OGL WotC Walks Back Some OGL Changes, But Not All

Wizards of the Coast has finally made a statement regarding the OGL. The statement says that the leaked version was a draft designed to solicit feedback and that they are walking back some problematic elements, but don't address others--most notably that the current OGL v1.0a is still being deauthorized.
  • Non-TTRPG mediums such as "educational and charitable campaigns, livestreams, cosplay, VTT-uses" are unaffected by the new license.
  • The 'we can use your content for any reason' provision is going away
  • The royalties aspect is also being removed
  • Content previously released under OGL v1.0a can still be sold, but the statement on that is very short and seems to imply that new content must still use OGL v1.1. This is still a 'de-authorization' of the current OGL.
  • They don't mention the 'reporting revenue' aspect, or the 'we can change this in any way at 30 days notice' provision; of course nobody can sign a contract which can be unilaterally changed by one party.
  • There's still no mention of the 'share-a-like' aspect which defines an 'open' license.
The statement can be read below. While it does roll back some elements, the fact remains that the OGL v1.0a is still being de-authorized.

D&D historian Benn Riggs (author of Slaying the Dragon) made some comments on WotC's declared intentions -- "This is a radical change of the original intention of the OGL. The point of the OGL was to get companies to stop making their own games and start making products for D&D. WoTC execs spent a ton of time convincing companies like White Wolf to make OGL products."

Linda Codega on Gizmodo said "For all intents and purposes, the OGL 1.1 that was leaked to the press was supposed to go forward. Wizards has realized that they made a mistake and they are walking back numerous parts of the leaked OGL 1.1..."

Ryan Dancey, architect of the original OGL commented "They made an announcement today that they're altering their trajectory based on pressure from the community. This is still not what we want. We want Hasbro to agree not to ever attempt to deauthorize v1.0a of the #OGL. Your voices are being heard, and they matter. We're providing visible encouragement and support to everyone inside Wizards of the Coast fighting for v1.0a. It matters. Knowing we're here for them matters. Keep fighting!"


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When we initially conceived of revising the OGL, it was with three major goals in mind. First, we wanted the ability to prevent the use of D&D content from being included in hateful and discriminatory products. Second, we wanted to address those attempting to use D&D in web3, blockchain games, and NFTs by making clear that OGL content is limited to tabletop roleplaying content like campaigns, modules, and supplements. And third, we wanted to ensure that the OGL is for the content creator, the homebrewer, the aspiring designer, our players, and the community—not major corporations to use for their own commercial and promotional purpose.

Driving these goals were two simple principles: (1) Our job is to be good stewards of the game, and (2) the OGL exists for the benefit of the fans. Nothing about those principles has wavered for a second.

That was why our early drafts of the new OGL included the provisions they did. That draft language was provided to content creators and publishers so their feedback could be considered before anything was finalized. In addition to language allowing us to address discriminatory and hateful conduct and clarifying what types of products the OGL covers, our drafts included royalty language designed to apply to large corporations attempting to use OGL content. It was never our intent to impact the vast majority of the community.

However, it’s clear from the reaction that we rolled a 1. It has become clear that it is no longer possible to fully achieve all three goals while still staying true to our principles. So, here is what we are doing.

The next OGL will contain the provisions that allow us to protect and cultivate the inclusive environment we are trying to build and specify that it covers only content for TTRPGs. That means that other expressions, such as educational and charitable campaigns, livestreams, cosplay, VTT-uses, etc., will remain unaffected by any OGL update. Content already released under 1.0a will also remain unaffected.

What it will not contain is any royalty structure. It also will not include the license back provision that some people were afraid was a means for us to steal work. That thought never crossed our minds. Under any new OGL, you will own the content you create. We won’t. Any language we put down will be crystal clear and unequivocal on that point. The license back language was intended to protect us and our partners from creators who incorrectly allege that we steal their work simply because of coincidental similarities . As we continue to invest in the game that we love and move forward with partnerships in film, television, and digital games, that risk is simply too great to ignore. The new OGL will contain provisions to address that risk, but we will do it without a license back and without suggesting we have rights to the content you create. Your ideas and imagination are what makes this game special, and that belongs to you.

