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August 17, 2010

Age of Empires Online


This is what Age of Empires fans have been waiting for a brand new game in the Age of Empires series! This is the first game to be announced by Robot Entertainment and was previously known as Project S and then Spartan. Microsoft Game Studios confirmed today at the Gamescon conference in Germany that it is publishing a free to play Age of Empires game to be developed by Robot Entertainment, founded by ex Ensemble Studios leadership.

Age of Empires Online takes the franchise in a new direction offering experiences both old players and new players will enjoy. Here is the official blurb from Robot Entertainment’s website:

With more than 20 million copies sold worldwide, the Age of Empires series redefined real-time strategy games for Windows PC players. Now the timeless franchise once again invites players to experience its rich storyline in new ways. Age of Empires Online will invite you to create a living, growing online world, shared with friends and friendly rivals around the globe.

Begin the journey with your own Greek civilization and watch as it progresses from a village to an empire. Embark on quests along the way, alone or with friends, and immerse yourself in epic tales, diverse characters, adventure, history and strategy. Together with the Games for Windows – LIVE service, Age of Empires Online delivers a rich, social experience that lets you play however you want – anywhere, anytime.

Marrying fresh features with iconic gameplay, Age of Empires Online offers something for long-time fans, newcomers, and everyone in between.

Age of Empires Online will feature:

  • A persistent online capital city that lives and grows even when you’re offline
  • Cooperative multiplayer quests, trading, and a level-based system that lets you progress at your own pace
  • Fun, approachable style and storylines
  • Free to play experiences via Games for Windows – LIVE

 For a chance to join the beta program, visit

And if that description wasn’t enough here is the first official trailer!



Concept Art:


Microsoft has a handy FAQs document which answers alot of the questions you may have and you can find this at the Microsoft web page for Age of Empires Online: However I have highlighted a few particularly interesting ones below:

What is Age of Empires Online?
Age of Empires Online is the next evolution in the best-selling real-time strategy (RTS) franchise Age of Empires. Developed by Robot Entertainment and Microsoft Game Studios for the Games for Windows – LIVE platform, Age of Empires Online invites players to create a living, growing online world, shared with friends and friendly rivals around the world. Marrying fresh features with classic RTS gameplay, Age of Empires Online pays tribute to the original game while incorporating a new look, feel, and approach that appeals to long-time fans, newcomers, and everyone in between.
When will Age of Empires Online be available?
Age of Empires Online will release exclusively on Games for Windows – LIVE in 2011. Currently, our Closed Beta is up and running.
Remember ES edit – this game is due for release SPRING 2011.
How do I sign up for the Beta?
Anyone interested in the Closed Beta can apply at We will be selecting participants for the Beta over several weeks. If you applied and did not get in right away, just give it some time.
Will there be a retail product, or will Age of Empires Online be available as a download only?
It will be digitally distributed.
Why did you decide to bring back Age in an online version?
When we looked at continuing this franchise, we looked at how people are playing games today, and the social and connected experiences that people increasingly crave. It’s about being able to connect to the entertainment we want, and share it with the people we care about—nearly anywhere. By building Age of Empires Online with Games for Windows – LIVE at the core, we create a rich social gaming experience. With Age of Empires Online, we’ve married the best of traditional Age gameplay with the connectivity of LIVE and with fresh features that broaden the appeal to brand-new audiences.
What are the civilizations? Will there be additional civilizations throughout the life of the game?
The Greeks will be a launch civilization. We will offer other civilizations both at launch and post-launch but have yet to make any additional announcements.
Why the new look? What was wrong with the graphics before? It looks more “cartoony” now.
Age of Empires includes a refreshed art style with an unprecedented level of detail. The new design is fun and approachable, and we believe it will help invite a brand-new audience to experience this classic franchise. It will still offer gameplay depth for fans of the franchise as well.

The “Age” franchise has an incredibly loyal fan base. Do you think this new iteration will alienate any of your fans?

Absolutely not. Age of Empires Online stays true to its roots with traditional RTS gameplay, a deep player-versus-player mode and detailed historical settings. From the creation of your capital city, to resource management and competitive matches, Age of Empires fans will feel right at home.

One particularly interesting FAQ was this where Microsoft tries to explain why Robot Entertainment is developing this version of Age of Empires as opposed to Ensemble Studios:

Why did Microsoft choose Robot to develop Age of Empires Online? Why dissolve Ensemble only to bring back the franchise?

Microsoft Game Studios is always evaluating its business model to determine what is best for both gamers and the company. Many factors were considered in the difficult decision to close Ensemble Studios, but we feel it helped us better align with our goals and long-term development plans. Robot is made up of many of the creative minds behind classic Age of Empires titles, and we’re incredibly proud of the work we’ve done together on Age of Empires Online.

Of course, I have my own opinions on the actual reason Ensemble Studios was dissolved but i’ll save that for a future blog post were we’ll look into more detail about why Microsoft shut down Ensemble only to continue its flagship game with a new developer, formed of Ensemble employees! Stand by for a more detailed reasoning behind this to come shortly. In the meantime lets celebrate both the first game to be announced from Robot Entertainment and the continuing of the Age of Empires series. The game screenshots and videos so far look fantastic and will no doubt appeal to the vast majority of both new and old players alike. I am certain that Age of Empires online will bring new audiences into the series creating a game play environment of millions of players worldwide.

Exciting times lye ahead. I look forward to reading fan reactions on the Age Community forums and / or on the Robot Entertainment forums. You can find me under “deanparkr” – See you there!


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