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Sid Meier's Civilization (series)

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Civilization is a series of turn-based strategy video games produced by Sid Meier. Basic gameplay functions are similar throughout the series, namely, guiding a civilization on a macro-scale from prehistory to the present day. As of March 12, 2008, the Civilization franchise has sold more than 8 million copies, according to Take-Two Interactive.[1][2]

All titles in the series share similar gameplay. 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 Civilization games, one may win by military conquest, building an interstellar space ship, or achieving the highest score, among other means.


File:CivII 01.png


MicroProse, founded by Sid Meier and Bill Stealey, published Civilization in 1991.[3] Sid Meier was the game's designer.[3] Microprose licensed the right to use the name "Civilization" from Avalon Hill to avoid conflicts over similarities to the board game of the same name.[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 a reaction to Spectrum Holobyte's decision to fire the majority of MicroProse's staff, Brian Reynolds, Jeff Briggs and Sid Meier left MicroProse and founded Firaxis.[6]

Although Firaxis didn't own the rights to the brand name "Civilization", the company still went on to design the acclaimed[7] Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, which is a "space-based Civilization-style game"[8] released in 1998.[9] This game uses a game engine that's similar to the one used in Civilization II[10] and its storyline continues from where the Civilization franchise ended, namely the colonization of a planet in Alpha Centauri.

Court battle over brand name

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 US.[11] 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 copyright infringement because of the name "Civilization".[11]

In response to the lawsuit, in December 1997 MicroProse bought Hartland Trefoil, which was the original designer and manufacturer of the Civilization board game. This move sought to establish "MicroProse as the preeminent holder of worldwide computer game and board game rights under the Civilization brand".[12] Then MicroProse in January the following year sued both 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.[13]

In July 1998 Avalon Hill and Activision decided to settle the 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.[11][14]

The reason Avalon Hill accepted the unfavorable settlement was because Hasbro was already negotiating the acquisition of both Avalon Hill and MicroProse. Less than one month after the settlement on August 1998, Avalon Hill was bought by Hasbro.[11] In the same month, Hasbro bought MicroProse for $70 million.[15] This meant that at the end of 1998, the Civilization franchise belonged to Hasbro.

Infogrames and Firaxis

File:CivIII 01.png

In January 2001, the French company Infogrames bought the Hasbro subsidiary Hasbro Interactive for $100 million,[16] which included the rights to the Civilization franchise, the rights to the Atari brand[17] and Hasbro's handheld game console.[17][18]

Hasbro Interactive was renamed to Infogrames Interactive, Inc.[19]

Civilization III was released in October 2001 by Infogrames Interactive. In May 2003 Infogrames officially renamed Infogrames Interactive to Atari Interactive.[20] Civilization III was developed by Firaxis and had Jeff Briggs as game designer.


Take-Two bought the rights to the Civilization franchise from Infogrames in 2004 for $22.3 million.[21][22] In October 2005, 2K Games, a Take-Two subsidiary, published Civilization IV, which was developed by Firaxis and had Soren Johnson as game designer.[23]

Take Two bought Firaxis for $26.7 million including possible performance bonuses in November 2005.[24] Take Two now owns both the developer and the publisher of the Civilization franchise.

Main series


  • 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).

Other games

When Sid Meier left MicroProse in 1996, the Civilization series was still part of MicroProse's portfolio, leading to a period of legal limbo that included the following games:

Fan games

In popular culture

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 which 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.[30] One of the two viewpoint characters in his mainstream novel Complicity plays Civilization compulsively.


  1. Matt Martin (2008-03-12). Grand Theft Auto series has sold 66 million units to date. Retrieved on 2008-04-01.
  2. Recommendation of the Board of Directors to Reject Electronic Arts Inc.'s Tender Offer (PDF) 16. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (2008-03-26). Retrieved on 2008-04-01.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3
  4. "Company News; Microprose Plans Merger With Spectrum Holobyte". The New York Times. 1993-06-18. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  6. History for MicroProse Software, Inc
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 The Fall of Avalon Hill
  12. MicroProse Buys out Hartland Trefoil
  13. Hasbro Takes Over The Hill and Others
  14. SEC Info - Monarch Services Inc - 10KSB40 - For 4/30/98
  15. Evangelista, Benny (1998-08-13). "Hasbro Buying Alameda's MicroProse / Computer games-maker sells out for $70 million". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  16. "Company News; Hasbro Completes Sale Of Interactive Business". The New York Times. 2001-01-30. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Press Release
  18. SEC Info - Hasbro Inc - 10-K405 - For 12/31/00 - EX-13
  19. Civilization III: Home
  20. SEC Info - Atari Inc - 10-KT - For 3/31/03
  21. Civilization sold off to mystery buyer - PC News at GameSpot
  22. Take-Two takes over Civilization - PC News at GameSpot
  23. Firaxis Games: Games: Sid Meier's Civilization Chronicles
  24. Take-Two reveals acquisition prices, hints at future lawsuits - PlayStation 2 News at GameSpot
  25. "New 'Civilization' Title Detailed". 2007-03-28. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  28. Geryk, Bruce (November 20, 2000). Call to Power II for PC Review. GameSpot PC Games p. 1. CNET Networks Entertainment. Retrieved on March 1, 2007.
  30. Excession: A Conversation with Iain Banks (interview originally published in SFX magazine, via '' website. Accessed 2009-01-04.)

External links

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