Hang onto your tinfoil hats. This one is pretty far out.
This particular hypothesis is going to be more controversial than others I have posed. So far I’ve been pretty hit-or-miss with the Wizards of the Coast Dungeons & Dragons Open Game License controversy. Let’s go even farther out onto the limb.
Everything from here on out is mostly speculation. I don’t know anyone inside WotC or OneBookShelf (DriveThruRPG.com, DMsGuild.com, etc.) These are my observations along with some of the leaked information about WotC from various sources during the OGL 1.1 scandal. Believe me or don’t. It’s fine.
We’ve all been tiptoeing around the question.
What’s going to happen with Roll 20 and OneBookShelf before the One D&D launch in 2024? Certainly, all that’s going on with the OGL either 1.1 or 1.2 must be affecting them. Right? I know I’m not the only one who wonders.
Of course, everything is happening behind closed doors, so all we can do is ask questions. Admittedly, I’m asking them into the void that is the Internet, but at least I’m asking. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for some of these conversations that are going on in the TTRPG industry behind closed doors.
Tinfoil Hat time.
Pretend you’re one of the head honchos at Wizards of the Coast. You’ve purchased D&D Beyond because it’s the nearest digital platform that bears the D&D name. You’re looking to dominate the electronic (pdf, e-pub, etc) market as well as the Virtual TableTop market. Call WotC a lot of names, stupid isn’t necessarily one of them.
Roll 20 partnered up with OneBookShelf last year. Most of us would agree that Roll 20 is probably the next biggest VTT platform. DriveThruRPG.com is probably the biggest seller of pdfs. It’s also noteworthy that WotC does a LOT of business through DTRPG/OneBookShelf. DMsGuild.com is a OneBookShelf subsidiary.
If Wizards of the Coast is truly bent on taking over the industry, they need to eliminate or acquire OneBookShelf. Would the Reptilian Overlords at Hasbro allow such an acquisition with the whole community up in arms over the OGL? Remember, D&D Beyond subscriptions are being cancelled all over the place. Money to throw at this RPG thing might be getting kinda tight.
WotC is already half way into buying OBS/Roll 20.
DMsGuild already shares 20% of the profits with WotC. We know from Kickstarter that WotC was cutting sweetheart deals to certain companies during the failed OGL 1.1 implementation. What if, just what if WotC cut a deal with OneBookShelf?
When things go live in 2024 with One D&D’s Digital platform, OBS/Roll 20 is either going to be rolled into WotC or their biggest competitor in the market. I could easily see WotC assuming absolute control over The DMs Guild and pulling the rest of their product from OBS minimum. More likely all OBS/Roll 20 profits are rolled into WotC. Roll 20 will probably vanish from the face of the Earth if I am guessing correctly.
We already know WotC doesn’t care about the fans.
It wouldn’t be out of their character for them to absorb the largest pdf distributor in the TTRPG industry. WotC has already turned the entire industry on its ear with the OGL 1.1 scandal. Would it really be unthinkable to screw literally everyone on OneBookShelf communities by absorbing the whole platform? I personally wouldn’t put it past WotC at this point.
It’s really no different than Elon, Lord of the Bots, taking over Twitter. We’ve seen that big business pretty much always gets what it sets its sights on here in the United States. Hasbro/WotC is certainly big business when the next closest competitor to D&D makes about a tenth as much money annually.
Thinking about this, why wouldn’t Hasbro want the biggest competitor in the digital market and by far the largest distributor or e-pub, pdf, etc. Why not make probably 75% or better of the companies in the TTRPG industry come to them to sell pdfs? All TTRPGs are indistinguishable from D&D, right?
Not to mention WotC said they “don’t see editions” when it comes to D&D in their video intro to One D&D last year. It’s going to be a lot easier to not see any other officially published material from older editions if WotC takes over the DMsGuild. One way or another, WotC seems extra determined to clamp down on third party D&D creators and get those juicy royalties.
I want to be wrong on this one.
As far as I know, no one from OneBookShelf has commented on the OGL debacle or any deals with Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast. NDAs all around, I imagine. I doubt we’ll hear much until closer to 2024 on this one.
I see WotC as wanting to dominate the entire TTRPG industry. Who will win the TTRPG Wars? Will all TTRPGs become D&D?
If this does go down and Hasbro sucks up OBS/Roll 20 however they do it, what does the rest of the industry have to do? Other platforms such as Itch.io and Patreon will soon get a lot more popular. But there is only one DriveThruRPG. What could possibly replace it if it goes away forever?
Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Next time let’s talk about printed products.