That is true, but Civ worked continous on improvements.
So does Stardock, judging from its record. Let's not undervalue the company in this respect.
Though it is true that Sid Meier's mother made chocolate chip cookies that have yet to be surpassed.
I do not know about programming, but much older games were successful in creating at least a good illusion of AI behavior.
Try watching Magnar. The AI rules have been done very well for him. Tarth is pretty decent, too.
I would perhaps be more merciful when we would talk about a startup and their first game. But here I see the difference: Firaxis always delivered. They polarized with all the Civs but they delivered and completed.
Civ III was kind of underwhelming, and that was one of their titles, while Sid Meier's Railroads! was awful, as far as I'm concerned. (I'm a big fan of the Railroad Tycoon series, on the other hand.) They've had their share of bombs, but no one remembers them, because, hey, Sid!Meier!
And look at "Endless Space", a little firm of players released a game what was astonishing stable and complete when they released it.
That's a great little game, I agree. But it had a lot of small bugs that have quashed in successive fixes since then, and their diplomacy screen and behavior and absolutely zero feel. (I mean, no major diplomacy screen per race, no "leader" remarks, much less remarks tailored for each leader: what kind of flavor is that?)
All I'm suggesting is to give FE a chance, once its gold code is out in a couple of days, and the changes/fixes start showing up. Stardock isn't EA, and the satisfaction of its users/players clearly means a great deal to the company personnel, judging from past releases. You can always bow out later on, if you don't like what you see, but quitting in the home stretch seems a bit unwise.