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Hasbro pulls back on plans to alter DUNGEONS & DRAGONS license after backlash

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Following a week of chaos in the tabletop gaming scene, Hasbro-owned Wizards of the Coast released a statement promising that it will not be changing the terms of Dungeon & Dragon‘s Open Gaming License to require creators to pay royalties for the use of the D&D framework that has been iterated on by other tabletop games for decades.

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. 

What it will not contain is any royalty structure. It also will not include the license back provision that some people were afraid was a means for us to steal work. That thought never crossed our minds. Under any new OGL, you will own the content you create. We won’t. Any language we put down will be crystal clear and unequivocal on that point. The license back language was intended to protect us and our partners from creators who incorrectly allege that we steal their work simply because of coincidental similarities. As we continue to invest in the game that we love and move forward with partnerships in film, television, and digital games, that risk is simply too great to ignore. The new OGL will contain provisions to address that risk, but we will do it without a license back and without suggesting we have rights to the content you create. Your ideas and imagination are what makes this game special, and that belongs to you.

On January 5, Gizmodo shared a draft of the planned revision to the Open Gaming License. The new text included positive changes like a ban on hateful and discriminatory content and restrictions on web3, blockchain games, and NFT elements. But it also demanded a 25% royalty payment for OGL-related products that earned more than $750,000 beginning in 2024. That would have upended the economics of tabletop games like Pathfinder and D&D-related content like the web series Critical Role.

The Open Gaming License has long encouraged fans of Dungeons & Dragons to build off the framework of the iconic tabletop franchise to create new works, playing a key role in expanding the tabletop RPG scene into the juggernaut it is today. Retroactively trying to monetize the license was a bad look for Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro, so their recent statement is a step in the right direction. But we still need to see what the final version of the revised OGL looks like before fans can breathe a complete sigh of relief.

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