What happens when a game created by an acclaimed developer and loved by millions of players moves to the most successful gaming platform that ever existed? Not much – at least not in the case of Sid Meier’s social strategy game CivWorld which is struggling hard with a shrinking user base and has dropped way outside the top 1,000 applications on Facebook. This week, CivWorld announced ‘big improvements’ to stop the downward spiral.
The biggest of the changes is giving users the opportunity to create a custom gameplay and control parameters e.g. game speed, daily limit of currency, or minimum and maximum fame for the participants. Players are encouraged to invite up to 20 friends to their customized version of CivWorld.
CivWorld also introduced new functionalities around the game’s currency, CivBucks, which can be used to change the weather in battle, upgrade palaces and make workers more efficient. There are new ways to earn CivBucks in-game through participation in fame contests. Another novelty is a tower-defense-style combat minigame that can be played as many times as players want when combat is underway, in order to get a higher score.
All these features are designed to increase user engagement by leveraging common techniques in social gaming, such as incentivizing users to return more often to the app, or customizing their experience and enhancing virality. It remains to be seen whether these extensive changes can turn things around for CivWorld.
The game was developed by Sid Meier in association with 2K Games and Firaxi and published on Facebook in July 2011, after 22 months in development. The launch received wide media coverage and CivWorld was expected to change the social games sphere by adding depth and appealing to classic gaming audiences. The app is a social adaptation of Sid Meier’s Civilization series that sold over ten million units worldwide. CivWorld’s all-time high was 567,790 monthly active users (MAU), currently it has 70,000 MAU.