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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)
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Sid Meier has made a lot of great games over the years, but his defining masterwork has to be Sid Meier's Civilization (opens in new tab). (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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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! (opens in new tab)

Thanks, PCGamesN (opens in new tab).

Andy Chalk
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.