Game Will Live On In “Support Phase”
Microsoft has announced that active development has ceased for it’s free-to-play RTS Age of Empires, and that the game would continue in it’s current state. Current players can still play everything you own, earn EP, and purchase any content you do not currently own. New players can still sign-up to play. The cost of constantly developing new content for the game has begun to outweigh the return on investment for developers, and the game is going into “support phase”, allowing the game to continue to be played as it exists.
“We will still fully maintain and support the game and its players; no one is losing anything that you have earned or bought. Our Community team will continue to support the game by way of Community Challenges, streams, contests, PvP tournaments and more” said Executive Producer Kevin “Trajan” Perry on the AOEO blog.
There is still a small amount of new content that has already been in development that will still make its way into the game, but the team will not be creating any new content for the foreseeable future. Players can still expect to receive customer support for problems, but bug fixes will be slower in coming and possibly unfixable in some cases.
After launching in August 2011, Age of Empires Online went fully free-to-play in June of 2012. It is a history-based real-time strategy game based on the gameplay of the popular Age of Empires game series. The game was produced by Gas Powered Games, and published by Microsoft.
With a number of high profile game closures recently, at least Age of Empires Online is being given a chance to continue on, even if it is without a constant stream of new content. We will see in the coming weeks and months if a “free-to-play” game can be considered finished and still bring in players and income.
The Western F2P online game market is still in its infancy, so maybe a game of this style can exist in such a state. What do you think? Does knowing there is no new content coming turn you off from ever playing Age of Empires Online, or does the RTS nature of the game make it more viable for continuing on without constant development?