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Green Ronin Past, Present, and Future

I found myself moved to make a post over on ENWorld today, where people were discussing our recent announcement that Green Ronin will not be signing onto Wizards of the Coast’s new Game System License to support 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. It got a little long, so rather than spend more time trying to write something else up for the ol’ blog, I’m going to reproduce the post here.

The 3rd party didn’t prop D&D up, the D20 license and OGL gave these companies a market. GR, Mongoose, Malhavok… none of these companies formed, made games, then dabbled in D20. They were d20 companies that branched out.

[...]

The amusing part is how many of these companies that find the GSL unacceptable wouldn’t exist if not for the OGL.

Green Ronin was formed in early 2000 and our first product Ork! the Roleplaying Game was released in June of that year. We shortly thereafter decided to dabble in this “d20 thing” by planning out a couple adventures, adventures that went on to become the Freeport Trilogy, but when we made that decision the OGL and the d20 STL were completely untested. Make no mistake, we certainly benefited from the license and will never deny the impact that d20 had on the direction of our company but I think it’s quite overstating the case to claim that we “wouldn’t exist if not for the OGL.”

Green Ronin’s founders had more than 35 years of combined experience in the game industry when we formed the company, experience not only in roleplaying games but also cards, miniatures, magazines, board games, and more. Due to the enthusiastically favorable response to our d20 dabbling, you could say we were “distracted” from some of our other possible projects for a while but we did continue to work on other things, even during the height of the demand for d20 material. The Spaceship Zero Roleplaying Game and Faery’s Tale Deluxe, the Torches & Pitchforks card game and the Walk the Plank card game, map books like Dungeons of Doom and Cartographica, or our recent non-fiction hit Hobby Games: the 100 Best. We’ve always had our fingers in things other than d20 products.

I’ve often seen people talk about how third party publishers failed to support WotC or D&D, something I think Charles Ryan first floated here on EN World back when he was still the D&D Brand Manager. Green Ronin published almost 100 straight-up d20/D&D support products without counting support for d20 Modern or D20 Future. My feeling is that WotC’s expectation that unrestricted numbers of third party support companies could continue to endlessly support straight-up D&D in the face of the product glut and unending direct competition was unrealistic. The market was demanding more and WotC themselves were not filling those holes; it’s utterly predictable that companies would expand out to fill those niches and strive to create products to meet fan demand (as well as differentiate themselves from their competition). That was no more a “betrayal” than WotC designing a new edition of D&D… it’s the natural course of business.

While we are mindful of the role the OGL played in the development of Green Ronin, I personally don’t feel we “owe our success” to it. We helped manufacture support for WotC’s business according to the plan they offered and by doing so we received exposure for our company; it was a mutually beneficial relationship. Our success, on the other hand, was not granted to us from on high by Wizards of the Coast or any other Powers That Be. We competed, we worked hard, we made mistakes on some things and chose wisely on others and earned our success through our efforts. In the far less mutually beneficial climate of 4th Edition and the GSL, I am confident that we will continue to produce excellent work and find an audience for it, starting with A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying and any number of things beyond.

40 comments to Green Ronin Past, Present, and Future

  • Like I said to Chris, while I’m disappointed, I absolutely understand why it’s the best decision for you guys. I hope it works out as well as you can imagine.

  • Like I said to Chris, while I’m disappointed, I absolutely understand why it’s the best decision for you guys. I hope it works out as well as you can imagine.

  • Like I said to Chris, while I’m disappointed, I absolutely understand why it’s the best decision for you guys. I hope it works out as well as you can imagine.

  • Like I said to Chris, while I’m disappointed, I absolutely understand why it’s the best decision for you guys. I hope it works out as well as you can imagine.

  • Excellent post. Large cheer!

  • Excellent post. Large cheer!

  • Excellent post. Large cheer!

  • Excellent post. Large cheer!

  • I think this is great. With the OGL we ended up with a flood of D20 content and so much of it sat on shelves. In this instance with the GSL and publishers deciding to focus on their own products I think the end result will be a better game market with more variety and real competition. (opposed to a D20 vs Non-D20 market)

    I have no doubt that there will be plenty of support for D&D via several companies. Lots of outfits will accept the GSL and likely have a better time getting their material off the shelves.

  • I think this is great. With the OGL we ended up with a flood of D20 content and so much of it sat on shelves. In this instance with the GSL and publishers deciding to focus on their own products I think the end result will be a better game market with more variety and real competition. (opposed to a D20 vs Non-D20 market)

    I have no doubt that there will be plenty of support for D&D via several companies. Lots of outfits will accept the GSL and likely have a better time getting their material off the shelves.

  • I think this is great. With the OGL we ended up with a flood of D20 content and so much of it sat on shelves. In this instance with the GSL and publishers deciding to focus on their own products I think the end result will be a better game market with more variety and real competition. (opposed to a D20 vs Non-D20 market)

    I have no doubt that there will be plenty of support for D&D via several companies. Lots of outfits will accept the GSL and likely have a better time getting their material off the shelves.

  • I think this is great. With the OGL we ended up with a flood of D20 content and so much of it sat on shelves. In this instance with the GSL and publishers deciding to focus on their own products I think the end result will be a better game market with more variety and real competition. (opposed to a D20 vs Non-D20 market)

    I have no doubt that there will be plenty of support for D&D via several companies. Lots of outfits will accept the GSL and likely have a better time getting their material off the shelves.

  • Everything you say is perfectly correct (and we still have our copy of Ork!, bought at the time it came out, BTW.) But even if GR had been born of the D20 half-shell then branched out later, it would not matter a whit. You would still own a business and have to make sensible business decisions.

