Hasbro shoots itself in the foot: D&D and the OGL

Shadow Reaper

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Think of it this way.

They dropped a DRAFT OGL on fans.
No Actually, a whistleblower leaked the document. There was never any intention to ask fans, nor should they have considered this. You don't ask customers what to do. That invites bad decision making. BTW, this was a decision made by their new CEO to more highly monitize the property--something they have every right to do.

Again, they have the right to make money off their IP.
That's right, but bear in mind that for decades they had an open license. Content creators made the decision to create for that environment, with that agreement. If you spent a thousand hours creating a gaming world for the 5e system based upon an understanding with WotC that the rights to your material belong to you, and they tried to change that afterwards, you'd be hella pissed too. One of the reasons that D&D has become the most highly monitized TTRPG in history is because of the open license. That's about to change.

Now, some people are screaming...but 25 percent is too high.
That's 25% of revenue, not 25% after costs and taxes. That is about as much profit as comes from many of these projects. Some people would make nothing at all after WotC takes their cut.

But let's remember, those ideas are built on top of another IP. Without those initial ideas, your new business would not exist. . .

"But I can leave for Pathfinder" Okay...and when they up their royalty fees, where will you go next? They have a right to make money on their IP as well.
That's true, and Hasbro has a right to change it, and all the players have a right to leave. Two other publishers have already offered to secure the fan base with a permanent OGL for Paiso's Pathfinder.

Is it fair for someone to generate 10s or hundreds of millions of dollars using someone else's IP without paying for the use of that IP?
This depends upon whether the person earning that money did so based upon an open license. My guess is to date, the only company that has earned that kind of money was when Critical Role pulled in $14M with a kickstarter campaign. Had Hasbro had its hand out for 25% of that, the campaign would have failed miserably. So what WotC and Hasbro need to grapple with is that they own an IP part of which they cannot monitize, and in competition with other companies that can meet the need without bleeding the fan base dry.

The really big issue for Creators is that they just simply are not going to pay the 25%. They'll all move to Paiso and Pathfinder if WotC doesn't fix this very soon. The big issue for the players is they're not going to pay more than the $30/month for DND Beyond. 40,000 have already cancelled their subscriptions. Those are players who paid $30 for each book's worth of content.

I have a character over at D&D Beyond and I don't want to lose him. He was a once in a lifetime ability roll, and the computer records the fact that it is rolled, not fabricated. So I have huge reasons to stay. I think virtual TTRPG online is the future, and that character is my best hope for future play online, but I would prefer to go to Paizo and Pathfinder than pay such ridiculous amounts of money.

I don't currently list the Silvery Barbs spell on my character at D&D Beyond because I'm not paying for the Tasha's Caldron content ($30) for access to that one spell. WotC has gotten the content for hundreds of spells for free over the course of four decades, yet they sell access to them at outrageous prices. I published spells for free on Dragon Magazine over 4 decades ago, that WotC has monitized and gets paid for. They make enough money, and the players probably are not going to support them past the level they're monitized at. They make their money off providing a service and access to their published works, and if they think they can simply make the same money off books published through other means, and rip off content from other creators, the players are gonna cast a global whither spell on them.

Could happen tonight. We'll see.

I have strongly considered becoming a content creator for WotC in the past, so this matters. Just FYI, it doesn't take more than a thousand hours to write a campaign setting. What WotC wants however is always a few new subclasses and spells to give players reasons to buy the new content. That is what generates power creep in the new subclasses, and makes it so actual classes need to be rebalanced every few years. The game changes over time because of the monitization, and no one has complained until now, but WotC hasn't been this kind of greedy before and it looks like the players are gonna tonight decide if WotC lives or dies.
 
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Thalstan

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That's 25% of revenue, not 25% after costs and taxes. That is about as much profit as comes from many of these projects. Some people would make nothing at all after WotC takes their cut.
I've seen the new (new) OGL, and it's interesting, but I don't know what the comments will be, but it looks like they dropped the revenue requirement. Basically, it's going to go under a creative commons license.

