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Civilization Network – a commentary

October 23, 2009 Leave a comment

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Sid Meier himself – it seems – announces the coming of yet another game with “Civilization” in the title. Going only a few years back, that would have ment we are about to be presented with an innovative and probably highly addictive gameplay fest. There is reason to believe this might not be true anymore.

What has changed? Well, nothing dramatic. It´s more a nasty feeling a civ fan might get looking back at recent publications by Firaxis. It´s not so much about being sceptical towards a game that will be published on Facebook instead of being a standalone PC title. By itself a browser game is legitimate in its ability to entertain, whether one enjoys such games or not.  By itself there is nothing to be said against a company creating such a game based on or related to a game series they´ve been developing.

What itches is the way Firaxis has been trying to milk Civilization lately. Over the years, basically since the beginning of the era of computer games, we have come to trust that what is labeled “Civilization” can be expected to be … well, Civilization. That includes among other in-depth gameplay like few other in a well balanced and tested game with lots of relevant innovations. Neither Revolutions nor the new Colonization came even close to performing according to this standard. You might be willing to argue whether they are plain bad and not properly tested or just toned down versions of civ, but you can´t seriously say they ARE civilization.

I know this is semantics. I´m probably criticizing Marketing and its tools more then Firaxis last publications, but then again they keep on calling stuff for the Wii, weak shadows of a grand game (here the name of Colonization gets dragged into the mud, too) and spin offs for the IPhone and IPod (!!) Civilization. This criticism is born out of the knowledge that Firaxis is able to do more and out of the adoration for civ. A group that brought us Civilization could be more honest in its way of dealing with the well-deserved fan base they´ve created. You don´t just spam out one civ after another – be honest: Revolutions is a try to break into the market of Wii (and now IPhone/IPod) games, nothing more. Whether this has succeded is not the point. The last civ release is old now, the fan base nevertheless remains big and those 2 factors combined result in the wish for the continuation of the series. If you´re not ready, yet – fine, but don´t use your loyal fans admiration for your product in order to mislead them.

This text is a testitomy of respect towards Sid Meier and his crew more then a criticism since the believe that a profit-orientated company might be able to take their customers seriously and name their products as what they are, in name as well as during marketing, is a statement of trust.