New XCOM A Shooter Because Strategy Games Aren’t Contemporary

New XCOM A Shooter Because Strategy Games Aren’t Contemporary

The beloved but dormant X-COM series, the strategy game franchise created by Mythos and Microprose, is getting a revival in the form of a first-person shooter next year, offending the sensibilities of old-school PC gamers. Why would 2K Games do such a thing?

Christoph Harmann, president at 2K Games, explains to MCV that – sorry, fans of more strategic alien invasion battles – tastes have changed. Strategy games are old news.

“Every studio we had wanted to do it and each one had its own spin on it,” Hartmann says of the revival of the XCOM brand. “But the problem was that turn-based strategy games were no longer the hottest thing on planet Earth. But this is not just a commercial thing – strategy games are just not contemporary.” So, it became a first-person affair, even if 2K seems somewhat hesitant to label it a first-person shooter.

Hartmann says the team at 2K Marin are trying to “renew Xcom but in line with what this generation of gamers want”.

“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.”

Fortunately, based on our eyes-on time with XCOM at this year’s E3 expo, the 2012 game appears to be more than just a run-and-gun shoot ’em up, with tactical considerations and player decisions that have noticeable impact on game events.

INTERVIEW: Christoph Hartmann, 2K Games [MCV]


  • There are already teams working to update the graphics and sound of the old game for modern machines, and I agree that turn-base strategies have been stagnating for quite a while now.
    More and more, the most fun games are hybrids of classic genres.
    If 2K can maintain a strong tactical element, combined with a period aesthetic and resource and base management, I will remain optimistic about this title.

  • So they want to capitalize on the fandom of the franchise without risking actually alienating all the other gamers? Can’t have it both ways, grow a pair or don’t use the XCOM franchise.

    They basically looked at the XCOM franchise and didn’t ask ‘Is it possible to bring this game into 2011?’ but instead asked ‘Is it possible to profit off the name XCOM?’

    • yeah XCOM is their marketing strategy. for a different game.

      But the thing i find ironic is, people are somehow old enough to remember the XCOM name to give it buying power, but at the same time these people apparently have no idea what the hell kind of game XCOM is.

      they have managed to dissasociate the XCOM name from the game it was.

      yet logic dictates that if people don’t want/apparently have forgotten about the strategy games segment, then the XCOM name should have held no positive advantage to the game. and as such should not have been used.

      It’s bad enough that they are retconning the entire history of the series, because they want to place yet another game in the 1950’s

  • Not only is saying that this game is true to the values of the franchise an outright lie, if no one likes strategy games anymore explain to me the success of Frozen Synapse.

    • easy it’s on PC where people don’t all seem to have ADD and are actually willing to sit down and play something that doesn’t involve blowing things up every 1.3seconds

  • They are right that TBS is largely dead as a genre (save for giants of the industry like Civ), but I have yet to hear anyone declare RTS so much as unwell… isn’t tower defence just a sub-genre of RTS?

    • In the very same interview he said this:

      “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.

      I kid you not. That is what he said.

      • Every sentence I read adds another feature to my mental image of the guy. So far I’m seeing pony tail, soul patch, blue tooth head set, over priced sunglasses, tshirt with a suit, uses the word zeitgeist a lot.

      • I can’t believe he said that about Ray Charles, that has to be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. That’s like saying if Dio were still alive he’d be doing pop songs. I can’t understate the idiocy of it. This guy is living in his own little world.

  • That sounds like a great game. Just don’t call it XCOM and everyone is happy.

    Maybe Square Enix should make Final Fantasy XV an erotic dating game because RPGs are no longer “contemporary”.

  • So, this is like Bioware saying the old loyal dollar is no good anymore, because the new twitch dollar is the best currency. Yup, nothing new.

  • I’m inclined to agree with the comments so far. When I hear “X-COM” I think turn based tactical game combined, strategic resource management and other things. This could have been an opportunity for them to create a new IP.

    Instead, older gamers will think “This isn’t the X-COM I remember”, and newer gamers, trying to form an opinion of the game, will naturally look to previous titles in the series, and may decide they don’t like that style of game, which according to 2k, they won’t. It sends a confusing message.

  • Bah Humbug.

    What on earth are they talking about!? FPS games are every bit as old or “contemporary” as strategy games…
    They’re all still being blinded by the money CoD made, and are just endlessly chasing a slice of that pie.

    Why not make XCOM a fantastic strategy game, and find yourself with your own money spinning blockbuster. Leave all the other developers/publishers wanting a piece of it with their Quake/Tony Hawk/Rainbow Six strategy games… (shudder).

  • I saw this game at E3 in 2010 and it already looked the goods.

    Dont worry about the label , worry about the game. And it will be shit hot.

