Shortly after Christmas, a story broke on I09 about Wizards of the Coast (Owns D&D and Magic the Gathering) and Hasbro (who owns Wizards) attempting to update the D&D OGL 1.0a. The OGL stands for Open Gaming License. In the story, it stated that Wizards was going to end the OGL 1.0a and switch to a new one, which wasn’t nearly as open. It would require third parties that were using the original OGL to create extra content to report their finances and if they made enough to pay a 25% fee to Wizards. This would also give Wizards ownership of those creations so Wizards could turn around and use them and add them to their official content without paying royalties the other way. There was language about Wizards regulating behavior and ideas that they found offensive. If you want more details on this, we have videos on this with Geeek Speeak Ep 5, The Professor and Ace Season 2, Ep 3, and Geeek Speeak Ep 6. We have an article about Wizard’s eventual response to the madness here and an article with a video about Critical Role’s response here. You can also search for D&D OGL and you will find a ton of articles and videos about this in depth.
Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast handling of the situation seemed to constantly give them a black eye. Hasbro and Wizards appeared to believe that this would all blow over quickly but it did not. It grew in intensity. It went on for a month with fans dropping their subscriptions to DND Beyond, refusing to buy any new products, locking at other Table Top Role Play Games (TTRPG), and stating their refusal to see the upcoming Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie, which has blockbuster potential. This lead to people picketing outside of Hasbro and major news agencies picking up the story. Pairing this with the bad news of Hasbro lack luster 4th quarter sales and laying off 15% of their workforce, Wizards relented after several attempts to spin and then make other changes. They have agreed to leave the OGL alone. Along with this, they released the full SRD 5.1-CC as a Creative Commons and it is in a PDF to download and use.
Check out their statement on the DND Beyond site or read below as I copied it over.
When you give us playtest feedback, we take it seriously.
Already more than 15,000 of you have filled out the survey. Here’s what you said:
- 88% do not want to publish TTRPG content under OGL 1.2.
- 90% would have to change some aspect of their business to accommodate OGL 1.2.
- 89% are dissatisfied with deauthorizing OGL 1.0a.
- 86% are dissatisfied with the draft VTT policy.
- 62% are satisfied with including Systems Reference Document (SRD) content in Creative Commons, and the majority of those who were dissatisfied asked for more SRD content in Creative Commons.
These live survey results are clear. You want OGL 1.0a. You want irrevocability. You like Creative Commons.
The feedback is in such high volume and its direction is so plain that we’re acting now.
- We are leaving OGL 1.0a in place, as is. Untouched.
- We are also making the entire SRD 5.1 available under a Creative Commons license.
- You choose which you prefer to use.
This Creative Commons license makes the content freely available for any use. We don’t control that license and cannot alter or revoke it. It’s open and irrevocable in a way that doesn’t require you to take our word for it. And its openness means there’s no need for a VTT policy. Placing the SRD under a Creative Commons license is a one-way door. There’s no going back.
Our goal here is to deliver on what you wanted.
So, what about the goals that drove us when we started this process?
We wanted to protect the D&D play experience into the future. We still want to do that with your help. We’re grateful that this community is passionate and active because we’ll need your help protecting the game’s inclusive and welcoming nature.
We wanted to limit the OGL to TTRPGs. With this new approach, we are setting that aside and counting on your choices to define the future of play.
Here’s a PDF of SRD 5.1 with the Creative Commons license. By simply publishing it, we place it under an irrevocable Creative Commons license. We’ll get it hosted in a more convenient place next week. It was important that we take this step now, so there’s no question.
We’ll be closing the OGL 1.2 survey now.
We’ll keep talking with you about how we can better support our players and creators. Thanks as always for continuing to share your thoughts.
Executive Producer, Dungeons & Dragons
It appears that Wizards of the Coast gave fans and creative partners everything they wanted and maybe more. But is it too little too late for those that have left? I assume for some of the fans and many of the creative partners, the answer is yes on one level or another. There is a lot of trust that has been broken and Wizards sure made it seem like they were lying to us. There are games that have gone to Pathfinder. Others are waiting for the new games to be developed by other groups.
I think for many of the fans, they are happy to see that Wizards finally listened to them. They are likely to continue their games with Dungeons and Dragons and many on DND Beyond. Many of the 40,000 plus that canceled their DND Beyond subscription will be back. But they might be willing to look at other systems when they didn’t see the need before now. This has opened the door for fans to look past the big boy of D&D and see what else is out there. Wizards did this to themselves in the pursuit of making D&D better monetized.
As far as the movie is concerned, I hope people give it a chance. It looks like what fans have wanted to see since D&D began 50 years ago. Chris Pine looks amazing in the movie trailers. I am excited for it. I was one of the people who planned on boycotting this film because of the OGL issue but now I can see it with a clear conscience.
If I was in charge of Wizards of the Coast, I would attempt to find other ways to bring fans back to the table as quick as possible. I would offer discounts of subscriptions. I would put the books on a significant sale and not just for a day or two. I would even find a way to offer discount movie tickets for the upcoming movie to those that have a DND Beyond subscription. But that is just what I would do in an attempt to show a desire to bring the fans back.
Let us know what your plans are? Are you going to continue with D&D? Are you looking at other games? Will you see the upcoming movie? There is no right answer to this. Each person has to make up their mind. But we would love to know what you think.