The good news first: XCOM, the long-awaited first-person shooter from 2K Marin isn’t being delayed again; well, not necessarily. While the shooter has had some problems getting to the finish line, the real-time strategy reboot XCOM: Enemy Unknown proved to be a financial and critical hit for the brand (not to mention one of last year’s best games).
That kind of momentum might be assumed to work in XCOM‘s favor, but according to rumors efforts are being made to differentiate the shooter from the RTS. Whether that means a differing emphasis in marketing or an all-out title change, the publisher appears to be making some interesting moves.
The newest reports come courtesy of internet sleuth ‘Superannuation’ (via Kotaku), having investigated some new domain names purchased by publisher Take-Two Interactive. Registering the domains ‘thebureau-game.com,’ ‘thebureau-game.net,’ ‘whathappenedin62.com’ and ‘whathappenedin62.net’ the publisher seems to be leaning more heavily on the time period of the shooter and the shadowy government operatives working within it than the aliens themselves.
Anyone who saw the first trailers and screenshots for XCOM can understand the ‘What Happened in ’62?’ marketing twist, as players will apparently be tasked with tracking down extraterrestrial attacks throughout 1960s America. That being said, the evidence does suggest that the publisher is at least considering re-branding the shooter altogether.
‘The Bureau’ or ‘XCOM: The Bureau’ are mysterious and intriguing in their own right, but shifting away from the success of XCOM: Enemy Unknown seems like the least logical move for 2K to take. When paired with the fact that the game was delayed from 2012 to 2013, then again from 2013 to 2014, it’s hard to be optimistic. A true shame, since what we saw of the shooter at E3 2011 seemed more than promising from a storytelling aspect.
It’s impossible to know exactly what the strategy is at this point, since 2K Marin seems to have been working on XCOM since it was announced in 2010, pitched back then as a “re-imagining of the classic tale” of humans defending Earth from an alien menace. Despite its hiccups along the way – and rumors of shifting from a first-person to third-person squad shooter – the game was anything but doomed, even if released at $40 as opposed to $60.
The surprise success of Enemy Unknown proved that fans weren’t bored with the original series, or demanding it be ‘re-imagined’ as a first-person shooter in an increasingly crowded genre. We would hope that didn’t cause the studio to question their original intentions, but at this point, it’s hard to know if XCOM will ever see the light of day. Especially now that current-gen and next-gen production is beginning to shift.
Since our interest stemmed from the concept, not the marketing, we’re still looking forward to playing the finished game. But what do you take from these domain purchases and apparent shifts in design? Is it in the publisher’s best interest to re-brand XCOM completely and use Enemy Unknown‘s momentum for its own sequel?
XCOM is expected to release in 2014 (under whatever name it chooses to do so).
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.