|Six Days in Fallujah|
June 22, 2023 (early access)
|Mode(s)||Single-player, co-op mode|
Six Days in Fallujah is a tactical first-person shooter video game developed by Highwire Games and published by Victura. Set in the Second Battle of Fallujah of the Iraq War over the span of six days in November 2004, the game follows the United States Marine Corps' 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (3/1) as they fight the Iraqi insurgency in the city of Fallujah, Iraq. Its campaign follows two perspectives: a squad of Marines from 3/1 deployed to battle the insurgents, and an Iraqi family attempting to escape the city in the midst of the battle.
Originally developed by Atomic Games, Six Days was announced in 2009, with a release slated for 2010, published by Konami; however, controversy surrounding the game's appropriateness and handling of its contentious and then-very-recent subject matter led to Konami departing the project, and Atomic Games' bankruptcy in 2011 left the game on hold indefinitely. Around 2016, Victura and Highwire began developing a revived version of the game, which was announced in February 2021. After several delays, Six Days in Fallujah was released in early access on Microsoft Windows on June 22, 2023, and is coming soon on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (July 2023)
According to Atomic Games president Peter Tamte, Six Days was conceived in the early 2000s, when one of their divisions was tasked with developing military simulation programs for the U.S. Marine Corps, and some Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines were assigned to assist as technical advisors. However, shortly into development, 3/1 was deployed to Iraq and participated in the Second Battle of Fallujah. The inspiration for the game came from a U.S. Marine who participated in the battle and suggested a video game based on it. Tamte later stated that "When they came back from Fallujah, they asked us to create a video game about their experiences there, and it seemed like the right thing to do."
Tamte stated that the goal of Six Days from the start was to create the most realistic military shooter possible, and that "Ultimately, all of us are curious about what it would really be like to be in a war. I've been playing military shooters for ages, and at a certain point when I'm playing the game, I know it's fake. You can tell a bunch of guys sat in a room and designed it. That's always bothered me." He further elaborated that adapting the battle into a video game as opposed to a different form of media came from how "[t]here are things that you can do in video games that you cannot do in other forms of media. And a lot of that has to do with presenting players with the dilemmas that the Marines saw in Fallujah and then giving them the choice of how to handle that dilemma. And I think at that point, you know—when you watch a movie, you see the decisions that somebody else made. But when you make a decision yourself, then you get a much deeper level of understanding."
Atomic Games development
The team at Atomic Games interviewed over 70 individuals, composed of returning U.S. Marines, Iraqi civilians, Iraqi insurgents, war historians, and senior military officials, and learned the psychological complexity of the battle. The game's director, Juan Benito, elaborated that "Through our interviews with all of the Marines, we discovered that there was an emotional, psychological arc to the Battle of Fallujah." According to one of the developers who worked on the game, the development team also consulted non-fiction books about the battle as part of their research, such as Patrick K. O'Donnell's We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah, incorporating their recollections into the game's events and story-line.
Atomic Games described Six Days as a survival horror game, but not in the traditional sense: the fear in Six Days comes not from monsters or the supernatural, but from the irregular tactics and ruthlessness of the combatants in Fallujah. Benito stated that "Many of the insurgents had no intention of leaving the city alive, so their entire mission might be to lie in wait, with a gun trained at a doorway, for days just waiting for a Marine to pop his head in. They went door-to-door clearing houses, and most of the time the houses would be empty. But every now and then, they would encounter a stunningly lethal situation... which, of course, rattled the Marines psychologically." GamePro stated that for Benito, depicting the fear and misery of the battle was a top priority: "These are scary places, with scary things happening inside of them. In the game, you're plunging into the unknown, navigating through darkened interiors, and 'surprises' left by the insurgency. In most modern military shooters, the tendency is to turn the volume up to 11 and keep it there. Our game turns it up to 12 at times but we dial it back down, too, so we can establish a cadence."
Atomic Games stated that Six Days would feature destructible and degradable environments using a custom rendering engine, which they claimed surpassed the destructible environments of the Battlefield series, let alone any game released or in development at the time. Atomic Games clarified these destructible environments were not a "goofy, out-of-place marketing gimmick", but a deliberate feature to reflect the actual Battle of Fallujah, during which U.S. Marines used explosives to breach buildings and demolish structures insurgents were hiding in. Tamte stated the game would feature "a meticulously recreated in-game version of Fallujah, complete with real life Marines lending their names and likenesses, as well as recreations of specific events from the battle. It's almost like time travel. You're experiencing the events as they really happened."
