General Instrument coworkers Sid Meier and Wild Bill Stealey, duel it out over game of Red Baron. Meier wins and is challenged by Stealey to make a better game. He did. Stealey went on to sell it and a partnership was born. Sid is the programmer and writes four games in the first year. Stealey is the salesman, a reserve Air Force pilot, who handles the early sales himself, before building up a the buisness over the next decade.
Bill Stealey was interested in taking MicroProse into the arcade market, a move which Meier opposed. Realising they could not come to agreement, Sid sold his half of the company to Bill. He continued to work as a contractor and the sale was not widely advertised with few in the company knowing.
MicroProse was not successful in the arcade market. Burdened with debt, Stealey took the company public to inject it with cash. 1.8 million common shares where sold and raised $16,200,000, meanwhile Stealey reduced his ownership from 81.6% to 59%.
Inspired by Empire, Railroad Tycoon, SimCity and the Civilization board game, Civilization was released with low expectations and little promotion. It turned out to be a massive hit and one of the most important games of all time. Sid initially prototyped the game as realtime. Working closely with Bruce Shelley, Bruce would come into the office in the morning and find a disk on his desk. He would play it and give his feedback to Sid, who started later, and worked on the game late into the night.
Following a $5 million loss in 1992 MicroProse was running out of cash again. Bill Stealey approached Gilman Louie and sold MicroProse to Spectrum HoloByte. The newly merged companies would go on to rename themselves MicroProse Inc. Bill Stealey left the company and went on to found Interactive Magic (later iEntertainment Network) in 1995.
Despite bearing Sid's moniker, Colonization was primarily the work of Brian Reynolds. Its sales never matched Civilization but it was a big enough hit to ensure Brian would go on to develop Civ 2.
MicroProse management was so sure that releasing a multiplayer version of Civilization would be an enormous hit that they ignored the development of Civilization II. But the identical gameplay and graphics with the addition of multiplayer were not well received and the game bombed.
There was a lot of anticipation for Civilization's sequel, and it was met. Considered one of the greatest games of all time, Civilization II easily outsold its predecessor. Introducing new graphics (and going from top-down to an isometric view) and a host of tweaked mechanics and quality-of-life enhancements, this sequel did not alter the core formula as much as later ones would. Released just 6 months after Windows 95, the game was one of few that were fully compatible with that operating system. Brian Reynolds said, "my core vision for Civ 2 was not to be the guy that broke Civilization". And he didn't.
Spectrum HoloByte had been cutting MicroProse staff and reducing costs. Unhappy with being in a sidelined office, Sid Meier, Brian Reynolds and Jeff Briggs quit MicroProse and formed Firaxis. There they began working on their first game, Sid Meier's Gettysburg! Initially called Firaxis Software, the company was renamed Firaxis Games the following year.
MicroProse was quick to release an expansion pack of scenarios for Civilization II. This disk contained only scenarios: 12 created by MicroProse, and a further 8 "Best of the Net", a collection of scenarios from the Internet community.
The second expansion was more involved, though again it focused only on scenarios. Both MicroProse and more "Best of the Net" scenarios were included, along with an update to the game to allow more complex scenarios to be created. Meier having left by now, the game dropped his name from the title. "Civilization" may have been truncated due to an ongoing series of court cases between MicroProse and Activision over the Civilization rights.
MicroProse closed its Austin office and was then bought by Hasbro. Hasbro had just months before also bought the remains of Atari. The Atari brand name was used sporadicly thereafter. Hasbro also bought Avalon Hill for $6 million around this time.
Lacking the Civilization license, Firaxis set about creating the spiritual successor to Civilization, answering the question, "what happens when your spaceship makes it to Alpha Centauri?"
After a complex series of lawsuits Activision acquired the rights to publish a single game under the Civilization name. Call to Power was a game where no one said "no". Idea after idea was stuffed in, including slavers, a space layer, futuristic units and sci-fi technologies.
In 1999 Firaxis was releasing Alpha Centauri, and Activision had Call to Power. MicroProse hit back by releasing Test of Time, a graphical update and a couple of scenarios slapped over Civilization II. Test of Time is what would today be called a remaster and featured 15 bit colour and animated units. It met with poor reviews as players hungered for Civ 3.
The expansion to SMAC enhanced non-combat strategies and expanded the flexibility of each faction. In addition to core mechanic enhancements an additional 7 new factions were added.
The second Call to Power dropped the civilization moniker due to Activision's failed lawsuit. It included a host of improvements, not least of which was a superior UI. Astonishingly Activision eventually released the source code so the community could take over bug fixes and enhancements.
The French publisher Infogrames Entertainment SA buys Hasbro for $100 million. It then renames itself Infogrames Interactive.
Infogrames, the Civilization license holder, teamed up with Firaxis to make Civ 3. Mixing up the formula more significantly than its predecessor, Civ 3 introduced one of the most important mechanics of the later games: Culture, allowing the civilizations to have borders. This unlocks the new Cultural, Diplomatic and Global Domination victories. Strategic and Luxury Resources were introduced along with Small Wonders. A major change to combat was introduced with Ranged Units. Finally each civilization received a Unique Unit and were further differentiated with a pair of Traits and two starting technologies.
Coming a full circle: a board game loosely based on a computer game loosely based on a board game. This game was aimed at 2-6 players with a play time of 2-6 hours.
While Play the World featured new civilizations, units, wonders etc, the multiplayer it added was buggy and met with a poor reception.
The US subsidiary of Infogrames Interactive was renamed Atari Inc. The last MicroProse studio closed, the original MicroProse studio in Maryland.
