Reminding us all that the term ‘indie’ is meaningless, Take-Two Interactive–the multi-billion-dollar owners of GTA devs Rockstar Games, Civ and XCOM studio Firaxis, and 2K–have launched an indie publishing label. It’s named Private Division and that combined with the logo ↑ makes me think: Twin Peaks-themed porn site. But they have gathered a fair number of big names for their initial lineup, including Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey from the new studio of Assassin’s Creed creative director Patrice Désilet, a yet-unannounced RPG from Tim Cain and his Fallout cohorts at Obsidian Entertainment, games from fellas who worked on Battlefields and Halos, and Kerbal Space Program (which Take-Two now own). Hey, if leads to good games getting made, wank yourselves wild with your indie fantasies.
Take-Two’s official word is that Private Division is “a new publishing label comprised of proven games industry veterans that is dedicated to bringing titles from top independent developers to market.” I believe they mean ‘independent’ in the sense of “the studios making them are not publicly traded on the stock market.”
So! What have we got? There’s Ancestors, an action-adventure survival game about a fantasy world where monkeys gradually turn into human beings (through a wizard? dunno). That mysterious Obsidian RPG is led by Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, who were designers on the original Fallout (as well as its producer and lead artist, respectively), so that’s certainly something to keep an eye on. Former DICE folks David Goldfarb and Ben Cousins are making an unannounced RPG codenamed Project Wight. Marcus Lehto, who was art director on the early Halo games, is making a new sci-fi FPS at his V1 Interactive studio. Kerbal Space Program rounds out the initial lineup.
Some interesting names and games there. Other than Kerbal, mind, none of these games are expected to launch before April 1st, 2019.
‘Indie publishing labels’ are v. in right now. Several smaller publishers have their own, and bigguns are getting into it too. Electronic Arts dabble with the idea every few years, and presently are calling theirs EA Originals. We live in strange cycles, with people quitting their stifling jobs at big publishers and studios to go independent and contribute to a scene that’s partially a kickback against unimaginative AAA games and endless sequels, then publishers deciding they want in on this and opening their wallets to sign up ‘indies’… how strange everything is. That only describes one form of ‘indie’, to be clear. And we do all already accept that ‘indie’ is meaningless, don’t we?
But you can tell Private Division is proper indie because their unveiling video opens with twee indie music: