Industrial Era: Civ III Switches To Steam From GameSpy

The price of progress.

I thought we’d long since seen the last of the GameSpy refugees fleeing the multiplayer service’s shutdown towards the welcoming embrace of Steamworks. If a developer hadn’t switched their game’s tech by now, I’d assumed, they’d left its multiplayer to die in the digital dust. Oh what a terrible cynic I am! There is still love and hope in the world, Alice! Have faith.

Firaxis yesterday released a patch for Civilization III that switched from GameSpy tech to Steamworks, bringing official online multiplayer support back to the 14-year-old strategy game.

This patch is, of course, limited to Steam versions of Civ III, but Firaxis say folks who own a physical copy on CD who want in in this update can submit a support request. Presumably they’ll throw a Steam key at you if you can prove you own it. This new multiplayer doesn’t support direct IP connections, but it should at least work with old saves.

Folks in the know could work around the GameSpy shutdown using tools like GameRanger, mind, but official support is just dandy.

GameSpy owner Glu Mobile announced in April 2014 that they’d close the multiplayer servers at the end of May. Hundreds of games were affected, sending folks scrambling to replace GameSpy tech. Glu didn’t give a reason but one can broadly assume, given the economic system we live within and that they are a publicly traded company, that it wasn’t making enough money.


  1. airmikee says:

    That’s pretty cool of Firaxis to update such an old game, even more so giving physical disc owners a way to prove ownership. Would be nice to turn some of these aging discs around my desk into Steam or GOG keys.

    And damn, the webs of roads and railroads all over the map from Civs 3 and 4 is something I really missed in Civ5.

  2. VODO says:

    Railsea anyone?

  3. XhomeB says:

    Is Civ III worth playing, by the way? I kind of skipped it back in the day, can’t recall why exactly, but I went from Civ II straight to IV.

    • RuySan says:


      It’s my least favourite Civ. And i also hate how it looks.

      • Great Cthulhu says:

        I like how it looks (except for the advisers), but I agree that it’s the weakest of the main civs.

        Do check out Civilization: Call to Power if you haven’t yet though. That one did a lot of cool things that no other installment has done before or since.

    • Atrak says:

      It’s my Dad’s favorite game, previous to that it was Civ 1 he didn’t really like 2 or 4. So each to their own I guess.

    • cauldron says:

      If you have Civ IV, stay with it.
      Civ III is not bad, but brings nothing particular to the license. I have lots of memories of CIV 1 and 2, but nothing of the 3 comes to my mind. If I remember well, at the times, I prefered the Call to Power games.

      • Zaxwerks says:

        Didn’t Civ III introduce the idea of culture and cultural borders which mean you could “detonate” a great person next to a neighboring civ’s city and culture bomb them into your territory? Apart from that I can’t remember anything else new that was introduced for a gameplay perspective.

        • Great Cthulhu says:

          It did. It was the one thing in Civ III that I missed in Call to Power.

        • airmikee says:

          Yes, and trade was a pain and diplomacy was minimal before Civ3.

    • Llewyn says:

      I’d say not for anyone who isn’t already playing it. As we all know by now Civ tastes are highly subjective – unlike most other commenters here, Civ III remains my favourite installment (and I hated the shift to IV from it), but it’s no longer the best. Regardless of what you want from Civ, either IV or V will cover it better.

      The only reason I ever play it now is when I’m working away for any length of time – my netbook is much happier running III.

    • Paul.Power says:

      It has really good modern era music.

      I imagine it would also be fun if you want to relive the glories of commanding armies of workers to terraform the world into a treeless, railway-filled expanse, so that they can pounce on any new squares of pollution instantly.

  4. LionsPhil says:

    Full props to 2K for (presumably) supporting Firaxis in doing this, and also in the way they’re treating customers over it. For Civ IV in the same situation at least:
    – The Steam version can use the “beta” version-selecting feature to downgrade back to the GameSpy version with direct IP connection support to keep playing with retail owners (although obviously only one at a time).
    – Retail owners can indeed get Steam copies as the article suggests if they can prove ownership to support, who were very prompt and helpful about it if you ask nicely.
    I recently did both of these; technically the offer on the latter (again, for IV) is “a multiplayer update”, but in practice a Steam key is how they provided that update to me.

  5. Kefren says:

    I do wish every multiplayer game had direct LAN play as an option. Then even if whatever other web-based versions they use failed, I could still play.

    I have many nice memories of HOMM3 or Isle Of The Four Winds or Doom on LAN (or over the Internet using tools that create a virtual LAN). I only ever play with the same 1 or 2 people, so don’t want all the “matchmaking” stuff.

    • LionsPhil says:

      For Civ IV again (I’ve got III somewhere but not on Steam), the Steamworksified version still supports LAN play (in that it’s still in the menu—I haven’t tested it). What they’ve lost is Direct IP over the Internet, which works almost like ye olde direct-dial modem multiplayer, except you type in the single IP address of your peer rather than their telephone number.

      I would hope they’ve basically done the same for III. The patch notes certainly sound like it. PCGW seems to think only direct IP is gone but since it’s only just happened it may not be fully up-to-date.

      • Kefren says:

        Apologies then, just my misinterpretation of the terms. It certainly seems like LAN is being removed from many games, a process I first noticed with AvP when I bought the Gamersgate version (my CD version had LAN, but it was removed for Gamersgate).

  6. Soulstrider says:

    Now if only someone would do that to Star Wars Battlefront 2

  7. ansionnach says:

    A 32-bit or 64-bit build of CIv 2 2.24 wouldn’t go astray…

  8. Zorn says:

    What is of my beloved Iron Brigade? *sniff*

    Rock Paper Shotgun, please inquire!

    Are the evil publishing forces holding Double Fine back?

    Save a suffering soul!

  9. Cantisque says:

    Long ago I bought this, I ended up returning it because it kept crashing.