In the past year, many readers of Windows Central have commented in our news stories and on our forums about the status of Age of Empires: World Domination. This mobile strategy game is based on Microsoft's classic PC historical-themed real-time strategy series. The truth is that the development of this game has been cloaked in secrecy for the past year, and despite numerous attempts by us to get information about it from both Microsoft and its developer KLab, we are no closer to a definitive answer as to what's going on with AOEWD than we were a year ago.
The public story of AOEWD begins over two years ago, in June 2013. A press release from Japan-based KLab announced an agreement with Microsoft "to develop a mobile game version of Microsoft Studio's Age of Empires franchise." Here are the main details:
"Under the terms of the agreement, KLab will develop a mobile game based on one of Microsoft Studio's flagship franchises, Age of Empires. The game will initially be developed in English for iOS and Android and will be launched globally. Localization for other languages is also planned. KLab and Microsoft Studios will also collaborate to bring the game to the Windows phone platform."
"KLab plans to work with the Microsoft Studio's team to provide its know-how and experience in social mobile gaming with a common goal to extend and bring the Age of Empires excitement in new ways to the new and existing fans."
All of this sounded very promising. Less than a year later, in April 2014, KLab revealed the title and the first details of the game itself, complete with screenshots, a trailer and a "summer 2014" release date. The game's official website, Facebook and Twitter pages all went live as well.
However, based on the introduction video and the information from the game's website, the gameplay details for AOEWD were a bit vague. We do know that players would have picked from one of several different civilizations to build their structures and army. However, the videos don't make it clear if its actual gameplay was a simple Clash of Clans style of playing or if AOEWD was going to be more of a full RTS game experience.
In June, KLab released yet another gameplay trailer from AOEWD. Both videos had the label "Game is still in development", but many fans remarked that the graphics shown in both trailers were perhaps a little too simplistic.
However, it appeared that on the surface, everything was moving full steam ahead towards a summer launch of the game. Both the AOEWD Twitter and Facebook pages were updating on a regular basis. We even received a direct email from the online community head at KLab in June, to make sure we were aware of the game and its upcoming launch.
On August 6, 2014, the official AOEWD website posted up a news update on the status of the game:
"To all our fans eagerly anticipating the release of Age of Empires: World Domination - in the past months, our development team has been working hard on the game as well as releasing snippets of the game to you all. We have also been listening to what you, the gamers, have to say. To reflect those changes, we will, unfortunately, be pushing back the release of the game to fall 2014. We believe that the extra development time will give us the opportunity to create a first-rate mobile game experience that players will love. Thank you for your patience, and we will make a further announcement when an official release date has been decided."
The game's official Facebook and Twitter pages kept updating with new information about AOEWD for a couple of weeks in August, but then they went silent. Both those social media pages have not been updated since August 16, 2014.
On August 25, Microsoft made a surprise announcement: a second Age of Empires game made for mobile devices was in the works and would be out in just a few weeks. Developed by Smoking Gun Interactive, Age of Empires: Castle Siege was clearly inspired by the gameplay strategy model used by the popular Clash of Clans series. The game was released in September for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 and has been updated with new content several times since then. In July 2015, Microsoft expanded the reach of the game to iOS devices as well.
The long silence
On November 7, three months after KLab revealed a delay in AOEWD's release from summer to fall 2014, its official website got another news update:
"From day one, our mission for Age of Empires: World Domination has been to create a fresh and innovative mobile game. While we have come a long way in our development with this ambitious mobile game, we came to the conclusion that an earlier release would sacrifice quality. A 2015 release will allow us to give you a robust Age of Empires mobile experience for fans both old and new to the franchise. We are extremely grateful for all your feedback we've received so far, and look forward to hearing more as we continue to share exciting development updates with you. Thank you for your continued support and stay tuned!"
That was the last public status report from KLab concerning the game's status. Over nine months later, the official AOEWD website has remained silent. Windows Central has made numerous attempts through different avenues to contact KLab's for updates on AOEWD, but so far the company has not responded to any of our inquiries.
Microsoft has also not given Windows Central any official information about the status of AOEWD. As with KLab, we have attempted numerous times to contact Microsoft's PR reps to see if they have any word on the game's progress. Unfortunately, those reps have either not offered us a comment or referred us to KLab. Most recently, our team member Jez Corden contacted Microsoft's Xbox head Phil Spencer about the status of the game via Twitter, but his response was similar to what we have heard before.
"Nothing on this right now, sorry."
Hopefully, this article will inspire either KLab or Microsoft to offer us some official statement on the game.
The future of Age of Empires
Even though the future for AOEWD looks bleak at the moment, Microsoft seemed to be committed to its Age of Empires franchise. The company has already announced plans to bring Age of Empires: Castle Siege to Windows 10 later this month. We would assume this would be a version that would work both on Windows 10 laptops and tablets as well as smaller smartphones with Windows 10 Mobile.
In April 2013, Microsoft released Age of Empires II HD for the PC. It was a graphical remastering of the original 1999 RTS game that was first developed by the now defunct Ensemble Studios. Age of Empires II HD was a major hit when it was released via Valve's Steam service. In November 2013, Microsoft did something very unexpected: it released a new expansion for Age of Empires II HD. Titled The Forgotten, it added several new civilizations and campaigns, along with other features like direct Twitch.tv support and the ability to add new content via Steam Workshop.
That effort, created by the Forgotten Empires team, was also highly successful, and now that same team is working on a second expansion for Age of Empires II HD. In June, the title of the expansion was revealed: The African Kingdoms.
Currently, it's expected to be released on Steam sometime in the fall of 2015.