Wizards of the Coast finally responds to Dungeons & Dragons fandom’s rage at their new gaming license

dungeons & dragons
via Hasbro

Wizards of the Coast, publisher of the massively popular tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, broke its silence today for the first time since details of changes to its long-standing Open Gaming License were leaked by io9 last week. The document included proposed changes including new restrictions on third-party publishers, a new copyright clause, and a staggering 25 percent royalty due on revenues over $750,000. Today the company addressed the wave of backlash to the update by furious fans and content creators.

In a statement posted to the company’s D&D Beyond website, WoTC announced that “The next OGL will contain the provisions that allow us to protect and cultivate the inclusive environment we are trying to build and specify that it covers only content for TTRPGs. That means that other expressions, such as educational and charitable campaigns, livestreams, cosplay, VTT-uses, etc., will remain unaffected by any OGL update. Content already released under 1.0a will also remain unaffected.”

In addition, the company stated that the OGL update would not include the proposed royalty structure or any royalty structure at all. Nor will it include a license back provision many felt could be used to give WoTC proprietary rights over any content. WoTC stated that this “thought never crossed our minds.” 

The statement also claims that the original concept behind the OGL update was an attempt “to prevent the use of D&D content from being included in hateful and discriminatory products,” and “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.”

The company also addressed, to some extent, fan backlash, stating that it’s “clear from the reaction that we rolled a 1.” They also claim that the “plan was always to solicit the input of our community before any update to the OGL.” However, it is unclear exactly how WoTC was planning on moving forward with said solicitation as the OGL update was set to occur on Thursday and the proposed changes only came to light through leaked documents.  

However, the damage to the brand seems to have been done at this point. Many subscribers have canceled their subscriptions to D&D Beyond and other companies are seeking out and developing their own open-license game mechanics to use in lieu of D&D. It remains to be seen if the company can lure its former users back into the fold, or if irreparable harm has been done to the brand.