The great revival of Dungeons & Dragons started in 2000. The year the 3rd Edition was born and with it, the OGL (Open Gaming License).
This created an explosion of interest in the game and in table top role-playing in general. And with a multitude of small press game designers. All getting a piece of the pie.
Then WoTC (Wizards of the Coast) was sold to Hasbro. The mega game company that has bought out many others over the years.
Twenty years into the OGL era and Habro wants to get a bigger piece of the pie and all rights to any Dungeons & Dragons published material.
From a business red line stand point, this makes sense. Hasbro isn’t getting revenue from other publishers who create games and material based on D&D and use the D&D brand.
So, they are revoking the current OGL license and creating a multi-teired license in it’s place. This new OGL is not an open gaming license however. And severaly restricts publishers and the creative spirit.
But what Hasbro doesn’t understand is that it was the OGL that caused the explosion in the market in the first place. Without it, WoTC would have remained a small press company that owned the D&D brand.
The popularity of the game would still be limited to the nerds and geeks that have always played it and their kids. And the explosion of publishers never would have happened.
And Habro itself wouldn’t have been interested in acquiring WoTC or the D&D brand because it would still be small potatoes. High risk, little reward.
So here we are. With the current OGL, D&D is a cash cow for anyone that wants to get into publishing something for it or based on it. Including Hasbro if they had a group dedicated to producing new content for the game.
With the leak of the OGL 1.1, this will change. The small press well will dry up. It’s not worth the cost of a small press who is turning out PDFs in their basement. No way to fight a legal battle with Hasbro in the courts either.
Players and publishers alike have already talked online about abandoning D&D if this new OGL takes shape and some are going to do it anyway now.
Even if Hasbro changes course and keeps the original OGL and doesn’t go after the cash and rights in all things produced. The trust is gone.
And if Hasbro follows through with this change. Then like TSR under Lorraine Williams, the D&D brand will die.