Civilization (series)

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Genres Turn-based strategy
Developers MicroProse
Avalon Hill
Firaxis Games (Currently)
Publishers Hartland Trefoil/Avalon Hill
Infogrames Entertainment, SA
2K Games (Currently)
Creators Francis Tresham, Sid Meier
Platforms Main series:
Microsoft Windows, Linux, OS X
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, iOS, Android, Nintendo DS, Windows Phone, Facebook Platform, PlayStation Vita
First release Civilization
Latest release Civilization: Beyond Earth: Rising Tide
October 9, 2015

Civilization is a series of turn-based strategy, 4X video games, many of them produced by Sid Meier (Sid Meier's Civilization).There are also several traditional Civilization games.

All titles in the series share similar gameplay, centered on building a civilization on a macro-scale from prehistory up to the near future. Each turn allows the player to move his or her units on the map, build or improve new cities and units, and initiate negotiations with the computer-controlled players. In between turns, computer players can do the same. The player will also choose technologies to research. These reflect the cultural, intellectual, and technical sophistication of the civilization, and usually allow the player to build new units or to improve their cities with new structures. In most games in the series, one may win by military conquest, achieving a certain level of culture, building an interstellar space ship, or achieving the highest score, among other means.

Over the years part of the crew involved in the developing the series became successful in producing their own strategy games, such as Bruce Shelley (Civilization I co-designer) of Age of Empires fame, Brian Reynolds (Civilization II lead designer and programmer) who went on to create Rise of Nations, and more recently Soren Johnson (Civilization III co-designer and Civilization IV lead designer and programmer) with Spore.

As of August 2015, the series has reached 31 million total units shipped.[1]


Conducting negotiations with Stalin of the Russians in the original Civilization
File:CivII 01.png
The main game screen in Civilization II

In 1980, Francis Tresham designed the Civilization board game and published it through his company Hartland Trefoil, and in 1981, Avalon Hill obtained from Hartland Trefoil a license to sell the Civilization board game in the United States.[2]

MicroProse, founded by Sid Meier and Bill Stealey, published Civilization in 1991,[3] after licensing the right to use the name "Civilization" from Avalon Hill to avoid conflicts over similarities to the board game.[3] Meier was also the game's designer.[3] In 1993, MicroProse was bought by Spectrum Holobyte,[4] but the two companies remained separate. In 1996, MicroProse released the lauded[5] Civilization II, designed by Brian Reynolds.[3] Also in 1996 Spectrum Holobyte consolidated the company under the name MicroProse, but, in reaction to Spectrum Holobyte's decision to fire the majority of MicroProse's staff, Reynolds, Jeff Briggs, and Meier left MicroProse and founded Firaxis.[6]

Although Firaxis did not own the rights to the brand name "Civilization", the company still went on to design the acclaimed[7] Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, a "space-based Civilization-style game"[8] released in 1999.[9] Alpha Centauri uses a game engine similar to the one used in Civilization II[10] and its storyline continues from where the Civilization franchise ends, namely the colonization of a planet in Alpha Centauri.

Litigation over brand name and Hasbro consolidation

In April 1997, Activision acquired from Avalon Hill the rights to the name "Civilization" on its PC games and seven months later Avalon Hill and Activision sued MicroProse over trademark infringement because of the name "Civilization".[2]

In response to the lawsuit, MicroProse bought Hartland Trefoil in December 1997. This move sought to establish "MicroProse as the preeminent holder of worldwide computer game and board game rights under the Civilization brand".[11] In January 1998, Microprose counter-sued Avalon Hill and Activision for false advertising, unfair competition, trademark infringement, and unfair business practices as a result of Activision's decision to develop and publish Civilization computer games.[12]

In July, Avalon Hill and Activision settled their case against MicroProse out of court. Under the terms of the settlement, MicroProse kept all the rights to the Civilization brand, Avalon Hill had to pay MicroProse $411,000, and Activision acquired a license from MicroProse to publish Civilization: Call to Power (released in March 1999).[2][13]

Avalon Hill accepted the unfavorable settlement because Hasbro was already negotiating the acquisition of both Avalon Hill and MicroProse. Less than one month after the settlement, Hasbro finalized the purchases of both companies[2][14] which consolidated the Civilization franchise under Hasbro.

Infogrames and Firaxis

In January 2001, the French company Infogrames bought the Hasbro subsidiary Hasbro Interactive for $100 million,[15] which included the rights to the Civilization franchise, the rights to the Atari brand,[16] and Hasbro's handheld game console.[16][17] Following the sale, Hasbro Interactive was renamed Infogrames Interactive, Inc[18] and Civilization III (developed by Firaxis with Jeff Briggs as game designer) was released in October 2001 by the new company. In May 2003, Infogrames changed the name of Infogrames Interactive to Atari Interactive.[19]


Take-Two bought the rights to the Civilization franchise from Infogrames in 2004 for $22.3 million.[20][21] In October 2005, 2K Games, a Take-Two subsidiary, published Civilization IV, which was developed by Firaxis with Soren Johnson as game designer.[22]

Take Two bought Firaxis for $26.7 million including possible performance bonuses in November 2005[23] which resulted in Take Two owning both the developer and the publisher of the Civilization franchise.

