Update, December 16th: In an attempt to assuage some fears early, Obsidian have released a statement confirming that their new RPG will contain no microtransactions of any sort, despite the game being published by Take-Two.
When Obsidian announced that their next RPG would be published through Take-Two's new 'indie' wing, Private Division, some were understandably nervous that the publisher might lean on the studio to monetize aspects of the game. Attempting to head things off at the pass, Obsidian made an official statement via their forums, assuring that nothing of the sort was happening.
Obsidian's new RPG is being directed by the creators of the original Fallout, which was almost a first-person game.
There's not much room to read between the lines in the statement given. "No microtransactions, of any kind, in our game.", say Obsidian, and with the reputation they've built up for free and transparent communication with their fans these past few years, I can't see any reason to doubt them.
Amusingly, just to drive the point home, they accompanied the forum post with a short video on Twitter. Again, they - Obsidian leads Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain, to be precise - reiterate: Nope, no loot boxes, no microtransactions, nothing outside of what you'd expect from an Obsidian RPG, and the publisher are respecting their decisions.
It seems a world away from the era of massive publisher meddling in RPG development that drove so many studios to turn independent in the first place. With any luck, we'll never see a return to the sad state of affairs that delivered us such broken gems as Vampire: Bloodlines, something which is still being restored by fans 13 years later.
Original Story, December 14th: Take-Two have launched a new publishing label that is partnered with a load of big name developers who have started independent studios, including Obsidian’s new RPG.
Private Division looks to be backing only a particular calibre of game - alongside Obsidian’s next RPG, there’s The Outsiders’ Project Wight, which is headed up by ex-DICE developers David Goldfarb and Ben Cousins; Assassin’s Creed creator’s Patrice Desilets and his game about evolution, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey; and a sci-fi shooter from Marcus Lehto, the co-creator of Halo.
Recently, Take-Two announced that all their upcoming games would feature microtransactions but it’s not clear whether that will include this new label. While microtransactions may work in some of these games, from the description of Project Wight, a Beowulf-inspired game where you play the monster, doesn’t seem like a natural fit for that kind of system.
The new label will also handle the management of Kerbal Space Program, which Take-Two acquired from Squad back in May.
None of the games coming from Private Division are due to come out in Take-Two’s financial years ending 31st March 2018 and 2019, which means, as exciting as these games look and sound, we won’t be playing them any time soon.