January 30, 2023

The cancellation of D&D Beyond Subscriptions forced Hasbro’s Hand

Clarification: Vicki Lita

Finally the publisher of Dungeons & Dragons Wizards of the Coast He broke his silence Regarding the open game license on Friday, trying to calm down Tensions in the D&D community And answer questions raised after Gizmodo I reported the news About the contents of last week’s draft document.

In a message titled Update on the Open Game License (OGL), which was posted on the website of D&D Beyond, the official Wizards of the Coast digital toolkit, the company has addressed several concerns raised after the Open Gaming 1.1 license was leaked earlier in the week, and quickly brought it back. Notable changes include scrapping ownership structures and promising clarification Copyright ownership and intellectual property.

But it may be too little, too late.

Despite reassurances from subsidiary Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) may have already suffered the consequences of the Week of Silence. Multiple sources within WotC tell Gizmodo that the situation inside the castle is dire, and that Hasbro is less worried about the public image and more about the IP treasure the dragon sits on.

The bottom line seems to be this: After a fan-led campaign for cancellation D&D Besides the subscriptions that went viral, I sent a message to WotC and top Hasbro. According to multiple sources, these immediate financial consequences were the main thing that forced them to fight back. The decision to delay publication of the new open gaming license and then adjust messaging around the offering was due to a “demonstrable impact” on the bottom line.

According to those sources, in meetings and communication with employees, messages from WotC management were that fans were “overreacting” to the leaked draft, and that in a few months, no one would remember the uproar.

Licensees are pushing back

But despite any hopes that this all might blow over, well-known publishers who have previously used the OGL—some almost exclusively, such as Kobold Press, and MCDM— have already put out statements saying that they will either be moving away from all versions of the OGL, or explicitly offering up their own gaming licenses for their core games.

The “negative impact of implementing the new OGL might be a feature and not a bug for Wizards of the Coast,” said Charles Ryan, chief operating officer of Monte Cook Games. “A savvy third-party publisher might look at where 5e is in it life cycle,” he said, and if they were planning 5e products, reconsider their investment. Monte Cook Games released their own open, perpetual license for their acclaimed Cypher System last year.

Smaller indie presses have pulled together resources to help people make third-party content for small games. Rowan, Rook and Deckardfor example, released Resistance Toolkita document intended to help relieve designers from 5th edition D&D rules and write third-party content for the acclaimed RPG Spire.

A third-party publisher told Gizmodo that they expected WotC to update OGL as indicated in the leaked documents, but not until 2025, during the full release of DnDOne. Now many third-party publishers have moved up the migration timeline after the publicity disaster surrounding the leaked novelty Dungeons and Dragons OGL.

One of WotC’s biggest competitors, the independent publisher Paizo, is owner Pathfinder And starfinder RPGs, is currently leading a campaign to create a Open RPG Creative License (ORC) which will be supervised by a non-profit organization. Other publishers, including Kobold Press, Chaosium, and Legendary Games, have already committed to the effort.

Another third-party publisher who requested anonymity told Gizmodo that their company has “already collaborated with other third-party publishers” to provide a legal defense for the original, circa 2000, OGL 1.0(a).

Text of the OGL 1.1 and 2.0 FAQ

Last week, Gizmodo received leaked draft versions of “OGL 1.1,” and a few days later, an FAQ document that referred to “OGL 2.0.” (This is an important distinction, because while 1.1 can be seen as an update of the original 1.0(a), calling the new agreement 2.0 would indicate that it is being imagined as an entirely new, separate agreement.)

One of the most frequently asked questions about OGL 2.0 included a statement that clarified one of the most inflammatory points of the leaked OGL 1.1 – whether or not the original OGL 1.0a was going to be revoked. The leaked FAQ said that “OGL 1.0a only allows Creators to use “authorized” versions of OGL which allows Wizards to select which of their previous versions to continue allowing use when we exercise our right to update the license. As part of the OGL 2.0 rollout, we are revoking the license OGL 1.0a from future use and removed from our website. This means that OGL 1.0a can no longer be used to develop content for release.”

