No, Civilization VI is not free forever. The latest installment in the legendary Civilization strategy game franchise was temporarily available for free for a few days in March 2020, but has since gone back to being a paid game.
However, let‘s take a deeper look at the history of the Civilization series, whether future titles could be free someday, and most importantly – is Civ 6 worth paying for even after you missed the short free promotion window?
A Quick History of Civilization: 30 Years of Strategy Gaming History
Before we dive into the Civ 6 free promotion, let‘s take a quick tour through the evolution of this iconic strategy game franchise.
The first Civilization game was released back in 1991 for the PC. The sheer ambition and scope of the original Civ was incredible for its time. As a player, you could guide a civilization from humble beginnings in 4000 BC all the way to the modern information age, all while competing with rival civilizations.
Some key innovations the first Civ game pioneered were:
- Procedurally generated maps and worlds so no two games were ever the same.
- The concept of "one more turn" addictive gameplay that kept you up all night.
- Balancing different aspects like exploration, warfare, diplomacy, technology, culture.
- Allowing players to craft their own narrative and strategy.
The original Civilization was an absolute blockbuster, selling over 850,000 copies in its first decade. And so began a legacy that has spanned nearly 30 years!
After the smash success of the first title, Civ II was launched in 1996 and expanded on everything fans loved. The third and fourth Civilization games kept innovating with new systems and graphics while retaining the magical core gameplay.
After a brief detour with the Civilization Revolution spinoff series on consoles, Civ was back in its full glory with Civilization V launching in 2010. With Civ V, the series moved to hex-based maps and also focused heavily on promoting "tall" gameplay where players built a few extremely powerful cities rather than many weak ones.
Which finally brings us to the latest installment – Civilization VI, launched for PC in 2016. And that leads us to the pivotal free promotion of Civ 6 in 2020.
The Civ 6 Free Promotion: A Brief Window in 2020
In March 2020, publisher 2K Games and developer Firaxis offered Civilization VI for free for a few days on PC via the Epic Games Store.
This promotion ran from March 25 to March 29. During this brief period, anyone with an Epic Games account could claim and download the base Civ 6 game for absolutely zero cost. And once claimed, it was theirs to keep and play forever.
This free offer included the main Civilization VI experience including:
- 18 civilizations like Rome, Egypt and China with their unique traits.
- Core gameplay modes like singleplayer, local multiplayer, and online matches.
- Main systems like research, policies, diplomacy, combat, etc.
- Hundreds of hours of gameplay across various map types and sizes.
However, the Civ 6 free offer had some key limitations:
- It was only available on Epic Games store, not Steam or elsewhere.
- It did not include any of Civ 6‘s expansions or DLCs like Rise and Fall, Gathering Storm, etc.
- The promotion was only live for 4 days before reverting to paid status.
Still, even a free base version of Civ 6 is an incredible treat for strategy fans. Unfortunately, since the short promotion ended, Civilization VI has gone back to being a paid game on all platforms.
It currently sells for $59.99 for the base version or $89.99 bundled with the Rise and Fall and Gathering Storm expansions.
Will Future Civilization Games Be Free?
This leads to an interesting question – do you think future Civilization games could be free someday? After all, we‘ve seen other hit franchises like Call of Duty adopt a free-to-play model.
For a franchise as legendary and established as Civilization though, going permanently free seems unlikely. Here are some reasons why:
The Civ games still sell very well at a premium $60 price point. Civ 6 sold over 5 million copies in its first two years.
A free game requires monetization via in-game purchases and transactions. But that model conflicts with Civ‘s gameplay.
Fans are happy to pay upfront for a complete Civ experience without being nickel-and-dimed.
However, limited time free promotions are a great way to acquire new fans and build goodwill.
So in summary – periodic free giveaways like the Civ 6 promotion make sense, but don‘t expect the next Civilization game to be free-to-play. A premium price point ensures the developers can deliver the depth and polish fans expect from the series.
Is Civilization VI Worth Buying in 2023?
So we‘ve established Civilization VI is no longer free. That leaves us with the critical question – is Civ 6 worth paying full price for if you missed the free promotion window?
As a long-time superfan of the series who has pumped hundreds of hours into every Civ game, I can safely say that YES, Civilization VI is absolutely worth buying today.
Here‘s a more detailed look at some key reasons why Civ 6 is totally worth the $60 investment:
It‘s Still Insanely Addictive and Rewarding
The sheer replayability and "just one more turn" magic of Civ is still going strong in Civ 6. With randomly generated maps, you‘ll never play the same game twice. There are so many paths to pursue from military domination to cultural victories. Win or lose, you‘ll have weaved your own unique journey full of highs and lows.
I‘ve been playing Civ 6 for 5+ years and am still discovering new strategies and nuances. This is a game you can really sink your teeth into for months and years.
New Civilizations and Leaders Keep it Fresh
The developers have supported Civ 6 with several DLCs that introduce new civilizations, leaders, and scenarios. Being able to play as figures like Teddy Roosevelt or Genghis Khan freshens up the gameplay in fun ways. I would have gotten bored long ago if not for the new content that keeps on coming.
Districts and Policy Cards are Game-Changers
Two of my favorite additions to the formula in Civ 6 are districts and policy cards. Being able to customize your cities with different districts completely alters the feel of building your civilization. Policy cards also encourage you to constantly reevaluate your government and priorities. This is how you evolve a franchise 30 years into its run.
Four Distinct Victory Paths Plus Score
Unlike the military focus of so many strategy games, Civ brilliantly offers four different victory types: domination, science, culture and diplomacy. This means very different playstyles can all lead to success. You can wage endless war or take a more peaceful approach. And if no one has won by 2050 AD, the highest overall score provides a final benchmark.
It Captures the Epic Sweep of History
No other game truly captures the awe and continuum of human history like Civilization. You feel that entire progression from founding small settlements to developing advanced technologies and great cultural works. No matter your final victory or defeat, you‘ve taken part in an epic story arc.
There are certainly some flaws like AI quirks, UI limitations, and DLC fatigue. But in terms of delivering sheer value and engagement for its cost, Civ 6 is virtually unparalleled. Few games can offer hundreds of hours of fresh challenges and satisfaction for $60.
For any PC gamer who enjoys strategy, building empires, and alt-history – dive right into Civilization VI. Just know it might consume all your free time for the next several months!
Thank you for reading this deep dive retrospective on the legendary Civilization franchise! What are your thoughts on Civ 6 and the future of this landmark series? Let me know in the comments!