Sid Meier and Firaxis are looking for players everywhere they can find them.
That's one of the reasons that the developer behind the Civilization and XCOM series has taken franchises born on PC and transitioned them to mobile. The smartphone and tablet revolutions brought more devices and more locations for players to dip into games. Firaxis wants to be where the players are.
Earlier this year, Firaxis and Meier reversed the "PC first" trend with Sid Meier's Ace Patrol, a turn-based strategy game developed for smartphones and tablets. Today, the company and the man with his name in the title are pulling another kind of reverse. The game that started on iOS is headed to PC: Sid Meier's Ace Patrol will be available this afternoon on Steam for Windows.
Polygon spoke to Meier recently about the game, where he sees its place in Firaxis' catalog and how he hopes to satisfy an old kind of player in a new kind of space.
"We're really trying to connect with players of strategy games."
Development on Ace Patrol began "a little over a year ago," Meier said, with the idea of creating a turn-based strategy game from scratch that took advantage of the mobile and tablet platforms. Developing a game for the new mobile device category was an attempt to follow players wherever they were going.
"We're really trying to connect with players of strategy games," Meier told Polygon. "The Civ player, the XCOM player: We're trying to find them, figure out where they are going, what they are doing."
For the iOS version, Meier programmed the parts of the game that governed gameplay and AI, what he referred to as the "experience."
"I love to program," he said.
He had help from two others, who handled the iOS integration and graphics. Sid Meier's Ace Patrol was released on iOS in early May.
Meier said that he always thought the game made sense on PC, too. Because the development is based in OpenGL, Meier said it was relatively easy to make the transition from iOS to Steam.
The iOS version launched as a free-to-play title that allowed players to purchase additional items. The Steam version will cost $9.99 and ship with all of the paid content from iOS plus some additions that the iOS version does not include.
In an effort to appeal to the more hardcore strategy player, Sid Meier's Ace Patrol on Steam will ship with a "beefed up" version of the in-game encyclopedia that details the stats behind the strategy.
In addition, the PC version will include a new save option. When he designed the game for iOS, Meier played to the strength of the platform and included a single save that allowed users to hop in and out of the game in short bursts. The Steam version will also play to the strengths of its system and support both iOS-style saves and multiple save files for those who'd like to keep more than one mission going at a time. The idea, then as now, is to offer players whatever experience they might want, wherever they might want it.
On a macro level, Meier knows that the industry is changing and expanding, and he believes that there's a market for triple-A games as well as "midcore" games like Ace Patrol that exist somewhere between full retail prices and free games. Whether on smartphones, tablets or PC, the new market remains about satisfying the desires of strategy game players, something Sid Meier's done for a long time.
"It comes back to connect with that strategy game player," he said. "There's an audience of players out there who like the games that we do. We know they have PCs. We think that maybe they have tablets. We're curious. Are they on Xbox Live? Where are those people? Where are they playing? And how do we connect with them?"
Sid Meier's Ace Patrol is Firaxis' answer about how to bridge that gap, no matter where players are.
"We try to be part of the evolution of platforms in the industry," he said. "They're constantly changing, and we need to change with it."