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Excellent article and research, PinkSplice. If I may put your words in a nutshell:

Role Playing Games are Operating Systems.

Supplements, adventures, novels, etc. are the programs.

D&D 3rd Edition is poised to become Windows.

Licensing will be very important for the development of the industry. Imagine that ALL Windows programs, add-ons, etc. were owned and produced solely by Microsoft. Some programs are good, some aren't, and even Microsoft is limited by what they produce.

Of course, that isn't the case. So, someone in another company can make a real loser of a program, run it in Windows, and it won't reflect poorly on Microsoft. Similarly, if another company produces junk for D&D, it's no problem for WOTC.

Now, of course, the big question is what prevents Steve Jackson from making GURPS open source even now? Nothing. However, that won't be enough. GURPS is generally thought to be a little awkward to use. In fact, even though Chaosium does a lot of licensing already for their well-designed RPG Call of Cthulhu, the game still has only a small following. Of course, the system is hamstrung by being inextricably tied to Howard Philips Lovecraft's horror stories and their literary offshoots.

WOTC has the financial clout to become the Microsoft of the hobby game market (if they aren't it already). Socially, America is becoming more dependent on creative minds, active imaginations, and innovative problem solving skills--which is what role playing games engender. Thus, the RPG market will in fact grow. WOTC is working to guarantee growth and stability in their industry. This, of course, is good.
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