  • wow. So instead of taking an opportunity to revamp a turn based squad tactics legend and actually make it refreshing , they go for the done-to-death FPS option. How inspiring.

    Just because you don’t have the balls to have a decent crack doesn’t make turn based tactics games not contemporary, you stupid expletive!

    woah, i didn’t know I cared so much. It’s money grubbing twonks like this that are ruining the games industry.

    just to be clear, i’m not saying it’s going to be a bad game. I’m just saying if they had wanted to do something really unique, they could have used their budget to make turn based tactics games cool again. It doesn’t matter what style of gameplay you choose, if you put the effort into making a game play right and look stunning, and balancing all the elements then it can be an awesome game.

    just because all the cool kids are playing halo doesn’t mean you can go ahead and talk nonsense about one type of gameplay being better than another.

  • So what they are really saing is they decided to make another shooter for the proven massive customer base, then called it XCOM so 90% of the fans of the older versions would scream about it all over the internet generating free advertising and most fo them will buy it anyway.

    So nothing any other publisher hasn’t done to various IPs a hundred times before.

  • They need to look up what contemporary is.

    Because by contemporary definition, the fact that people remember playing a Strategy game means that it is contemporary otherwise no one would care that its an FPS.

    generally the last 70-80years(or human lifespan) or so years is considered contemporary because it can still be directly remembered

  • Reading the comments is like reading the comments before Metroid Prime was released. Howabout you see how the game actually plays before you talk about the sky falling or accusuing everyone of being a vampire?

    No? Well, ok then. I tried. Carry on.

    • Noone here is suggesting that the game will be poor; only that it’s a significant departure from the style of the previous game. Same thing happened with Fallout 3 before release, and just like will happen with X-COM, Fallout 3 was good.

      I agree that turn-based games probably won’t be able to command the sort of market share or presence they’re shooting for with this sort of budget, but it’s definitely possible to stay true to the style of the previous iterations with a new implementation. In this case, Irrational’s X-COM will need to keep the same level of detail, the same sort of strategic presence and decision making required of us, and they’re going to have to nail the atmosphere.

      But replacing turn-based with real-time and squad command with shooter CAN definitely work. WILL it is what the question should be.

      • yeah but the point is more why do they need to use the XCOM license when clearly nothing stems from the actual series.

        Fallout 3 wasn’t a significant departure.

        It took the world of fallout and translated it into an FPS. the game doesn’t pretend the other games don’t exist. It contains the same significant factions and moral choice the only thing that truly changed was the perspective basically everything else was intact.

        Where XCOM looks to take the XCOM name and slap it on a new game where the only similarities so far are theres some aliens(which don’t find there origins in other XCOM games) and a bioshock type level system(bad,more adam now(use alien tech immediatly) Vs Good, less adam now rewards later(save tech research = gun improvement)

        Neither of which are inherently XCOM. one is a theme the other is a gameplay mechanic that one can draw a semi parrallel to the tech upgrades in XCOM. But really has more in line with 2k’s other games.

        theres nothing wrong with evolving a franchise the way they did Fallout.

        Difference is that this “Evolution” involves retconning the entire story to the point that the other games don’t exist. having completely different aliens. And i suspect being all look at the USofA even in the 50’s we could fight off an alien invasion oohrah mentality.

        simple fact is that from what we have seen there is no reason for the game to be called XCOM. While the world of fallout 3 was heavily derived from the source material that came before

  • Shouldn’t a GOOD game revitalise an franchise? Bring new ideas and features to the turn based strategy gameplay style?

    Sounds very much to me like 2K has employed a bunch of hacks that have simply converted X-Com into whatever is selling gangbusters at the moment instead of actually putting in bit of effort and creativity into making the turn based strategy genre fun.

  • Yeah strategy games are so not hot right now. I imagine a big, complicated, involved and intelligent strategy game, say like Civilisation V, would tank if it was released in this climate… oh wait, it was one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2010.


  • As a huge X-Com fan I’ve been trying to view this game with an open mind but they just keep making it more difficult to like it. When it was first announced I had visions of a Valkyria Chronicles styled game, creeping around hunting aliens. Or a Dragon Age: Origins style pseudo turn based game, or at least a turn-based L4D. All full of the atmosphere of suspense and fear that the first two games created.

    However, the more I see/read of this game, the more it sounds like a bog standard run-n-gun, cover shooter. There are so many ways they can keep the core of the old games and incorporate modern mechanics to create a truly innovative remake and I would like to think it’s just poor coverage of the game that’s giving me this sinking feeling. However, every time 2K attempts to justify the game, they always use completely obtuse and irrelevant explanations which does nothing to reassure me it’s in good hands.

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