If you're a hardcore gamer and you're into the whole fanboy thing and you like hanging off of every word of a developer as if the words that spill out with their saliva is life-force for you, then you're probably peeved off your shorts that Cliffy B is hanging up his fanboy boots (we'll miss you, man). Yeah, he's leaving Epic and the gaming industry for a while. No return date in sight (and I'm not crying, my eyes are just dripping man sweat). We'll definitely need a replacement who's always busting up into our news feeds, whether it be for trolling purposes or promotional purposes. The good news is that it looks like someone else is aiming to fill the shoes of the gaming industry's charismatic frontman of game development and it just might be Firaxis' Jake Solomon, the lead designer on XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
Just recently, Solomon was on public PR duty to try to sell XCOM to gamers at a local store.
Not only was it hilarious but it was also a sure sign that the guy has natural charismatic qualities that make him both likable and marketable...qualities, I might add, that were once key elements in selling the original Gears of War when Cliffy B was putting his Jazz Jackrabbit past behind him and embracing the angst-ridden teenage-boy manliness of the Unreal Engine 3.
While Solomon doesn't quite publicly embrace his testosterone factory like Cliffy B, he does come across as an easy-going gamer. He was one of the highlights of the PAX panel to promote XCOM at PAX Prime, and he was also one of the reasons the live play-through with another member of Firaxis and 2K's PR was enjoyable, back when they did a live stream of the game.
Solomon has a knack to play up the PR spotlight and with the right grooming and guidance, Solomon could be front-lining the PR game just like Jade Raymond (but without the hotness), Peter Molyneux (before he went (cube) crazy) and Cliffy B (after he put on his big boy panties and joined the console wars). The only thing Solomon will need to do now is put his game over as “life-changing” and potentially call it the best thing ever, as well as dogging the most popular game that poses a threat to their sales, and then talk about what he would add to another competing game in the same genre...like, suggesting Blizzard add suicide ballerinas to the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm expansion. After that then he'll be set for super-stardom. Oh yeah, and he'll have to shorten his name to something like J. Sol, it's something all the cool kids do.
So far, 2K and Firaxis have given us just enough Solomon in small doses to make him both funny and memorable, and core gamers will be keeping their eyes on this guy for future titles from Firaxis. Heck, there may even come a time where every other week, no matter what Jake says, he tops the front page of N4G with gamers hanging onto every word like the 47% of Americans who voted for Obama hanging onto Welfare as if life depended on it...spawning all sorts of flaming console war chatter and forum board rage wars, just like Cliffy B. Yep, I'm sure Solomon can't wait to embrace that kind of celebrity status as a video game designer. And just in case he really does decide to fill in for Cliffy B, our gift to him is a used flameproof jockstrap...because you never know when a fanboy flame-war might break out.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown launches next week for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. There's still time to pre-order if you haven't already or you can learn more by visiting the Official Website.