I dunno about you guys, but I’m still not impressed.
For those late to this party, we’re talking about the Wizards of the Coast Open Game License for the Dungeons & Dragons game. This is their latest attempt to placate the community. Personally, I’m not convinced of the sincerity or veracity of anything coming out of Wizards of the Coast D&D department.
Below is the post from D&D Executive Producer, Kyle Brink:
Let me stop here for just a minute. Sorry, Mr Brink, but your apology rings a little hollow for all the people who may have become unemployed because of your corporate nonsense. Yeah, ya got it wrong. Maybe if this had been your corporation’s first attempt at an apology, we’d be more receptive.
It’s nice that WotC propped up a guy who has actually played the game as far as we know. It’s a real mystery as to how he can stand their plans for One D&D? How are you an executive and a D&D fan if you’re willing to subject us to $30/month? Are you nuts?
You were silent for an entire week while the TTRPG industry burned trying to figure out how to go forward. I’m really curious what your core values and McCorporate culture really looks like on the inside. I have a feeling it’s something to the effect of “Crush anything we can’t absorb or scare off.”
Open conversation?!? Like when employees at WotC are getting fired for voicing honest opinions that you asked for? Where’s the open conversation there?
What are you going to do when the feedback doesn’t blow smoke up WotC’s butts? We’re going to tell you things you don’t want to hear. Then what, Kyle? What’cha gonna do, Kyle? What’cha gonna do when thousands of negative opinions come crashing down on you?
“More frequent and clear communications?” Did we forget that the OGL 1.1 was a leaked final document, NOT A DRAFT!? Hasbro/WotC almost got away with it, too. If it hadn’t been for those darn meddling fans- especially the content creators you were planning to screw. If you’re sorry, it’s probably because y’all got caught with your hands in the cookie jar, buddy.
Yes. Yes. You’re going to be clear from now on because you know all eyes are on you. If you try to get squirrely, it’ll probably get leaked anyway. This way WotC can spin doctor anything that happens. We’re already onto you.
Yeah, WotC will “listen” to the fans. And then turn right around and do whatever they were going to do before. Those surveys are pretty much intended to pacify us with the notion that our opinion matters. The only opinions they’re going to listen to are the ones saying, “You guys are doing great. Yay WotC. Yay D&D. We’ll sign whatever.”
I hate to tell WotC this, but a LOT of us aren’t going to go for anything short of leaving the OGL 1.0A alone. There are going to be innumerable dissenting opinions no matter what WotC does. The whole #TTRPGCommunity isn’t going to roll over and agree with you just because you apologized and say you’re going to listen, Mr Brink.
Let’s move on, shall we?
It’s another Friday info dump coming up. These little tidbits we get on Fridays aren’t all that frequent or clear by way of communications. You guys go out and play golf while half the industry burns. Monday, you come into a bigger mess. Wednesday you issue this weaksauce apology.
What’s next? A live video? Oops. Looks like that was cancelled. You’re absolutely terrified of what we’re really going to say. Right, WotC?
As far as surveys go, I think it’s a really poor attempt to pacify the masses. They want us, the #ttrpgcommunity to honestly believe our opinions matter. See, public relations people do this sort of thing when there are angry keyboard warriors gunning for them. Now you theoretically have a say, a vote, or an outlet for your opinion. The reality of it is not as rosy.
Sadly, WotC already knows what they’re planning to do. Those surveys will not matter by my reckoning. WotC execs don’t care. Our opinions? 40,000+ canceled subscriptions to D&D Beyond. #StoptheSub and #DnDBeGone are the opinion they care about.
To further prove my point about surveys, this was posted by @DnD_Shorts and verified by sources from @itsginnydi and @nerdimmersion on Twitter yesterday.
My next point is the past tense used in regards to OGL 1.0A content.
I pointed out on Twitter that Mr Brink is being very vague and somewhat evasive about sales of OGL products going forward. This letter also skirted around the potential deauthorization of the OGL 1.0a. All we really know is all of the stuff previously published is safe and that WotC’s army of lawyers won’t come after any of the older stuff. But what about new product?
Am I still going to be able to publish 3.5 or 5E content going forward? Our ability to make dice, minis, etc is uncompromised. Okay, we knew that. But it didn’t mention pdf files or printed material. According to the statement, the ownership of our own content in unaffected. Good. Good, but still no mention of things printed next year or the week after the OGL 2.0 goes up.
I wasn’t worried about the VTTs and YouTube to be totally honest. Most D&D YouTubers are likely already in WotC’s back pocket OR completely enraged at WotC over the whole OGL thing. Old School Renaissance YouTubers straight up don’t care anyway if I had to guess.
