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XCOM and Midnight Suns designer Jake Solomon leaves Firaxis

New studio head confirms the next Civilization is in development

Cover art for XCOM: Enemy Unknown shows the now iconic classes — Sniper, Assault, Heavy, Support — in silhouette. against a blue background. Image: Firaxis Games/2K

Jake Solomon, the creative director and lead designer of the XCOM games and Marvel’s Midnight Suns, is leaving developer Firaxis after 23 years.

Announcing the move on Twitter, Solomon suggested that, wherever he lands next, he will be branching out into a genre other than the one in which he made his name. “I loved designing tactical turn-based games, but it’s time for other, smarter people to push that space forward,” he said. “My brain is on fire with a new dream. Time to go chase it.”

Alongside Solomon’s exit, publisher 2K Games announced a change of leadership at Firaxis. Studio head Steve Martin is leaving after over 25 years at the studio, and he will be succeeded by chief operating officer Heather Hazen.

Hazen took the opportunity to announce that the next game in Firaxis’ flagship series, Sid Meier’s Civilization, is in development. Though this is the first official confirmation of what will presumably be titled Civilization 7, the news hardly comes as a surprise, and Hazen’s announcement is presumably intended to calm everyone’s nerves after the departure of two studio veterans.

In his statement, Solomon said, “I fulfilled two lifelong dreams in making XCOM (and XCOM 2, and War of the Chosen) and Marvel’s Midnight Suns. I’m the luckiest kid who ever lived. X-COM was my favourite game growing up; it’s why I’m a game developer. Marvel comics made me a dreamer, and those characters feel like my extended family.”

Solomon paid tribute to his fellow Firaxis developers, in particular his mentor, the legendary designer and creator of the Civilization games, Sid Meier. “I’m grateful to Sid first and foremost for teaching me. If I’m ever half as good as him I’ll be twice as good as I am now.”

Solomon is credited with helping to reinvigorate tactical gaming with his critically acclaimed 2012 reboot, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Since that game’s release, he has become something of a figurehead at Firaxis: a brilliant and thoughtful designer, known for his eloquence and enthusiasm in interviews. But Marvel’s Midnight Suns, despite positive reviews, did not perform as well commercially as 2K’s parent company Take-Two had hoped.

It will be exciting to see what Solomon turns his talents to next.

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