On April 27, 2009, it was announced that Konami, the intended publisher of Six Days, had suspended its role as its publisher due to controversy, though the game would remain in development by Atomic Games. On August 6, 2009, Atomic Games stated they were unable to obtain a new publisher and would let go of some staff. IndustryGamers reported the following day that, per a source, "Out of 75 people, less than a dozen are left and about a third of that isn't even developers. The remaining team is basically a skeleton cleanup crew that will be gone soon too. They are trying to downplay the extent of these layoffs, but the reality is that Atomic is pretty much dead."
On August 8, 2012, it was revealed that Sony may have once considered publishing the title; indeed, a report in 2021 confirmed Sony Interactive Entertainment's Santa Monica Studio had developed the game at one point. On August 26, 2012, Tamte informed Digital Spy that Six Days was "definitely not canceled" and remains "very important". In 2018, Tamte again stated that the game was not cancelled, that the assets were still intact, and that it would eventually be finished and released at an undetermined future date.
In February 2021, it was announced that Victura, a company formed by Peter Tamte in 2016, would release the game later the same year, and that Highwire Games—including former Bungie developers who worked on Halo and Destiny—had been contracted as developers. This revived version would feature extensive commentary from U.S. Marines and Iraqi civilians, as well as two playable campaigns: one in which the player controls a squad of Marines to hunt down insurgents while avoiding civilian casualties, and another where the player controls a patriarch of an Iraqi civilian family as they attempt to escape war-torn Fallujah.
After a dearth of reports over its developmental status throughout the year, the developers announced that the game would be delayed to 2022 due to a lack of manpower, resources, and time. The game was later delayed again to some time in 2023 with no announcement. In May 2023, it was announced that the game would release in early access for Windows on June 22 of that year. There were no further delays, and Six Days released in early access on Steam on June 22, 2023. PlayStation and Xbox versions are confirmed for a future release, and are still in development.
Shortly after the initial announcement of the game, Six Days was met with significant criticism. Critics of Six Days, ranging from Coalition veterans to Iraqi civilians to anti-war groups, argued that the battle was too recent for the game to be in good taste compared to games about earlier conflicts (the game's initial slated release year of 2010 was only six years after the battle); that the game would be unable to effectively handle its controversial subject matter; that important context and information, such as the civilian casualties of the battle or why the 2003 invasion of Iraq happened, would be excluded or twisted to suit a pro-American narrative; and that even if the developers had good intentions with the game, adapting the battle into a video game would trivialize it as a form of entertainment. British anti-war group Stop the War Coalition called the game "sick" and alleged it erased the atrocities of the battle, which they described as "amongst the worst of the war crimes carried out in an illegal and immoral war".
The decision to revive the game's development in 2021 drew additional criticism, with a number of critics, including the Council on American–Islamic Relations, calling for it to be denied licensing from Sony, Microsoft, and Valve, if not canceled entirely. Some features in the game were also criticized after its release; for instance, James Troughton of TheGamer noted interview footage and information presented in loading screens were all from U.S. Marines and thus only presented an American perspective on the battle without any commentary from Iraqi civilians.
In a 2009 interview with Joystiq, Peter Tamte, responding to criticism, stated that "As we've watched the dialog that's taken place about the game, there is definitely one point that we want people to understand about the game. And that is, it's not about the politics of whether the U.S. should have been there or not. It is really about the stories of the Marines who were in Fallujah and the question, the debate about the politics, that is something for the politicians to worry about. We're focused now on what actually happened on the ground."
In a later interview with GamesIndustry after the game's revival in 2021, Tamte addressed another source of criticism—how the game would handle the atrocities of the battle and the Iraq War, and whether they would be part of gameplay or depicted at all—stating, "We're not asking players to commit atrocities in the game. Are we effectively sanitizing events by not doing that? I don't think that we need to portray the atrocities in order for people to understand the human cost. We can do that without the atrocities." Tamte added that the game would not attempt to push a political position on the Iraq War or its necessity, though it would "give players the context for why they're in the city, why this battle exists", and would show sides of the conflict beyond just the American perspective; he further denied allegations that the game was propaganda, and stated the U.S. government was not funding or benefiting from the game and that, though he had developed training simulators for the U.S. military, he had not been associated with that in over a decade.
In response to criticism that Six Days only shows the American perspective of the battle, Highwire announced plans to add proper perspectives from civilians and other Coalition militaries by 2024.
- Yin-Poole, Wesley (February 11, 2021). "Six Days in Fallujah re-emerges 11 years after Konami ditched it". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on January 7, 2023. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
- GamePro. Issue #248. May 2009. p. 60
- Paprocki, Matt (June 4, 2018). "'Six Days in Fallujah': A Bloody Iraq Battle and Video Game That Almost Was". Variety. Archived from the original on July 29, 2018. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
- GamePro, Issue #248. May 2009 pp. 60–61
- Nelson, Randy (April 13, 2009). "interview: Six Days in Fallujah". Joystiq. Archived from the original on August 29, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- GamePro, Issue #248. May 2009. p. 61
- "Six Days in Fallujah's Campaign". Gamasutra. April 30, 2018. Archived from the original on January 5, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
- Cheever, Nathan (August 22, 2012). "Campaign Overview". Curious Constructs. Archived from the original on January 5, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
- Boudreau, Ian (2018). "Six Days In Fallujah dev details the canceled game's creation process". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on January 6, 2019.
