It appears to be quite clear to me that Firaxis was pushed to rush the release of Civ IV by their publisher, 2K Games. However, it should also be noted in 2K Games defense that Sid Meier is notorious for his games being dramatically late, in some cases by years (Anyone remember Magic?)
Of course on the web forums you have the standard bevy of brown-nosers who can never make enough excuses for developers or publishers. It’s never their fault. Somehow it’s our fault that we expect software that we pay for to work as advertised. It is a consumer’s right and responsibility to sound off when things don’t go as they should. Never forget that. If no one complains, nothing gets fixed. In fact, it’s been my experience that the speed of a fix is directly related to the vociferousness of the affected customers.
The signs for this one being a mess are all there. The forums are full of posters listing all sorts of varied problems. There are also problems with extremely popular video cards but they’re not limited to just ATI. Similar problems with Nvidia cards also abound. Then there are some people who got CD’s incorrectly labeled. Those who got the “right” package find that CD1 needs to be in the drive to play even though CD2 is listed as the one that needs to be there.
On the only system where I’ve seen the game work, pulling down the Resolution option shows all the typical resolutions and then literally DOZENS of corrupt entries like “2234321214231*04532432112331”. That’d be some monitor!
There was also no demo before release. Demos of games often help identify key problems before release. The lack of a demo suggests that there was no time for a demo and that suggests that there was simply no time for anything but release of the product.
Furthermore, the debacle on the phone lines is telling. Yesterday you couldn’t get through and long waits ended in recorded messages finally admitting that support is too busy and instructing you to call back in 24 hours. Today signs show the problem clearly. When you call now the first recording is a message asking you to press “1” if you’re calling about Civ IV. In other words, 2K Games is receiving so many support calls for this that they’ve had to resort to restructuring their support system to attempt to siphon off the more prevalent ones by forwarding them to recorded responses. If you have an issue besides the two presented, you end up back in the queue for a long wait followed by a final message stating that they’re too busy and that you’ll have to call back in 24 hours.
What’s interesting about all of this is that this is a classic turn-based strategy game. This isn’t Far Cry, Quake 4, Fear or Half-Life 2. Yet the requirements for this game appear to be beyond even some of those games. Something isn’t right here and it’s not the outcry of the paying customers.