Saturday, April 19, 2008

GSL vs. the Genie

I suspected that WotC wanted to stuff the OGL genie back in the bottle, but I didn't think they were this desperate. It appears that the new GSL for 4th edition D&D comes with a clause that prohibits companies who are using the GSL from also using the OGL in any product they currently sell. If that's correct, and I'm not entirely certain it is, it would mean Paizo would have to completely abandon the Pathfinder RPG if they ever want to publish 4th edition products. It would mean Green Ronin must completely shut down Mutants & Masterminds and True20 if they ever want to publish a 4e version of Freeport.

This, I imagine, is gonna fly like a lead brick. It means companies already invested in 3rd edition will adopt a wait-and-see attitude toward 4th edition. You might see third-party support for 4th edition by Christmas '08, but unless WotC can't keep the game on the shelves, you probably won't see much of anything before GenCon '09.

Let me rephrase that: you won't see much from established companies with a track-record. New companies might sprout like dandelions. WotC had better hope so, anyway, because there's no way Paizo or Green Ronin are going to support 4e now. Nor is support likely from Wolfgang Bauer's Open Design project or Kobold Quarterly. There's a chance it means no support from Nicolas Logue's Sinister Adventures, though admittedly they don't have as much invested in 3e and might be willing to just abandon it if 4e looks strong.

But 4e has got to look strong. Otherwise, they'll have a ton of amateur content rolling in, but nothing from the designers who gave so much support for 3rd edition. If 4e stumbles, there won't be support from outside companies to help buoy it up. In fact, we're likely to once again see a glut of bad material from third-party publishers since most of the talent is so heavily invested in 3rd edition at this time.

I honestly can't understand the thinking here. If they were worried about competition against 4e from third party publishers, well, now they've guaranteed it. This will only entrench companies like Paizo and Green Ronin in their OGL products. It will make shifting over to 4e much harder for Mongoose, Wolfgang Bauer, and Sinister Adventures. If they'd invited everyone to straddle the fence, they might have seen some support for 4e at launch. Now, these companies will be invested in competing product, and will have even less incentive to convert their products and their customers over to 4th edition. It just boggles my mind.

UPDATE: Here's the post from Clark Peterson of Necromancer Games that seems to clarify the issue. Note, however, that even Mr. Peterson hasn't seen the GSL, and isn't entirely certain he's got the true and lively word. I predict a long weekend of teeth-gnashing and garment-rending.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Nicolas "Sinister Adventures" Logue weighs in:

I know I'm just a new kid on the block, and don't count for much just yet, but this provision definitely saddens me as a publisher.

I developed Sinister Adventures to put all the BS of edition in the back seat and offer quality adventures for ALL systems (3.5, True 20, C&C, Pathfinder RPG, and yes...4E). Now I find that if I want to support one of these, I can't support the others. It definitely means I won't be supporting 4E in the near future as a lot of my customers have expressed how happy they are about the multi-system approach I'm using. Bummer...I dig on a lot of what 4E offers, and I won't be able to bring it to my adventures under the All or Nothing Ultimatum GSL.


P.S. It should be expressed: I'm not pissed at Wizards, just bummed about this. Hopefully I'll get to freelance for them again sometime soon now that the GSL is figured out.

WHAT, NO PRAMAS UPDATE? Don't be silly; of course there's a Pramas update! Unfortunately, he can neither confirm nor deny, and is hoping to find out if this is or isn't correct soon. However, since it's Saturday, it's likely nobody will hear anything definitive before Monday.


Ladies and Gents,

I am not going to say anything else until I have the final license in my hot little hands.

I am reading the thread, absorbing all the opinions, rants, speculations, thoughts, and musings. I have chimed in on a couple posts but beyond that, sitting here on Saturday morning, with out the license in front of me, I am quickly skating into the realm of speculation and I don't not want to unnecessarily add gas to the fire that may or may not be there. Until I see the final language in the licenses I am going avoid claiming that the language will say x or y...

I am at GAMA next week. On Thursday I am back in the office and on Friday I hope to have the license in my hand. Many of us will spend a week or so combing over it, again and again, making sure we are totally happy with it, only then will we send it out to folks like Clark, Chris, Erik, Russ, and the other publishers we are talking with.

So nothing appears to be quite final yet, though they think they're in their final review of the license. More news to come, but probably not until the week following next. Let the mad speculatin' commence! ;)

1 comment:

Stephen said...

This is hardly hard to work around - it only costs a few thousand dollars to register another company and release the two incompatibly licensed lines by the two companies...