When XCOM 2 comes out this November, it will only be available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. This came as a surprise to a lot of people, sine Firaxis’ previous XCOM released simultaneously for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, and was subsequently ported to Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. Isn’t going from more to fewer platforms the opposite of how things generally work?
It is less surprising when you consider that Firaxis, the home of Sid Meier’s venerable Civilization series, has been — with few exceptions — a stalwart PC-first developer for 20 years. XCOM creative director Jake Solomon explained to IGN that the decision to focus exclusively on PC for the initial release was in order to play to the studio’s strengths.
“When we looked at what we wanted to do with the sequel, we had all these very, very ambitious goals. To do that, we had to use all of our studio expertise … and our expertise here is PC. That’s our home, and that’s where we’re really comfortable.”
Among those ambitious plans? High-fidelity character models, more convincing, physics-based environmental destruction, and procedurally-generated levels. Developing for three or more platforms simultaneously would majorly complicate Firaxis’ ability to achieve these goals.
Another major consideration that no doubt factored into the decision is that XCOM 2 will feature robust mod support on release, which is obviously not possible for console versions. Community-developed mods like Long War have been a major factor in the previous XCOM‘s longevity. Firaxis’ flagship, Civilization, has remained near the top of Steam’s charts for years because of the replayability and engagement the modding community gives it.
Solomon won’t rule out the possibility of console ports at some point in the future. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are almost certainly capable of running XCOM 2, but they are really not a consideration at the moment. “We’re certainly not opposed to that, but I can assure that’s something we’re not even discussing yet.”
Realistically, I would put money on XCOM 2 coming to PS4 and Xbox One at some point in 2016. How do you guys feel about the (initial) PC exclusivity? Are you happy to see Firaxis playing to its base, or do you feel left out in the cold?