Microsoft has now entered the free-to-play game genre today with the official launch of Age of Empires Online. This MMO RTS game, which lets players control and grow ancient civilizations, is a revival of Microsoft's PC exclusive game franchise that was originally created by the now defunct Ensemble Studios. This new game comes from developer Gas Powered Games (another developer, Robot Entertainment, helped to develop the game in its early stages). The game is made available via the Games For Windows Live client which can be downloaded at the official Age of Empires Online web site.
While technically the game is "free-to-play" with two civilizations (Greek and Egyptian) available at launch, Microsoft has also offered a variety of premium packs that can be purchased and downloaded for Age of Empires Online. You can check out the premium packs at the PC Games section of the Xbox.com web site. Some of the premium packs are just for decorating your capital city with things like Ornate Ornaments, Glorious Gardening, Bountiful Bushes and Starling Statuary available for $4.99 each.
For $9.99 you can also purchase the Defense of Crete Booster Pack that will allow players to fight off waves of invaders while defending the island of Crete. For $19.99 you can purchase either the Premium Greek or the Premium Egyptian Pack that will unlock more gear, advisors and other content quickly for those civilizations. People who purchase both packs for $39.99 will get the Defense of Crete pack for free.
Finally Microsoft is offering the Season 1 Pass for $99.99. The pass, which will be available for sale for a limited time, will let players of Age of Empires Online get access to all of the game's premium packs for the next six months. That includes the two upcoming civilizations (Pro Persian and Celt) that will be released later this year. Getting the Season 1 Pass will allow the player to save 30 percent off these packs if they were purchased separately.