Whatever happened to Age of Empires: World Domination?
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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