You’re With Us or Against Us?

More information has emerged about the new Game System License and for Green Ronin it is looking more ominous. It seems–and I’ve asked WotC to clarify–that if you want to use the GSL you must cease using the Open Game License as a company. Scott Rouse of WotC posted this on EN World (http://www.enworld.org/showpost.php?p=4173113&postcount;=99):

“It won’t surprise me if the GSL is not for everyone. If M&M;, C&C;, Conan, or other OGL stand-alones are successful enough for those publishers to sustain their business more power to them. You’ll get to buy their books in the future. If not, then they can jump on our license and take advantage of some pretty good perks including getting to use the most valuable trademark in PnP RPGs on their products and gain access to our IP/PI.”

This makes it sound like we’ll be forced to choose. We could continue to support Mutants & Masterminds and True20 Adventure Roleplaying or support 4th Edition D&D;, but not both.

It has also come out that the original d20 logo will be going away come June. Not only can you not put the logo on new products, which was expected, but it’ll apparently have to be stripped off old ones if you want to keep selling them. That’s possible with PDF products but it’ll mean you can’t sell printed products after a certain date. In the short tem this means that a lot of 3E product is likely to be dumped on the market for pennies on the dollar. That will make it harder on companies that have decided to keep supporting 3E, most notably Paizo. It also means huge swathes of backstock for many companies will be wiped out.

In short, it looks like it’s more stick than carrot. Now I will point out yet again that we haven’t seen the GSL yet, and we really must before making it a final assessment. If WotC is seriously asking me to give up the #1 superhero game on the market for a chance to support a new edition that has yet to prove itself, that’s really not much of a choice.

Last night when I couldn’t sleep I spent some time pondering what Green Ronin could bring to the table for 4E that would be fresh and cool. Tonight I’ll be thinking about something else entirely.

Ah well, I’m off to Vegas in six hours. Better finish packing and try to get some shuteye.

14 thoughts on “You’re With Us or Against Us?

  1. Chris, thanks, as always, for your timely thoughts on such matters. As a GR fan since DiF first came out, I know I’ll be supporting your products over 4e because of this policy. And I hope to see a version of M&M; someday that cuts all ties to the OGL master.

  2. Is it possible to do both I wonder? I know starting a new company hardly sounds like a happy medium, but a separate design house dedicated to 4E might be an option.

    Black Ronin press, for all those evil samurai working for the wicked Daimyo 😉

  3. I’d tell WotC to kiss it! The entire industry NEEDS TO! Not only is 4th Edition a slap in the face to RPG’s (does anyone else notice the “let’s cram our ‘D&D; Miniatures Game’ down their throats” domination of the rules?) and gamers – but the obviously have as little respect for other companies as they do their customers. This is ridiculous. I hope that whatever you guys do (I’d prefer to see everyone stay d20 and let WotC try and pull 4e all alone) I hope it works out for the best for you.

  4. I’d tell WotC to kiss it! The entire industry NEEDS TO! Not only is 4th Edition a slap in the face to RPG’s (does anyone else notice the “let’s cram our ‘D&D; Miniatures Game’ down their throats” domination of the rules?) and gamers – but the obviously have as little respect for other companies as they do their customers. This is ridiculous. I hope that whatever you guys do (I’d prefer to see everyone stay d20 and let WotC try and pull 4e all alone) I hope it works out for the best for you.

  5. I understand why WotC are doing what they are doing with the 4e stuff in terms of the WotC only period before they open it all up – that’s fair enough and makes a lot of sense, plus allows people to get a really good grasp of the rules before they start to publish.

    But this? This seems stupid.

    Unless it’s a misunderstanding. Perhaps what Scott Rouse meant was ‘either people will choose to keep doing OGL/d20 stuff or they’ll dedicate their resources to 4e’ meaning that smaller companies won’t have the resources to do both.

    I can’t wait for this stuff to be resolved! I liked reading this blog for the punk rock and other gaming stories, plus food! You seem happier when writing that stuff as well, and this all seems to be frustrating you to hell.

    Have fun in Vegas…

  6. I saw that on RPG.NET earlier. That clause seems like the last straw on even considering going to 4e. If they really didn’t want any competition with 4e, which is what it seems like with this addition, then why even open it up to begin with? It looks like a sneaky way to kill other companies, especially if they decided to revoke it at some point in the near future. They basically could pull the rug out from under you after you’ve changed your entire company strategy to go with their product.

    The GSL is a trap. You’ll need a 10-foot pole to protect yourself on this one.

    Screw 4e. Long live M&M; and T20!!!

    Christina

  7. This really does strike me as a weirdly demanding decision to make. Considering how much mileage certain important publishers have gotten–and are still getting–out of OGL materials, it seems to me that WotC are ensuring that all the best third party development companies won’t be supporting 4e. Green Ronin (I’m very happy to see) would rather stick with Mutants & Masterminds and True20, and Paizo–who a lot of people think of as modern D&D;‘s best adventure designers–have already declared they’re staying with an OGL-derived system. 4e is only going to be poorer for not allowing these companies to work both fields.

  8. Thanks for writing the best blog on the web for a rational take on this whole OGL mess, Chris. However this ends up playing out, I’m sure Green Ronin will continue to be successful and one of the best companies in this business.

  9. Given that (from my understanding of the comments made by Mr. Peterson over on ENWorld) this new license is not irrevokable (ie: it can be pulled away at any time on a company-by-company basis), creating a new company to support 4e seems… risky. If you torque WotC the wrong way, you could find yourself unable to support this new game… unable to sell your stock… and out of business.

    Yes… I say that someone like GR should take the existing SRD and publish it — as close to unchanged as possible (i.e., not what Paizo is doing) and continue support of the 3.x game that way…

  10. I just want to add my voice to the masses, Chris, in saying that I will be supporting Green Ronin whatever you do. If that happens to be with your existing lines under the OGL, then great. You put out great products and I can’t wait to see what you do in the future.

  11. Man, this is the first time I post, but is for a good reason.
    If i did not had any reason for supporting 4e, now I have a strong one for DONT SUPPORT. I’m very happy with my 3.X books and OGL alike.

  12. Chris, hang in there buddy. One thing I have noticed is that WotC is capitalising on the division it is causing among third party publishers. You guys need to stick together and come up with some sort of alliance where you all agree on one ruleset and create your campaign/world settings/Adventure Paths from variations of that. I’ll stnad up and say that True20 has that basis. I just wished Green Ronin had announced the free True20 license sooner, perhaps Paizo might have picked it up for Pathfinder.

    I think that by standing together, you, Paizo, Goodman Games and others will have enough of an audience to make your success consistent. You all just need to focus.

    You are doing a great job.

  13. I agree with Andrew Gale that it would be great if some publishers banded together to keep 3.5 alive and in a published format for new gamers to be able to buy the rules.

    Paizo is deviating from that course to some extent with Pathfinder (I support their efforts, though). Still, a version that just fixes the grapple and a few other issues would be highly accepted. GR has the capability to pull that off and have other companies band around them.

    I’d love to see it.

    Christina

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