Hasbro tweaked the “natural one” to auto-release to convince fans that rewriting its two-decade-old open game license was anything but a revenue boost.
Their children’s company, Wizards of the Coast (WOC), which owns the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, has seen changes to its open game license, causing quite a stir among fans.
In 2000, WOC released OGL 1.0, which allowed third-party creators to use WOC characters, rules, game systems, and products in their creations. This symbiotic relationship has led to a cottage industry that includes some hit shows like Critical Role, Dimension 20, Not Another D&D Podcast, and Dungeons and Daddies. Not a BDSM Podcast, which in turn brought more attention to the game and WOC than it had in decades.
Some have called this last decade a renaissance for D&D, with epidemic blocking only contributing to the game’s meteoric resurgence in popularity.
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A week ago, the OGL 1.1 leak was released, which basically dissolved this relationship and, among other things, required some large third-party creators to pay more than 20-25% royalties to WOC for the use of their game system and products.
This sparked a backlash among fans, with 67,000 signing an online petition, and cost the company about $400,000 in monthly revenue. After a week of dealing with the popular uprising, Hasbro issued a statement revoking their new license.
“It’s clear from the response that we rolled a 1. It has become clear that it is no longer possible to fully achieve all three goals while remaining true to our principles,” the company said in a statement. “It will not contain any royalty structure.”
“You’ll hear people say they won and we lost because your voice made us change our plans. Those people will only be half right. They won and so did we.”
The reception of the statement was cold among those demonstrating against the company. While some celebrated this as a victory, others argued that this changes nothing and the WOC still intends to change the OGL. The boycott resulted in nearly 40,000 unsubscribed subscriptions, with the number growing daily. It was only after the WOC president’s latest comments were made public that anger among fans flared up.
“D&D has never been more popular, and we have a really great fanbase and engagement,” Wizards of the Coast president Cynthia Williams told investors during a December UBS virtual fireside chat. “But the brand is really undermonetized.”
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D&D has grown in popularity with third-party content creators, starring in Netflix’s hit Stranger Things, and will no doubt see another push in the upcoming D&D. From the movie “Honor Among Thieves”. The release of OGL 1.1 has been officially delayed.