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Atari cashes in on Civilization

European publisher waves goodbye to its cult empire-building series

Diplomatic PC turn-based strategy franchise Civilization has been sold off to a mystery publisher, it has been revealed today.

Current publisher Infogrames, owner of Atari, announced the shock decision at its latest financial results, banking a lucrative $22.3million for the series. The identity of the buyer is unknown, although it is worth pointing out that Activision published early instalment Civilization: Call To Power several years back.

The sale of a relatively large-selling and highly regarded series, which was incidentally the brainchild of PC legend Sid Meier (yes, he of the new swashbuckling Pirates! game) does seem surprising, especially as part IV was announced as an in-development project last year.

However, it would suggest that Infogrames has decided to cash in on the Firaxis-developed series as it strives to compensate for not having a new, chart-monopolising Matrix-style smash on the shelves. At least that's our inkling...

No doubt we'll be hearing who the successful bidder is, plus details of Civilization IV soon. In the meantime, Atari has confirmed that it will continue to publish and distribute past Civilization titles and expansion packs through to October 2005.