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

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I don't know, but to be perfectly honest I don't think it matters. What matters is that they think attacking other companies' ability to make competing (superior) products is a viable way to address the poor reception that their own lower-quality products are receiving (i.e. making them seem better via reducing the number of alternatives available).

That is not okay.
It really does seem like they went to the Keystone Kops School of Business.

“We don’t have to make any good products, we just have to burn everyone else’s business to the ground and we’ll have the only products.”
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I don't know, but to be perfectly honest I don't think it matters. What matters is that they think attacking other companies' ability to make competing (superior) products is a viable way to address the poor reception that their own lower-quality products are receiving (i.e. making them seem better via reducing the number of alternatives available).

That is not okay.
That's what most businesses do if they have the power to do so.... eventually.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
I've seen 3e and 5e products that match 3rd party stuff. I also saw products that were worse. Same goes for 3rd party content. Some is good and some isn't.

WotC CAN make a better product. They just got greedy and are trying to sell less for more and the quality took a nose dive.
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Which is why we take it as a given that they should be denied the power to do so.

Likewise, just because a particular practice has become widespread does not make it okay.
My point is that the community should not remove their new found distrust in WOTC and put trust in another. Because this is unique a mindset.
 

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.

I don’t think that’s true. I don’t know what the best 3.x adventure was, but it was either Red Hand of Doom or Age of Worms IMO. I don’t think there’s been a better 5e adventure than Curse of Strahd. On the player side, TCoE isn’t perfect, but it’s better than any similar product released by a 3PP that I’ve seen.

They aren’t consistently putting out good products, though. I think there are a number of reasons for that, including my own preferences. But I don’t know any TTRPG publisher that doesn’t have its share of misses.

I don’t actually think this has anything to do with their current action on the OGL.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
You want WOTC to hire and fire large masses of designers left and right?

My hypothesis is that WOTC as the industry leader and owners of so many IP has to print too many books that they don't have the time to reach the level of quality of 3PPPs.

My guess is WOTC is expected to do so much that they can't keep the quality up.
How much have they actually produced?
 



Hussar

Legend
As a thought about quality.

It’s not unreasonable to point out that any 5e WotC product comes under far more scrutiny that any 3pp. Since 3e there has always been the criticism that WotC products are lacklustre and 3pp are just better.

How much of the 3pp are just better is a matter of simply not being the subject of such intense scrutiny?
 

mamba

Hero
My point is that the community should not remove their new found distrust in WOTC and put trust in another. Because this is unique a mindset.
I am not sure I follow, so should we distrust everyone ? WotC betrayed us, the others are coming to our aid. Trust is earned, I'd say the only one not deserving it here is WotC.
 

mamba

Hero
I don’t think that’s true. I don’t know what the best 3.x adventure was, but it was either Red Hand of Doom or Age of Worms IMO. I don’t think there’s been a better 5e adventure than Curse of Strahd. On the player side, TCoE isn’t perfect, but it’s better than any similar product released by a 3PP that I’ve seen.
I agree with what the best official adventures are. What is TCoE? oh, nevermind, not an adventure, Tasha, no, no fan of that one, Xanathar was ok, Tasha I can do without.
 




Every company in existence can be trusted to do what is in their best interest. I can’t imagine trusting a company more than that.
And this is why you need to (as much as possible) make the best interest of the profit of teh company line up with what YOUR best interests are as much as possible.

Never assume ANY company will do what is RIGHT. Instead expect them to make dumb choices, act irrationally, but over all align with what will make them the most money,
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Maybe they don't need to? When you are the industry leader and have most of the audience captured, you don't have to stand out as much to get your product out. You can cut corners and make something less interesting, less fancy because your audience is more solid. I suppose it comes down to "How many more people do you think we could get with better quality stuff versus the cost it would take to get us there?"
I think another issue, perhaps the main one, is they have to cater to the largest minority, take exceptional care to not cause any offense, and to some extent target the lowest common denominator in terms of making their adventures accessible to newer players.

More experienced players who are looking for more novelty, more crunch, deeper settings, greater risks, and high-level play are generally going to find their needs better filled by third-party publishers because it it doesn't make financial sense for WotC to chase the long tail of increasingly niche interests.
 

I think another issue, perhaps the main one, is they have to cater to the largest minority, take exceptional care to not cause any offense, and to some extent target the lowest common denominator in terms of making their adventures accessible to newer players.

More experienced players who are looking for more novelty, more crunch, deeper settings, greater risks, and high-level play are generally going to find their needs better filled by third-party publishers because it it doesn't make financial sense for WotC to chase the long tail of increasingly niche interests.

That's certainly their strategy. Keeping things at least simple on its face makes it more approachable, or at least seem as such (Just last Sunday a friend and I were going through the dizzying amount of considerations for a person who wanted to do a certain multiclass and if it was actually worthwhile to attempt). However this leaves a lot of ground for 3PP and homebrew to cover, in particular the implementation of a lot of different kinds of items and crafting, among other things.

It's definitely a choice, and one they could easily tweak in OneDnD... if they weren't seemingly trying to blow the whole thing up.
 


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