- Ortutay, Barbara (April 29, 2009). "Company pulls plug on 'Fallujah' war video game". Associated Press. Archived from the original on October 10, 2021 – via Taiwan News.
- "Working on Six Days in Fallujah". Gamasutra. April 2018. Archived from the original on January 5, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
- Milzarski, Eric (September 24, 2018). "This scrapped game could've been the most accurate portrayal of Fallujah". We Are The Mighty. Archived from the original on January 6, 2019.
- GamePro, Issue #248. May 2009. p. 62
- GamePro, Issue #248. May 2009. p. 63
- "News - Konami Drops Controversial Six Days in Fallujah". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on May 13, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Six Days in Fallujah Developer Cuts Staff - Xbox 360 News at IGN". Xbox360.ign.com. August 6, 2009. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Rumor: Atomic Games at Death's Door?". IndustryGamers. August 7, 2009. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Six Days in Fallujah Finished, Still Coming Out". IGN. March 2, 2010. Archived from the original on March 6, 2010. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Sony Considered Publishing Controversial 'Six Days in Fallujah'". PSLS. August 16, 2012. Archived from the original on August 20, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- "Six Days in Fallujah was in development at God of War's Sony Santa Monica at one point – report". vg247. April 19, 2021. Archived from the original on April 20, 2021. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
- "Six Days in Fallujah 'definitely not canceled'". Digital Spy. August 26, 2012. Archived from the original on August 28, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Lyles, Taylor (February 11, 2021). "Controversial shooter Six Days in Fallujah back in development". The Verge. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
- Elassar, Alaa (October 9, 2021). "Iraq's bloodiest battle will be a video game". CNN. Archived from the original on November 27, 2022. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
- Shutler, Ali (November 17, 2021). "'Six Days In Fallujah' delayed by a year as dev team doubles in size". NME. Archived from the original on April 18, 2023. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
- "Six Days In Fallujah Delayed To 2023 With No Announcement". GameSpot. Archived from the original on January 21, 2023. Retrieved March 31, 2023.
- Good, Owen S. (May 31, 2023). "Controversial Six Days in Fallujah gets surprise early access launch". Polygon. Archived from the original on June 22, 2023. Retrieved June 12, 2023.
- Sampson, Matt (June 22, 2023). "How soon is too soon? 'Six Days in Fallujah' out 18 years after battle". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
- Paprocki, Matt (June 21, 2023). "Six Days in Fallujah's creators are ready to release and defend the controversial shooter". Polygon. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
- Naiya, Debabrata (June 27, 2023). "World's most controversial FPS Six Days in Fallujah is now in early access: How to apply, end date, and more". Sportskeeda. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
- Conroy, Shaun (June 22, 2023). "Six Days in Fallujah interview: Even the smallest of mistakes will cost you dearly". WePC. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
- "Military FPS 'Six Days In Fallujah' Hits PC Next Month, Xbox Version Still In The Works". Pure Xbox. May 31, 2023. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
- "Outrage Over Konami's 'Six Days in Fallujah'". GamePolitics. July 20, 2012. Archived from the original on November 25, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Lee, James (April 8, 2009). "Konami's Fallujah game under fire". GamesIndustry.biz. Archived from the original on June 12, 2023. Retrieved June 24, 2023.
- Batchelor, James (February 16, 2021). "Six Days in Fallujah dev: 'I don't think we need to portray the atrocities'". GamesIndustry.biz. Archived from the original on June 7, 2023. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
- Porter, Jon (April 30, 2017). "Iraq "game-amentary" under fire in UK". TechRadar. Archived from the original on December 29, 2009. Retrieved June 24, 2023.
- Phillips, Tom (April 8, 2021). "PlayStation, Xbox and Valve called on to drop Six Days in Fallujah". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on November 27, 2022. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
- "Muslim Advocacy Group Asks Publishers To Drop Six Days in Fallujah". TheGamer. April 8, 2021. Archived from the original on June 27, 2023. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
- Troughton, James (June 23, 2023). "Six Days In Fallujah Loading Screens Tell You How Sad War Crimes Are". TheGamer. Archived from the original on June 27, 2023. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
- "Six Days in Fallujah: Early Access Content Roadmap". Steam. June 22, 2023. Archived from the original on June 29, 2023.