Age of Empires Online embraces true free to play model


Gas Powered Games and Microsoft Studios recently released an update for Age of Empires Online which fully embraces the free-to-play business model while offering new content for players.

The Age of Empires Online update, available now through Steam and Games for Windows Live, introduces an improved free-to-play model with its earnable and purchasable Empire Point currency, its all-new Alliance Wars endgame content, new purchasable Vanity and Consumable items, and an even more polished gameplay experience with faster leveling and a significantly redesigned tech tree.

Empire Points can be earned by playing Age of Empires Online, or they can be purchased out-of-game. The game‚s previous premium content, which included Civilization Packs and Boosters, were only available as paid DLC. As of this release, all premium content is obtainable using Empire Points, however players choose to obtain them.

Empire Points can be earned through normal play while questing and for doing other in-game activities. For those wanting to speed up content acquisition, Empire Points can also be purchased through Steam.

„With Empire Points and this true free-to-play business model, we are giving players what they have repeatedly asked for,‰ said Chris Taylor, founder and CEO of Gas Powered Games. „There are fewer pay walls and more ways for players to experience this legendary franchise."

Another new feature, The Alliance Wars, is a team-based competition for level 40 players. Three alliances -- The Delian League, The Council of Imhotep and The Legion of Carthage -- fight for dominance. Alliance War players will earn Alliance Points through specific Alliance quests, PvP, Skirmish, Defense of Crete, Legendary quests and by donating materials. Alliances can team up to sabotage their opponents in each of the daily, weekly and monthly contests. All contest participants earn Empire Points, with the winners getting a bigger piece of the pie.

The new free-to-play conversion is seamless. Current players will receive a gift of 500 Empire Points automatically, while new accounts receive 100. Current players will have any previously accumulated Empire Points converted to in-game coin. Empire Point Consumables can be found in Empire Point stores found in the capital city, Vanity Gear can be found in the new Vanity Island region, and all premium Civilization and Booster content is still purchased through the Empire Bazaar.

Age of Empires Online is rated E10+ available for Windows PC (2GHz dual core CPU/128MB Shader 2.0 videocard/1.5GB of RAM or higher) now at or through Steam.


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