This past fall I mentioned that 2K Marin’s 1950s esque X-Com shooter might have been undergoing a change from a first person shooter to a squad based third person shooter. Most of this theory came from a leaked marketing survey that showed off some new squad-based gameplay while asking questions regarding lower prices and the option to DL the title instead of going out to buy it. Of course no one involved in the development of the game was available for comment, pretending that their marketing survey wasn’t just leaked all over the internet. But that was in the fall and it appears things are even worse for the fledgling X-Com shooter; their website and all official references to the game have been removed, with no explanation as to why. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the game is quietly being swept under the rug with no real explanation from anyone who developed it.
This comes as no real surprise as almost immediately after the game was announced many began to wonder why they would turn such a beloved turn-based strategy game into an FPS. Not long after there was a shift from X-Com’s marketing from the FPS title to the turn-based remake that was eventually released last fall.
Then there was the rebranding of the title as stated before, from an FPS to a squad-based third person shooter, though that seemed to do little to deter those who questioned the wisdom of creating that sort of game at all. It seems that no matter the franchise, any game in which there can be a gun can somehow be transformed into some sort of shooter, regardless of whether or not anyone is asking for it. Just take a look at what happened to The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct which scored an awful 32 on Metacritic (I don’t like to use Metacritic, but it can serve as a general barometer for success) even though everything else with the words The Walking Dead has seen some sort of success.
There is no better example of corporate detachment from consumers than the pile of unwanted or just plain bad FPS titles created in the last decade. Thanks to popular titles like Halo, CoD, Battlefield, and a few others, every publisher wants a piece of the pie and they’re willing to turn almost any existing IP into one type of shooter or another. This mess with the X-Com FPS is only one in a long line of failed titles that were thrown together in the hopes that they would see success. Fans aren’t clamoring for more shooters, but there they are, every week on physical and digital shelves all over the world.
It’s pretty clear that things can’t go on like this, and to the credit of consumers, we are getting a bit better at filtering out the mindless cash-grabs from the good titles that deserve our attention, but sometimes that isn’t enough. I would like to say that this will serve as a lesson to other publishers about the dangers of rebranding existing IPs as mindless shooters, but I doubt that will be the case. The industry is evolving however, as smaller indie studios learn how to raise money directly from consumers I think we will most likely see awful FPS remakes like this become more rare, but we’re still a ways off from their extinction.