Getting my warriors ready to invade the Apple Store and get me a new iPad.

Yes, that’s the real Civilization VI on the App Store

iPad, PC/Mac/Linux •

Yesterday saw one of the biggest surprise releases to ever land on the App Store, Civilization VI. Yes, THAT Civilization VI. The one with Sid Meier in the title and Boromir doing the voice-overs. The one that takes days to finish a game, with full tech trees, barbarians, city states, and enough different Civs to fill a tiny UN. It’s the real deal, with a real price, and it’s on the App Store.

We all know what Civilization is, so I won’t give you details about 4X games and yada, yada, yada. Instead, let’s talk about the app itself. First of all, don’t come knocking on the Civ door if your iPad is older than an Air 2; the app is only available for iPad Air 2 and later, including the iPad 2017 and iPad Pro. I have none of the above, so I’ll be waiting to play this until I get a real job which, let’s be real, isn’t happening any time soon.

If you do have one of the newer iPad models, however, Civ Vi on it is fairly incredible. For research purposes I went to a friend’s house to mess around with the game on their iPad Pro and it was a delight. The graphics aren’t turned up all the way, but I couldn’t really tell a difference between the iPad version and how it currently looks while playing it on my MacBook Pro. Everything was smooth as silk, including moving units with your fingertips and scrolling around the randomly generated world. The time between turns can get a bit long, but never got to the point of being unbearable. I was playing on a large world, but also didn’t make it all the way to the end game which is when turns get long even on the laptop. I’ve also been told by Nick who has one of the 12.9″ iPad Pros that the game isn’t scaled right for that device. I haven’t seen it for myself to give more details, but you’ll want to download and try it out before hitting the buy button if you have one of those.

The iPad version has everything its big brother has, with the only thing missing being DLC. There is a small note on the bottom of the main menu telling you about the upcoming Rise and Fall expansion, so it would seem that they’re planning on bringing it to the app. If they do that, I don’t see why all the DLC currently available for the PC version wouldn’t make it to iPad as well.

We now need to talk about pricing. As amazing as it is to have a game like Civ VI on our iPads, the truly amazing thing might be the price. The game is free to download, but that will only get you the first 60 turns. If you want the full experience, you have to unlock it with cash: $60. It’s currently on sale for only $30, but that will end on January 4th when it will shoot up to its Steam-sized price point. Did Aspyr get confused and think they released it on the Switch store? Folks there and on PC will gladly pay $60 for a AAA title but, as you can imagine, there are already cries of outrage over the price on the App Store as if the folks at Aspyr don’t need to eat or buy clothing. I, for one, welcome the price and hope this sells like hotcakes, opening the door for other devs to release full-price ports of games for iPad. I’d much prefer to see a bunch of really well made $60 games released each year, rather than the thousands of free-to-play garbage that’s turned the App Store into a laughing stock. Maybe that’s just me, but I really hope not.

Off my soap box, let me point you to where you can pick up Civ VI for yourself. On the App Store. I still can’t believe I’m typing that.

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Notable Replies

  1. js619 says:

    “I, for one, welcome the price and hope this sells like hotcakes, opening the door for other devs to release full-price ports of games for iPad. I’d much prefer to see a bunch of really well made $60 games released each year, rather than the thousands of free-to-play garbage that’s turned the App Store into a laughing stock. Maybe that’s just me, but I really hope not.”

    So much this.

  2. My biggest problem with the price isn’t so much its value, but its opportunity cost. Undoubtedly $30/$60 is a great value for a game of this magnitude on an iPad. However, with most games, I think to myself “if I skip my second coffee, I can buy that app.” With a price tag like this, I’m suddenly in a position where I have to decide between an app and a new PS4 game or board game.

    I, too, welcome the idea of AAA games taking over the App Store even at AAA prices, but my impulse buys will go by the wayside.

  3. univac says:

    In another forum thread, kennfusion mentioned that Aspyr is slow to port over the Civ 6 updates to the mac version. So I decided to check the version of iOS game which is Assuming they use the same numbering scheme for their updates across platforms (I don’t see why they wouldn’t), this game has the Spring 2017 patch which was released in March. It is missing the summer and fall patches. I still bought the game but I will temper my expectations about this game getting timely updates if iOS version of the game was released with an update that occured 9 month ago and has had 2 major update since then.

