How come nobody ever wants to make the next Call of Duty a dating sim?
So, if you’ve been following the news recently, the shooter based on X-Com has vanished off the face of the earth. For those of you who don’t know, X-Com is a classic turn-based strategy title. Recently, two games were announced based on X-Com. One would be a revamped strategy game for a modern age, and the other would be a game with completely different mechanics, gameplay and structure – that happened to be called X-Com.
Gamers were excited about the announcement of the first one, and reacted with unbridled rage (a pretty typical reaction) at the news of the second. And now it seems like their venom has sunken into the veins of 2K games and the X-Com shooter has been given the Stalin treatment. Ding, dong the wicked witch is dead. Now, in the tradition of the internet nerd I’m going to start gloating a bit like this was a victory that I was totally a part of and then I’m going to start talking down to the industry execs and start telling them what to do.
However I have to lay off 2K. First of all, they did something that nobody has had the foresight to do. They decided to go with TWO remakes: one for the fans of the series, and one for…who the fuck was the other one for anyway? It wasn’t for the fans, that’s for sure.
Typically gamers are not above sending death and rape threats when someone changes the button arrangement on the shirt of their favorite protagonist, so I daresay the X-Com shooter concept didn’t go over too well. That powerful and possibly overdramatic reaction gives you an idea of how popular the concept was. Was it for the new shooter fans? Nope, they don’t know or care about the X-Com series, so it doesn’t really matter to them that your game is a reboot of a PC-gaming milestone.
‘What? A remake of the PC classic X-com, a game that was made before I was born, that I know nothing of and that in no way resembles the games that I enjoy? Sign me up!’ And it’s not like you could insist you were introducing a new generation of gamers to the classic. They would have been showing them some bastardized, tarted up version with its essence ripped out. You could’ve called it Rape Quest and gotten the same reaction. Actually considering the language you hear on Xbox Live these days I think that would’ve sold pretty well.
The bottom line is, the gaming industry has taken to turning IP’s into shooters recently and I just don’t see the sense in it. Now, one could point out that I don’t know fuck about running a game studio but I could be an even bigger prick and point out that most of these remakes have not performed well. Dead Space 3, Syndicate and Resident Evil 6 haven’t been complete failures but they underperformed expectations for the most part and they alienated core series fans. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we need gaming series to religiously adhere to their canon.
Trust me, we have enough shooters already.
DmC and Tomb Raider showed that a reboot can maintain the spirit of the original while taking the series in new directions. But when a company makes a game into a shooter, they’re usually going after a very specific market and trying to get a piece of the pie. Except it’s a saturated market and the pie has been gobbled up by the fat slobs that are Activision and EA, and they’ll put your eyes out with their pie-forks if you come near their crumbs. The bloated, blinded corpse of Homefront will tell you that. Trust me, we have enough shooters already.
And for the fans, I guess there’s also a message. The reason the industry keeps milking IP’s dry might be because you stick to your favorite series and you don’t branch out. This is not a friendly market for new IP, and it’s all about the fan support. If you check out a bold new IP trying to bring something we don’t see too often, spread the word. Pre-order it (the game industry loves it when you do that), tweet about it, tattoo it to your breasts if you’re a lady (the game industry loves that even more), get the word out. They’ll sell you new ideas when you start buying new ideas.