That said, 25 percent of revenue is pretty much the standard you will be paying for any use of an existing IP. Again, I would point you towards other companies that do that type of licensing. This is not outside the norm, and under the original OGL, people making less than 750k were not impacted. Having a floor in and of itself is EXTREMELY generous, because most companies would require you pay it from dollar 1. Seriously, at 750k, you are not in the hobby market, but in the business of making games. The only thing that would impact small creators is if they had made revenues of 50k or more on their stuff, and then they would have to report their revenue to WotC. At that point, you are a small business anyway and should be anticipating doing things like reporting, paying taxes, etc.

As for Critical Role, I think they would have gotten the same 14 million. Why, because they would have adjusted their prices and content to match what they would have had to pay. People are willing to shell out 50-100 bucks for a D&D. Again, it was a business for them. They would not have said "I know our prices are high, but Hasbro wants their pound of flesh". They would have just said "here is the price of X item and it would have been 33 percent higher.

I understand people were upset. I understand that this would impact some people, and again, I disagree with Hasbro's stance on it. I really do. I am just saying, I can understand it from Hasbro's perspective as well. HOWEVER...I think that they will/can make a ton more money by using the open license agreement because it will encourage people to buy their core books and other adventures. How much they damaged those sales with this is another matter.
 
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NaffNaffBobFace

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I've seen the new (new) OGL, and it's interesting, but I don't know what the comments will be, but it looks like they dropped the revenue requirement. Basically, it's going to go under a creative commons license.

That said, 25 percent of revenue is pretty much the standard you will be paying for any use of an existing IP. Again, I would point you towards other companies that do that type of licensing. This is not outside the norm, and under the original OGL, people making less than 750k were not impacted. Having a floor in and of itself is EXTREMELY generous, because most companies would require you pay it from dollar 1. Seriously, at 750k, you are not in the hobby market, but in the business of making games. The only thing that would impact small creators is if they had made revenues of 50k or more on their stuff, and then they would have to report their revenue to WotC. At that point, you are a small business anyway and should be anticipating doing things like reporting, paying taxes, etc.

As for Critical Role, I think they would have gotten the same 14 million. Why, because they would have adjusted their prices and content to match what they would have had to pay. People are willing to shell out 50-100 bucks for a D&D. Again, it was a business for them. They would not have said "I know our prices are high, but Hasbro wants their pound of flesh". They would have just said "here is the price of X item and it would have been 33 percent higher.

I understand people were upset. I understand that this would impact some people, and again, I disagree with Hasbro's stance on it. I really do. I am just saying, I can understand it from Hasbro's perspective as well. HOWEVER...I think that they will/can make a ton more money by using the open license agreement because it will encourage people to buy their core books and other adventures. How much they damaged those sales with this is another matter.
I don't think it was simply, singularly the OGL. You make a series of points which by semselves are really sensible, seem reasonable and when looked at independently from the rest of the changes which were on the cards are hard to argue with...

But looked at along side the rest of the changes, including to some core services along with the sweetheart deals they'd already pre-emptivey forged based on this 'draft' (the optics on offering partners contractual terms based on an uncommitted draft suggest either business mismanagement or no, it wasn't a draft) and one very important quote from the boardroom, I am still able to sympathise with the community which took this IP from strength to strength, and understand that ire... the important quote was:

"Undermonetized"
 
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Shadow Reaper

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I have searched around quite a bit, listened to a lot of opinions, and at this point wonder whether WotC will survive this.

I’m thinking about the big creators of successful settings like Dungeon Dudes above, who developed the Drakenheim setting. They have no reason to cooperate with any changes in a new GL, and they’re already talking about a move to Pathfinder. There are a lot of things to recommend that game over 5e.

