Snapshot Games, lead by David Kaye and X-Com creator Julian Gollop, is a runaway success. Or at least I would think $100k a month in pledges would give a game studio some breathing room. But Snapshot isn't sleeping at night. The prevalence of cheap games and promotional bundles has the studio spooked because, while this is a time of incredibly bounties for consumers, not every game can have the financial safety net of, say, Sea of Thieves. This makes creating a game of the scale of Phoenix Point exceptionally perilous.
Phoenix Point has garnered a lot of attention despite a cluttered games fundraising space. After a successful Fig campaign brought in $766,000 (smashing its $500,000 target), the firm has launched its own pre-order initiative that, according to Kaye, is currently delivering $100,000 a month. Kaye credits a trailer with a million and a half views and a highly developed Facebook ad campaign. If you want to deep-dive the business side of this, check it out here. Anyway, thanks Facebook.
See, having all of our data stolen is sometimes worth it. Like when it shows me where to buy a Resident Evil hoodie or when it makes my dreams of an X-Com: Terror from the Deep manifest. (If y'all didn't grow up with it TFTD was like the original X-Com, except half of your weapons only worked underwater and everything else was twice as hard. Phoenix Point is similarly built on a series of nautical weapons and settings, so I'm prepping myself for some old school gaming frustration.)
As for Phoenix Point, the major concern for the studio and it's team of twenty-eight in Bulgaria, is not so much that they'll get the game out the door, but rather that they've set some high bars for their own standards of success. In 2015, they did a game called Chaos Reborn that also had a great social funding period (and good critical response) but was then completely forgotten. Obviously, no one involved wants to see a repeat, especially when this is the sort of title that could launch a franchise.
Our own Brendan wrote an incredible hands-on last week called "Phoenix Point is so much like XCOM it scares me" which is absolutely worth your read. The most fascinating part, to me, was about the bizarrely positive cooperation between the Firaxis studio and Snapshot, who see each other as collaborators instead of competition.
This attitude of incremental improvement is part of an odd relationship that’s arisen between Firaxis and Snapshot. Jullian Gollop and his team at Mythos may have invented XCOM back in the early nineties, but Firaxis re-invented it, putting Gollop’s new studio in the odd position of building upon a design that was already based on his own work. Imagine being asked to renovate a church, knowing that it was built on foundations of an even older temple you built yourself decades ago. A lot of people would be so affronted by this new religion, they’d want to knock that church down. Gollop wants to refurbish the steeple.
That's just... not what you'd expect from two studios making titles this similar.
The game is currently set for a December 2018 release date. Also, the possibility of a Switch version of the game has been floated, thanks to the surprise success of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle -- a game that sent me down a wormhole of other IPs that deserve to be XCOMified.
Here's a play-through of just one level.
Here's a March development update video from the team, featuring cool robots. Yeah, I had to specify cool robots. Not all robots are inherently cool.