What Is Going on with Wizards of the Coast?

Wizards of the Coast, the publisher of the popular Dungeons & Dragons series (and a subsidiary of Hasbro) has come under scrutiny lately, because of the proposed changes to their Open Games License (or OGL).

The OGL is basically a license to use certain mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons and fans can create royalty-free content. Basically, it’s a license to create derivative works. A derivative work is a new work that is based on another, already-made work. A book being made into a movie for example. Essentially, a fan can create their own stories, using certain mechanics that are already present in Dungeons & Dragons. The popular Critical Role may be an example of this.

Wizards of the Coast announced that there would be a rules update to the OGL. The biggest change was that the OGL stated it would “no longer [be] an authorized license agreement,” and that no new content would be permitted under the original license. That means that someone can not make any money for any products or content that they make.

The fans created some massive retaliation after learning of the newest version of the OGL. From no longer buying new products to boycotting the game.

On January 13, 2023, posting in D&D Beyond, Wizards of the Coast made their statement, clearing up their goals, what will be in the new OGL, and what will not be in the new OGL. In part, they stated:

“First, we wanted the ability to prevent the use of D&D content from being included in hateful and discriminatory products. Second, we wanted to address those attempting to use D&D in web3, blockchain games, and NFTs by making clear that OGL content is limited to tabletop roleplaying content like campaigns, modules, and supplements. And third, we wanted to ensure that the OGL is for the content creator, the homebrewer, the aspiring designer, our players, and the community— not major corporations to use for their own commercial and promotional purpose.”

“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. 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.”

We shall see what the final version looks like in the near future.

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