Commissar SFLUFAN Posted January 6 Share Posted January 6 As part of its upcoming "One D&D" initiative (which is effectively the 6th edition), WotC has previously stated that it intended to update its Open Gaming License (OGL) in order to reflect the transition to the new "edition". Yesterday, very reputable sources within the D&D/tabletop gaming community began leaking the draft version of the OGL 1.1 to well-regarded YouTube channels and HOLY HELL HAS BROKEN LOOSE because this version of the OGL -- at least in its draft stage -- is poised to FUNDAMENTALLY shake the foundations of third-party content creators who have relied upon the OGL to develop/publish products that have spurred the TTRPG Renaissance we've seen over the last few years, especially for those smaller developers/publishers who have used Kickstarter so very effectively. This Gizmodo article contains the best presentation of the information we have so far: Dungeons & Dragons’ New License Tightens Its Grip on Competition GIZMODO.COM An exclusive look at Wizards of the Coast's new open gaming license shows efforts to curtail competitors and and tighten control on creators of all sizes. Quote What is the Dungeons & Dragons Open Gaming License? The original OGL is what many contemporary tabletop publishers use to create their products within the boundaries of D&D’s reproducible content. Much of the original OGL is dedicated to the System Resource Document, and includes character species, classes, equipment, and, most importantly, general gameplay structures, including combat, spells, and creatures. The creation of the OGL version 1.0, which was originally published in 2000, has allowed a host of outside designers and publishers, both amateur and professional, to make new products for a game that remains entirely owned by Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast (WotC). While this arrangement sometimes created products that directly competed with WotC publications, it also allowed the game to flourish and grow thanks to the resources created by the wider D&D community. Quote What is in the new OGL 1.1? A lot, actually. While the original open gaming license is a relatively short document, coming in at under 900 words, the new draft of the OGL 1.1, which was provided to io9 by a non-WotC developer, is over 9,000 words long. It addresses new technologies like blockchain and NFTs, and takes a strong stance against bigoted content, explicitly stating the company may terminate the agreement if third-party creators publish material that is “blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, bigoted or otherwise discriminatory.” (Hooray!) One of the biggest changes to the document is that it updates the previously available OGL 1.0 to state it is “no longer an authorized license agreement.” By ending the original OGL, many licensed publishers will have to completely overhaul their products and distribution in order to comply with the updated rules. Large publishers who focus almost exclusively on products based on the original OGL, including Paizo, Kobold Press, and Green Ronin, will be under pressure to update their business model incredibly fast. This is no mistake. According to the document procured by io9, the new agreements states that “the Open Game License was always intended to allow the community to help grow D&D and expand it creatively. It wasn’t intended to subsidize major competitors, especially now that PDF is by far the most common form of distribution.” (note: this is unquestionably a not-subtle-at-all shot a Paizo and its Pathfinder/Starfinder RPGs) Quote What will happen to the original OGL? The original OGL granted “perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive license” to the Open Game Content (commonly called the System Resource Document) and directed that licensees “may use any authorized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.” But the updated OGL says that “this agreement is…an update to the previously available OGL 1.0(a), which is no longer an authorized license agreement.” The new document clarifies further in the “Warranties” section that “this agreement governs Your use of the Licensed Content and, unless otherwise stated in this agreement, any prior agreements between Us and You are no longer in force.” According to attorneys consulted for this article, the new language may indicate that Wizards of the Coast is rendering any future use of the original OGL void, and asserting that if anyone wants to continue to use Open Game Content of any kind, they will need to abide by the terms of the updated OGL, which is a far more restrictive agreement than the original OGL. Now, let's get to the $$$ part because this is where the rubber meets the road as WotC executives well and truly believe that D&D is severely "under-monetized". Quote Will OGL publishers have to pay royalties? Probably not. Unless they are making over $750,000, licensees get to keep the money they earn. But the new OGL states that the Commercial Agreement “covers all commercial uses, whether they’re profitable or not.” So if you go into the red on a Kickstarter that earned $800K in backing money, you will still owe Wizards of the Coast, regardless of the fact that you did not profit from your venture. “Note that if You appear to have achieved great success... from producing OGL: Commercial content, We may reach out to You for a more custom(and mutually beneficial) licensing arrangement,” the document notes, indicating that WotC is open to creating custom contracts and agreements, but at their discretion. This could indicate that “subsidized competition” like Pathfinder might not get a great deal. The revenue tiers are as follows: A. Initiate Tier. If You have registered at least one Licensed Work but haven’t generated $50,000 or more in total (gross) revenue from OGL: Commercial products in a given year, You are at the Initiate Tier. B. Intermediate Tier. If Your Licensed Work(s) have generated more than $50,000 in total revenue in a given year but less than $750,000, You are at the Intermediate Tier. C. Expert Tier. If Your Licensed Work(s) have generated at least $750,000 in total revenue in a given year, You are at the Expert Tier. According to the document, “If, and only if, You are generating a significant amount of money (over $750,000 per year across all Licensed Works) from Your Licensed Works, The revenue You make from Your Licensed Works in excess of $750,000 in a single calendar year is considered “Qualifying Revenue” and You are responsible for paying Us 20% or 25% of that Qualifying Revenue.” The draft goes on to explain that if you make $750,001, you will owe Wizards of the Coast 25 cents, as they are only asking for royalties on the one dollar made in excess of the Expert Tier. As stated in their announcement in December, WotC suspects that “less than twenty” companies are at the Expert Tier. Sure, that doesn't sound too bad at all, but here's the kicker that would get my alarm bells sounding if I was a third-party D&D content creator of any size: Quote WotC also gets the right to use any content that licensees create, whether commercial or non-commercial. Although this is couched in language to protect Wizards’ products from infringing on creators’ copyright, the document states that for any content created under the updated OGL, regardless of whether or not it is owned by the creator, Wizards will have a “nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, sub-licensable, royalty-free license to use that content for any purpose.” This means that WotC will effectively "co-own" any content created by a third-party creator, won't be required to pay that third-party creator a single penny in royalties, and will be able to monetize that content until the heat death of the universe, even if they terminate the license of that third-party creator which they can do for any reason, provided 30 days' notice is given. Needless to say this has created nothing short of storm within the third-party D&D creator community within the last 24 hours since the initial leak of the draft 1.1 license which occurred during this livestream with Stephen Glicker & Mark Seifter who from the Roll for Combat live play channel (the actual leak and discussion occur at 39:30). As a follow-up, the hosts brought on a NY-based contract lawyer to discuss the terms and conditions of the draft 1.1 OGL (note: I haven't watched this particular video yet): Those who will be most significantly impacted by this new version of the OGL will be the relatively small content creators (i.e. not Critical Role or Paizo) like The Griffon's Saddlebag, a well-known magic item creator, who posted this truly despondent video earlier this week after reviewing the draft OGL 1.1 license: If this OGL 1.1 license releases in its final form more or less substantively unchanged from the draft version, it could very well be the catalyst for the most potentially significant fundamental change in the relationship between Hasbro/WotC and the TTRPG content creator community in decades. I can thoroughly appreciate the sentiment of Hasbro/WotC that they've left "money on the table" regarding D&D for years and watched as Paizo and the other third-party content creators have managed to carve out their own relatively successful niches using the system that D&D pioneered. I don't blame them for wanting to capture at least some of that value. What I certainly can and will blame them for is apparently going about it in one of the most draconian, ham-fisted, and shortsighted ways possible where there is a not-insignificant potential for it to backfire so very spectacularly that it could effectively bring the TTRPG Renaissance to a sudden, screeching halt. 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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