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Mike Mearls announces release date for next gen Open Game License

Dungeon Master's Guide
Dungeon Master's Guide
Wizards of the Coast

Mike Mearls, lead game designer for Dungeons & Dragons, discussed today in his Legends & Lore column the future of the next iteration of the Open Game License (OGL). But what publishers really want to know is when there will be a publisher-friendly version they can use to produce their own products. Curiously, Mearls limited his discussion exclusively to fandom, but he did mention a timeframe for the announcement:

When it comes to the mechanism by which we want to empower D&D fans to create their own material and make their mark on the many, exciting worlds of D&D, we're taking the same approach. While we are not ready to announce anything at this time, I do want to share with you some of our goals.

But what about publishers? With the announcement of the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, there has been rampant speculation that Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) would return to an OGL model for publishers. The previous iteration of the OGL was a genie that the parent company couldn’t put back in a bottle once products like The Book of Erotic Fantasy were produced. WOTC’s reaction was to tightly control the license with the next edition of D&D, which essentially killed off third party support and led to the backlash that fueled Paizo Publishing’s spectacular success with the Pathfinder D&D variant.

There’s plenty of signs that there will be some sort of publisher-oriented OGL, not the least of which being that Mearls himself collaborated on over 90 OGL products. There’s also the fact that Sasquatch Game Studios, composed of former WOTC employees, curiously committed to 4th Edition D&D even as WOTC was winding down its support – a sign that the company may be preparing for a 5th Edition OGL. And finally, Chris Dias’ Amethyst Kickstarter brazenly committed to the eventuality of a new iteration of the OGL, stating “We are more confident of third party support for D&D Next than we were for 4th Edition, and DEM was the first to sign onto the GSL back in 2008.”

We won’t known until next year. Mearls explained that any OGL will be announced only after the Dungeon Master’s Guide is published:

While the details are still in flux, we can say that we plan to announce the details of our plans sometime this fall. After that announcement, we plan on launching our program in early 2015.