Garth DeAngelis, the lead producer on XCOM: Enemy Unknown, has suggested that accessibility doesn't need to be "a bad word", suggesting that looking to widen the audience for your game and designing a hardcore experience are not two mutually exclusive goals.
DeAngelis chatted with Dealspwn a few weeks ago to talk about Firaxis' upcoming turn-based strategy title, and stated that although the team have tried to engineer a tutorial designed to make the game more accessible than the original X-COM perhaps was, that doesn't mean the game is any less challenging.
"Accessibility is like a bad word in the games industry, to hardcore gamers at least," he said. "On the one hand, we did make the game more accessible. The learning curve of the original is very steep, extremely steep, and we wanted anyone on any system to be able to dive in and learn the systems of XCOM. But that doesn't mean it isn't challenging; there's a key difference that people tend to forget between learning the systems of a game and then solving problems based around those systems. Having a fantastic tutorial, for example, that really brings players into the game, an there's nothing wrong with explaining complex systems, in fact it's a necessity. No one's going to buy your game if they can't get into it. But then, once they understand how your game works, you can throw them in the deep end."
DeAngelis continued, noting how the team at Firaxis have tried to please both newcomers and veterans, saying that you don't have to compromise on one for the other at all.
"So in our tutorial we created a controlled experience, but then after three missions you're completely off the rails," he said. "Some of these missions are extremely difficult and permanent death is always there. Challenge is extremely important to us. We have an impossible game mode, and if you beat that then you do earn your stripes, you get that badge of honour. But then on top of that, yes, we have Iron Man Mode. The game saves for you, every single decision that you make is permanent, there's no going back. So we feel that there's something for everybody, no compromises, we want to give both newcomers and hardcore fans an amazing experience. Accessible doesn't have to mean compromised, and that's the approach we've taken with X-COM."