2K partnership brings strategy classics Civilization and Pirates! to GREE

2K Games has signed a new partnership with GREE that will turn its classic strategy titles Sid Meier’s Civilization and Sid Meier’s Pirates! into free-to-play social games on GREE’s new global gaming platform.

The partnership will see GREE work closely with 2K integrate social features into the games, which will be developed by 2K’s Chinese studio. According to GREE’s press release, Sid Meier’s Pirates! will become Pirates! Legends, a social battle and questing game that will pit players against one another as they seek to become the most notorious pirate in the world. The GREE version of Sid Meier’s Civilization is tentatively titled Civilization, and will challenge players to create an empire that will stand the test of time.

These new versions of Pirates! and Civilization are likely to bring more mid-core gamers to GREE’s platform, a demographic the company seems to be pursing heavily, given its recent $210 million acquisition of the successful mid-core social game developer Funzio.

That said, the deal is not without risk — as 2K president Christoph Hartmann acknowledges in today’s press release, the long-running series have been beloved by fans of strategy games for decades. The new free-to-play mobile versions of Civilization and Pirates! will have to balance the expectations of the more traditional gamers raised on the classic titles with GREE’s free-to-play monetization strategy.  Prior to the GREE partnership, 2K’s previous attempts to take the Civilization licence social haven’t seen much success. After 18 months in development, the Facebook adaptation of the game, CivWorld failed to capture players attention. Its popularity peaked in August 2011 with 567,000 monthly active users and 65,00 daily active users, but the its popularity quickly declined. Today CivWorld has  just 30,000 MAU and 5,000 DAU according to AppData.

2K is the latest developer to sign a content partnership with GREE, joining the likes of Crowdstar, iWin, Ubisoft, Gameloft, Haypi, Hooai and Punchbox on the company’s new global gaming platform.  As part of the new partnership 2K’s sports franchise NBA 2K will also make its debut in Japan as a new social game developed by CyberAgent.