Wizards of the Coast Walks Back Leaked OGL 2.0 Draft

"It’s clear from the reaction that we rolled a 1."
A group of halflings dance about and make merry.
Image by Wizards of the Coast.

In a statement released earlier today, Wizards of the Coast announced that it would be further revising its updated licensing agreement for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition, OGL 2.0. This announcement followed almost a week of public backlash in response to a leaked draft of OGL 2.0 and the announcement of the Open RPG Creative License (ORC), an alternative license to the OGL funded by Paizo, the publishers of Pathfinder.


The leaked draft was widely criticized by fans and content creators. It included clauses that allowed Wizards of the Coast the right to use any content published under the OGL, a 20-25% royalty over $750,000, and required developers to report their revenue and product releases directly to Wizards of the Coast. The original OGL set the standard operating procedure for an entire industry, the OGL 2.0 seeks to change that.

The statement claims the purpose of the new OGL is to “prevent the use of D&D content from being included in hateful and discriminatory products,” “address those attempting to use D&D in web3, blockchain games, and NFTs by making clear that OGL content is limited to tabletop roleplaying content,” and “ensure that the OGL is for the content creator, the homebrewer, the aspiring designer, our players, and the community—not major corporations.” It is not known which “major corporations” the statement refers to, as Wizards of the Coast employs well over a thousand people, and there isn’t another publisher in the industry that employs more than one hundred.

The statement goes on to claim that any future drafts of the OGL 2.0 will not contain clauses regarding royalties or a “license back”, which refers to Section X of the leaked draft in which Wizards of the Coast states that it would be able to, royalty free, license anything made using the OGL, and retained the right to sub-license that content to a third party.

“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 company stated in its blog post. However, it is worth noting that no mention of these partners or projects is made in the leaked draft of the OGL, which is written to include comments explaining the rationale behind different parts of the license. The termination clause, for example, does directly reference the risk of discriminatory content and uses that risk to justify the clause. The same can be said of web3 and NFTs, which are referenced in the opening statement of the leaked OGL draft, but never in the legal documentation and accompanying comments.

The OGL rewrite is just one part of an ongoing shift in Wizards of the Coast’s strategy with Dungeons and Dragons. The company has made clear that it plans to further consolidate the game by reinvesting in its online storefront and platform, D&DBeyond, and develop its own proprietary virtual tabletop software. Several clauses in the leaked OGL draft feel as in line with this strategy as they do defeating the menaces of nazism and web3. For example, the requirement that third party developers report their revenue and what products they’ve released, would be very helpful for a company attempting to consolidate those third party products into a single platform that it can more directly control and monetize—something it had already made clear it wanted to do by including a royalty clause and building a business model around that premise. 

Regardless of the supposed reasoning, the function of the leaked OGL 2.0 was to begin the long work of reshaping the Dungeons and Dragons community into a closed ecosystem—whether it be for noble or, more likely, profit-motivated ends truly does not matter.