Dungeons & Dragons scraps new OGL after backlash

Dungeons and Dragons

Wizards of the Coast has scrapped their plans for a new Dungeons and Dragons Open Game License (OGL) after massive backlash from players, content creators, and competitors.

In a complete walk back from their original plans to more aggressively monetize Dungeons and Dragons, the company has said explicitly that the original OGL will remain untouched.

Not only that, but the 5.1 System Reference Document (SRD) will be placed under a Creative Commons license:

When you give us playtest feedback, we take it seriously.

Already more than 15,000 of you have filled out the survey. Here’s what you said:

  • 88% do not want to publish TTRPG content under OGL 1.2.
  • 90% would have to change some aspect of their business to accommodate OGL 1.2.
  • 89% are dissatisfied with deauthorizing OGL 1.0a.
  • 86% are dissatisfied with the draft VTT policy.
  • 62% are satisfied with including Systems Reference Document (SRD) content in Creative Commons, and the majority of those who were dissatisfied asked for more SRD content in Creative Commons.

These live survey results are clear. You want OGL 1.0a. You want irrevocability. You like Creative Commons.

The feedback is in such high volume and its direction is so plain that we’re acting now.

  1. We are leaving OGL 1.0a in place, as is. Untouched.
  2. We are also making the entire SRD 5.1 available under a Creative Commons license.
  3. You choose which you prefer to use.

This Creative Commons license makes the content freely available for any use. We don’t control that license and cannot alter or revoke it. It’s open and irrevocable in a way that doesn’t require you to take our word for it. And its openness means there’s no need for a VTT policy. Placing the SRD under a Creative Commons license is a one-way door. There’s no going back.

Our goal here is to deliver on what you wanted.

The reason for placing the SRD under Creative Commons appears to be a show of good faith by making the document difficult to ever retract from public use.

The recent OGL controversy exposed the fact that at any Wizards of the Coast could attempt to “deauthorize” their OGL, rendering its “irrevocable” status meaningless.

Despite the way the company has scrambled to mitigate the damage, it might be too late. In the wake of the controversy, D&D’s largest competitor Paizo announced their own OGL using their own system.

Even if Wizards of the Coast tries to recover from their bad PR now, players are now aware that more games than Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition exist.

This is Niche Culture. In this column, we regularly cover anime, movies, geek culture, and things related to video games.

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A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.

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