Age of Empires turns 25 and fans are shaping the franchise

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It’s been 25 years since a small studio in Dallas transformed the ancient world through the prism of a real-time strategy game. age of empires Monk wololos has been echoed about our homes ever since: Parents believed their children were learning history; the children believed they were surreptitiously playing. And veteran players know they were both right.

Even age of empires He did not always receive the love that he receives today. The rise of Xbox pushed PC gaming into the background for Microsoft: communities like AoE‘s were left to fend for themselves. In a very real way, it was the passion of these obsessives that led to renewed attention from Microsoft and the release of the latest entry in the franchise, 2021. Age of Empires IV.

All games continue to receive updates or DLC. age of empires games are targeted at Xbox and mobile, complete with cross-play so console gamers can get their hands on classic RTS Y play with your PC loving friends. Also, age of mythology is finally getting a definitive edition. Age IV it’s gathering momentum too, with an anniversary edition capping off a year of updates designed to appeal to gamers who found it a bit stripped-down at launch. AoE it’s now a point of pride for real-time strategy and a shining jewel on Microsoft’s roster.

On October 25, after watching the anniversary event and enjoying a surprisingly skilled group of lute-wielding bards performing iconic music from the series, I spoke with Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, and the studio head of World’s Edge. , Michael Mann, on the past and future of the franchise.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WIRED: So it’s the 25th anniversary of age of empiresAnd I know, Phil, that you’ve been at Microsoft for over 30 years. You’ve seen this evolution of the franchise. But I think there was definitely a gap, both for the real-time strategy and for the age of empires, where it didn’t look good. Was there a time when Microsoft said: Years and the real-time strategy genre is done? And then the second part of that is, when and what did it change? When you were like, wow, is this worth paying attention to again?

Phil Spencer: So that’s a good thread to pull on this one. I mean, what we saw with Years it was less about the genre, to be honest, and more about how the community continued to play the game. The games were still available to buy, and we just saw a vibrant community of people playing them. And we weren’t actively engaged in the community like Xbox. When Xbox started I would say sadly we took our focus away from PC and focused more on console which meant franchises like flight simulator Y Years—a bit was left to the communities to fend for themselves. And as we developed our game strategy, looking at gamers playing on any screen, we started looking at franchises in our portfolio where the communities were active, pretty big, and really engaged with the game and engaged with each other. Y Years it was there as one of those franchises.

So we had the opportunity to find a good partner. and going back to Years with relic [Entertainment]a partner who knew the genre, we saw it as a great opportunity for us to really get to know the community where they were, with their love for Years. And I would say the same about the ads on Yearscoming to console just trying to show the community that we recognize their love for age of empireswhat it means to so many people, and I’m proud that we can now step up and do our part as IP owners and franchise managers.

Michael Man: I also want to congratulate Ensemble Studios, they created the franchise 25 years ago. I know that World’s Edge also enjoys the celebration. But I also want to reach out and say Tony Goodman, Bruce Shelley, all of those people did an incredible job 25 years ago to create this franchise that we are the ambassadors of going forward.

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