March 3, 2009

Word of Wizards - Game System License Updated

Game System License Updated

Since the poor reception that the initial version of the GSL received slightly after the launch of 4E, Wizards had withdrawn the GSL and send it back to the drawing board in August 2008 stating that a revised version will be released later.

At GenCon 2008, Scott Rouse was confident that the new content of the GSL will be more third party friendly that won the endorsement of Clark Peterson from Necromancer Games if the revision was approved.

Around December 2008, Scott Rouse posted on his blog that his recommendations for the revised GSL was done but it took another 3 months before the final version that we see today was posted at Wizards website. One reason why this update might have taken this long is because Scott's team have been understaffed during the organizational reshuffle around the same time that the GSL was withdrawn.

After these 7 months of waiting, Scott Rouse sent an email blast to all the publishers today informing them about the revised GSL.

For a general breakdown, this is what has been changed in the revised GSL.
  • Removal of section 6, which set terms & conditions for 4e compatible product lines that may have been previously published under the Open Game License (OGL).

  • Inclusion of a provision for a "Notice of Termination," allowing publishers to end their use of the GSL at their choosing. This includes the addition of a 6-month inventory sell-off period after executing a Notice of Termination.

  • Modification to imagery clause that clarifies use of derivative art work.

Interested publishers or gamers that understand the lawyers lingo can get a copy of the revised GSL here. For the lay gamers, I would highly recommend you to read the GSL FAQ which summarises the content of the GSL well without the mambo-jumbo.

Although publishers seem much more satisfied with the revised GSL than it's predecessor and Clark Peterson seemed very pleased with it, there is still no proper ETA for a fansite policy which I think has been the worries of some of the bloggers here.


jamused said...

Too bad they seem to have retained the "explosive collar around your neck" clause. (That is, if you terminate, or they cancel the license entirely, you have six months grace; if they send you a letter terminating the license with you in particular, you must immediately cease publication and destroy your inventory.)

Questing GM said...

Hey jamused, welcome to the blog!

Yeah but at least this time the detonator is in the 3rd party publisher's hand and they are now fully aware of the consequences if they push that button.

jamused said...

I... don't think so. As I read it, 3rd party publishers can deliver a Termination notice and get six months grace, but if WotC sends them a letter terminating their license as long as WotC doesn't simultaneously terminate everybody else it takes effect immediately, no recourse, and no grace period...

Questing GM said...


I'm not lawyer so my interpretation of the GSL might fail to catch that phrase but I have my doubts that Wizards would do something that drastic to kill their competitors. Afterall, they did revise the GSL just to lure the 3rd party publishers in.

So I guess even though the GSL states as such, I believe that Wizards and the 3PP might have a gentlemen agreement that leaves the choice of going with the GSL to the third party.

jamused said...

The choice of adopting it is up to the 3rd party, but once they agree to it they can continue to use it only by Hasbro's sufferance. And really, why would anybody object to having an explosive collar around their neck, as long as they trusted the person with the trigger?

Questing GM said...

It's a risk I think they are willing to take and it's fine by them. Even Clark Peterson stated that he didn't fell in love with the GSL but it was acceptable.