The announcement that the triple-A strategy game XCOM is making its way to iOS platforms is huge news. Not only does this mean that the critically acclaimed turn-based strategy title is going to appear on all recent iOS devices and expand everyone’s gaming time considerably, but it’s the first time a major console and PC release has been ported over to iOS.
You heard correctly, too – this isn’t Rayman Jungle Run – this is an actual port of the full game. Jake Solomon, lead designer on XCOM, said that “it is a straight port. We have not made any gameplay exceptions. You play the exact same game [as on PC or consoles], it’s just now fully playable on an iPhone or an iPad.”
Not only will it include the game’s “Elite Soldier” DLC, the game will come fully featured and will make the most of the touch controls on iOS devices. This adds onto other games like Infinity Blade, which made use of console-level graphics while delivering a touch-friendly experience for iOS users.
Of course, the major difference is that Infinity Blade was very static and wasn’t anywhere near as fully-featured or intricate in its control scheme and depth as XCOM is. While XCOM is turn based and this makes its porting infinitely easier, it’s also far more complex game, and one that brings a long-session gaming experience to iOS devices. It’s exciting, and proof that large developers are continuing to pay heed to the reputation and popularity of the platform.
When it comes to price, iOS users who enjoy cheap apps are in for a shock. “It’s going to be priced appropriately for what it is,” stated Solomon. “It’s going to be a premium price point. It is the game. It is the full game.”
This changes the landscape of iOS, and it’s something the larger game companies have been doing for a while. Square Enix aren’t afraid to charge premium prices for their game apps, and while there are other apps (the Korg iMS-20 a good example) that are priced similarly to PC software, it’s a concern that gamers will see this as an affront to the price point that they’re used to.
The whole issue of the low value of game apps can be solved with games like this, however. Something of such high quality proving that a high-priced app is a reasonable purchase can open the door for developers to start making fairer amounts from their work in future. Whether they’ll all be console-sized and console quality is another matter entirely, but it’s a sound first step.
Apps are rapidly increasing in price range, and with free-to-play on one end of the scale and XCOM on the other, there’ll be many price points for developers who don’t want to give away a $60 experience for the price of fries at Burger King. So try XCOM on iOS, and prove the worth of the premium app market to a series of developers and publishers who are likely watching how this pans out very carefully.