Wizards of the Coast is reconsidering several Dungeons & Dragons changes in reaction to backlash, but Web3 remains a target.
Following significant backlash from the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) community this week, Wizards of the Coast said today that it will abandon planned license changes that would have affected fan-made content and projects. However, an updated license is still forthcoming, and it appears that Web3 content adaptations such as NFTs will definitely be prohibited under the new rules.
Last year, Wizards of the Coast announced plans to alter the long-standing Dungeons & Dragons Open Game License (OGL), which permitted fans and other corporations to create and sell derivative works based on the tabletop role-playing smash. One of the stated goals of the update was the creation of NFT collectibles and projects inspired by D&D.
“The OGL needs an update to ensure that it keeps doing what it was intended to do—allow the D&D community’s independent creators to build and play and grow the game we all love—without allowing things like third-parties to mint D&D NFTs and large businesses to exploit our intellectual property,” the company wrote in December.
Last week, io9 published what they said were leaked details of the broader OGL shift. These details supposedly showed that changes were coming that would charge creators royalties for derivative works and ban things like paywalls for limiting content to paying subscribers.
In recent years, Dungeons & Dragons-inspired fan-made content has exploded in popularity, including the “Critical Role” webseries, “The Adventure Zone” podcast, and graphic novels. Numerous content creators opposed the reported changes, claiming that they would hobble their fan-supported companies and projects.
Today was believed to be the release date for the OGL update, but Wizards of the Coast has instead indicated that it will remove controversial elements from “early drafts” of the license change. The publisher has stated that the new license would not include a royalty structure and should not affect the business models of the majority of projects.
“First, we won’t be able to release the new OGL today, because we need to make sure we get it right, but it is coming,” the post reads. “Second, you’re going to hear people say that they won, and we lost because making your voices heard forced us to change our plans. Those people will only be half right. They won—and so did we.”
Wizards wrote that setting up clear limitations around Web3 technology is one of the main tenets of reshaping the OGL, and the post does not imply that the publisher will back down on blocking NFT projects and Web3 games that attempt to profit from the Dungeons & Dragons IP.
“We wanted to address those attempting to use D&D in Web3, blockchain games, and NFTs by making clear that OGL content is limited to tabletop role-playing content like campaigns, modules, and supplements,” the post reads.
Wizards of the Coast’s response to the advent of Web3 follows the development of unofficial D&D projects in the space, such as Gripnr, a “Web3 company building [5th edition tabletop RPGs] on-chain” through Ethereum sidechain network Polygon.
Wizards of the Coast’s parent firm, Hasbro, already has launched a number of NFT moves, such as creating digital Funko Pop collectibles based on Power Rangers and My Little Pony and pairing NFTs with Starting Lineup NBA action figures.
During an earnings call in April 2021, former Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner said that NFTs were “a real opportunity” for the popular collectible card game (CCG) Magic: The Gathering. He also said that Hasbro “saw multiple opportunities on the NFT side.”