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D&D exec: OGL fiasco worsened by lack of respect for Wizards of the Coast

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Dungeons & Dragons executive producer Kyle Brink says at least part of the recent drama surrounding open gaming licenses has come from a lack of respect given to the creative and community teams at Wizards of the Coast. Going forward, he says, more members of those teams will be involved in high-level decisions, and their voices will carry more weight.

The statements were made during an hour-long interview published on Monday by the 3 Black Halflings channel on YouTube. Taken as a whole, Brink’s statement appears to be an evolving relationship between Wizards and its corporate owner, toy and game giant Hasbro.

“I was trying to protect the team from distractions,” Brink said, “like discussing license agreements so we could make games, so we could make good supplements and books.” And I should have put more people on my team in the room. And it has been fixed going forward.

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Dungeons & Dragons’ Open Gaming License (OGL) has been in existence for over two decades. It provided a legal framework by which people were able to create their own tabletop RPGs alongside D&D. But the proposed changes to the OGL almost immediately created an adversarial relationship between Wizards and its community. The backlash attracted mainstream press attention, and an organized boycott eventually helped persuade Hasbro to back down.

Following io9’s initial leak of a draft of the proposed OGL changes on January 5, neither Wizards nor Hasbro provided an immediate response. When one was delivered, on January 13, many saw it as half-baked and little more. The unsigned statement, posted on D&D Beyond, reads as follows:

Some final thoughts. First off, we won’t be releasing the new OGL today, because we need to make sure we get it right, but it’s coming. Second, you are going to hear people say that they won, and we lost because hearing your voice forced us to change our plans. Those people would be only half right. They won – and so did we.

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“I honestly don’t know who contributed to the unsigned statement before I started posting,” Brink said. “The statement that came out […] I read it at about the same time as you did.”

A second statement, this time a more complete apology, was made on January 19 and signed by Brink.

“I was not happy with what we posted,” Brink continued. “That’s one of the things that led me to take a personal … to put myself in it by name and take ownership of it because I — that was not acceptable to me. That’s not us. It’s not that.” Which we should be, and I felt like it should be less of a committee thing and more of a D&D thing.

The “committee” to which Brink is referring is described throughout the interview as a collection of management, executives, and legal counsel working to refine the next version of the OGL. According to Brink, there were dissenting views in the room and they came from the Wizards’ team. Unfortunately, their protest was not given enough attention by the larger group. Brink’s takes personal responsibility for that oversight. From youtube video:

i will say [the voices of our creative and our community teams] Wasn’t loud enough in the room. And that’s changing. We are giving more voice to people on our team, including myself, who are closer to the community and will be able to catch this kind of thing in future and will be there to stop it.

Brink said the authority being delegated to Wizards staff is now flowing directly from Cynthia Williams, president of Wizards of the Coast and digital gaming at Hasbro. Williams will join Hasbro from Microsoft in February 2022, where she will lead “the expansion of Xbox gaming and accelerate the game-maker’s growth,” according to an earlier news release.

“I would say more respect [is being given to Wizards’ team]Brink added. “It’s important to be heard and respected. And I will say, to her credit, I know Cynthia has gotten a lot of negative opinions about her, but she listens. And she changes based on the information. . And she’s one of the most empathetic C-suite people I’ve ever worked with by a country mile. So trust me when she says she’s going to listen, she’s going to listen.

The latest D&D book, an anthology of adventures titled keys from the golden vault, is now available as a digital pre-order. The physical book will be available from February 21.

keys from the golden vault

Prices taken at the time of publication.

A collection of 13 heist-focused adventures set in the D&D universe that can be played in standalone sessions or as part of an episodic campaign.

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