Yesterday, I sat down with Microsoft's executive VP of gaming Phil Spencer to discuss Game Pass coming to Windows, the company's attitude towards Steam and a whole lot more. One subject I just had to ask about, given the opportunity, was the current status of Age of Empires 4 (opens in new tab). The Relic-developed sequel to Ensemble's historical strategy series was announced back at Gamescom 2017, and didn't feature in the Xbox E3 briefing on Sunday. The good news is, you'll be hearing more about it later this year.
"We'll talk about it more this year," Spencer says. "Relic's great as a studio, we're making good progress with it. One of the things I loved about our show [on Sunday] is the things that we didn't show. We had 60 games, 14 first-party games, with 12 shipping in the next year. And then I know, like okay, what's The Initiative working on? Where is Age 4, how's that going? I think Playground has a second team, what's going on with that? Where's Turn 10, they didn't show up?
"So it was cool for us to be able to have a such a full show, and have some things like Age 4 that have been announced but haven't been shown in a while, other things that maybe aren't announced, to still be able to have those continue to drive excitement both through the year and potentially even next year's E3. But we'll talk more about Age 4, yeah."
I asked Spencer if there was anything more he could say about the game. "No, I want us to make sure we're doing that in the right context. The thing I would say is, we've been incredibly impressed by Relic's capability. Obviously they're somewhat local to us being in Vancouver, and we know the studio. They did the best job of, 'here's what we think Age should go to'. And the other thing I'll say is, we are learning a lot revisiting Age 1, and Age 2. As those communities grow again, as those communities continue to exist, they have large player bases, and there's a lot of feedback. So we're really getting good insight. even here as we're putting Age 2: DE, which is playable on the floor, from those communities about things they'd like to see in Age 4, and that's important for us."
Age of Empires is being treated like a big deal again by Microsoft. Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition (opens in new tab) is coming later this year, and the same treatment is on the horizon for the third entry in the series. It feels like one of Microsoft's priorities as it looks to attract PC players to its new Game Pass offering. Microsoft also announced a 'newly founded' Age of Empires studio (opens in new tab) on Sunday, too.
Look out for my full Phil Spencer interview later this week.