Also consider the rock stars of D&D, Critical Role. They have a lot more than $750k into the IP and I’ve no doubt they would leave before handing over the lion’s share of their profits. There’s just no reason to cooperate. Rather, my money is on Mercer to create a next gen TTRPG with the details of Pathfinder and the ease of play of 5e, designed from the start to run on phones and tablets that expands the game exponentially into the VR realm. DnD Beyond is only half way there and though they were headed the right direction, they just burned all the good will of the players. I doubt this younger generation is going to forgive that short of firing the CEO responsible.

Every industry looks for growth and TTRPGs only have two sorts available. Either sell players more goods and services or get more players. Had WotC stayed focused on the latter, they’d have been fine, but they had already tapped out the former. Full access to the complete libraries from all the books in digital form was already something close to $300 I think. Thats with no printing costs—just digital distribution. Trying to get players to pay $30 for one feat here and one spell there was already pushing the limits. This last is just a damm breaking.

My money is on Pathfinder, or perhaps a collaboration between several of the big creators for a new system, or perhaps when Critical Role finishes Campaign 3, they release their own new game.

And of course, we’re still waiting on a similar space fiction game to take hold. Maybe this will kick Traveller into high gear.
 

Shadow Reaper

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Well, it looks like it’s over but the damage may already be enough to severely hamper the brand. Lots of people (myself included) have begun investigating Pathfinder and found it superior in many ways. So which DMs, play tables and third party publishers stick with the brand remains to be seen.

Certainly, 5e is the center of the TTRPG universe because of its open license and heritage that goes back to the mid 70’s. That heritage has been deeply injured and my guess is many third parties will start writing for Pathfinder now, if not exclusively, at least alongside their works for 5e.

After watching about ten hours of Pathfinder for 5e converts, I have to admit it has a lot of benefits over 5e. . However, IMHO 5e’s benefit derived from its central position still outweighs the game dynamics benefits of Pathfinder. That’s due to the enormous amount of work provided by third party publishers.

View: https://youtu.be/VUBinw9H2DA
 
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Thalstan

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I’ve played many systems, including Pathfinder, first, second, third, third and a half, and 5e, (yes, I have 4, but we don’t discuss 4, like we don’t discuss Highlander 2). amber (diceless RPG), GURPS, Palladium, Mechwarrior, Shadowrun, new (and old) star wars, Hero, Warhammer RPG, and Champions.

there is a reason why D&D has a huge percentage of the TTRPG market. That’s because it works, especially in combat. I’ve played games where a single round of combat in some systems would take 10-20 minutes to resolve if the group was big enough. That same round would have lasted 5 minutes max under D&D combat rules.

outside of combat, most everything else can be handled through RP, storytelling, and maybe a few dice rolls, skill checks, etc. Good DMs don’t let the dice get in the way of good RP. Yes, checks are made, but it’s often the RP that tells you roll those dice.

Combat on the other hand is (almost) always dice. Hey, roll 10d6 and start pairing them up against your opponents defense dice, or compare your scores in weapons combat…ohhh, sorry Corwyn, but as you know, Benedict (maybe not including Oberon) is the premier weaponsmaster of the Sons of Amber. He toys with you a bit, then smashes your defenses, and immediately after, you. When you come to, you can tell that you are in a Shadow far from Amber. Benedict is astride his horse and tell you that if you come back and threaten Amber, he will kill you. He then turns his horse and starts shadowwalking away, disappearing from your view. You fade out and when you wake, you are in a hospital with no memory of anything except the thoughts of home and danger, but you don’t know if it means your home is in danger, or if it’s dangerous to go home…you also find a note in your pocket saying Eric will be king.… but who is Eric? (Stuff like that for RP of skill checks in that system) - yes, to all those that are going to say I butchered the story, I agree, but’s it’s been a decade or so since I last read the Amber series…going to have to dig those out…

D&D’s combat system is fairly easy to use, straightforward, and easily picked up by new players. I’ve known players to try other systems, but they always come back to D&D because of the ease of the system. Yes, initial sales might be a little slow, but since D&D one is going to be an update to 5e and work with it for the most part I like 3.5e). Then I don’t see people discarding all their books and buying a new set of Pathfinder books, Critical Roll books. Etc.
 
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