  4. As I downloaded this I was thinking “Please be good, please be good, please be good…” And it really is.

    If this works then could we see EUIV, Stellaris, XCOM 2 etc. on the iPad? Has to be better than Flappy Bird. I can’t be alone in the category of older gamers with some disposable income but no time to sit in front of a PC in the evening. I don’t really understand why it’s taken this long.

    I just hope they get some success with the pricing strategy so we can break out of the cycle of people making ports for the iPad on the cheap that don’t quite work due to interface niggles (eg Darkest Dungeon).

  5. js619 says:

    <raises hand>

  6. athros says:

    @feederofgoats - because the discussion on most mobile sites is already negative around the price. Why market when people are just going to shit on it?

    Overall, I’ve played through 80 turns on 2 games. 1 was 3 AI, small - one was 5 AI, large. Prince difficulty and the game was pretty damn smooth. Turns were taking a bit longer at the upper end, but it was still really playable.

    Absolutely worth my $30.

  7. I’ve played a tiny map/4 ai/one city challenge game right up to the space race and the ai turns have remained short and snappy. If I was at war or running multiple cities then my turn would take far far longer than the ai takes.

    My biggest concern was that the game would bog down during ai turns. It seems that this is not the case, at least on smaller maps. Standard size earth map here I come!

  8. I completely agree with you on the price point. Looks like a great implementation and well worth it.

    I’m still not sure I agree with their marketing strategy. It’s entirely predictable that the vast majority of the iOS market will be outraged at the price - that would happen whatever they did. For this to be successful they have to tap into the market of people who see the iPad as a legitimate strategy gaming platform and without marketing I bet they miss a lot of people.

    As a member of that target market I was initially very suspicious when I heard that it had been released with no build up. It gives the impression it was knocked out as an afterthought which was clearly not the case.

  9. Yeah, not sure what the PR firm was thinking. Even behind the scenes we knew nothing about this until we received a press release yesterday. By that point, we already knew it was on the App Store.

    I’m guessing you guys are right that they were trying to defer bad vibes about the price, but I think the smarter move would have been to announce it a long time ago and build up some hype among strategy gamers who could have flooded reviews with positive reviews before the price bitching started?

  10. Yeah, I am protesting this game, and did so very vocally in the Official Mac Thread on Steam. I have 374 hours played on Civ 6 and over 1200 hours on Civ 5 on Steam. I play a LOT of Civ. As the owner of brand new iPad, I normally would have jumped on this to play on my frequent business flights, as it’s easier than taking out my laptop, especially if the jerk in front of me put their seat back. But Aspyr is having a lot of problems with communication with Firaxis, all of our Seasonal patches come significantly late, and then with additional bugs.

  11. What, exactly, is the issue, though? I get that you’re concerned about patches but is the current state of the iOS game in need of patches? Or are you just worried about their willingness to keep up with apple’s updates?

  12. The last few installements in the franchise have benefited greatly from patching, balancing and expansions packs. I think the assumption is that a civ game isn’t really complete until the end of that process. While the games are excellent shortly after launch, it’s not until years later that they become the finely tuned machine they promised to be.

    Personally I think the last few vanilla civ games have been great, but I also see how a player might need to updates to keep the game fresh and balanced.

  13. I’m post Christmas party drunk so this may make no sense(!) but isn’t this whole discussion missing the point. If we judge the acceptable standard as the current state of PC-Civ then I agree that the commitment to post release patching and refinement is important. As somebody who doesn’t own a PC that can play post-2013 games I relish the release of any Civ on iOS and am prepared to pay big $ for it. If there are enough people like me then market forces will prevail and we will have a well maintained game.

  14. Did I miss it or did noone report the “needs iOS 11 to work”?
    Or am I the last grumpy person that still did not upgrade? I was panning to upgrade my iPhone 6+ to iOS 11 but held back because people reported terrible slowdown issues on the first devices of 6th gen.

