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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Ya know, it certainly appears that the major issue for Wizards, is that they put 5e SRD, in the 1.0 OGL.

I dont know if any of this happens, if not for that.
I think not. I think if they hadn't done that, they'd just have done a much-better-PR version of the GSL for 1D&D.

Indeed, if 1D&D was nearer, I think they'd settle for a better-PR version of the GSL. But as it's like 1.5 years away they've gone kind of insane.
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
We can't know, but my gut says that so many 3PPs moving over to 5E helped it get its footing in the early days and draw back folks (like me) who left during 4E. The massive current growth, though, is probably based on factors essentially outside of rules or game books.
Would critical roll have went to 5e without it having material in the ogl?
 



Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
As well they should be. their business is "entertaining TV show" and it would be weird for them to wade too deeply into this debate. Yes, they have a book out -- tied directly to their entertaining TV show (which probably used the OGL so they could protect their IP from WotC). But they have also partnered with WotC on books. I can't see a clear benefit for them to come out on one side or the other.

But the thing is- as a prominent brand within the industry that has also certainly well-known for having monetized D&D ... ahem ... I would be shocked if they didn't have some knowledge of what was going down.

Again, speculation. As is most of this. But unlike you, I do see a clear benefit for them on choosing one side or the other- especially if they already knew there were sides to choose. Which would make their silence completely understandable. On the other hand, if they were completely blindsided by this, and there was the possibility that WoTC was going after the TV shows (for example) their silence doesn't make a lot of sense.

We'll see!
 


Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Because they obviously wanted to release rpg material for the game they streamed and couldn’t do that freely without an OGL.
I don't think they had the slightest idea of how successful the show would be when they started airing it on Geek & Sundry. I take them at their word that they chose 5E because it was faster paced to play on a livestream.
 

Scribe

Legend
That presumes 5e would have flourished to the degree it has if not in the OGL.

I’m leaning more and more toward the OGL being integral to 5e’s success.

100% agreed, the OGL absolutely has enabled 5e to thrive.

I just think that all the collatoral damage of this would have been avoided, if control over a '5e clone' wasnt up for debate.

Wizards doesnt want that, and they dont want to go full blown 6e, they dont have time (or the ability imo) to do it.

So now, they cannot do the things they want to do, and pressed the red button, only to be called out on it.
 


Reynard

Legend
But the thing is- as a prominent brand within the industry that has also certainly well-known for having monetized D&D ... ahem ... I would be shocked if they didn't have some knowledge of what was going down.

Again, speculation. As is most of this. But unlike you, I do see a clear benefit for them on choosing one side or the other- especially if they already knew there were sides to choose. Which would make their silence completely understandable. On the other hand, if they were completely blindsided by this, and there was the possibility that WoTC was going after the TV shows (for example) their silence doesn't make a lot of sense.

We'll see!
I don't have any experience in the entertainment field beyond being paid to act a couple times, so I could be wrong, but it seems like when your job is to get as many eyeballs on you as possible, picking sides in a controversy is the worst idea.
 

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