Wizards of the Coast has announced that it will be making 4th Edition D&D content available to developers via a new two-phase release structure.  The first phase of the roll-out is marked by the availability in January of an OGL Designer's Kit, which costs $5,000 and is designed for independent publishers looking to obtain early access to 4th Edition rules in order to be able to release compatible 4th Edition products as soon as August 1st, 2008.  Parties interested in obtaining an OGL Designer's Kit must possess a business license and execute a Non-Disclosure Agreement prior to contract communication.


The OGL Designer's Kit includes pre-publication versions of the 4th Edition Rulebooks (Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual) as well as a pre-pub version of the System Reference Document (SRD), an Opening Gaming License (OGL), a License Guide, registration card, updated documents as the rules are finalized, and advance copies of all the finished core rulebooks. 


WotC is selling the kits for the first time to establish a minimum bar for early entry into the OGL publishing world and give a leg up to publishers that are serious about creating books compatible with 4th Edition.  The second phase of the OGL rollout will not occur until June 6th, 2008 when WotC will provide free public availability for the 4th Edition SRD and OGL.  Although the SRD will be live upon release, the free OGL won't go live until January 1st, 2009, which means that developers who buy the OGL Designer's Kits will be able to publish on August 1st (in time for GenCon), but those who wait for the free materials in June will not be able to publish their 4th Edition compatible works until January 1st, 2009.


The two-tiered policy represents WotC's attempt to learn from problems associated with the proliferation of D&D-related products of widely varying quality following WotC's original announcement of an OGL open-source gaming program in 2000 (see 'No 4th Edition d20 STL').