More GSL News

So last week WotC released a FAQ about their new Game System License, which will allow third party publishers to put out 4th edition D&D; support books. It took them a few weeks but they finally did clarify that the choice of Game System License or Open Game License did not have to be made per company. This greatly increases the odds of Green Ronin doing some 4E material, as we could continue our own OGL lines like M&M; and True20. One wrinkle is that rather than going with the simple solution of making the choice per product they’re making it per product line. This is going to create a lot of corner cases, like Freeport, so I’m not sure why they are bothering. It will be interesting to see how they phrase this in the final license, which is due June 6.

Another thing that was made clear was that the GSL can be revoked, unlike the OGL. I don’t expect that it will be any time soon, but this does have some interesting implications. If most third party companies now make the switch that means at any later point the genie can effectively be put back in the bottle. I think it’s understandable that WotC wants more control this time, but publishers need to go into this with their eyes open. They need to understand that at any point the plug can be pulled, so supporting only the GSL has an inherent risk. For many companies the potential reward is worth the risk, but this is something each publisher will have to consider.

WotC also confirmed that the d20 System Trademark License will be going away in June and there will a six month sell off period for books with the d20 logo. I don’t know why they feel this is necessary. It’s going to flood the market with a ton of cheap 3E material at just the point when they should want it going away. In 1999 WotC actually bought up some 2nd edition D&D; books to make way for 3E if I recall correctly. GR is not the only company that has a fair bit of inventory with the d20 logo. PDFs at least can have the logo stripped and then continue to sell but actual books need to be sold or destroyed by the end of this year. I bet a company formed with the specific purpose of liquidating old d20 inventory could do pretty well.

Anyway, fairly positive news overall. I do still need to review the final GSL when that’s released, and of course I want to see the actual rules.

3 thoughts on “More GSL News

  1. Well, that’s a lot less insane than we’d all been thinking. I’m actually kind of disappointed, though, because I thought the absurd ultimatum we expected would be kind of interesting (if not necessarily the most beneficial thing for all involved).

    Anyway, looking forward to all the d20 clearance sales. That’s actually going to make sticking with 3e and 3e derivatives pretty attractive…

  2. Rouse said in one of his ENWorld posts that product already in the stream of commerce by the end of 2008, even if unsold to consumers, counts as sold. So the warehouses need to be emptied, but the store shelves don’t. I hope that distinction allows most publishers to get their products out without having to destroy them.

  3. “. . . actual books need to be sold or destroyed by the end of this year.”

    Sold, destroyed, or stickered. Depending on how the logo and associated text is deployed, many books can probably remain on the market if the d20 trademark is stickered over. A pain in the butt, but for moderate-to-high price-point product that still turns, possibly well worth the effort.

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