End Of An Era: Age Of Empires Online Ceasing Updates

By Nathan Grayson on January 8th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

But really, what are we even fighting for if not cool new stuff?

Update: Microsoft actually pulled the plug on AOEO’s updates – not Gas Powered Games.

Original: This rather unfortunate bomb dropped last week while each member of the RPS team was still out colonizing a different region of space, but I think it certainly bears mentioning. Age of Empires Online, sadly, is history. Or at least, the part where it continues to actively grow and evolve is now another footnote in the series’ lengthy legacy. The free-to-play revamp of the storied RTS series isn’t headed for the more contemplative region of Valhalla just yet, but – from now on – what you see is what you get. No more new content.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Microsoft has opted to stop refueling AOEO’s engines because the money’s not there anymore. So they explained in a blog post:

“Creating top-tier content, as we have been for the last year and a half, is very expensive – too expensive to maintain for long, as it turns out. We can no longer afford to keep creating it. AOEO already has a very large amount of high-quality, hand-crafted entertainment, and adding more is no longer cost-effective.”

Among other things, this means no Roman civilization and a much slower response time (if any response at all) on bug fixes. Beyond that, though, nothing else is changing. Every aspect of the game will remain fully playable, and even customer support will continue to have your back as you charge ever onward into the unknown.

Still though, it’s a bit of a shame, as it sounds like there were plans for more battle-enriching bits and pieces of Wonder-based wonderment. But hey, if it’s any consolation, longtime AOEO developer Gas Powered Games’ new project is right around the corner, so that’s at least something to look forward to.

As for the Age of Empires series itself? Well, I suppose we’ll have to take that one up with Microsoft. If I’m being honest, though, I don’t really like our chances on this one.

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46 Comments »

  1. c-Row says:

    Free-to-play game fails to generate significant income? Who would have thought…

  2. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    It’s the death of free to play, it must be the end of PC-gaming!

  3. Scroll says:

    Work resumes on Kings and castles? Yes Please.

  4. Teovald says:

    If that means that GPG is going to work again on Kings and Castles, it could result in a great rts.
    I am not sure they have the budget to animate sword fight though. It is way more difficult to do these than a laser shot.

  5. Hoaxfish says:

    Woulda shoulda coulda been offline singleplayer/multiplayer.

    I really liked the look of the game, even if it wasn’t entirely in keeping with how AoE normally comes across.

    • frightlever says:

      As an offline game it had nothing to offer that you didn’t get from AoE III nearly a decade ago.

      I played it briefly. It was okay. Hopefully they’ll make it clear exactly WHEN they do plan on closing the servers because I wouldn’t like to think they’d be selling their content packs to people who’ll only be able to play for a couple more weeks or months. Not that there’s any indication they’ve any plans to close the servers.

      • rsanchez1 says:

        Well, they’re still selling AOE3 on Steam, so if people keep buying content packs they’ll probably keep AOEO going for a while too.

  6. Njordsk says:

    what a waste of money and time.

    Just make the damn AoE 4 and be done with this crap.

  7. Jumwa says:

    I’ll go out on a limb and declare–with the authority every random internet commenter is bestowed the right of–that it was unequivocally their use of GFWL that was their downfall.

    In all seriousness, I would’ve been all over this to try if not for the GFWL requirement.

    • Berzee says:

      Ditto — I tried to install it twice and got stopped at the gates by the snarling, snapping dogs of GFWL.
      (For some reason it wasn’t even letting me register a GFWL account, let alone a game account).

  8. westyfield says:

    I’m glad GPG is going to be doing something else, I was worried that they’d go down with AoEO. I wonder if they’ll go back to Kings & Castles or if they want something new and non-swordy.

    *Crosses fingers for SupCom 3*

    • Sardaukar says:

      Because they did such a memorable job supporting the first Supreme Commander after launch.

