line: The OGL is not going away. You will still be able to create new D&D content, publish it anywhere, and game with your friends and followers in all the ways that make this game and community so great. The thousands of creators publishing across Kickstarter, DMsGuild, and more are a critical part of the D&D experience, and we will continue to support and encourage them to do that through One D&D and beyond.
 
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My preferred FLGS has a massive amount of OGL D&D material for sale, up to and including Level Up. The next-nearest big game store I go to similarly stocks lots of OGL D&D titles, at least as much as they do their non-D&D games. There is one very close to me that has a tiny RPG section like yours, but they're very new and in a small space.
Huh. I wonder if it's a location thing?

I'm in Australia. There's three main games shops I go to regularly. In all three, all RPGs are pretty minor business compared to board games and miniatures games. All stock D&D and Pathfinder, plus a moderately reasonable selection of other systems. But as for 3pp D&D stuff - you almost never see it. One stocks DCC fairly regularly, and you sometimes see some Kobold Press stuff on the shelves (though if they're sold out, restocks take months and months), but pretty much nothing else ever. I'd always assumed it was like this everywhere, so I was surprised to read posts like yours that say the opposite.

Honestly, I wonder if so much of the D&D 3pp ecosystem has moved to electronic, kickstarter, and PoD via DTRPG and DMGuild that a lot of it never makes it to physical shops. Especially here in Aust where shipping costs are prohibitive, so small batches of 3pp products are rarely economical to import.
 

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Dausuul

Legend
The 1.1 OGL has language that specifically de-authorizes 1.0a. And since the 1.0a did not stipulate it is irrevocable, but only authorized and perpetual (a very specific legal term that is only effective will the license is in force - or authorized), the 1.1 OGL kills the earlier license.
...Maybe.

We have a bunch of lawyers on this forum, and they've been debating this for days with no firm conclusion. The consensus seems to lean toward "Wizards probably would lose in a trial... but no guarantees." And in that situation, the practical reality is that very few 3PPs would want to go up against Hasbro in court.
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
If this OGL 1.1 goes into effect, Expect a large number of Brick and Mortar Game Stores to become insolvent.
Plain and simple, most likely, over 50% of their RPG inventory will become illegal to sell. An owner will lose all the money paid to fill the shelves.
To make matters worse, loss of revenue will make it near-impossible to restock when a publisher prints new product without the OGL.
So... Hasbro will drastically reduce the number of stores that would order their product which will backfire on their revenue because they decided to remove competition.
This is not a reasonable fear, imo, even if the most reasonable worst case scenario were to occur.

Even then, that's not the way this works. A retailer can sell whatever it wants to sell, until such time that WotC obtains an injunction, on notice to the retailer, directly preventing the retailer from doing so. It would be an unusual injunction that restrains retailers form selling such a product. The legal order is focused on the creator, manufacturer and importers of enjoined products.

The chances that WotC would jeopardize its relationship with its retailers -- who sell M:TG and host FNM is, in my estimation, a chance that is somewhere between slim and none.
 

Matt Thomason

Adventurer
The 1.1 OGL has language that specifically de-authorizes 1.0a. And since the 1.0a did not stipulate it is irrevocable, but only authorized and perpetual (a very specific legal term that is only effective will the license is in force - or authorized), the 1.1 OGL kills the earlier license.

I can imagine that a fair chunk of Brick and Mortar stores are gonna face severe financial issues when nearly all their RPG inventory becomes illegal to sell.

The thing here is that the text of the 1.1 OGL does not matter if you are not a party to it. Unless you agree to the 1.1 OGL, you are not bound by anything within it.

They may have the power to de-authorize 1.0a by contacting you directly and telling you that you are no longer allowed to use it, and by doing it for people that are using the 1.1 OGL, but they almost certainly cannot do so simply by putting it in a license you are not a party to, any more than they can do so by writing it on a piece of paper and putting it in a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "beware of the leopard."

Additionally, licenses in general normally only affect production and entrance into the retail system. Existing stock that has left the publisher's warehouse is very rarely recallable unless it was actually in violation of something at the time of publication. The last thing I remember anything like this happening with is the Aeon RPG, which quickly had to send out a bunch of stickers for retailers to shove on the cover renaming it "Trinity" - this sticks in my mind because I managed to persuade my retailer to let me buy it without the stickers applied ;) ).

A recent example - Warlord Games' license from the BBC to produce Doctor Who miniatures ended, and they were required to destroy any stock remaining at the end of 2022. This does not extend to retailers stock, who are still free to sell the inventory of miniatures that was produced and distributed to them while the license still stood. Any attempt to do that would soon cause all kinds of legal repurcussions as everyone sues everyone else up the chain from them for selling them something that is not legal for sale.

All of this aside, even though it does not appear they can legally do that, it wouldn't be impossible for them to claim they can anyway, take people to court and destroy them with legal fees. We should always be aware of that possibility.

All of that aside, it's also extremely unlikely they would do anything as self-harming as putting the outlets they rely on to sell their product at risk.
 



Plokman

Explorer
It's not here to stay. You can sell books that were published under OGL 1 for six months. And then ... who knows?

This isn't even close to being over.
Forgive my excitement, I misunderstood the part on OGL 1A.

Well hopefully Paizo (did I spell that right I hope so) will allow us to make content that might as well be 1A but not WoTC. Also someone mentioned earlier Trust was broken. I agree, but Hasbro lost that ages ago from me, just as Mattel did the day they made "All Engines Go" I buy Play-doh and hot wheels now and support 3PPs like Super 7 now.

I am working on making my own toy company, in the vein of A.C. Gilbert, through Patreon and YouTube. I know my methods will seem silly at first but I will build a company that has ethics, and loyalty. Toys with story and comics like the good days, before fools ran company trust into the dirt.
 


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