Wizards of the Coast has promised to revise their upcoming update to Dungeons & Dragons open game license after their ill-conceived plans drew a massive wave of backlash from nearly every tabletop player across the ideological spectrum.
As previously reported, the original draft of D&D‘s OGL 1.1 update featured a number of controversial changes to the game’s previous terms concerning players’ ability to create content based on the tabletop classic free of charge, most notably by giving Wizards the right to halt publication of any material they deem “blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, bigoted or otherwise discriminatory” and a ““nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, sub-licensable, royalty-free license” to all players’ past and future derivative works.
Unsurprisingly, these terms were met with outrage from players, including the very neoliberal and unquestioning audience Wizards has sought to cultivate in recent years, who believed the new OGL was both too subjective in its application and essentially allowed for the publisher to rob successful creators of their profits.
In the face of such extensive criticism, Wizards eventually came to admit that their plans had, at least in part, been poorly thought out.
Taking to the official D&D Beyond blog on January 13th, the publisher explained that “in addition to language allowing us to address discriminatory and hateful conduct and clarifying what types of products the OGL covers, our drafts included royalty language designed to apply to large corporations attempting to use OGL content.”
“It was never our intent to impact the vast majority of the community,” they continued. “However, it’s clear from the reaction that we rolled a 1. It has become clear that it is no longer possible to fully achieve all three goals while still staying true to our principles.”
As such, Wizards walked back part of their initial proposition, announcing that “the next OGL will contain the provisions that allow us to protect and cultivate the inclusive environment we are trying to build and specify that it covers only content for TTRPGs.”
The publisher further clarified, “that means that other expressions, such as educational and charitable campaigns, livestreams, cosplay, VTT-uses, etc., will remain unaffected by any OGL update. Content already released under 1.0a will also remain unaffected. What it will not contain is any royalty structure.”
“It also will not include the license back provision that some people were afraid was a means for us to steal work,” Wizards continued. “That thought never crossed our minds. Under any new OGL, you will own the content you create. We won’t. Any language we put down will be crystal clear and unequivocal on that point.”
“The license back language was intended to protect us and our partners from creators who incorrectly allege that we steal their work simply because of coincidental similarities,” they detailed.
“As we continue to invest in the game that we love and move forward with partnerships in film, television, and digital games, that risk is simply too great to ignore,” wrote Wizards. “The new OGL will contain provisions to address that risk, but we will do it without a license back and without suggesting we have rights to the content you create. Your ideas and imagination are what makes this game special, and that belongs to you.”
Admitting that the next draft of the OGL was not yet available due to their ongoing efforts to update it, Wizards opined, “You’re going to hear people say that they won, and we lost because making your voices heard forced us to change our plans. Those people will only be half right. They won—and so did we.”
“Our plan was always to solicit the input of our community before any update to the OGL; the drafts you’ve seen were attempting to do just that,” they claimed. “We want to always delight fans and create experiences together that everyone loves. We realize we did not do that this time and we are sorry for that. Our goal was to get exactly the type of feedback on which provisions worked and which did not–which we ultimately got from you. Any change this major could only have been done well if we were willing to take that feedback, no matter how it was provided–so we are.
“Thank you for caring enough to let us know what works and what doesn’t, what you need and what scares you,” said the publisher. “Without knowing that, we can’t do our part to make the new OGL match our principles, Finally, we’d appreciate the chance to make this right. We love D&D’s devoted players and the creators who take them on so many incredible adventures. We won’t let you down.
“We’d appreciate the chance to make this right,” Wizards concluded. “We love D&D’s devoted players and the creators who take them on so many incredible adventures. We won’t let you down.”