      Sorry, I just can’t let go of ChrisT telling people that to get fixes for the game-killing performance issues in Forged Alliance, they should support the studio and buy SupCom 2. What happens? SC2 gets a crappy DLC pack, and SCFA continues to become utterly unplayable versus AI after an hour or so.

  9. IneptFromRussia says:

    This is off-topic, but, are there any village simulators in the development right now? You know, like Settlers. Those games were so, eh, cozy to play, i miss em.

    • Strabo says:

      It’s not quite the same (especially since the latest one is future tech), but the Anno series. And I guess you can play The Settlers Online, since we are already in a F2P-game thread. Well, and there is The Settlers 7, but the Ubisoft DRM made sure I won’t play it, so I can’t say anything about it (Anno after 1404 has a similar problem though – stupid, ugly UPlay).

      • IneptFromRussia says:

        Played both of them, Anno is pretty sweet, although a bit grandiose for my likings. Was checking if i’m missing out on new developments, maybe some indie kickstarter gem, but it seems there is nothing out there. Shame though.

    • Atic Atac says:

      Tropico 3-4, Anno series, Settlers 7 and Towns.

      Or just go Dwarf Fortress….that one is your best choice really.

    • Mr Bismarck says:

      Tilted Mill are working on Medieval Mayor.

      “Having received a charter from the king, you must establish, build and govern your city, advancing education, culture, commerce, science and the arts, and providing for the health and prosperity of your citizens. “

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I think that’s what Folk Tale is trying to be.

    • Felixader says:

      Get “The Settlers 2 – Anniversary Edition”.

  10. Strabo says:

    It asked for 80 € for 6 months of content. It severely handicapped you if playing for free (as in: You can’t compete at all since you don’t have access to all techs and items), meaning that you had to spend at least 20 € for one Civ unlock or not play at all. Apparently they lowered the prices and restrictions later on, but most people somewhat interested (like me) already judged it a bad investment of time/money. Too bad, I was a huge, huge fan of AoK – the first game I really delved into Multiplayer and of course AoM. AoE III was already somewhat less great, AoEO was not a bad game, but not worth the additional money they wanted for basic features.

    • Svant says:

      I love it when “free2play” games actually costs more than if the game had been a “normal” game. Mobile games are plagued by this, were a pay upfront game would cost you 1-3$ and the “free2play” games would charge that much for a few ingame items/cash that doesn’t get you anywhere near the full game experience.

      That shit really needs to go, if you make a full featured free2play game, think BF3 vs Planetside 2. The players pretty much have somewhere around 40-60$ in “credit” to spend on stuff which should give them the full experience with anything over that just being icing on the cake. Which I think Planetside 2 actually does a very good with. If you spend no money you are able to compete fine, but with just an extra 10-20$ you unlock pretty much all the “necessary” stuff (giraffe cammo, tank guns, air to air missiles). Great value for your money.

      • f1x says:

        Thats supossed to be the “big deal” with F2P games, that in the end players are spending more than if they were buying a “normal” game,
        its a mechanic tied or inspired definitely by gambling or casino jackpots, you start with a small fee and then you are hooked until you’ve spent way too much

        And the publishers seem to think that they are so clever because of this, but then you see what happens, most of the games dont last too long

    • mattevansc3 says:

      I played free and beta for a while and that was never my experience. The premium content was primarily Age 3 and up and if you gave your opponent time to hit Age 3 (unmolested you are looking at 5-10 minutes) then that’s your strategy at fault. Most multiplayer bouts I fought didn’t get past triemes and Warriors where the premium content is negligible (you get to use purple gear as opposed to blue and green and one advisor which works out at a 2% bonus).

    • rsanchez1 says:

      I just bought it on sales. All civs cost me less than what you say one civ would cost you.

  11. DarkLiberator says:

    Would love to see a remake of AOE1 with updated graphics” and new stuff, but that won’t happen sadly.

  12. paulapuffmutter says:

    This will teach them a lesson, making F2P-browser-game-crap out of an awesome IP like AoE. I hope C&C online will fail the same way!

