January 2023 has been a wild month for the table games industry. Speculation, leaks, press releases, reaction, defections, big sales and now the month ends with a trip back and a promise to do better. Dungeons and dragons is known for creating tales of wild imagination and desperate struggles, but few campaigns can compete with it Dungeons and dragons society has gone through this month.
The new OGL leaks
On January 5th, Gizmodo reporter Lin Codega leaked a new Open Game license that was reportedly going to be published in early January. The license changed many of the details from the currently active Open Gaming License to include things like royalties, reports to Wizards of the Coast, and “opt-out” of the current license under which thousands of third-party products for use with D&D exist.
The leak caused an immediate uproar among fans who saw it as destroying years of community goodwill Wizards of the Coast had built up over the course of Fifth Edition. Not only were third-party publishers wondering whether they could move forward with products without the current license, or whether they could continue to print the products they already had. Others wondered if the company could terminate the license as there was no language included in the license to terminate it.
Wizards of the Coast issues a statement
Wizards of the Coast took a while to respond to the leak. Their first acknowledgment came on January 13, claiming that the leak was an early draft and that the new draft would include some changes. January 18, Kyle Brink, Executive Producer o.d Dungeons and dragons, said a new draft would be coming.
When the new draft was released, there were changes, but still things that upset fans. There was no guarantee that the current OGL would not be cancelled. It was a morality clause that many fans and creators worried would give Wizards of the Coast the ability to revoke the license for any content they found offensive.
The industry reacts and the fans revolt
It didn’t take long for the rest of the industry to catch on. Many companies such as Paizo, Kobold Press and Green Ronin Publishing signed on to the ORC, a developing open license for games that would not be subject to corporate control. several companies offered their own licenses to allow fans to create content for their games.
Fans went from protesting on social media to hitting Wizards of the Coast in the economy. Huge numbers of fans canceled theirs D&D beyond accounting in protest. Others discussed boycotts Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thievesa new attempt to turn the fantasy game into a film series for a wider audience.
Tests and sales
Wizards of the Coast tried a new tactic when they released OGL 1.2. They asked for feedback as a playtest with fans answering a survey about what they did and didn’t like about the new license. The investigation was scheduled to last until the first week of February.
As fans made their grievances known through official channels, curiosity about other RPGs drove banner sales for other companies. Publishers such as Pinnacle Entertainment Group and Chaosium announced brisk sales for games such as Savage Worlds and Call of Cthulhu. Paizo, publisher of Pathfinder Second Edition, claimed that it sold through an eight-month supply of the core rulebook in two weeks.
An overwhelming response
Today, Wizards of the Coast shocked the industry by announcing the closure of the survey. The answer was already loud and clear: 89% of respondents would not publish material under OGL 1.2, and 89% were unhappy with the removal of the current OGL. They had seen enough.
The company will keep the current OGL intact. In addition, they release the Systems Reference Document for the current edition under a Creative Commons license. This can expand the material that content creators can use to create D&D compatible products.
Many fans greeted this news with a sigh of relief, while others have expressed suspicion and wonder about the next move for Wizards of the Coast. These three weeks have burned up years of goodwill, trust and community building. The main fire may be out, but everyone will be picking through the wreckage for a while.