The bit about the DMsGuild could be written off as a footnote, really. However…
So, here’s a winner of a transparency issue- What is the plan going forward for the DMsGuild, exactly. If the OGL undergoes a dramatic change, isn’t the DMsGuild going to be dramatically affected, too? I think there’s more going on behind the scenes at DMsGuild than we’re being told. But, that’s another article.
The comment itself about the DMsGuild sounded overconfident to me. It’s like, “We already own them, so who cares?” The DMsGuild Community Content Agreement is a slightly different animal and WotC is already in for a cut of the profits. As greedy as WotC seems to be these days, why aren’t they trying for a bigger cut of the DMsGuild profits? Hmm.
This was probably the most offensive part of all of the things in OGL 1.1. WotC was asking for a very large chunk of money from anyone making money off of D&D. The agreement took the biggest chunk of money out of anyone making $750,000 or more per project. Paizo, Kobold Press, Troll Lord Games, Goodman Games, and several other renowned ttrpg companies would have been devastated. The whole move was originally designed to target those companies specifically.
Personally, I found the revenue reporting requirement of OGL 1.1 to be too invasive. The rule that was being proposed was anyone making over $50K per year on D&D products would have to declare it through WotC. I really didn’t care for that plan and I’m happy if they never go through with it.
I noticed things were left out.
There was no mention of a signatory clause, meaning we might still have to sign off on the new OGL for it to be valid.
Just because we’re not reporting income doesn’t mean we don’t have to declare our project to WotC for approval.
They never truly addressed pdfs and print products specifically going forward. Glad those dice are safe, though. Whew.
We will retain our old content with no license back agreement- I can only see where that applies to the OGL 1.0a. There’s nothing to indicate what that looks like going forward.
This statement was also pretty vague regarding DMsGuild content. They could still change the Community Content Agreement. Maybe that’s where the money is going to get funneled. I’m still not convinced WotC won’t try to create a major profit funnel somewhere in this whole OGL process.
There isn’t any language indicating that the OGL 1.0a won’t ever be deauthorized or made irrevocable. All that was indicated was that the stuff already in print under OGL 1.0a would be safe. At least they chose not to open that can of worms. However, it’s still no indication of the terms in the new license. The last one was 9,000 words. They can slide a lot of shenanigans into that kind of legal document.
The bottom line is:
For Hasbro: More money. More players. AI DMs. Big subscription money. Heck, we don’t even know if WotC is going to print physical books at this point.
For WotC: Serve their Reptilian Hasbro Overlords, make tons of money, and try not to get caught and called out by thousands of fans because they lied. Try to salvage as much digital sales as possible. Promote the lifestyle brand as possible. If all that has been said is true, we the fans are still just an obstacle between Hasbro and our money.
For Fans/Players/DMs/Writers: We just want OGL 1.0a left alone. No big, shiny, new, slimy OGL that’s going to totally wreck our way of doing things in the TTRPG industry. Enough harm has already been done all around.
We want to be able to trust WotC again. I’m not saying whether or not it’s going to happen. Especially if things continue to trend the way it looks like they’re going to. WotC can’t apologize enough for some of us.
Yes, we all want inclusive play as much as anyone at WotC. If NuTSR (Justin LaNasa and Dave Johnson) hadn’t attempted to squat on the Star Frontiers IP with their racist, hateful nonsense, that might not have even come up. #Hadozee was just as big of an embarrassment for WotC. It’s kind of a non-issue in some regards.
Final thoughts on this one.
This whole apology from Kyle Brink, D&D Executive, is very simply public relations trying to salvage some kind of relationship with the thousands of people who cancelled D&D Beyond and get that precious revenue coming in again. This was all to address OGL concerns.
While the OGL is important, I think them threatening big changes was more than enough to damage the #ttrpgindustry. They still aren’t showing a heap of empathy toward anyone they hurt. I’d still love to see a list of their “core goals.”
Damn right the last couple of weeks have been hard on everyone, especially the fans. I know so many people have poured their artistic souls into the D&D game. I know I have. I don’t know if I can ever trust WotC again. They’re going to have to grovel for a very long time before I’m convinced they’re not a malevolent corporate entity. (*We all know how much I absolutely hate corporations at this point.)
It’s not over. WotC still has a lot going on past OGL issues. One D&D or #DnDONE as I call it, is still being developed. Or rather it has been developed and the surveys are just to affirm that they’re right about everything. As long as we tell WotC exactly what they want to hear, all is well. Dissenting opinions are a different animal entirely for WotC as they have shown.
I also suspect Hasbro/WotC are far from done trying to own the entire TTRPG industry or shut down anyone who doesn’t join. There are far more evil schemes than just tinkering with the OGL. There are a lot of NDAs, side deals, and corporate scheming that we haven’t really seen yet. Just wait. It’s gonna get worse before it gets better.
Thanks for being here as always. Keep fighting the good fight. Be kind to one another including WotC employees. They can’t help that they have to be involved in this for the sake of feeding their families.