D&D executive producer Kyle Brink has confirmed revisions to the controversial OGL 1.1 document were not made in response to cancelled D&DBeyond subscriptions. TTRPG podcast team Three Black Halflings interviewed Brink on February 6. “We were already working on that document before the folks who decided to stop subscribing decided to start doing that”, Brink tells Three Black Halfling members Olivia Kennedy and Jeremy Cobb.
The leaked DnD OGL 1.1 document caused huge ripples in the TTPRG community at the start of 2023. Although Wizards of the Coast offered apologies and chances to give feedback on new drafts, it ultimately backed down on plans to change OGL 1.0, instead releasing the D&D System Reference Document (SRD) under a Creative Commons licence. This makes aspects of the game like DnD classes and DnD races even easier for third-party creators to access.
Kennedy pointed out the delayed response from Wizards came not long after a mass of D&DBeyond boycotts, saying “that can’t be a coincidence, surely?” “It can”, Brink responds, “because it takes a long time to modify a legal document when you have a lot of stakeholders”. “It can’t turn on a dime, and so it couldn’t have been turned around in response to the decline in subscriptions, because that would have been too fast.” “It would have been too short a time period for a corporation of our size to pull that off”, he adds.
Brink also says Wizards of the Coast was in the process of revising the OGL 1.1 document before the leak. “By the time the 1.1 version of the document was made public, we had already abandoned a lot of the things that were problematic because of the feedback we were getting”, he tells Three Black Halflings. “We just hadn’t published that update yet, so nobody could see it. That’s partly why 1.2 was so quick to come out after 1.1, as we had already been heading in that direction.”
When asked about the week’s delay between the leak and Wizards’ first official response, Brink says it was “a long delay that came out of many good small decisions”. “We were working on this document, and we thought ‘at this point, people need to see action, they don’t need to see words, so let’s make sure this is the version we want to release’.”
“You have enough stakeholders, each wanting to make it a little bit better, and perfect got in the way of good,” he says. “Perfect got in the way of done. The silence was because we didn’t want to say words at a time when words weren’t gonna cut it, and the thing to release took too long to perfect, and it compounded the silence.”
“In an environment where there was already such a lack of trust, every word we knew would be scrutinised and could be radioactive”, Brink adds. “There was honestly a fear of making it worse, a fear of saying the wrong thing and throwing gas on the fire.” “We felt like we were screwed if we spoke, and we were screwed if we were silent”, he says.
“The best thing we could do is just deliver and give you a thing that was better.” “In hindsight, that obviously wasn’t the right decision, but that was the mindset at the time”, Brink tells Three Black Halflings.