Civilization is about to explore a different branch of its skill tree, with news that Take Two Interactive is working on a massively multiplayer online adaptation of the super-popular RTS. If this sounds sacreligious to you, don't worry - the game's focussing on the Asian market, meaning it'll be pretty easy to ignore.
This is the first title to appear from a previously announced collaboration between Take Two and South Korean studio XLGames, under the watchful eye of MMOG design luminary Jake Song, best known for his role in creating Lineage.
Song and XLGAMES are working closely with Civilization series creator Firaxis Games, leading a Korean team of more than 100 people based in Seoul (making it officially one of the "most ambitious" online game development projects in South Korea).
It might seem like an unusual move for the publisher, but Hubert Larenaudie, president of Take-Two Asia explains it's actually been a long time coming:
Over the last four years, we have been focused on creating an ambitious portfolio of online and social games with some of the most revered companies in Asia such as Tencent in China, Nexon Korea Corporation and XLGAMES in Korea, GREE and CyberAgent in Japan.
The consumer response for NBA 2K All Stars and NBA 2K Online has been very encouraging. With the upcoming releases of Pro Baseball 2K and Civilization Online, Take-Two is uniquely positioned to delight gamers throughout Asia.
...wait, what? Pro Baseball 2K? Civilization isn't Take-Two's first Asian-focussed release. Over just the past few months, there's been a handful of games released in that territory that may never see the light of day in the West.
Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and CEO of Take-Two explains:
Making our intellectual property available to delight consumers wherever they are is an important component of our long-term growth strategy. Our online and mobile social projects in Asia are enabling Take-Two to further broaden its global footprint and captivate audiences across a myriad of screens, platforms and business models. If successful, these projects will enhance our core business with revenue and profit streams that are higher margin and more stable over time.
It's extremely unlikely that these Asian-focussed games will ever see a release outside of that territory - more due to gameplay styles and design rather than any localisation issues - but if Take-Two decides to branch out and bring this new, online Civilization to North America, Europe or Australia, we'll keep you posted.
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Jimmy the Geek