Robot Entertainment no longer lead developer on Age of Empires Online
In a very unexpected turn of events Microsoft have announced the end of Robot Entertainment’s involvement with Age of Empires Online. Todays blog post on the official Age of Empires Online Community website indicates that:
This has been the plan for some time, and we’re excited to share the great work GPG has been doing. In working with GPG, it’s become clear they share our long-term commitment to make this a success. Our previous development partner, Robot Entertainment, did amazing work on the game, and we wish them the best in their future projects.
This transition has been in the works for some time with folks from Gas Powered Games, the successor to Robot Entertainment having been working with Robot on the handover since last fall. Despite Microsoft and Robot indicating that Age of Empires Online will be an evergreen game with lots of post release content, there was never any plan that Robot Entertainment would of been working on such content.
Although Robot Entertainment have been working on Age of Empires Online as lead developer for the bulk of the project, Remember ES notes that Robot Entertainment branding has been swiftly removed from the Age of Empires Online website.
Patrick Hudson, CEO at Robot Entertainment has spoken to PC Gamer to help enlighten us on Robot’s position:
We were always scheduled to roll off Age Online in February 2011. We’ve been working with GPG since last fall on the transition. We really enjoyed working with Microsoft, and know that they’re in good hands with Chris and the Gas Powered Games team.
Robot was founded to work on original IP, but working with AoE was a great way to get the company off the ground. The plan was always to move to original IP as soon as we had the ability focus on our core business goal.
It is a great shame to see Robot departing from Age of Empires Online, the studio was always in the best position to work on the franchise with many members of Ensemble Studios being part of the development team. Gas Powered Games are a much larger studio closer to Ensemble Studios size and they are a third party developer in the same respect as Robot Entertainment. Perhaps the Robot and Microsoft felt the studio would be too small to be able to work on Age post launch content whilst trying to develop their own new IP’s such as the recently announced Orcs Must Die.
Digesting this news may be confusing for Age of Empires fans who once again see the development team of their favorite franchise changed once again.
On the bright side… Robot Entertainment has worked on the bulk of Age of Empires Online. It is unlikely many of the core design decisions and art direction will be changed as the game nears completion. Age Online will still be in the majority a Robot Entertainment title. Its still something to be excited about and its still going to be a great game come launch. As Robot moves away from Age of Empires into the realms of its new IP, Orcs Must Die, be on the look out for more details on what Robot’s future direction is very soon.
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