Many fans of Xcom were upset the series was being rebooted as a shooter, but 2K Games thinks that’s what today’s gamers want.
One of the most lauded games of the 90s was called Xcom: UFO Defense where you controlled a squad of soldiers on an isometric grid. The tactical action was turn-based, meaning you could think about the implications of your next move before it blew up in your face. 2K Games owns the Xcom trademarks and intellectual property and they announced last year that Xcom would soon be reborn as a shooter. The president of 2K, Christoph Hartmann, said that’s because old school strategy games are a taste from a bygone age.
“Turn-based strategy games were no longer the hottest thing on planet Earth,” Hartmann said. “But this is not just a commercial thing – strategy games are just not contemporary.”
He continued explaining his position through a comparison to the music business. “I use the example of music artists. Look at someone old school like Ray Charles, if he would make music today it would still be Ray Charles but he would probably do it more in the style of Kanye West. Bringing Ray Charles back is all fine and good, but it just needs to move on, although the core essence will still be the same.”
While the truth of that comparison could certainly be argued (Ray Charles = Kanye? Um, no.), Hartmann brought it back to why Xcom is now a shooter. “That’s what we are trying to do. To renew Xcom but in line with what this generation of gamers want,” he said. “The team behind it is asking themselves every day: ‘Is it true to the values of the franchise?’ It’s not a case of cashing in on the name. We just need to renew it because times are changing.”
If the times they are a-changing, then why am I still buying way more strategy games than shooters? I mean, I get the fact that people buy more shooters, but I don’t think pulling an IP known for its excellent turn-based strategy into the shooter genre is how to tap that market. From what I saw of Xcom at last year’s E3, and what Susan Arendt saw last month, it doesn’t look like it will be worth it.