It does what it says on the tin: a weird Asia-only Civilization Online is currently under development by some weird Asian studio called XLGAMES, exclusively for gamers in Asia and those of you over here with access to weird Asian online games.
I stress that point, perhaps too much, because it’s such a bizarre tangent for this series to take. Right from the inception of those arcane play-by-email modes in Civilization II and Alpha Centauri, online gameplay has never been Civilization’s strength. Not even Civilization V and Civilization Revolution managed to turn multiplayer into anything other than a minor bullet point at best, or an afterthought at worst, despite significant overhauling and streamlining.
And yet, here we are. It’s 2012, and the unlikely three-man band of 2K, Firaxis, and Korea’s XLGAMES is putting out an online Civilization game specifically for the Asian market.
All misgivings aside, I actually really like the idea of regionally-focussed Civilization games, if only to spotlight those smaller cultures that would never see facetime in the mainline numbered titles. However, the concept works for me only if it keeps the traditional, single-player Civilization style, and distills the experience down into something smaller and tighter, like an expanded scenario pack, or what Colonization was to Civilization IV.
So it’s just the “online” part that throws me off the wagon this time. But I guess that’s just how everything works over there. There’s big, big money in that Chinese/Korean free-to-play online business model, and less and less in subscriptions and solitary experiences.
I’ll bet ten of your MMO currency unit of choice (Zen, since I still have a Star Trek Online account) that Firaxis has little-to-no involvement with this. So if you must play the blame game, direct your scorn at 2K. And then watch as they laugh all the way to the bank.