XCOM Developer Explains What Went Wrong With Marvel’s Midnight Suns

XCOM Developer explains why he thought Marvel's Midnight Suns didn't do well, and it's what we thought to begin with.
Marvels Midnight Suns Wolverine
Image: Firaxis Games

Video game creator Jake Solomon, famous for his work on XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2, recently talked about the surprising things that happened after Marvel’s Midnight Suns was released. He worked at the studio during development, and even though the game got a lot of good reviews, it had a hard time selling. Eventually, Solomon left Firaxis, the company he had been a part of for over twenty years.

In a recent chat with VGC, Solomon explained the big challenges that came from making Midnight Suns. He thought players would really like the new card game part, but they were actually pretty surprised by it. I thought it was one of the worst ideas they could have come up with. Card games are incredibly niche, so if you’re going for wider sales, it’s not as good an idea as other genres. Even Solomon admitted that people didn’t really understand or like the idea of the card game as much as he thought they would.

“I think cards were a major problem. I think it was a good design solution, but I think I was naive about what people would think when they saw the mechanic was cards. Not everyone on my team was behind the idea, but they trusted me.”

Jake Solomon

It doesn’t really matter how high the game is rated if it’s in a niche category. The issue is that you will almost always exclusively have the niche audience playing your game. There are some exceptions, like Doki Doki Literature Club and Stardew Valley, but those are only a few that don’t lend themselves to thinking things will work out well for a card game. When a bigger studio is in charge, they won’t feel good about the lack of revenue, and layoffs will occur to keep the studio running with only the necessary staff.

“The most typical reaction when people play Midnight Suns is surprise, and that’s not the reaction you want. That is not the reaction that lends itself to mass appeal.”

Jake Solomon

Overall, it feels like Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a cautionary tale. If you want to make a niche game, you should be at a smaller company, like an indie. This sounds bad, but it’s because you’re risking the jobs of everyone at the studio when you create a game that isn’t projected to make a lot of money. At the end of the day, financial departments only care about revenue, so a bigger company tends not to take those risks because it can cost jobs. That’s what happened to Fireaxis, but maybe there’s a better way that we haven’t seen yet.

Jorge A. Aguilar

Jorge A. Aguilar

Jorge A. Aguilar, also known as Aggy, is the current Assigning Editor.

He started his career as an esports, influencer, and streaming writer for Sportskeeda. He then moved to GFinity Esports to cover streaming, games, guides, and news before moving to the Social team where he ended his time as the Lead of Social Content.

He also worked a writer and editor for both Pro Game Guides and Dot Esports, and as a writer for PC Invasion, Attack of the Fanboy, and Android Police. Aggy is the former Managing Editor and Operations Overseer of N4G Unlocked and a former Gaming editor for WePC.

Throughout his time in the industry, he's trained over 100 writers, written thousands of articles on multiple sites, written more reviews than he cares to count, and edited tens of thousands of articles. He has also written some games published by Tales, some books, and a comic sold to Telus International.


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