    I was planning to upgrade my iPad 10,5 pro sometimes in the future (after I try to minimalize the hit I take from the APPocalype in finishing as many 32bit games as possible before upgrading now I have teh terrible decision to do it now to get the hefty launch price sale of Civ 6, or to wait how fast Aspyr is catching up on content (if at all) to the PC version.

    I would gladly play this on iPad instead of PC as I have more time on hand for mobile gaming but the damn iOS 11 thing…

  15. athros says:

    You’re not the last, but like the rest, the complaining has gotten tiresome. I, at least, understand that iOS 11 is the devil to you and others, and that you don’t want to update because it slows down your devices and removes your apps. It’s been hashed and rehashed in so many threads at this point, I’m seeing the same exact arguments on all sides.

    It sucks that you cannot update and cannot play Civ 6 because it requires iOS 11.

    Why exactly are you posting in the thread with the same exact complaint about iOS 11?

  16. that seems a little harsh @athros. While your only take away might be a complaint, pointing out that it is iOS 11 only might actually be helpful to someone else reading this.

  17. athros says:

    So state it doesn’t work with anything less than iOS 11 and that it sucks because you’re not going to update and move on. That’s 2 paragraphs of the exact same complaints that have been brought up in any thread or article that dares talk about iOS 11.

    Back on the Civ 6 topic, I finished a 210 turn game with a standard size map, 4 AI’s and Prince diff last night. Time between turns was 2-3 minutes depending on my vision, no more than 5 minutes n the outside. Battery life was fine, and the iPad didn’t heat up as badly as some have stated.

  18. So you’re saying that when you hit “end turn,” or whatever it says, it could take 2-3 minutes, or more, for the AI to move before you get to take another turn? Is this standard for Civ? I don’t think I’ve played the series since Civ III. That sounds like an awful lot of wait time for my preference on a mobile title.

  19. athros says:

    On PC it can take far longer actually. Go look at the /r/Civ/ subreddit. Aside from all the PCMR garbage, most are complaining that the iPad seems to be an upgraded edition with faster AI processing late game.

    I’m debating starting a huge map with 8+ AI’s to see how long it takes between turns.

  20. I have a game in progress on my computer, 8 player, late game Information age, 52 seconds from hitting End Turn to my turn starting, but there are no wars in the world at the moment.

  21. athros says:

    Hmm…now I’m wondering what the spec differences from those reporting 5+ minutes between turns and yours. Is it CPU? GPU? HDD? What factors from the game itself?

    I’m glad you don’t have to wait. It wasn’t unbearable for me. I mean, Civ 6 in my iPad. I was expecting far worse.

  22. Yeah, especially since I am playing on a Late 2012 iMac. It’s a 3.2 GHz i5 with 8GB RAM. It’s not like it’s a crazy new machine.

  23. athros says:

    Hmm…now I’m wondering if the differences between the Mac (Aspyr) and PC versions are more pronounced than one would initially guess, and the reason why it’s so hard for Aspyr to port the patches over. It sounds like people with newer PC’s still have 2+ minute lag issues.

    @Mirefox - looking over Aspyr’s other app histories on AppShopper, their stuff seems to go on sale around the holidays pretty regularly, and at other odd times of the year. I don’t know if they’re going to do it with Civ 6 or not, but their history would suggest it will go on sale again.

    EDIT: reading Aspyr’s replies on CivFanatics, they’re still working out technical details for the Fall patch, and are well aware that because of their delays on getting the DLC’s, Summer and Fall patches out it’s costing them sales. So…I have faith they’ll bring it up to speed.

  24. js619 says:

    Do you have a link? I’m curious to read the thread… unless it’s significantly tl;dr?

  25. I think charging a high price for a true AAA game like this is totally fine, but $60 is unreasonable. Xcom Enemy Within has a good price point at $20. Even the $30 that Civ is going for now could be justified. But beyond that is tough to justify. After all, how much is Civ 6 selling for now on PC? It released a while ago so I assume it has dropped substantially from $60.

  26. athros says:

    It just went on sale. It was $60, and is now $30

  27. I know. I am saying the ‘sale price’ probably should have been the actual release price, and it would not go up from there.

