Take-Two Interactive, the massive AAA publisher which owns both 2K and Rockstar Games, has announced that it's launching a new label for indie productions. Since games developed by the label will still be published by them, as a rule, they're not technically indie, but nonetheless the dev teams behind them won't be Take-Two subsidiaries.
Take-Two has made many moves to diversify its lineup in the years since the release of Grand Theft Auto 5. Recently they acquired a mobile game studio, Social Point, and plan on expanding into that market. Previous Take-Two mobile games and apps were all outsourced and hardly a priority for the company.
Their new indie label, Private Division, is a setup which will help independent studios develop their own games while still having mostly free reign, in exchange for royalty payments. Take-Two acquired popular indie title Kerbal Space Program earlier this year and it will be part of Private Division as well.
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However, a bunch of non-in-house games and developers are already on board. Legendary RPG developer Obsidian's upcoming, unannounced game will be published under the Private Division label. Other names attached to the label are Patrice Désilets, creator of Assassin's Creed and Marcus Lehto, co-creator of Halo.
Private Division is already pulling a ton of weight, with two creators of massive AAA franchises and one of the oldest still functioning big-name RPG developers, so clearly what Take-Two is offering is quite enticing. A bunch of other developers have also signed on.
Thus, the developing companies themselves do not become subsidiaries of Take-Two like 2K and Rockstar are, but benefit from the company's publishing experience and, obviously, their deep coffers. This, however, raises a question regarding monetization - Take-Two's CEO Strauss Zelnick recently stated that they intend on including microtransactions in all games.
Does this mean Obsidian's new RPG will have microtransactions?
The answer is, luckily, no. Fans of the genre, and the devs, have asked this question enough times to warrant an official response, and a developer post on Obsidian's forums confirms that the unannounced game will be free of microtransactions.
This means that Private Division will truly uphold the "indie" aspect of the label. Obsidian's post clears up the air not just regarding monetization, but about how much influence Take-Two seeks over these projects.
We also wanted to say a word about our partnership with Private Division, our publisher on this title. Far from “pushing” us to put anything -- microtransactions or otherwise -- into our game, Private Division has been incredibly supportive of our vision, our creative freedom, and the process by which we work to make RPGs. They have been fantastic partners, and we are extremely excited to work with them through release, to put what we know is going to be an amazing game into as many hands as possible.
AAA companies setting up indie labels isn't a new invention. EA games has a similar initiative called EA Originals, which will be publishing Fe and A Way Out.
Take-Two is more than certain to keep their own IP in-house, however, so don't expect any outsourced GTA spin-offs being developed and published via Private Division.