Major Nelson tweeted that there would be news from Microsoft at Gamescom 2010, but I don’t think anyone expected this. Microsoft officially announced that the company is working on Age of Empires Online. Where the heck were the unsubstantiated rumors, fifteen-minutes-of-fame leakers and NDA breakers?
AoEO – the acronym I am starting that is pronounced “AhOhweYO” – will feature co-op questing, trading and leveling all wrapped in a storyline and new art style. The title will offer free gameplay using the Games for Windows PC platform.
Microsoft has made numerous attempts to create a successful MMOG, but has never stuck it out. The company famously canned True Fantasy Live Online for Xbox 360 even though it was near completion. It gave up on Marvel Universe Online with Cryptic Studios (the title eventually became Champions Online), and sold Asheron’s Call to developer Turbine Entertainment after five years. Most famously, it closed Ensemble Studios, creator of Age of Empires (AoE/AoE2 + expansions for $9!), during development of an unannounced Halo MMOG.
Microsoft saw my headline and responded in kind. According to CVG, a large portion of Ensemble staffers are working on the project. “I’d say about 75% of the team have worked on Age of Empires before,” Microsoft Game Studios GM, Dave Luehmann said. “So it’s the core team that you can feel comfortable with and who are well skilled with Age [of Empires].”
Enough of a history lesson, on to the media. You can view the trailer here, or check out the screenshot gallery below.