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Marvel’s Midnight Suns creative director explains why the game flopped

Dr. Strange, Iron Man, and Scarlet Witch defend and Sanctum Santorum in Marvel's Midnight Suns.

Prior to founding Midsummer Studio, a new development team that was announced today, Jake Solomon’s last big credit was working as creative director on Marvel’s Midnight Suns. In an interview with Digital Trends, Solomon gave some frank answers as to why the superhero strategy game got off to a disappointing launch.

Although Marvel’s Midnight Suns card-based strategy gameplay is robust, a stigma around the idea of cards and how different the game was from XCOM 2, one of Solomon’s previous games, existed since before the game was even released. Publisher 2K’s spotty record with microtransactions, as well as a leak that referred to the game as “Marvel XCOM” when that’s not really what the game was, also didn’t help.

“That was tough; it was personal,” Solomon tells Digital Trends during a conversation about the formation of Midsummer Studio. “I remember really being kind of down when that happened because, no, we were not making Marvel XCOM; it was not Marvel XCOM. I hate that phrase is even out there now.”

There was a perception issue of people looking at the game and not wanting to play it.

Solomon takes full credit for creating and approving cards as a gameplay system and thinks it was a fun gameplay mechanic, but in retrospect, he’s willing to admit that he underestimated how resistant XCOM fans would be to a totally new gameplay idea — and the fact Firaxis wasn’t making XCOM 3.

“The truth is, Midnight Suns is a really interesting game, and I’m very proud of it from a critical standpoint,” Solomon says. “It was very personal for me, but it was one of those things where if I were to look and ask why it underperformed, I would simply say cards. I think cards were a big part of it. We designed a card system, and it was awesome, worked really well, and was super fun. But I don’t think I fully appreciated the way that looks. There was a sizable portion of players who were like, ‘I’m not playing cards’ or ‘I’m not doing that.'”

Marvel's Midnight Suns battlefield featuring Iron Man, Magik, and Captain Marvel.

Solomon even admitted that Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick asked him if XCOM fans were going to be okay with how radically different Marvel’s Midnight Suns was. “I was like, ‘Of course.’ That was obviously a dumb answer on my part because I think that wasn’t entirely true,” Solomon now admits. Marvel’s Midnight Suns did end up getting positive reviews from critics, myself included, but the more tepid fan reaction meant the game reportedly underperformed financially, something Solomon says he takes responsibility for.

As the game has come to PlayStation Plus Extra, more people have come around and voiced their appreciation for Marvel’s Midnight Suns on social media. Although Solomon says it’s “gratifying” that more people are enjoying the game, he also points out that many of the comments he sees reinforce the perception issue Marvel’s Midnight Suns has.

“What I started to realize pretty quickly is that when most people say Midnight Suns is good, it is almost always said in a tone of surprise,” Solomon says. “That means people looked at it and thought they weren’t going to like the game … There was a perception issue of people looking at the game and not wanting to play it.”

If you want to form your own opinion on the game, Marvel’s Midnight Suns is available on PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

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Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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