Last night strategy game Age of Empires Online waved goodbye to its players as its servers were shut down.
UPDATE: Microsoft has responded to our inquiry about Games for Windows Live's impending closure with a cryptic message about believing in PC gaming and having a long-term plan to grow.
Age of Empires Online development has ended, Microsoft has announced.
Age of Empires Online developer Gas Powered Games has revealed its upcoming pro civilization Babylon along with the Fertile Crescent booster pack in an exclusive Eurogamer interview.
Age of Empires Online is now entirely free-to-play, developer Gas Powered Games has announced.
It's a grand name, isn't it? You can almost imagine the baritone voice and the Baz Luhrmann camera pullback: "This... was an AGE OF EMPIRES." And Age of Empires is a grand series. Since its earliest days, it's been a real-time strategy game with familiar mechanics but its own way of playing: I vividly remember playing AOE II after being weaned on Command & Conquer and having to learn the alien concept of defence.
Microsoft, being an evil corporation etc., shuttered AOE's original developers Ensemble after the so-so Halo Wars, leading to fears the series had been canned - or worse, farmed out to a jobber. And Age of Empires Online is certainly a departure for the series. In this free-to-play RTS with MMO-lite elements, story-driven campaigns are out, while questing and crafting are in.
We'll come to the structure, but the game itself is like bumping into an old friend you actually want to see: hardly surprising, given a hefty chunk of development is down to Robot Studios, formed from Ensemble's ashes, before AOE Online was taken to release by the excellent Gas Powered Games. Berry-gathering? Check. Rock-paper-scissor unit types? Check. Brown pants when you see a catapult? One second... check.
The warm and fuzzy till-ringing sound of capitalism returns to shops this week, as the games industry escapes the annual drought of summer.
Your rule begins 16th August.
Age of Empires Online goes live worldwide on 16th August, publisher Microsoft Game Studios has announced.
There are two ways to get involved with Gas Powered Games' free-to-play strategy MMO. First up, you can jump right in via the game's website and then purchase extra content at your leisure. There's an estimated 40 hours of gameplay available without the need for opening your wallet.
Secondly, there's also a retail version on shelves for your local equivalent of $19.99 which includes:
PC gaming isn't dead – Blizzard and Steam prove that – and Microsoft Game Studios' Danan Davis agrees it's in rude health.
Gas Powered Games boss Chris Taylor refuses to spend $50 on a video game. For him, free-to-play games such as Age of Empires Online represent the "future" of PC gaming – and herald a new era for the industry.
Microsoft Game Studios has defended online gaming service Games for Windows Live – and outlined the benefit it gives to gamers' "social network".
"Freemium" PC game Age of Empires Online launches this Autumn, Microsoft has confirmed to Eurogamer.
An Age of Empires Online beta is open to all for the next 48 hours or so, developer Gas Powered Games has announced.
You've got until 9.00am on Saturday to download the beta from Games For Windows, though play continues past that date.
The system requirements are reasonably modest:
There are no idle questions in game design. That's why off-handedly asking one of the developers of Age of Empires Online whether FarmVille has influenced the team at all is not a good idea. In fact, in answer to the query, the developer simply starts to look like he's suffering three separate strokes at once.
Microsoft has pulled back the curtain on Age of Empires Online for PC. The game, an MMO, will have free-to-play "experiences" and blend strategy with RPG.