About “Wizards Declares War” Article

There’s quite a row about my article on WotC trying to get rid of open gaming using new licensing terms.  I wanted to note that as of now (4/21) none of this is 100% confirmed as the GSL hasn’t been released to anyone outside WotC so there’s no way to tell for sure.  Some people are griping about my reporting on this without the company confirming or denying it being only rumor and thus unfair to pass on to an august venue like Slashdot. 

Unfortunately, this complaint is ignorant of the definition of “rumor.”

I have linked copiously in the article to the ENWorld thread containing all the original statements informing the article – specifically, the important posts are by Orcus (Clark Petersen, Necromancer Games), Lurkinglidda (Linae Foster, D&D Licensing Manager), and Scott_Rouse (Scott Rouse, D&D Brand Manager).   Read and judge for yourself.  No, Scott or Linae has not specifically confirmed that the OGL/GSL restriction is by company instead of by product or product line, but this is what Clark was told explicitly in a phone call with them, and he’s a reliable source (even though he is a lawyer). 

Scott and Lidda specifically said that the GSL had OGL limitations, without details on what those were exactly. Then Clark had a very specific phone conversation with WotC asking about the GSL and its restrictions, to which he was told that at a company level, not just at a product or product line level – you do OGL, you don’t get the GSL. Later in the same thread, Scott and Linae do not explicitly say “What Clark was told is the case” – but they don’t contradict it, and make a couple “well, that’s a hard business decision for you all then” comments.

And sure, Clark could have had a miscommunication error with WotC. But, as he’s both a lawyer and using the info to make decisions about his company’s future, I’d think the discussion would have been fairly explicit, and any “that’s not finalized yet” would have caused him to hold off. He’s going 4e pure-play so its not like he has anything to gain by misleading us; in fact he’s gone out of his way to defend Wizards and Scott/Linae. Clark Petersen: “But, mark my words, this is the policy. And it isnt changing. I tried.” His solution was to do 4e through Necro and OGL through Paizo, which WotC OK’ed.

As a result, I believe this information to be reliable, and I reported it with attribution in compliance with usual journalistic ethics on sources. A rumor lacks attribution to a primary source, so in this case it’s not a rumor.

Some links to important people’s statements on the GSL:

Clark’s statement

Scott Rouse’s reply once the fur started to fly

Linae’s response

Scott and Linae posted a bunch of times after this, studiously avoiding the big question. 

Another bonus Rouse quote: “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(…)” The implication here of OGL vs GSL on a company-wide basis seems pretty clear.

So though it’s not “confirmed,” WotC has been stalling in releasing the GSL terms for months now, and the 4e rules themselves go on sale in June.  So I think this is an appropriate time to hold their feet to the fire, show what we’ve heard and that it’s not good, and see if we can get more answers and, ideally, a change to their policy if it is what it sounds like.

ENWorld has apparently gotten WotC to do an emergency con-call to answer questions about the GSL, so we may all hear more soon!  I hope along with everyone that it’s good news.

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2 responses to “About “Wizards Declares War” Article

  1. P.S. As I’ve been banned from the ENWorld thread in question, I can’t say this there, but some folks are trying to make trouble like this is me “throwing Clark [Petersen] under the bus,” because of the theory that reporting his comments might get him in trouble with WotC. That’s crap, and is just FUD from sad sacks.

    Clark (and Scott, and Linae) posted his comments in a public forum read by thousands, no login required, so I felt like reporting on them was fair and not inflammatory or biased against him. The intent was not to “get him in trouble” with WotC, and there’s no reason to believe that would be the case. In fact, this kind of sentiment is a deliberate attempt to deviate attention from the real issue, which is the license itself.

    If additional coverage of this policy makes you all uncomfortable, maybe you should ask why that is. Hint: it’s because it has various layers of wrongness all through that, and that’s embarassing to have more of the public see.

    Anyway, Clark, there was no malice on my end and those that see it are just playing games. I’m not sure what about this article is supposed to be threatening to you, ENWorld, or anyone else except Wizards if they are indeed planning their assault on openness.

  2. Hrmf. After being given just one hour to put together questions for the conference call with WotC, ENWorld was told it would be “2-4 days” until the answers would be available. So keep standing by. Then once they fess up, submit this to Fark so they’ll really get a reaming 🙂

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