'We're going to do this a better way'— Dungeons & Dragons maker changes plans after outrage over leaked licence draft

adventurers posing dramatically
(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Dungeons & Dragons owner Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has put out a statement in response to the still-ongoing uproar over its handling of the Open Gaming Licence (OGL). A post by D&D executive producer Kyle Brink offers an apology for the way WotC has handled the controversy so far, and promises a more "open and transparent" approach to a new OGL that seeks to incorporate community feedback.

The furore was originally sparked by a draft version of a new OGL which seemed to make the licence significantly less open, requiring royalties to WotC from successful creators and handing the company more control over third-party works produced under the licence. It would also have stopped creators from using the current, more open licence, in direct contradiction to previous promises from WotC that licensees would be able to use older OGL versions if new ones weren't to their liking. But it now looks like the company is backpedalling from all of that.

"We are sorry. We got it wrong," reads Brink's post, before continuing to say that WotC's draft OGL failed to "[protect and cultivate] an inclusive play environment," and that the company's silence over the matter had "hurt fans and creators, when more frequent and clear communications could have prevented so much of this".

"Starting now, we're going to do this a better way," says Brink, describing a new, community-oriented process based on the company's current approach to the development of D&D itself. Brink says that the community will be presented with a new draft version of the OGL "on or before Friday, January 20th". Players will then be able to answer a survey—including both pre-written questions and open forms for general feedback—to offer their take on the revised licence. After "at least two weeks," the survey will close, at which point WotC will "compile, analyze, react to, and present back" its findings.

Regardless of what happens with the new licence, Brink lays out a few creative efforts which definitively won't be affected by any upcoming changes to the OGL. These are:

  • Video content: Commenters, streamers, YouTubers and TikTok stars are covered by the Wizards Fan Content Policy, which the OGL won't touch.
  • Accessories for owned content: You'll still be able to sell all manner of physical knick-knacks and doodads—like dice and minis—related to your own "creations, characters, and worlds".
  • Non-published works: Basically, if someone pays you to DM a D&D game, or commissions you for a personal work, the new OGL won't interfere with that.
  • Virtual Tabletops: The new OGL won't mess with your ability to publish your licence content for use on platforms like Roll20.
  • Content on DMs Guild: This is published under a separate agreement with DMs Guild itself.
  • Content published under OGL 1.0a: Content published under this version of the OGL won't be ported forward to the terms of the new one.
  • Revenue: Brink says the new OGL will have no "royalty or financial reporting requirements".
  • Content ownership: Creators will "continue to own [their] content with no license-back requirements".

It all seems quite rosy, but we'll have to wait and see whether WotC follows through on its promises. For more than a few fans, and even some publishers, the damage has been done, and no amount of cajoling or apologising is going to bring them back. As for the rest? We'll see how this survey goes, I suppose.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.