This week I’m taking a break from discussing the design of my Accessible Mega-Dungeon where Roleplay is a focus, so that I can share how the Open Game License debacle in Dungeons & Dragons may effect Accessibility.
This blog will assume you are up to speed with the Dungeons & Dragons Open Game License situation. If you are not, I have included a link to a great video by Dungeon Dudes at the end of this blog. The video does a great job of explaining the situation.
Why So Greedy?
There has been a lot of talk about the Open Game License, but I personally haven’t seen anyone addressing why this kind of aggressive money-grab would ensue.
It comes from the top of Wizards of the Coast. It could be the new leadership having targets or trying to inflate profit within a 12 month window for investments or creating temporary higher revenue for selling the company or it could be a bunch of higher-ups getting ready to retire and cash out their shares pushing it. Either way, it’s not the folks making the game doing this.
For those of you unaware Wizards of the Coast also screwed Magic: The Gathering before the end of 2022 by overprinting cards and heavily disrupting the economy of their own game and card values. The reason I bring this up is to reassure you, Wizards of the Coast are trying to grab as much cash as they can right now and I don’t know why.
Folks at Knights of the Braille spoke with D&D Beyond about Accessibility multiple times and I can say with certainty that the only reason it is Accessible is because the engineers working there are incredibly empathetic and driven people. They made it Accessible because they care.
That was before D&D Beyond were purchased by Wizards of the Coast.
The creative people fuelling Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast care about Accessibility. The management at Wizards of the Coast care about money and will screw over a community if given the chance. What do you think they’ll do to us?
Hopefully Accessibility will stay on the table, I believe a lot of the staff will stay, but I fear rushing to get out One D&D while creating as many revenue streams as possible will push Accessibility all the way to the back of the line. But hey, we’re used to that, am I right?
D&D will remain popular, it will make lots of money and it will be abundant with resources. I think Accessibility will linger there somehow.
TTRPG’s outside of D&D is where things are going to saturate and degenerate. This situation will have driven a lot of people away from D&D, which won’t effect D&D as they’re always getting new Players. The issue is that as TTRPG refugees are thrust into supporting smaller games, the creators of these smaller games will be rushing to grab that larger market share as it becomes available.
You know what happens then? Accessibility for content gets thrown out of the window because it adds time to production and costs to projects in a world of “When can we get this out?”
While I am uncertain as to the future of Accessibility at One D&D, I’m 100% certain that creators outside of the D&D space will drop Accessibility to be the first to the next D&D with OGL in 2023/2024.
As a brief aside: Matt Coleville’s upcomingTTRPG alternative to D&D is a no-no for Blind folks. All of his company’s content (MCDM) has not been Accessible, I’ve let them know and the response has been “We’ll get to it”
MCDM hasn’t gotten to it in over two years.
Dungeons & Dragons will likely still be the only consistently Accessible thing moving forward and I will not give anyone a hard time for choosing it. I get it.
But what Wizards of the Coast have done hasn’t just caused disruption to the TTRPG community, it’s set us back for Accessibility in the larger community. So while I will not purchase any D&D content again, I respect Disabled Gamers who choose to, but I have to say for the sake of this whole situation:
Fuck Wizards of the Coast!