Although many people have come forward to debate the legality of this interpretation, including former WotC CEO Ryan Dancey, who helped write the original OGL 1.0, the FAQ has continued to drive this language. Additionally, the January 13 update does not explicitly indicate that the company will not attempt to revoke the OGL 1.0a license. “I don’t think the OGL v1.0a license can be revoked,” Dancey said in an email to Gizmodo. “There is no mechanism in the license to revoke authorization.”

“When version 1.0a was published and licensed, Hasbro & Wizards of the Coast did so knowing they were entering a perpetual licensing regime,” Dancey continued. All the people involved at the executive level—Peter Adkison (who was CEO of Wizards), Brian Lewis (who was a consultant for In-house Wizards), and myself (who was the vice president of tabletop RPGs) all agreed that the license was intended. “

While the OGL 2.0 FAQ has been distributed across multiple teams within Wizards of the Coast, sources indicate that this FAQ was not released on January 12 as intended due to the impact of canceled subscriptions and growing online backlash.

The OGL 2.0 FAQ also stated that “the leaked documents were drafts, and some of the content that people were upset about had already been changed in the latest versions by the time of the leaks.” However, what bothers people – including copyright and royalties riders – still looks the same as in the FAQ for 2.0.

explained Jessica Markrum, co-creator Unseelie Studios. But this is not an “open” language. And they seem to be using the old OGL look to pretend that 1.1 is an open grant license when it isn’t.”

Additionally, multiple sources reported that third-party publishers were given OGL 1.1 in mid-December as an incentive to sign a “sweetheart deal”, indicating that WotC was willing to go with the already leaked, draconian OGL 1.1.

Term papers

According to an anonymous source who was in the room, in late 2022, Wizards of the Coast gave a presentation to a group of about 20 third-party content creators that outlined the new OGL 1.1. These creators were also offered deals that would replace the publicly available OGL 1.1; Gizmodo has received a copy of this document, called the “Terms Sheet,” which will be used to define specific custom contracts within the OGL.

These “sweetheart” deals will give signatories the right to reduced royalty payments — 15 percent instead of 25 percent on excess revenue over $750,000, as stated in OGL 1.1 — and a commitment from Wizards of the Coast to market these third-party products to various D&D is outside of channels and platforms, except for “blackout periods” around WotC’s own releases.

Third parties were expected to sign these term papers. Noah Downs.

Do it right

In an “Open Game License Update” released on Friday, WotC promised that the new OGL is still in development and not ready for final release “because we need to make sure we get it right.” The company promised to receive feedback from the community and continue to make revisions to OGL which made it work for both WotC and its third party publishers.

But it may be too late. Even if the Wizards of the Coast are all walking [the leaked OGL 1.1] It leaves such a sour taste in my mouth and in my mouth that I don’t want to work with OGL in the future, said David Markowski of Unseelie Studios.

Meanwhile, the “#DnDBegone” campaign encouraging fans to cancel D&D Beyond subscriptions continued to gain traction on Twitter and other social media sites.

In order to completely delete a D&D Beyond account, users are directed to a support system that asks them to submit tickets to be handled by customer service: Sources within Wizards of the Coast confirm that earlier this week there was a “five figure” value of tickets complaint in the system. They said that both the moderation and internal management of the issues were “in shambles”, in part due to the fact that WotC had recently downsized the D&D Beyond support team.

Wizards of the Coast mentioned in an unreleased FAQ that changes were not made to OGL just because of some “loud noises”, which is true. It took thousands of votes. And Wizards of the Coast clearly didn’t make the latest changes of their own free will. The entire backgammon ecosystem holds Wizards of the Coast to deliver on the promises they made in 2000. Now, fans are setting the terms.


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