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Former XCOM dev’s new studio is making a game no one saw coming

Jake Solomon, formerly of Firaxis, has created a brand new studio to focus on games of a completely different genre; life simulation.

Former XCOM dev's new studio is making a game no one saw coming: A muton in XCOM from 2012 stands looking to the side in the ruins of earth.

At the moment, it feels like a day can’t go by without job losses, studio closures, and games being shuttered. Thankfully it’s not happening everywhere; there are still some glimmers of hope appearing for gaming. One such glimmer is helmed by Jake Solomon, lead on the XCOM revivals, Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and now top dog at new studio Midsummer.

It may seem like a surprise for someone who’s name has become synonymous with strategy games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown to head in a new direction, but that’s precisely what Jake Solomon has done. Under the banner of new studio Midsummer, Solomon is setting out to create a next-gen life sim to rival The Sims and newcomers like inZOI and Life By You.

“It’s been a kind of head spinning year,” Solomon tells us. “It’s been a little over a year since I left Firaxis, acquiring funding in a not-exactly funding friendly environment so I was very fortunate to do that.” It wasn’t all plain sailing, however, as Solomon was more familiar with game development than game studio development. “I was very naive when I left Firaxis,” he laughs. “I thought, well, how hard can it be? But my co-founders helped me there.”

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It seems that everything began to come together once the Midsummer team found its office. “This office that we moved into is actually the old Firaxis office,” Solomon says, gesturing around him. “It just happened to be up for lease when we were looking at offices and I was like, I think we have to take this place. It felt like fate.”

That link with Firaxis is prevalent through much of Midsummer, with Solomon taking along a fair few members of staff to crew the startup. “The first guy that we actually hired at our studio is actually Sid Meier’s son,” he tells us. “So I still see Sid because he comes to visit.” In addition to the strategy legend’s son, veterans make up many of the studio members which helps fast track the design process. “Because my team and I have worked together for so long, we can almost use shorthand and we know how fast we’re going to iterate on an idea.”

In an industry rapidly becoming overtaken with crunch and boom and bust-style layoffs, it’s heartening to hear Solomon talk about making Midsummer a sustainable endeavour for staff. “Even though we’re a startup one of our values is to work hard and go home,” he says. “It’s not about weekend work. It’s not about nights. We have to respect our developers.”

Midsummer seems like a challenge but a joy for Solomon and his team, with the first game in development being a take on the life-simulation genre, updating games like The Sims for a new generation.

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We’ll have a more in-depth chat with Jake Solomon for you to check out soon. In the meantime should you want to experience more real life in your gaming, our guide to the best simulation games you can play on PC will get you immersed in no time. If you’d like to keep your eyes trained on the future, our best upcoming games guide will see you getting everything you need to know about what’s coming soon.

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