  28. athros says:

    I’m pretty sure Fraxis told Aspyr that the game will be 50% off for the holidays. Also, putting the game on a sale or introductory price when it released is a pretty common, and strong, pattern for generating initial sales and hype around the game.

    $30 is a damn steal, and $60 is the standard game price. You stated that it’s too much at $60 in your post, and that you expected it to be at a lesser price because of how long it’s been out.

  29. Right, because this is not a new game. It is a port from a title that has been out for months. If PC gamers are likely not being asked to pay $60 for it anymore, why ask that from mobile gamers to whom that price point is completely unprecedented? Just my two cents, but I think if they had made $30 the actual price instead of just a temporary sale price, they would have a lot less heat.

  30. athros says:

    So, because the game has been out for a while and because mobile gamers might balk at the price, they should cut the price in half?

    From the perspective of someone who’s sick to death of never seeing anything but ports of games that are done by crap 3rd party studios and 2-5+ years old (I’m looking at you Titan Quest, most of the 2K Catalogue) or dumbed down versions of games (CivRev and it’s sequel are great examples), I’d rather they left it at $60 and only had sales in line with the computer version. Then maybe people will realize that it’s a full experience and you should pay appropriately so that there might be more and better ones in the future.

    Obviously that didn’t pan out in the past and now the AppStore is a wasteland. Maybe, just maybe, Aspyr can bring some of that luster back, but I’m also an optimist with things like this. What’s really going to happen is exactly what’s happening here, on TA (every article but the Game of the Week last I looked and the forum thread before they were run off) and on Reddit - people are going to complain about the price and Aspyr is likely going to update the iPad version once and never again because it’s not worth it in terms of money and time, which is too bad because the game runs like a damn dream on my iPad Pro.

  31. Then if it’s not going to pan out, how can y’all say this is a good idea? I agree with your assessment, which is all the more reason they shot too high. It had to be $60 on PC because that is the norm for that platform, and that is necessary to recoup costs and make a profit for a game of this scope. But they had to do only a fraction of the work in making the initial game for porting it over to the iPad. Asking full price (and again, it is really more than full price compared to the current cost for the game on its parent platform) is just greedy and ignorant. Enemy Within made it work at the $20 level. I fail to see why Civ couldn’t have at least kept it in that ballpark. But the cost difference is so great, it basically makes Civilization 6 the Steel Battalion of the App Store. And that wasn’t exactly a market strategy worth emulating.

    I am like you, I love getting those big experiences. But the iPhone and iPad users have been too spoiled for too long. I waited on buying Jade Empire, a game I love, because it was $10. Finally picked it up this week when it went on sale for a buck (admittedly, I was only looking for a drop to $5 or so, this was just a pleasant surprise that their first price drop was a whopping 90%). They have to adapt to the marketplace, or get enough other games to do full-price ports that it becomes an accepted norm. Going alone is by no means a guaranteed failure, but right now it feels like they’re still running around with knights trying to compete with tanks and infantry. Gotta get with the times.

  32. athros says:

    Looking at Steam and the Mac App Store, the game is normally $60, and is being discounted to $30 for what looks like the holiday - so it is no more than the PC/Mac version. Please correct that part of your argument since it’s provably false. If the PC version stays $30 after the holiday, then I’ll be more inclined to agree with you about pricing.

    While history has proven that full price games have failed, the games being put out at full price weren’t worth it. For example, I bought Titan Quest at the full $7.99 which was pretty close to $5 over the price at GoG and other outlets and…it never got updated. Now the Switch is gettting the full Anniversary edition. XCom was an ok port, but having to buy the game twice was absolutely not the way to do it since both games were more than their respective PC outlets, and the control scheme needed work.

    This is why I’m hopeful for Civ 6. It has feature parity with the Mac version. Now that all the work has been done to adapt the control scheme, updates should be easier when the Mac version is complete. Aspyr has also done a pretty good job with KOTOR and Jade Empire. Are they the best port maker? Ehh…that’s debatable. But they haven’t done the App Store wrong in their history of apps.

