Democracy 2 released on steam!

October 11, 2012 | Filed under: democracy2

Ok, I have a new game released on steam right now. But hold on a moment? what’s this? why haven’t I talked about it yet? Because it’s actually an older positech game, Democracy 2.

What is Democracy 2? essentially it’s a political strategy game, although I prefer to think about it as a government strategy game, because it focuses much more on the ‘how do we run the country?’ question than the ‘how can we get elected?’ question. It does *have* elections, but the focus of the game is achieving your objectives in terms of economics and social policy, rather than just collecting votes. Here is a brand new trailer for the game:

Democracy 2 is different to almost any other game you have played. It’s a strategy game, but there is no map or board or pieces. It’s a simulation game, but not of anything physical. It’s essentially a great big stonking huge neural network designed around the politics and economics of fictional nations (the US is also in there). The visual representation of the system is quite unusual, and although it can look very complex and confusing at first glance in a screenshot, it’s actually a simple system once you have got your head around it.  basically, everything in the game influences other stuff, and is in turn, influenced by many other items. Every link between items is a fairly complex equation, rather than a simple linear scale. This makes for some very subtle effects, and strategies.  Hovering the mouse over an object shows what it affects, and what affects it.

Here is another brand new (isn’t this exciting?) video of me talking about the game:

So how come Democracy 2 has been released on steam now? Well basically they asked about it very recently, so I was happy to say yes. The game has been around a long time and sold very very well. It continues to sell well to this day from its website which is here. It has had a pretty active modding community over the years, and the game is very easy to mod, thanks to all the data basically being in spreadsheets.

This is NOT the kind of game you would expect from the developer of Gratuitous Space Battles and Gratuitous Tank Battles. (Until GSB, people used to tease me about not being able to make graphical games :D). It’s a very cerebral, very strategic, and fairly serious game. You can, of course, just play the roll of evil fascist maniac and create a nightmare country just for giggles, if you prefer, but try to play it to win (to stay in power) and I think you will find it interesting.

There is a free demo, and the game is on Mac and PC.

I’m hoping it’s new visibility on steam will introduce Democracy 2 to a new bunch of players. This is the game that enabled me to quit/storm-out-of my job and go full time indie for keeps. it’s the game that PC gamer described as ‘an important game that should be taught in schools’. it’s the game used in at least a dozen colleges and schools all over the world to teach politics (educational site licenses are available, email me for details). It’s a game you might want to take your frustrations out on when you hear Mitt Romney or Barack Obama talking over the next few weeks.


19 Responses to “Democracy 2 released on steam!”

  1. Gnoupi says:

    It’s a depressive game which makes me feel like the Wargames quote, each time: “The only winning move is not to play” :P

    Each time I play it, it seems that the more I try to fix a problem, the worse it actually goes! In the best case, I fix one issue, and break 3 other things.

    Objectively a good game, but too smart for me. :)

  2. Gnoupi says:

    As an aside, you might want to fix the award pictures’ ratio:

  3. cliffski says:

    Yeah I’ve emailed steam about that…

  4. Just happened across the Steam store front and saw Democracy 2 staring me in the face under the “New Releases” section and thought “wait a minute, I thought they refused to take Democracy 2(for no good reason)”. I see they finally came to their senses and stopped with the “it’s not a good fit” crap. I doubt they’ll be reconsidering my game, Break Blocks, any time soon, but perhaps after we get a couple games on Steam they’ll pull the same thing: “if so many people like this new game, perhaps this older game will do well, too”.

    Anyways, had to come throw out a congrats on something that should have been long before now =)


  5. seanpyke says:


    “…but too smart for me. :)”

    All his games make me feel this way. Yet I keep coming back for more.

  6. bkd69 says:

    All this rime I thought this was a campaigning and electioneering game (though, admittedly, I hadn’t really taken a close look), and the game you describe sounds like an updated version of Guns or Butter, which I loved back in the day.

    I’ll have to take a closer look.

  7. cliffski says:

    Guns or butter? I’ve never heard of that game, but it’s an excellent title. I shall have to look it up :D

  8. I have seen this on occassion but didn’t realize how intricate it was and how interesting your discription of it was. I would love to give it a try. I went on YouTube and checked out some reviews just to get an overview, and it still looked very intriguing, however not everyone was kind in the reviews.

    Quick suggestion though, would you consider updating or adding some dlc content to make the game more replayable over the longer term, or perhaps to give the option of automating parts of the process, not all of it of course, but say 3 out of 6 to give beginners a chance of getting through a game without losing at everything.

    Or introduce more variables other than the 3 noted so far policies, statistics and crises, for the hardcore replayers?

    I think given the new audience, you could do well, and as you say since it is an older title that has done well in the past, a new lease on life with updates and some extensions and automations could even have people with the game now updating to the new DLC, which you could charge a small fee for and make not only new sales, but sales to the fan-base that already has it.

    Not that everything is money, but it could do well for you and be a nice boost to the fans of the game.

    Just an idea.


  9. cliffski says:

    There is *so much* about the game that I’d love to improve and build upon, that I think I’d be much more tempted to do a complete sequel re-write than tinker with the game, as the code is so old now.

