While 'neat' you could play as another civilization, you were still "playing the same game," which is why Firaxis targeted "bigger gameplay systems" with expansions.
The studio thought it would be nothing but a positive thing to churn out "a la carte civilizations" but it did little to sate the hunger of Civilization fans; more gameplay mechanics were craved.
Hence why the Gods & Kings expansion "has been extremely popular," said Shirk. Their new major expansion to the core game is Brave New World which includes features like increased trade and the World Congress. They all shake up the gold system in the game moving out natural deposits from rivers and coasts and focusing it more on trade routes.
"What we found though when we did that initial bunch of DLC is that fans really did NOT like DLC," Shirk tells us.
"When we sold the Civs individually, a lot of feedback we got was “we want gameplay”. I mean it’s neat to be able to buy Polynesia, but you’re essentially just playing the same game, so that’s why we decided to deliver on that and deliver these expansions with bigger gameplay systems. Gods & Kings has been extremely popular."
"We actually thought it was going to be a positive to make a la carte civilizations that we could deliver. I mean it was an expansion pack’s worth of new civilizations that we released, when we were done. But people didn’t want to just buy Civs. They wanted Religion, for example."
"It was definitely a learning experience to see where our fans were going to go, and they LOVE expansion packs. Which is great, because our designers prefer designing gameplay mechanics more so than just doing new civs," he added.
Be sure to check out our interview with senior producer Dennis Shirk, which will be posted soon.
Civilization V releases on PC July 9th in the US, 12th in EU.