Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

In search of the magic of maps.

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

First look at Return to Empire, the China-only Age of Empires mobile game

It's real this time.

Return to Empire is a China-only mobile game based on Microsoft's Age of Empires.

It's developed by TiMi Studio, the Tencent-owned company behind Call of Duty: Mobile and Pokémon Unite.

Today, TiMi released the first gameplay of Return to Empire. It looks like Age of Empires, albeit on a reduced scale, with real-time strategy action.

Cover image for YouTube videoReturn to Empire (Age of Empires Mobile) Detailed Gameplay Trailer

While Microsoft is making its Xbox games available to play on mobile devices via the cloud, it's no surprise to see the company also expand its Xbox game brands into the mobile space with dedicated new titles and partnerships with Chinese game companies.

Mobile gaming is big business, with the likes of Pokémon Go, Candy Crush, PUBG, Genshin Impact, Call of Duty Mobile and Roblox all pulling in hundreds of millions of pounds a month.

Sony has also signalled it wants a piece of this lucrative pie. In May, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan said: "Mobile is just one of the areas we are exploring to reach millions of gamers beyond our platforms. PlayStation has a huge catalog of diverse first-party IP that can transition to smartphone gaming and complement our AAA games or live service games. We are exploring the mobile market with some wonderful PlayStation franchises so please stay tuned."

As for Age of Empires, Microsoft is readying PC game Age of Empires 4 for release later this year.