A couple of last thoughts. First, we won’t be able to release the new OGL today, because we need to make sure we get it right, but it is coming. Second, you’re going to hear people say that they won, and we lost because making your voices heard forced us to change our plans. Those people will only be half right. They won—and so did we.

Our plan was always to solicit the input of our community before any update to the OGL; the drafts you’ve seen were attempting to do just that. We want to always delight fans and create experiences together that everyone loves. We realize we did not do that this time and we are sorry for that. Our goal was to get exactly the type of feedback on which provisions worked and which did not–which we ultimately got from you. Any change this major could only have been done well if we were willing to take that feedback, no matter how it was provided–so we are. Thank you for caring enough to let us know what works and what doesn’t, what you need and what scares you. Without knowing that, we can’t do our part to make the new OGL match our principles. Finally, we’d appreciate the chance to make this right. We love D&D’s devoted players and the creators who take them on so many incredible adventures. We won’t let you down.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Valetudo

Explorer
This isn't an edition war. This is about the survival of most RPG publishers. There is little room for compromise when facing an existential threat to the entire industry. This removes about 60% of RPGs from sale, including many unrelated to D&D. This is because they touched the OGL at some point in the past. WotC made official representations the licence was available for everyone to use forever. And now they are trying to break this commitment. There is a strong case they don't have the legal power to do this, but WotC / Hasbro know nobody can afford to challenge them in court because they would be financially ruined. It is unconscionable conduct akin to bullying.
The last edition war also started be cause of management in wotcz and Hasbro . This is dejavue all over. There are alot of new players and maybe a couple of dms who dont care about the ogle. And there are alot of companies looking to be the new prize. It's already gone past the point of no return. Me, I'll just skip dnd one most likely. Another bloody nose and we will get a good edition.
 

but it can't just be hardcore players... it's going to depend on how many casual gamers join...
I think most “hardcore” players know lots of “casual” players and will spread the word. Hardcore and engaged players tend to be active in local stores as well.

As an example, the leaders of the main AL group in the East Bay of SF where I live publicly have said they are evaluating future working with WoTC because of their disappointment with the way this has been handled.

They have a small con scheduled and specifically are not buying any new materials for it.

If you somehow think that this is limited to a few complainers on a creaky old Internet forum, then I guess you should be prepared to be surprised.
 



Scribe

Legend
It’s obviously not limited to a few complainers. They wouldn’t be walking back if it was.

The trick though is to be constructive now rather than stay in “we must punish WotC “ mode.

All they need do, is turn around, and walk out.

There is no 'constructive' needed. The 1.0 OGL is left as is, and thats it.

They can make a new license for 1D&D, and plant their flag and declare they support their new product and vision, and roll the dice. Thats it. Thats all this takes.
 

Prime_Evil

Adventurer
All they need do, is turn around, and walk out.

There is no 'constructive' needed. The 1.0 OGL is left as is, and thats it.

They can make a new license for 1D&D, and plant their flag and declare they support their new product and vision, and roll the dice. Thats it. Thats all this takes.
They are within their rights to introduce a new license for 1D&D. Nobody disputes that. The issue is the extent they are disrupting existing publishing arrangements. I think they have lost sight of the value of the OGL to their business. Back in the 1980s and 1990s there was a proliferation of different fantasy RPGs. But the OGL encouraged a large portion of the industry to standardise on D&D. This helped WotC to sell more books. D&D used the d20 trademark license to prevent abuse of their IP. This introduced additional restrictions beyond those in the OGL - including community standards prohibiting racism, sexism, etc. The OGL does not allow publishers to indicate compatibility with any game system without a seperate agreement. The value of being able to label your work as D&D compatible via the d20 trademark was so great that most publishers signed up to the additional restrictions willingly. I can't see why WotC can't use the same model for 1D&D - offer a core SRD via the OGL and allow publishers additional material and possibly an "official" badge if they sign up to the extra restrictions. That seems like a more reasonable trade-off. They can add whatever extra terms they like to the trademark agreement. And publishers can assess whether they are willing to accept them. If not, they can only use the core content. But WotC need to understand this isn’t a one-way street. They benefit too from having an entire ecosystem of third-party publishers driving consumers towards their game system. It's a classic case of network externalities. The value of any game system is in the network of players who participate in it. A rising tide lifts all boats.
 
