Wizards of the Coast Controversy

Fans upset after potential changes threaten beloved game


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

Wizards of the Coast, the license holder for the popular tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), announced their plans to create a more expansive gaming system in August 2022. This system would be compatible with fifth edition D&D and incorporate new digital resources into the game.

On January 5, 2023, leaked excerpts from their plans included a change to their current open game license.

According to Games Radar, the original OGL “allows third-parties to create written products such as adventures or rulebooks using the D&D system owned by Wizards of the Coast.”

The leaked changes that Wizards of the Coast planned to make to the OGL would effectively remove ownership from third party creators and give all rights to any content using the official D&D system to Wizards of the Coast.

The D&D community expressed their concerns of how this update to the system would affect third-party content. The current OGL, which has been in place since 2000, allows anyone to sell and publish royalty free D&D content. Under this license, content creators are also allowed to profit from any materials they make.

In the updated OGL, Hasbro, the parent company of Wizards of the Coast, would have partial ownership of all third-party content, and the ability to collect royalties from third-party content creators.

One of the most controversial changes, however, is the requirement for creators to register all their content with Wizards of the Coast and provide them with a copy. This grants the company a “non exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, sub-licensable, royalty-free license to use that content for any purpose,” as stated in a leaked portion of the updated OGL agreement.

According to Inverse.com, “if a person writes a really cool adventure under this license and makes $26 off of a few people buying it, but then it catches the eye of a game designer at Wizards, the company could technically use that content however it wants—without paying the creator.”

Following the uproar of fans, Wizards of the Coast released a statement apologizing for the changes to the OGL, stating, “We wanted to ensure that the OGL is for the content creator, the homebrewer, the aspiring designer, our players, and the community—not for major corporations to use for their own commercial and promotional purpose.”

Many fans were critical of the statement, considering Wizards of the Coast is a major corporation that earned over 1.68 billion dollars just in the third quarter of 2022. Wizards of the Coast seemed willing to make some concessions for the community, however, many players are cautious about what comes next.