Active development on PC RTS Age of Empires Online has ceased, Microsoft has announced. Writing on the game’s blog, executive producer Kevin Perry announced there would be no new content created for game as it has finished its “development phase” and was now moving into its “support phase”.
Perry was quick to reassure players that the free-to-play game is not on its last legs, however. “You can still do all the things you do today; we’re not taking away anything you already have. There will be no new civilizations or features, that’s all.”
Publisher Microsoft and developer Gas Powered Games will continue providing support for the game, but Perry conceded that “fixing any remaining bugs and addressing balance issues will be slower and, frankly, more difficult for the team.”
“Some may, in fact, be unfixable. We will be watching carefully in case any critical bugs appear.
Perry also explained that development on the game has been forced to stop for financial reasons. “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.”
“This is a bittersweet announcement for me to make,” Perry added.
Age of Empires Online, one of Microsoft’s few attempts at breaking the free-to-play market, was launched in 2011 to modest appreciation from critics. The game was initially criticised for being too miserly with its content, though subsequent updates lowered the costs dramatically and the game went fully free-to-play in June 2012.
Microsoft’s other attempt at free-to-play, Microsoft Flight, spent less than four months in the air before seeing its wings clipped.
“We have come a long way since August 2011,” concluded Perry, “but now we have finished building the world of AOEO. We hope that you will join us in playing there for a long time to come.”