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mamba

Hero
It’s obviously not limited to a few complainers. They wouldn’t be walking back if it was.

The trick though is to be constructive now rather than stay in “we must punish WotC “ mode.
It is hard to be constructive when you know the other party will betray you the first chance it gets. That severely limits the things you can let them get away with, to the point where a negotiation is essentially impossible.

I tried shaping 1.2 into something acceptable and actually binding to WotC. I became convinced the only solution is an irrevocable 1.0a, nothing less will do
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
All they need do, is turn around, and walk out.

There is no 'constructive' needed. The 1.0 OGL is left as is, and thats it.

They can make a new license for 1D&D, and plant their flag and declare they support their new product and vision, and roll the dice. Thats it. Thats all this takes.
Doesn't that still leave the 1.0 OGL in a state of uncertainty? Overall, I agree that what you outline would be good. Better would be to legally clarify that the 1.0 OGL is irrevocable. If a new license would give the same protections and rights, clearly state they are irrevocable, and--even better--expand it to include other D&D editions, that would be better. If they wanted to claw back a very limited amount of IP that was previously open, I might also be okay with that so long as, on balance, the community gets more than what they had.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
It is hard to be constructive when you know the other party will betray you the first chance it gets. That severely limits the things you can let them get away with, to the point where a negotiation is essentially impossible.
It's hard to be constructive when the community treats a corporation like a cheating spouse. This is a matter of fixing a broken contract. If the legal uncertainty around the revocability of the 1.0 OGL could be clarified or a better license put forth that improves upon the OGL, then we don't have rely upon trust.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Here's the thing. We will never get 1.0a without giving the community giving WOTC something in return.

TTRPGs will continue to run into this problem when they get bigger or the market shrinks. Will Paizo cut feats and spells out Archive of Nephys in Pathfinder 3e in order to sell more Core books? What can Kobold Press cut out in their second edition of Black Flag?

We as a community must agree on what we see as clear right and fair routes of revenue for IP holders , Third parties, and consumers in the absence of true law of it.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Here's the thing. We will never get 1.0a without giving the community giving WOTC something in return.

TTRPGs will continue to run into this problem when they get bigger or the market shrinks. Will Paizo cut feats and spells out Archive of Nephys in Pathfinder 3e in order to sell more Core books? What can Kobold Press cut out in their second edition of Black Flag?

We as a community must agree on what we see as clear right and fair routes of revenue for IP holders , Third parties, and consumers in the absence of true law of it.

Sorry, but they have to sell to me. The only thing I have to negotiate it whether I find their product worth giving my money to.

I'm not howling for WotC to go up in flames. Heck, even if they just tried to revoke the OGL and tried to take back all of their IP, I might still buy WotC content.

But what more do we need to give WotC in return? They became the brand they are under the OGL. That it became the default system for third-party publishers to create TTRPG content for and for streamers to play BENEFITED WotC/Hasbro. They are doing very well.

Ultimately, I'm rather selfish about this and expressing my selfishness in the recent survey on the OGL 1.2, I believe, it more effective than crying out about the unjustness to third-party publishers.

If:
  • the new OGL and its associated SRD is far more restrictive than the OGL 1.0a
  • the "no hateful content and conduct" has a chilling effect on creative content that pushes boundries or explores areas that might invite controversy
  • features of my VTT can no longer be used for D&D games
...AND if the above leads to fewer third-party publishers making content for D&D, third-party settings I like no longer being supported, and my VTT experience with D&D being far worse than with other systems...

