With a sparsity of new information coming from Microsoft and Relic Entertainment over the past several months, real-time strategy fans have been left to wonder whether Age of Empires IV will ever see the light of day as the next main-line title in the highly touted historical strategy sim series. As it stands now, though, Microsoft looks to be fully invested in the franchise and pleased with Relic's development progress. We still don't have a firm release date for Age of Empires IV, however.
Age of Empires IV was originally announced in surprising fashion at Gamescom 2017. Although there have been several spin-off titles, expansions and some HD remasters of classic games in the series, the previous entry in the main Age of Empires series was way back in 2005 when Age of Empires III was released for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Windows Mobile and N-Gage. The most recent title in the series - Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition - is set to launch on November 14 with new 4K graphics, improved visuals for troop units and structures and a new campaign.
The announce trailer for Age of Empires IV served as little more than a teaser for fans; there was no gameplay to show and, in its stead, artistic renderings of the rise and fall of civilizations were featured. Reaction to the announcement was positive, though, especially given Relic's reputation for crafting quality strategy games like the Company of Heroes and Dawn of War series. There has been a dearth of news regarding the project's current status since the trailer dropped, but Microsoft's Executive Vice-President of Gaming, Phil Spencer, told PC Gamer that more information would be unveiled this year.
Although RTS games may not be at the forefront of gamers' minds in the same way they were during the 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s, there continues to be a market for the genre and for Age of Empires in particular. Age of Empires creative director Adam Isgreen told PC Games Insider that over a million users are actively playing Age of Empires games every month and later reaffirmed Microsoft's commitment to the series. Clearly, Age of Empires IV is very much still a thing and one with built-in audience.
When the original Age of Empires was released in 1997, it stood on equal footing with genre classics like Sid Meier's Civilization and Blizzard's original Warcraft series. Since that time, the series has amassed more than 20 million sales, a total that could see a large bump with the AoE II definitive edition and AoE IV.