    Does WotC/Hasbro agonize over whether they’re going to be sufficiently loyal to companies that supported them, as well as their fans? I like to believe some individuals probably do, but I’m certain the company’s decisions are based solely on business factors.

    How often do we hear the (often justified) complaint that game companies have no business sense? Why should Green Ronin be panned for trying to make business decision based on their best analysis of the business situation?

    • This bears repeating:

      How often do we hear the (often justified) complaint that game companies have no business sense? Why should Green Ronin be panned for trying to make business decision based on their best analysis of the business situation?

  • Everything you say is perfectly correct (and we still have our copy of Ork!, bought at the time it came out, BTW.) But even if GR had been born of the D20 half-shell then branched out later, it would not matter a whit. You would still own a business and have to make sensible business decisions.

    Does WotC/Hasbro agonize over whether they’re going to be sufficiently loyal to companies that supported them, as well as their fans? I like to believe some individuals probably do, but I’m certain the company’s decisions are based solely on business factors.

    How often do we hear the (often justified) complaint that game companies have no business sense? Why should Green Ronin be panned for trying to make business decision based on their best analysis of the business situation?

    • This bears repeating:

      How often do we hear the (often justified) complaint that game companies have no business sense? Why should Green Ronin be panned for trying to make business decision based on their best analysis of the business situation?

    • This bears repeating:

      How often do we hear the (often justified) complaint that game companies have no business sense? Why should Green Ronin be panned for trying to make business decision based on their best analysis of the business situation?

  • Everything you say is perfectly correct (and we still have our copy of Ork!, bought at the time it came out, BTW.) But even if GR had been born of the D20 half-shell then branched out later, it would not matter a whit. You would still own a business and have to make sensible business decisions.

    Does WotC/Hasbro agonize over whether they’re going to be sufficiently loyal to companies that supported them, as well as their fans? I like to believe some individuals probably do, but I’m certain the company’s decisions are based solely on business factors.

    How often do we hear the (often justified) complaint that game companies have no business sense? Why should Green Ronin be panned for trying to make business decision based on their best analysis of the business situation?

  • Everything you say is perfectly correct (and we still have our copy of Ork!, bought at the time it came out, BTW.) But even if GR had been born of the D20 half-shell then branched out later, it would not matter a whit. You would still own a business and have to make sensible business decisions.

    Does WotC/Hasbro agonize over whether they’re going to be sufficiently loyal to companies that supported them, as well as their fans? I like to believe some individuals probably do, but I’m certain the company’s decisions are based solely on business factors.

    How often do we hear the (often justified) complaint that game companies have no business sense? Why should Green Ronin be panned for trying to make business decision based on their best analysis of the business situation?

    • This bears repeating:

      How often do we hear the (often justified) complaint that game companies have no business sense? Why should Green Ronin be panned for trying to make business decision based on their best analysis of the business situation?

  • Nik, there will always be haters. Don’t let anonymous (or not-so-anonymous) people on the other side of the internet bother you.

    • Oh, no worries. I’m not worked up about the poster’s comments, just felt like clarifying with some facts. We often hear from people who don’t know that Death in Freeport wasn’t our first product, that we *only* designed d20, etc. I like to shake some of those false beliefs out of the conversation when I can. :)

  • Nik, there will always be haters. Don’t let anonymous (or not-so-anonymous) people on the other side of the internet bother you.

    • Oh, no worries. I’m not worked up about the poster’s comments, just felt like clarifying with some facts. We often hear from people who don’t know that Death in Freeport wasn’t our first product, that we *only* designed d20, etc. I like to shake some of those false beliefs out of the conversation when I can. :)

    • Oh, no worries. I’m not worked up about the poster’s comments, just felt like clarifying with some facts. We often hear from people who don’t know that Death in Freeport wasn’t our first product, that we *only* designed d20, etc. I like to shake some of those false beliefs out of the conversation when I can. :)

  • Nik, there will always be haters. Don’t let anonymous (or not-so-anonymous) people on the other side of the internet bother you.

  • Nik, there will always be haters. Don’t let anonymous (or not-so-anonymous) people on the other side of the internet bother you.

    • Oh, no worries. I’m not worked up about the poster’s comments, just felt like clarifying with some facts. We often hear from people who don’t know that Death in Freeport wasn’t our first product, that we *only* designed d20, etc. I like to shake some of those false beliefs out of the conversation when I can. :)

  • As a big supporter of True 20, I’m very happy you aren’t switching to the GSL. My husband, while playing 4e, is a big M&M fan, and he wants to support GR as well. I think the companies who were able to make a strong presence with and without D20 materials probably are more than ready to move forward on their own.

    And I love GR stuff. :)

  • As a big supporter of True 20, I’m very happy you aren’t switching to the GSL. My husband, while playing 4e, is a big M&M fan, and he wants to support GR as well. I think the companies who were able to make a strong presence with and without D20 materials probably are more than ready to move forward on their own.

    And I love GR stuff. :)

  • As a big supporter of True 20, I’m very happy you aren’t switching to the GSL. My husband, while playing 4e, is a big M&M fan, and he wants to support GR as well. I think the companies who were able to make a strong presence with and without D20 materials probably are more than ready to move forward on their own.

    And I love GR stuff. :)

  • As a big supporter of True 20, I’m very happy you aren’t switching to the GSL. My husband, while playing 4e, is a big M&M fan, and he wants to support GR as well. I think the companies who were able to make a strong presence with and without D20 materials probably are more than ready to move forward on their own.

    And I love GR stuff. :)