  10. p.s. I just had a quick idea flash into my head, you know how you have the online challenge for GSB and GTB? Well… voila! :) What if you added such a system to D2? And had players writing up new events, or new policies, or new countries to include, or new crises, or even new parameters not originally included, like How does foreign affairs, or overseas events or uprisings, or terrorist attacks on embassies or american or british citizens kidnapped affect the people back home? How does the public rate their leader on their performance of dealing with these situations? And this is of course only a single additional parameter. It is probably possible to include even dozens more.

    This is where the automation I spoke of in the comment above would come in handy very much indeed! :)


  11. A Democracy 3 might just be perfect! :) I think I’ll pick up D2 first and have a go at it. Then pester you about doing a sequel. :)


  12. […] basically they asked about it very recently, so I was happy to say yes,” writes Cliff on his blog. He continues to […]

  13. CorumAnime says:

    Well I bought this last night and by fluke saw this thread today. I didn’t know it was by the GSB authors (which I love) and am especially baffled at the moment since the Campaign Mode of GSB is so utterly random. I hope GSB gets free Core updates now and then to improve stuff like that, maybe add an editor to allow modding support for the weapons files etc (I always end up increasing the range of my fave weapons, which means I’m lame, but how about letting me do that ingame and saving “my set” and choosing to play on default or with someone elses “set”). But, back to Democracy 2.

    I saw Democracy 2 on Steam and the complexity of the politics engine sounded really good so I bought it. £12 seemed a lot more than a cheap budget game so I trusted the reviews that said “this is the most addictive game ever” etc. Which I hope it is. And I hope its not just written in a way that means only a USA-like culture can get re-elected. The description makes it sound like its pretty flexible and I’m hoping to test out wildly different models – and leaders DO get elected in crazy places like North Korea. I want to make a Utopia but also try the ultimate “Nanny state” where everything is controlled and enforced, and also try a Hippy State where everything is allowed and unrestricted. But from comments above, I’m a little scared that the game might kick me for anything other than the Utopia model.

    So I played Democracy 2 for the first time. Love the cloud of connected blobs, but I had no idea this was such an old game, which might not matter – Stars! is the best game ever and its OLD and TINY. But Stars! has a perfect UI and Democracy 2 could use a big overhaul. Also much more choice of ministers or at least graphics for them, so I could relate better to “my team”. And I will keep trying, but so far the gameplay isn’t very intuitive, most of the blobs don’t have any options to change, I still don’t know HOW to play the game.

    Well, thanks for reading this. I can only hope this and GSB get updates and that I didn’t waste my money. I don’t play GSB anymore but if its Campaign mode was more like playing Stars! and I felt the bad guys had either a plan or limited resources I’d play it a lot. And I hope to be playing Democracy 2 regularly too once I figure it out, I’m just in shock that I’m playing what feels like a retro Atari ST game. Thats my first impressions, anyway.

    Thanks for writing D2 and GSB and for reading this!

  14. keonne says:

    warning to mac users thinking of buying this through Steam. It doesn’t work, the game crashes every time you try to start a simulation. Cant wait for it to be fixed…

  15. CorumAnime says:

    Well I went through the tutorial fully and tried again. And the first scenario seems impossible! I’m trying it now with a 10 year term to give me a chance to fix things, and I know other scenarios are easier but… I got the bug! The game has grabbed me and I’m getting hooked! So I hope my earlier post wasnt too negative, though I did think I was buying a 2012 game. And I see other awesome games these guys have made too. I only hope they don’t go like Notch and ignore a game once its bringing in the money. I hope games get updated and made nice and easy to use since UI standards are improving all the time. For D2, the mouse feels laggy and slow whenever I go in, and theres too few ministers and pictures for me to feel they’re unique. In fact more options for talking to them about why their loyalty is falling, being able to try to schmooze, bribe, or blackmail them into being more supportive, etc, would be awesome. And realistic.
    Thanks again,

  16. Sbby says:


    download it from steam for mac, crashing as someone else has described above.
    Can you please post a fix, or offer the opportunity to download it from your servers, i saw you also sell a mac version, a little more expensive. and i downloaded the demo for mac and it run fine. Seems to be a steam problem.

  17. cliffski says:

    A fix for this is being tested right now.

  18. Barry Brenesal says:

    “There is *so much* about the game that I’d love to improve and build upon, that I think I’d be much more tempted to do a complete sequel re-write than tinker with the game, as the code is so old now.”

    Agreed. It’s a good game, but there’s plenty of life in the mechanics, and you could easily do it again. What would you do differently now, Cliff, in terms of game mechanics, if you do it over?

  19. cliffski says:

    I am happy with the general mechanics but I think there are lots of tweaks and adjustments needed, and a lot of new events, policies etc could be added too, as well as a major UI overhaul in terms of user friendliness.
    Some of the economic and political assumptions in the game are also in need of adjustment, and I wonder about the idea of political speeches and government campaigns ‘eat healthy food!’ etc, as a cheap and ‘soft’ way to influence society.