I would have to agree with Ira here. I am a GM for a game called "Pathfinder" at the moment. For me, it is D&D. The ruleset is fairly meaningless to me as a GM. For me, the role playing experience hinges
on MY creativity (and my fellow gamers ability to tap into that and use their creativity and imagination to link to mine). I don't sit down and worry about the way the rules are worded or even how exactly a skill or feat or special ability effects our game sessions. I don't worry about how the combat system works. It has been, is, and always will be about a story. A set of places. A particular scene or setting. I wouldn't think twice about HOW a skill is used or HOW the system even uses skills or combat for that matter.
Until recently, I hadn't played a pen and paper roleplaying game in ages. I got back in as a player in a Dark Heresy campaign and remembered why I used to love it so. When I was asked whether I wanted to GM a game, I looked through a friends library of books and the artwork of Pathfinder lured me in. I told my gaming group that Pathfinder would be cool for me. I had no idea about 3.5 or 4.0 or any of that. I had already put the pieces together in my head for what I wanted and frankly it didn't mean a dang thing which system I used.
I think what a lot of roleplaying game companies have forgotten is that RPG's are the gamer's realm. There is no room for corporate decisions. We don't care. I could've just have easily made the game from 1st edition D&D. Doesn't matter. What matters are the stories, the characters, the settings, and the exploits of these imaginary constructs of very imaginative gamers.
I think if
my gaming group gives me another shot at being a GM (and they have given me quite a bit of positive feedback so far in this my first attempt in about 20 years), then I think I am going to go with something like Mutant Epoch or some other retro style post-apocalyptic RPG. We are not going to buy flip mats or battle figures. Never going to happen. Our characters live in our heads. Yes, we might paint up a representation of what our character looks like, but we would never use it in a gaming session. That's not what RPG's are about. At least, not to me and not for the group that I play with.
I will get off my soapbox now. I realize that there are as many opinions about RPGing as there are players who play the games.
I would not be too surprised if this ploy of putting 4.0 D&D to rest early and starting anew doesn't help the company at all. Gamers have already figured out that there are other alternatives, even if it is just to dust off that ancient tome that you used to play as a kid. It works just as well now as it used to then...
Sorry about the book here. I just started typing and these words all fell out of my head.