In 2010, on September 21 and November 23 respectively, the Windows and Mac OS X versions of Civilization V were released.[24][25] In 2014, Firaxis revisited many of the Alpha Centauri themes from the 1999 game when they released Beyond Earth.[26]

Civilizations and leaders represented

Throughout the various different Civilization games, nearly 50 different civilizations and almost 110 different leaders have been represented. The following tables below delineate the appearances of various civilizations and leaders.


Titles in the main Civilization Series
Title Release Notes
Civilization 1991
CivNet 1995 A remake with improved graphics and sound, and support for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95.
Civilization II 1996
Civilization II: Conflicts in Civilization 1996 The first expansion pack for Civilization II.
Civilization II: Fantastic Worlds 1997 The second expansion pack for Civilization II.
Civilization II: Test of Time 1999 Includes the original Civilization II plus new scenarios and improved features, including an alien landscape.
Civilization III 2001
Civilization III: Play the World 2002 The first expansion pack for Civilization III.
Civilization III: Conquests 2003 The second and final expansion for Civilization III.
Civilization IV 2005
Civilization IV: Warlords 2006 The first expansion pack for Civilization IV.
Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword 2007 The second expansion pack for Civilization IV.
Civilization IV: Colonization 2008 A spin-off based on Sid Meier's 1994 game, Colonization.
Civilization V 2010
Civilization V: Gods & Kings 2012 The first expansion pack for Civilization V.
Civilization V: Brave New World 2013 The second expansion pack for Civilization V.
Civilization: Beyond Earth 2014 A spiritual successor to Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri built atop the Civilization V engine.
Civilization: Beyond Earth - Rising Tide 2015 The first expansion pack for Civilization: Beyond Earth.


  • The Explorer (1997), includes Civilization and the Colonization spin off.
  • Civilization II: Multiplayer Gold Edition (1998), includes Civilization II and its two expansions: Conflicts in Civilization and Fantastic Worlds.
  • Civilization III: Gold Edition (2003), includes Civilization III and the first expansion, Play the World.
  • Civilization III: Complete (2005), includes Civilization III and its two expansions: Play the World and Conquests.
  • Civilization Chronicles (2006), includes all the games from the main series from the first Civilization to Civilization IV.
  • Civilization IV: Gold Edition (2007), includes Civilization IV and its first expansion Warlords, as well as a bonus poster illustrated by artist Greg Hildebrandt.
  • Civilization IV: Complete (2007), includes Civilization IV and its two expansions: Warlords and Beyond the Sword.
  • Civilization IV: The Complete Edition (2009), includes Civilization IV, its two expansions, Warlords and Beyond the Sword, and Civilization IV: Colonization. It does not feature any DRM (copy protection).
  • Civilization V: Game of the Year Edition (2011) includes Civilization V and all DLC prior to the Korea and Wonders of the Ancient World packs released through Steam.
  • Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gold Edition (2013) included the original plus the Gods & Kings expansion with all the DLC released between them both.
  • Sid Meier's Civilization V: The Complete Edition (2014) includes the original plus the Gods & Kings and Brave New World expansions with all the DLC released between them.

Other video games

Freeciv 2.1.0 SDL client
Titles in the Civilization Series
Title Release Notes
Sid Meier's Colonization 1994 Created by Brian Reynolds and Sid Meier while still at MicroProse.
Avalon Hill's Advanced Civilization 1995 The computer version of the Advanced Civilization board game.
Freeciv 1996 Latest release 2015[27]
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri 1999 Created by Sid Meier's team at Firaxis Games.
Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire 1999 An expansion pack to Alpha Centauri.
Civilization: Call to Power 1999 Created by Activision.
C-evo 1999 Latest release 2013, created by Steffen Gerlach[28]
Call to Power II 2000 Sequel to Civilization: Call to Power. Due to licensing issues, Civilization could not be in the title.[29]
FreeCol 2003 A clone of Sid Meier's Colonization, latest release 2015.[30]
CivCity: Rome 2006 A city-building strategy game inspired by the series.
Civilization Revolution 2008 The first game in the series designed specifically for consoles, iOS and Windows Phone; not released for the PC or Mac.
Civilization World 2011 A full Civilization game for Facebook. The game was discontinued in 2013.
Civilization Revolution 2 2014 A mobile exclusive sequel to Civilization Revolution.
Sid Meier's Starships 2015

Board and card games

Titles in the Civilization Series
Title Release Notes
Civilization 1980 board game by Francis Tresham, published by Avalon Hill in the US (1981).[31]
Advanced Civilization 1991 an expansion of the original board game published by Avalon Hill.
Civilization: The Boardgame 2002 an officially licensed board game published by Eagle Games and based on Civilization III.
Civilization: The Card Game 2006 a card game designed by Civilization IV lead designer Soren Johnson and based on Civilization IV.
Civilization: The Board Game 2010 an officially licensed board game published by Fantasy Flight Games and based on Civilization IV.
Civilization: Fame and Fortune 2011 the first expansion to the 2010 Civilization based board game.
Civilization: Wisdom and Warfare  2013 the second expansion to the 2010 Civilization based board game.


Scottish science fiction and mainstream author Iain Banks has noted that he spent much time playing the game (appearing to refer to the first version) and that it was one of the inspirations for the concept of the 'Outside Context Problem' central to his Excession novel - the appearance of invaders or travelers who are so advanced that they are totally outside the society's frame of reference. In an interview, Banks specifically compares this to having a Civilization battleship arrive while the player is still using wooden sailing ships.[32] One of the two viewpoint characters in his novel Complicity plays Civilization compulsively.


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External links