D&D content creators outraged over licensing changes, demand the game remain “open”

D&D content creators are furious over alleged changes coming to the immersive tabletop game’s Open Game License (OGL) from owner and publisher, Wizards of the Coast.

The changes will reportedly change the rules which allows third-party creators to create and sell their own supplemental products. Thus, making it harder for these to be created and sold without Wizard’s approval. According to Gizmodo’s Linda Codega, the new D&D license (OGL 1.1) will take aim at controlling what kinds of content can be distributed.

Global giant Hasbro, through Wizards of the Coast, regularly creates new additions to the game, but the current license allows for creative game masters and players to dream up their own additions to the existing system and sell them.

These third-party products were formerly protected under the original OGL, but the new system is said to be far more restrictive. In fact, Codega says that these changes will have a major focus on making creators report their published works directly to Wizards prior to release.

“It addresses new technologies like blockchain and NFTs, and takes a strong stance against bigoted content, explicitly stating the company may terminate the agreement if third-party creators publish material that is ‘blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, bigoted or otherwise discriminatory’,” reports the Gizmodo journalist.

At this present time, as per the current OGL, creators (both amateur and professional) are granted permission to release content containing the game’s unique mechanics and systems. Most of the current versions of the game explain that these items, which together make up what is called the System Reference Document (or SRD), are perpetually protected as long as the involved parties abide by the terms of the license.

Another major change is the introduction of a tiered system which would see creators of different sizes being required to pay back more to Wizards depending on how much money they earned off materials referenced in the SRD. In the version of the document obtained by Codega, only publishers who make over $750,000 will be required to pay royalties, and even then, it will only be on the amount made after that benchmark.

These changes have angered some fans and creators alike. Game Designer Benjamin Huffman responded to the news, tweeting: “The thing is, even if WotC drops OGL 1.1 completely we all know now how badly they tried to screw over the community of 3rd party creators that have allowed their game to flourish. We know they’d hurt all of us for the promise of miniscule gains.”

Huffman also posted an open letter (which can be read in full here), in which he states: “WotC [Wizards Of The Coast] has shown that they are the dragon on top of the hoard, willing to burn the thriving village if only to get a few more gold pieces. It’s time for us to band together as adventurers to defend our village from the terrible wyrm.”

Meanwhile, @ReTV tweeted: “Surely they *must* realize this is just going to horribly backfire. Right?” Another fan @Sorrow_133 wrote: “Man this feels so distasteful and like a slap to all of us.”

It should be noted that the team behind D&D previously released a post claiming that “the OGL is not going away” several weeks prior to Codega’s report. However, Codega does also acknowledge this at the start of her report.

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