  13. tkioz says:

    Anyone at all shocked this pay-to-win abomination died a horrible death? I tried it because I loved the AoE games, and it was bloody awful.

  14. Atic Atac says:

    I wanted to love this game…it looked kinda nice and was an ok RTS.

    However it was all hidden under a terrible layer of grind and unlocks. The basic design of the persistence system is what buried that game.

    • Jenks says:

      I wanted to hate it, and boy did I have an easy time. Was there anyone out there who liked Age of Empires, but thought it was lacking a farmville meta game and micro transactions? I hope they lost a ton of money on it and whoever’s idea it was lost their job.

  15. Josh Wanamaker says:

    The fact that nobody has even mentioned Gas Powered Games making Supreme Commander 3 makes me very, very sad.

    On the other hand, Uber Entertainment is making Planetary Annihilation, and that makes me very, very happy.

    Still, I’d love Supreme Commander 3.

  16. UncleLou says:

    Might have played it more, but GfWL (where I activated it first because it wasn’t available on Steam) insisted that my game key is in use (by me) when I tried to play it over Steam at a later date, and GfWL didn’t let me make a second game account on my existing GfWL profile, obviously.

    While the MS staff was helpful, I couldn’t be bothered to make a second GfWL account just for this.

  17. Dumoras says:

    “Oops, sorry!
    An error was encountered while processing your request:
    This item is currently unavailable in your region ”

    And this is why i dont play it.

  18. gingerbill says:

    me and my friend use to really enjoy age of empires so we purchased a race each and played AOE . It simply wasnt good enough , it wasn’t terrible but just so uninspired and dated.

    The fact if you lost connection during a mission you had to restart i imagine caused a lot of people to quit , it was a terrible way of doing it and because it used GFWL you lost connection at least once per play session.

  19. Berzee says:

    Does the game have as much content as your ordinary Age game? If so, it’s probably fine for the updates to stop, right? I don’t think of RTSes (even F2P ones) as games that need to grow and expand with official updates forever.

    Well, maybe I will instantly retract that statement. Age of Kings, for example, did grow and expand forever — because it has an awesome campaign and map creator that’s probably still being used today. I’ma take a wild guess and say AoE Online doesn’t let you make custom scenarios, in which case…yeah, not the best.

  20. eartsidi says:

    my co-worker’s step-mother makes $73/hr on the computer. She has been fired for six months but last month her pay was $17811 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more here http://www.Cloud65.com

  21. rsanchez1 says:

    I must be the only guy here who liked AOEO. I think it’s a shame the updates are stopping. I guess there would be consolation if we knew an AOE4 was coming round the corner, but this is just sad news.

    • yobokkie says:

      Nah I agree with you, I actually like the game a lot. And yes at first it was a real rip off I tried it right off the bat and got fed-up but after GPG took over and revamped everything you could very easily get the premium content without paying a cent as I discovered when playing again. Personally I bought the first civ via steam on sale for ten dollars and thereafter earned everything else via the alliance wars and the empire points you can earn there. One the best free to play systems I’ve ever encountered, you couldn’t buy your way to the top, real money wouldn’t buy the best gear and once you’d got one premium civ everything else flowed on pretty easily.

      Gameplay wise it’s got a lot to do, far more than other AOE games for example. And the range of missions was everything from very basic right up to korean-pro level. (especially if trying to solo). And grinding for gear added that extra WOW element to it, where you’d take on high-level missions over and over to get better kit.
      Seems this site’s users are a negative bunch generally, because this seriously is a fun game to play and I’ve got more value for my 10 dollars than I ever did for a lot of either games I paid full price for. 500 hours in and I’ve still only maxed out 3 of my 6 premium civs. (top level and gear of choice that is)

  22. Jroad1000 says:

    Too bad… A Roman empire sounds cool… Especially since I’am Italian….

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