  33. It would be provably false in some sort of alternate world where Steam was the only avenue to purchase PC games. With physical retail, Amazon, and eBay in the mix, buying this game at a price well below $60 was feasible long before now, and will remain that way even if Steam jacks their exorbitant rates back up. The Xbox marketplace can put a price of $19.99 on Sunset Overdrive all it wants, doesn’t change the fact that game has sold for under $5 brand new.

    And your mention of Xcom touches on one of the main issues: few of the buyers for Civ will be buying it for the first time. So that means after the sale expires they would be asking people to shell out $60 to have a mobile version of a game they already purchased, presumably at or around $60 (since anyone hardcore enough to even consider rebuying the game likely purchased Civ on the PC near launch). And that’s the minimum. I haven’t played Civ 6 sadly, as I am primarily a console gamer. But if that DLC it has costs money, then it’s even more of an investment to then go and repeat.

  34. athros says:

    Amazon is selling it for $30 for online codes, $58.92 at the time of post for the physical version. I see a couple on eBay for lower than the $60 price, but it’s from the usual grey market sellers, so caveat emptor. Green man Games has online does for $30, discounted 50%. These are the guaranteed, you will get good keys/physical copy, retailers.

    For note: I’m not going to check the rest of the grey market sites because they do more harm than good, and have been caught several times selling bad keys for games. So if you’re willing to risk it, yes you can get it cheaper. I’ll concede the point with this caveat.

    As far as people who’ve already bought it, most who already have it aren’t even willing to shell out $30 based in forum posts, so effectively it’s a non-issue. Either Aspyr prices it to make money, or they price it so low that they can’t make money. Appealing to fans who’ve already bought it isn’t going to do them any favors either way.

    EDIT: reformatted, added some stuff.

  35. In other news, I managed to finish a 7 ai/Prince/standard/true earth start. I won by space race which feels like it might be challenging and nail biting in this version. The ai managed to burn my spaceport down with a spy, and took turns declaring war on me so in theory they were trying to stop me. However I never saw an enemy ship approach my shores so the ai may be lacking there. Naval assaults have always caused problems for the civ ais.

    There doesn’t seem to be any corruption type mechanic to prevent rapid expansion. I assume the amenities being available to a limited number of cities should slow you down, but you are likely picking up more luxury’s every time you settle anyway.

    The final 100 ai turns certainly slowed down significantly but not enough to have me reaching for a book. Some of the animations got a bit screwy towards the end of the game, like the jet bomber zipping round trying to attack something close by, and the frame rate freeze on a few of my mushroom clouds. It’s a shame because the animation for that is awesome when it works.

  36. Well you are playing at Prince level, so the AI should not be that good there. But…yes, the weakest part of Civ6 is the AI, and that version is two patches behind. The summer patch fixes a few things with the AI, one of those being end game. In the Summer patch, the AI becomes much more aggressive at trying to stop you when it looks like you are going to win.

    There is more AI tuning in the Fall patch, but I have not got a chance to try it yet, as no Mac patch yet.

    Honestly though, despite my being a little upset at Aspyr, I really like Civ 6 and am very much looking forward to what the X-Pac will bring to the game.

  37. @athros
    You are right of course, I AM playing the same whiney tune all year long, time to grow up…
    My main complain this time around was that I cannot buy now (on sale) and play later because the Purchase option is linked to the iOS 11 only, but I did word it like my usual complaints so yeah…mea culpa.

    I am assuming the animations and voiceovers of leaders are completely gone and replaced with still pictures with subtitles only?

    The gameplay footage I saw did not mention anything regarding this if this was only done manually by the player to speed things up via an ingame option or not.

    How are savegames handled? One? Several? Can I adjust autosave frequency?

    How is the game language determined? Can it be changed via menu (to english) or do I have to go with the usual cringe-worthy German because the app foregoes the option and is hardcoded to take the device-language? (which is ok I suppose if I am updating I can go with “English UK” from the beginning…

  38. athros says:

    Leader animation is an option for PC/Mac - it’s usually disabled by default unless you’re on a high end rig

    I have multiple saves per game, auto saves I think once a turn. Nothing different than the PC/Mac version. No limits.

