Wizards of the Coast Announces 'Transparent' Feedback Process on D&D's New Game License

After a series of reports by io9 exposed controversial new plans for the RPG's content license, the Dungeons & Dragons team is taking a collaborative approach.

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Image: Wizards of the Coast

In the wake of io9's reporting on Wizards of the Coast’s plans to update Dungeons & Dragons’ long-established Open Game License—the proprietary agreement that allows creatives to develop new content and systems using the rules of the iconic RPG—the publisher’s ongoing apology to creators has led to the announcement of a new feedback system to create the next OGL.

In a blog post on D&D Beyond’s official website, D&D Executive Producer Kyle Brink announced that another new iteration of WOTC’s recent plans for a post-1.0a OGL world will be developed hand in hand with community feedback, akin to how the company currently solicits feedback for Unearthed Arcana (pre-release rulesets for new class variations and more) and the upcoming new edition of Dungeons & Dragons, dubbed One D&D.

“We are sorry. We got it wrong. Our language and requirements in the draft OGL were disruptive to creators and not in support of our core goals of protecting and cultivating an inclusive play environment and limiting the OGL to TTRPGs,” Brink’s statement reads in part. “Then we compounded things by being silent for too long. We hurt fans and creators, when more frequent and clear communications could have prevented so much of this.”

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io9 broke the news of WOTC’s plans for an “OGL 1.1” on January 5, where a leaked draft of the newest iteration of the license included royalty payments for creatives who make more than $750,000 on products using the license, as well as controversial steps to both phase out the authorization of the current version of the OGL, 1.0a, and wield more creative control on properties and homebrew systems created under the new terms. Feedback among both fans and third-party TTRPG developers alike was immediately outspoken, with publishers like Pathfinder developer Paizo announcing its own multi-system game license as a rebuke, while WOTC remained silent, cancelling planned announcements before releasing an initial statement last Friday, January 13.

“Thank you for caring enough to let us know what works and what doesn’t, what you need and what scares you. Without knowing that, we can’t do our part to make the new OGL match our principles,” that statement, credited only to the D&D Beyond Staff, concluded. “Finally, we’d appreciate the chance to make this right. We love D&D’s devoted players and the creators who take them on so many incredible adventures. We won’t let you down.”

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A second FAQ for a “2.o” version of the license, also obtained by io9, still included several of the more controversial updates, notably the de-authorization of the 1.0a OGL, in spite of Wizards of the Coast’s statement declaring the leaked updates as drafts “already changed in the latest versions by the time of the leaks.” However, now it appears that the publisher is going back to the drawing board in a much wider capacity, with plans for a new proposed version of the OGL that will be open to public feedback from D&D players.

In the new statement, Brink confirms that a proposed new draft of the Open Game License will be released “by or on” this Friday, January 20, for review by the D&D community. Players will be able to fill in a feedback form akin to playtests provided for early access to new D&D material in the Unearthed Arcana over a period of two weeks, after which WOTC will analyze feedback and in turn present new changes and analysis based on what information was gathered.

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Brink also re-iterated what any future draft of the OGL will not impact for creators, including several step backs of prior intentions in early drafts:

  • Video content, in the form of podcasts, actual play streams, or more, already covered by the Wizards Fan Content Policy
  • The sale of accessories for creator-owned content using the OGL
  • Commission services, such as consulting and commissioned work
  • Content published for Virtual Tabletop (VTT) platforms and through the DMs Guild
  • Content already published under the 1.0a OGL

Licensees will also no longer have to report royalty and financial information in order to access the OGL, and there will be no license-back requirements in the new draft.

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The proposed system is a sharp 180 on Wizards’ previously established intent for the new OGL, speaking to the depth of uproar surrounding previous drafts of the documentation. Hopefully this time it seems like the publisher is taking the public and financial drubbing it’s faced in the wake of these plans leaking seriously, and whatever new iteration of the OGL that comes out of this process will be a true collaboration between the company and the community it has fostered for generations—and rekindle a relationship that has lost a significant amount of trust and respect in the past few weeks.


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