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Sid Meier doubts he could make Civilization today, or that he'd even play it if he did

(Image credit: Sid Meier)

Sid Meier has made a lot of great games over the years, but his defining masterwork has to be Sid Meier's Civilization. (Although, fun bit of trivia, it was not the first game to include his name in the title: That honor goes to Sid Meier's Pirates!) Released in 1991, Civilization was a tremendously influential game that made epoch-spanning strategy accessible to the masses and launched a hugely successful series that continues to flourish.

Despite that impact, Meier said in an interview with The Independent that he doubts he'd even have the opportunity to make a game like that today—and if he did, it's unlikely that it would enjoy comparable success.

"I don’t think I could make Civilization today," he said. "I’m not sure even I would play it. It wouldn’t fit in the zeitgeist. It asks a lot of the player, and takes a while to work it out. You have to play it once in order to understand what's going on. You have to be willing to spend time with it, and that’s not where most gamers are these days."

This isn't just a case of a grumpy oldster complaining about "gamers these days," either, as Meier also acknowledged that Civilization was very much the perfect game for its time. "The PC had got beefy enough for us to make it, but weren’t inundated with so many possibilities," he said. "If it had been created two years earlier we’d only have had four colors and it would have been much shallower."

The success of Crusader Kings 3, and Paradox in general, proves that there's still a place for sweeping strategy in the contemporary game market, but there's no question that the world is very different now than it was then. Games are flashier than ever, updates come faster than some turns in Civ, and gamers are spoiled for choice in a way that was inconceivable in 1991, more than a decade before the debut of Steam. A modern-day Civilization might still be a great game, but like CK3, it just wouldn't have the opportunity to have the impact it did 20 years ago.

Today also marks the release of Sid Meier's memoir, entitled—of course—Sid Meier's Memoir!

Thanks, PCGamesN.

Andy Chalk
Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.