    I had to pick the language as I recall, though I could be mistaken. I’ll check it in a few hours when the last Christmas party wraps up.

    EDIT: Autosave is 1 by default and setable in options. Hunting for language settings is turning up nothing which is a bit concerning.

  39. For what it’s worth, as someone who hasn’t played a Civ since III (though I remember Nimoy, so may I dabbled with 4 but couldn’t run it well enough), the game looks and sounds great from the demo. I don’t know where leader animations are supposed to be or what is supposed to be voiced over, so I see the game for what it offers, not what it is lacking, and what it offers seems a pretty package.

  40. I don’t know if you game on PC/Mac/Linux at all…but if you have not played Civ since III…I highly recommend you go to Steam and get Civ 5 Complete for $12. It’s one of the best all around Civ experiences…and it’s at a crazy price with all of the x-pacs and DLC.

  41. athros says:

    Diplomacy screens have the leaders animated and moving around - facial expressions change and so on. Nothing that I’m really missing from the Let’s Plays I’ve watched.

    I also agree with @kennfusion - if you’re up for a PC version, Civ V for $12 with everything is pretty amazing.

  42. I was refering to the diplomatic interaction with the other civilisations.

    It is only fluff and I agree with the still pictures used in MP games to speed things along, but I always enjoyed them in a relaxed singe player setting. Also they got quite good in C5 and C6.

    Aside the “controversy” at C6’s reveal the…Cleopatra-gate* may I call it that? I really liked what the animators, art team and voice over team did with the Leaders.

    Also I enjoyed watching them throw a fit after denying their requests, declaring war on them and stuff. It is really good…
    It may be “just” a strategy game but the animators did a bang good job on mocap/animation and expressing emotions here, ressources well spend and a sad fact that this is lost to (the considerable few) mobile first-adopters.

    Seeing Cleopatra or Pedro throw a tantrum is always funny and makes my day…especially when they use their original language (or approxximation thereof)…**

    Examples below:

    The guy did a video series about all major things the Leaders say (Meeting you the first time, declearing war, being defeated, denouncing you, etc…)

    But of course it makes sense to not have them in the mobile version…as much as it saddens me the downlöad size of Civ 6 on PC is about 8-9 GB…cutting away at the animated fluff and voiceovers make sense on the technical limitation size

    *People blew up about the art direction of C6 as a whole…and got a bit distracted by Cleopatras’s…eyes…it got a bit silly…
    ** obligatory movie reference: “cursing in french is like wiping your ass with silk”

  43. Bought the full game, as a matter of principle. Started a game, foolishly skipped the whole “new to Civ?” because, hey, I was there for the original, kids, and started a game. Argh information windows what is it this isn’t the Civ I knew what’s happening? After that brief panic, and copious use of the Civopedia, up and running, kinda. The Egyptians hate me for no obvious reason. Oh well, that’s why we have, uh, slingers? And my warriors working their way up an XCOM style skill tree? Ooh, policies, they look good. Pretty map.

    In other words, I approve.

  44. Same here, threw myself into a game before realising an awful lot has changed. I went back and played the tutorial (always painful) but I still have some elements of doubt mechanics wise.

    Still, it wouldn’t be Civ if I knew exactly what I was doing the first few games. So, it’s addictive, I’m not sure of some elements but I am sure the Sumarians are a set of dicks. It’s a hit for me.

  45. Eruion says:

    :slight_smile: Well, I look at it this way, getting a pyramid first would make people admire the greatness of our Civilization and they would be drawn to us, and work for us, so we would have more workforce, thus higher construction power and well, free workers. If there was already another civilization that built the pyramids and they would somehow learn of it, they would just ‘meh, what’s new’ at ours. :smile:

  46. athros says:

    The Fall patch dropped for Mac today. Here’s to hoping that iPad isn’t far behind :slight_smile:

  47. js619 says:

    For you lunatics that haven’t bought this yet, it’s on sale for $24.99; lower than even the 50% off intro price.

  48. And the App Store ratings are still hovering around 3 stars. :roll_eyes:

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