...THEN D&D becomes less fun and provides less of a value to me and I will increasingly look to other systems for my gaming needs.

That may mean going to another system under a true open license with a richer amount of content covered by it. It may mean going with one or more closed systems by other publishers. Probably a mix of both.

I may not stop playing D&D entirely because of this, but I can certainly see myself playing LESS D&D and increasingly playing other systems. By trying to revoke the OGL 1a, they are simply creating an opening for other competition. I don't need to give WotC anything else, they need to stop trying to take things away from me.
 

mamba

Hero
It's hard to be constructive when the community treats a corporation like a cheating spouse. This is a matter of fixing a broken contract. If the legal uncertainty around the revocability of the 1.0 OGL could be clarified or a better license put forth that improves upon the OGL, then we don't have rely upon trust.
yes, so add the word irrevocable and make clear that an authorized version is any version that is not clearly marked as a draft and released by WotC, and that no authorized version can be withdrawn.

That does what you describe, it clarifies and improves the contract. It is clearly what was intended by the designers of it and how WotC treated it for 20 years. It updates the language to the new legal developments that occurred after it was written. There are no material changes. What 1.2 does is nothing like this.

I am absolutely in favor of doing the former. I am done with the latter.
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Sorry, but they have to sell to me. The only thing I have to negotiate it whether I find their product worth giving my money to.

I'm not howling for WotC to go up in flames. Heck, even if they just tried to revoke the OGL and tried to take back all of their IP, I might still buy WotC content.

But what more do we need to give WotC in return? They became the brand they are under the OGL. That it became the default system for third-party publishers to create TTRPG content for and for streamers to play BENEFITED WotC/Hasbro. They are doing very well.
Because it's not benefiting WOTC anymore.

The OGL 1.0a is great when your at the botom but bad at the top.

Financially, the only reason WOTC would want to keep the OGL 1.0a is if they plan to do new core books every 10 years. OGLs is only good for selling core books for the IP holder.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
The OGL 1.0a is great when your at the botom but bad at the top.
The Skaff Effect purports otherwise. From an old interview with Ryan Dancey:

In fact, we believe that there may be a secondary market force we jokingly call "The Skaff Effect", after our own Skaff Elias. Skaff is one of the smartest guys in the company, and after looking at lots of trends and thinking about our business over a long period of time, he enunciated his theory thusly:

"All marketing and sales activity in a hobby gaming genre eventually contributes to the overall success of the market share leader in that genre."

In other words, the more money other companies spend on their games, the more D&D sales are eventually made. Now, there are clearly issues of efficiency - not every dollar input to the market results in a dollar output in D&D sales; and there is a substantial time lag between input and output; and a certain amount of people are diverted from D&D to other games never to return. However, we believe very strongly that the net effect of the competition in the RPG genre is positive for D&D.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
The Skaff Effect purports otherwise. From an old interview with Ryan Dancey:
It'm not arguing against that.

What I'm saying is:
The OGL helps you sell The Player's Handbook.
The OGL doesn't help you sell "Spelljammer Adventures in Space" as someone else can sell 'Journeys in Spacebutter".

5e is selling Core Books hand over fist. But the rumors are that their adventure books and setting books aren't hitting expectations and other people do it better.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
It'm not arguing against that.

What I'm saying is:
The OGL helps you sell The Player's Handbook.
The OGL doesn't help you sell "Spelljammer Adventures in Space" as someone else can sell 'Journeys in Spacebutter".

5e is selling Core Books hand over fist. But the rumors are that their adventure books and setting books aren't hitting expectations and other people do it better.
And yet they don't go with the obvious answer to that problem: make better product.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
And yet they don't go with the obvious answer to that problem: make better product.
Because they can't make product.
Not matching the biggest 3pps anyways.

You saw it in 3e, 4e, 5e, and will see it in 6e.

I don't know if they don't have enough skilled designers or that they don't have enough time in their schedule or budget. But WOTC can't make better significantly product without damaging their budgets.
 



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