The Pre-OGL World
It’s the 1980s. There are hundreds of table-top role-playing games, but one stands above all others: Dungeons and Dragons. DnD has a sales market share of perhaps 60% — maybe more. How many people play DnD compared to other RPGs? No one can say for sure, but looking at the average convention game list, it seems pretty clear that DnD books sit on the majority of gaming tables.
Not only does TSR hold the fate of the hobby in they hands, they’ve got the hobby by the balls. Why?
If someone decides to try out this strange RPG hobby, they are very likely to try DnD — even more so if they don’t know any other role-players. When we describe our hobby to people, it usually ends with the epiphanic statement, “Oh, you mean like DnD!”
I think most people would agree that two things created the environment necessary for a real edition war: the OGL, and 4th Ed’s major departure from the previous edition.
Without the OGL, no single company could gain enough traction to take away any significant mark share from WotC. Without the major changes in 4th Ed, there wouldn’t have been a schism.
The OGL allowed the previous edition to continue to grow and flourish, and MANY players opted for this re-vamped version. By some estimates, WotC’s previous market share is now split between DnD4E and Pathfinder.
Spoils of War
So a bunch of malcontents who insisted on clinging to the old edition groused and complained. They filled forums with flame wars about how much 4th Ed sucks. They were mad. They were pissed off. They hated what WotC did to the game — so much so, they flocked to Pathfinder.
We now have two companies that work for your business, rather than one company that expects your business.
If the edition war didn’t play out the way it did, if the grumpy old men playing 3.5 Ed. had just sat back quietly and not caused a fuss, what would the hobby look like today?
Filed under: RPG Industry BS