January 17, 2023: Goodwill

Image by Freepik.

Wizards of the Coast released a statement on the OGL 1.1 that I feel only served to make things worse, and has prompted a lot of close scrutiny of the OGL in general, from the language used in the original to whether it is actually needed at all. The whole debacle has pushed a number of game companies to band together and seek to create a more egalitarian open game license that would be divorced from any one company or game system, be perpetual, and be irrevocable.

The genie is out of the bottle, as the saying goes.

My favorite part is this statement,

…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.

First of all, those groups for whom the OGL was purportedly for—”the content creator, the homebrewer, the aspiring designer, our players, and the community”—never needed the OGL, period. Fans have been making stuff up for D&D since day one, and no one needed a license to share that material with other players. Second, to say that the OGL was not for “major corporations to use for their own commercial and promotional purpose” is disingenuous and contrary to the original intent of the license, which sought to create a greater community around D&D, give creators some sense of assurance that they wouldn’t get sued by Wizards, and have other companies create material for D&D that ultimately would strengthen the main game/brand. It’s revisionism at its finest.

It’s fascinating and sad to see all the goodwill Wizards of the Coast has built for themselves and their game/brand over the last 20 years of the OGL and open game movement be flushed down the drain so quickly over what, at best (and giving the benefit of the doubt) was a flawed document with flawed communication to the fan base about what the objectives were, at worse a total money-grabbing move.

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