February 27, 2015

5E Friday - OGL

When discussions about an OGL for 5E started to be bandied about, WotC said we would have something around January 2015. We now approach the end of February and still no news. Honestly, I didn't expect any real announcements in January on the topic; I understood it as a goal not a promise. I think WotC really didn't know what they wanted to do with a OGL.

So, what are they going to do? Looking at their upcoming release schedule...there is not much product on it. I have to wonder where WotC plans on gaining revenue. Interestingly enough most of the products are being written by third parties. It seems like WotC is planning on using 3rd parties to do a lot of their "in-house" product work. In addition, they recently hired a new employee (after getting rid of 2) with the function of going over 3rd party material. Which leads me to a thought...

Is WotC planning on releasing a very tight and restrictive OGL? One where all 3rd party products have to be reviewed and approved by WotC? One where WotC gets a percentage of all sales from 3rd party products? Is WotC planning to generate revenue through 3rd party material?

One of the rumors going around about a OGL was that only established companies would be able to participate, either from direct approval or by virtue of the fact they would be the only ones who could afford the cost of doing business. Will small 3rd party publishers be cut out simply because they won't be able to generate enough sales to warrant giving them the rights to publish 5E material? The profit margin on a small book would likely be so small that giving WotC a percentage would make it not worth the time to write it.

Of course, the 3E OGL might circumvent certain WotC plans. Necromancer Games has already released some 5E material without being taken to court by WotC because they are following the earlier OGL (or because they have already reached some sort of agreement with WotC). Multiple other publishers are doing the same, even small publishers. The Pandora's Box of 3rd party publishing for 5E may already be open.

Hopefully, we get a real announcement soon.
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