With the release of Wizards of the Coast’s new Game System License for Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition, they’ve made a bunch of improvements, there’s no doubt. So how are the third party publishers taking it?
- Necromancer Games is in. No surprise, as Clark Petersen (lawyer and the Necro dude) worked with Scott Rouse, D&D Brand Manager, to champion some of the GSL changes.
- Fat Dragon Games is in, per their ENWorld post.
- Paizo Publishing is still out. James Jacobs explains why.
- Green Ronin is still out. Chris Pramas has an excellent blog post explaining their reasoning.
The general summary is that even though the anti-OGL clause is gone and there’s some more favorable termination language, this experience has taught people with large, established businesses that they don’t want to be dependent on Wizards for their sustenance. The remaining parts of the license, which still allow Wizards to terminate you without the six month sell off at their discretion – especially the hazy “morals clause” – spell out too much risk. So people with a game of their own are going to go that way. Which I think is fair.
If people still had trust in WotC that they would “behave well” and probably wouldn’t be in the arbitrary termination business, it might be different. But everyone’s seen a lot of sadness go down over the last two years and there’s not a reasonable expectation of that.
In fact, reading between the lines, though it would be “safe” for Paizo or GR to just do a couple 4e products without taking a major line over to it – they generally just don’t want to. What we’ve heard of 4e sales doesn’t make the $$ too tempting and after spending so much time and effort and love and pain “chasing the dragon” for the last couple years, they’ve just had it. (My interpretation.)
So the big boys are going to stay away, but it seems like it’s a compelling play for folks who are just starting up and have less to lose.
Pipe up down below if you hear about other folks getting on board or staying away.