Another 8 playable civilizations and a host of enhancements left most players satisfied. The expansion also came with a set of 9 historical scenarios called "Conquests", running from ancient Mesopotamia, through the rise and fall of Rome, and to the WW2 Pacific theater. Conquests was developed by Breakaway Games.
Infogrames, having posted a €42.2 million loss, sold the Civilization rights to a secret buyer. On January 26, 2005 it was revealed that the buyer was Take-Two. It was later announced that Firaxis would be developing the series forward.
Having first acquired the publishing rights to various Firaxis games, Take-Two purchased the company outright. Henceforth Firaxis became part of the 2K Games label.
To accompany the release of the Civilization Chronicles Box Set (a collection of all the core Civilization games), Soren created a card game that was exclusive to the collection.
Civilization IV launched with 3D graphics, and introduced religions. It was notable for having Leonard Nimoy narrating new technology discoveries. A new civics system replaced the single governments of previous games.
The Korean company Com2uS did the incredible, making a fully playable (though stripped down) version of Civilization playable on feature phones. Labeled as Civilization III, this game has more in common with the original Civilization. It is remarkable that it could be accomplished at all, though playing Civilization on the tiny phone screens of the time was a clunky and difficult experience. Presumably marketed as Civilization III as by this time Infogrames (Atari) has sold the Civilization rights.
The first expansion to Civ 4 introduced a host of new civilizations and leaders along with Great Generals and vassal states. Warlords also reintroduced the unique unit, an upgraded version of an existing unit specific to a single civilization.
A strategic city simulator more in line with the Caesar series, 2K slapped the Civilization branding on it in hopes of boosting sales. Reviews were mostly unkind.
As the name suggests this expansion focused on nonmilitary aspects of the game, introducing corporations and greatly enhancing espionage, along with the usual bundle of new civilizations and leaders.
The first Civ game that Sid Meier was the lead designer on since Civilization, this much simplified version of Civ was targeted at consoles and eventually ported to phones.
This feature phone game is a realtime side scrolling strategy game with nothing to do with Civilization apart from its name.
Another feature phone game, this time a tower defense game. A very simple tech tree allows for different towers to be created, but beyond that this game has almost nothing to do with Civilization.
14 years after the original Colonization, Firaxis remade it using the Civ IV engine. This game was standalone and was not an expansion. The gameplay has been much updated over the original, including Civilization's border system and a multiplayer mode.
The second board game based on Civilization, this time by Kevin Wilson. The game aimed at 2-4 players and had a shorter play time of 2-4 hours. This board game is loosely based on Civilization IV. The game features four possible victory types: Military, Technology, Culture or Economy.
Civilization V launched with a series of dramatic changes: a hex grid rather than square grid, and a limit of 1 unit per tile. In addition units had significantly greater movement, with the base unit movement being two tiles rather than the single tile of previous games . Civilization V introduced road maintenance, removing the nest of "every tile must have a road", and replaced civics with the more complex Social Policy system.
Astonishingly a fourth feature phone game was released, this time based on Civ V. Unlike the previous two this is a simplified 4x strategy game with graphics from the PC game.
By the late 2000's Facebook games had kicked up a storm, becoming a massively successful platform for casual gamers who could play on and off with their friends. CivWorld was a Facebook game that arrived a little bit too late and withered in less then two years.
The first of two expansions to the second board game, introducing 4 new civilizations along with Great Person cards and other new mechanics.
Gods & Kings introduced a sprawling array of new units (civilizations received unique units), along with the usual additional civs, wonders etc. The main change however was the introduction of a complex religion system.
Enhanced trade, Ideology, archeology and the World Congress fleshed out the non military part of Civ V, along with the usual civs, wonders etc.
The second expansion to the second board game introduced a further six new civilizations along with additional cards for each of the core mechanics.
This sequel to Civilization Revolution was released on iOS, Android and eventually PlayStation Vita rather then the consoles of its predecessors. Compared to the feature phone versions this game is significantly more playable. Civilization Revolution was primarily developed in China.
A spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri, Beyond Earth's reviews, while positive, never quite met the same reception as its predecessor. The game was built on the same engine as Civ V and much like Civ IV Colonization felt like a total conversion.
This expansion enhanced the possibilities of aquatic tiles, and revamped most systems. Players generally found it a great improvement over the base game.
This Korean MMO never left beta, opening at the end of 2015 and being shuttered a year later. Launched only in East Asia, it featured realtime play, with persistent civilizations that remained after you closed the game.
This turn-based strategy game is set in the universe of Civilization Beyond Earth and is focused on creating custom ships.
Civilization VI moved production of town buildings out of the city center and into the surrounding tiles. It also introduced a far more complex and granular government and policy system. Workers are now builders who have a limited number of charges and roads are now constructed by trade routes. Civ IV all but eliminated the tall empire, and reduced the Carpet of Doom problem.
The third board game based on the video game was made by a third designer, James Kniffen. Aimed at 2-4 playes and a short 1-2 hour play time.
Rise and Fall added the Era system to Civ 6, triggering Dark Ages and Golden Ages based on a new Era score.
The second expansion to Civ 6 introduced natural disasters and a revamped diplomatic system.
David Lagettie (founder of the simulation companies Virtual Simulation Systems and Titan IM) refounded MicroProse as a publisher where he took the role of CEO. Bill Stealey was hired as a consultant. Three military simulation games were announced: Sea Power, Hexdraw, Task Force Admiral. Within a year 10 games were on the publishing list.
Along with the various enhancements to the core mechanics this expansion to the third board game allowed an additional fifth player to play.