Word is spreading that the mythical Game System License (née OGL 2.0) for Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition will be released by WotC any day now. Look, WotC has even put up a press release about it. Of course, there are no details about the terms of the GSL or even when the GSL will be available. The only dates mentioned in the press release are when the 4e SRD will be available (June 6, 2008 -- the same day as the release of 4e) and the earliest on which 4e-compatible products may be sold (October 1, 2008).
So, basically, lots of people are getting excited about ... nothing. We must remember that WotC has already said that GSL will be released "soon" on several occasions, stretching all the way back to last Fall. Each time they failed to deliver anything and each time they returned to the scene they said something different than what they had said previously. One can be forgiven, I think, for believing that either WotC didn't actually know their own Open Game License very well and were scrambling to try and find a way to put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak, or else there was some kind of internal disagreement over the extent to which 4e should be open and how WotC should proceed, if at all.
Granted, a press release like this implies very strongly that the logjam has finally broken and something is about to be revealed. Exactly what is hard to say at this point. However, in the interests of honesty, I must admit that I am in fact surprised that WotC is following through with a GSL at all. I had previously predicted that there would be no GSL and on that point I seem likely to be proven wrong. Of course, the GSL still has not yet appeared; it's entirely possible that, press release or no, the license could still never materialize, in which case I'd be forced to say that WotC is simply incompetent. Likewise, it's also possible that the terms of the GSL will undercut the whole point of openness in the first place. From the link above, we already know that WotC plans to limit the kind of products one can produce under the GSL, although, in return, third parties are permitted to use a version of the D&D logo to denote compatibility with 4e, which is more than the 3e OGL ever permitted.
Still, the proof is in the pudding and I remain convinced that the terms of the GSL will be restrictive enough to make it only worthwhile if your business plans consist solely of being a support company for D&D, which is to say, writing adventure modules. Given that publishers are expected to "register" with WotC to be able to use the D&D logo, I think tighter restrictions are inevitable.
In the end, I think this is too little, too late. Paizo is already lost and the number of confirmed companies who will support 4e no matter what number (I think) two. I can't imagine many people will be jumping on the bandwagon this time around. It's another misstep by WotC in the roll-out for 4e that could have been avoided but wasn't.