GDC 2013: Hate aliens and have an iPad? Firaxis brings UFO defense to iOS with ‘XCOM: Enemy Unknown’


Take-Two Interactive, parent company of 2K Games and a variety of talented development teams from Firaxis to Rockstar Games, had a very promising 2012. The company’s never been short on critical acclaim, but it’s often relied on Rockstar alone to give its business booming. Just look at how the delays of Grand Theft Auto V have hurt the company financially for proof. Last year though, the company saw increased stability thanks to the success of its fall line up. The surprise hit in that stable: XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Take-Two never slapped a sales number on the strategy game, but has regularly described it as a “critical success and commercial success, with strong digital sales.” Those digital sales should only continue to grow now that XCOM is coming to Apple’s popular handhelds.

Take-Two and Firaxis announced that it was bringing XCOM: Enemy Unknown to iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch on Monday morning. Designer and series steward Jack Solomon took to YouTube to demonstrate how touch controls were implemented into the game.

Enemy Unknown was a fascinating release in 2012, and not just because it proved that old style strategy games could be successful in a market dominated by shooters like Call of Duty. Now that it’s coming to iOS, it proves that even big budget games can thrive on all types of currently popular platforms. Plenty of indie games have straddled the divide between handhelds, consoles, and PCs. Telltale’s The Walking Dead has been successful on all of them. It’s rare, however, to see a game like Enemy Unknown cross all three without being redesigned in some way. Need For Speed: Most Wanted, for example, is identical on PCs and consoles, but its iOS version is a very different game.

Firaxis is also bringing XCOM over into its most famous series, Civilization. The new Civilization V expansion Brave New World will allow bold rulers to add an XCOM Project research facility to their budding culture. No one will invade when you’ve got some UFO defense.

At E3 2012, Digital Trends asked Solomon what his future held after he finished XCOM: Enemy Unknown. At the time, he wasn’t sure. “I’ve wanted to make XCOM forever,” said Solomon, “My mind if resisting the idea that this is going to end at some point.” From the sound of things, it doesn’t seem like XCOM is ending any time soon.