It's been a long time coming, but Age of Empires 4 will soon become a reality. While a firm release date isn't in place (some speculation of a 2021 window is happening), we do know one thing that definitively won't be in the game: microtransactions. Speaking with Adam Isgreen (creative director for Age of Empires) at X019, publication PCGamesN got confirmation that the latest installment of this strategy series won't be nickel and diming players to death.
"The idea of microtransactions in a real-time strategy game isn't a thing," Isgreen said. "DLC, expansions – all of that is things that we're going to be exploring for Age 4." It's an approach that Microsoft is even applying to the recently released Definitive Editions of Age of Empires 1 and 2. The company is always looking at expanding games the community loves, but not in a way that will invalidate their experience.
What this means is that while Age of Empires 4 will obviously receive some new civilizations and scenarios, the older titles are likely to end up with smaller updates. Age of Empires 2, for instance, has 35 civilizations and pro players aren't keen to get more. "Our pro players are even like, please don’t add more civilizations, please do other things," Isgreen stated.
Isgreen mentions game modes, which would be a natural evolution of the content currently on offer in 1 and 2. For the upcoming release of Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition, the studio is looking at expanding some of the content from the base game and its expansion. "We want to have those conversations with the community, to figure out what we can add. What are the things they want to see in the game?" Isgreen said.
This is how Age of Empires 4 will grow. Microsoft will take feedback from the community about what they want and will add that into the game. Obviously there will need to be reasonable expectations (don't get your hopes up for fantasy elements, etc.), but Microsoft is keen to keep Age of Empires around for as long as possible.
At the very least, we can take solace in the fact that any additional content for 4 will be substantial instead of manipulative.