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A quick look back at two shut down mobile-centric Age of Empires games

age of empires castle siege

After a period of time when the development of the franchise was at a low ebb, Microsoft's Age of Empires series has gotten a new life on PC and Xbox consoles in the past few years. Microsoft and its Worlds Edge studio have helped to re-release the three older Ensemble Studios-created Age of Empires games in new Definitive Editions, and Relic Entertainment released the new Age of Empires IV game in 2021.

Last week, Microsoft revealed its 2024 plans for the series. That includes new content for Age of Empires III and IV, a new expansion pack for AoW II, and the long-awaited remastered version of the spin-off game Age of Mythology. However, we are also getting an all-new game in the series, Age of Empires Mobile, which is scheduled to launch later this year for iOS and Android.

It's interesting that Microsoft is trying once again to launch a successful Age of Empires game for mobile devices for a couple of reasons. One is that so many mobile strategy games, including some pretty popular ones, are obviously influenced greatly by AoE (some might even say a few of them are pretty blatant rip-offs, but that's another topic entirely). The other is that there have been attempts to create official Age of Empires games for mobile devices, but they have not ultimately been successful. We are going to look back at these attempts now.

The first is a free-to-play PC-mobile hybrid game called Age of Empires: Castle Siege. First announced in 2014 and then launched later that same year, the game was primarily developed by Smoking Gun Interactive. It belonged in the RTS sub-genre, the tower defense game.

Players could pick one of several Middle Ages-themed civilizations. They were tasked with building their castle and its walls and defenses, and they had to defeat invading armies who were determined to destroy their castle. If players survived the invading forces, they could build up their own army and start laying siege to other player's castles and defenses online. There was even a campaign mode where players could participate in 10 historical battles. Like in the PC AoE games, the campaign required players to reach a specific Age level before unlocking the next battle in the campaign.

The game was originally released for Windows 8.1 PCs, but it also launched for Windows Phone. Castle Siege could even be played on low-end Windows Phone devices that only had 512MB of RAM, which was a big selling point for the game.

In 2015, Castle Siege was launched on iOS devices, and in 2017, it finally arrived on Android phones and tablets. It also allowed players to switch devices and pick up where they left off with an Xbox Live or Microsoft account.

However, the game would soon reach the end of its life. In November 2018, Microsoft announced it would shut down the servers for Castle Siege in May 2019.

age of empires world domination

A much lesser-known mobile game in the series is Age of Empires: World Domination. It was developed by KLab and launched in its home country of Japan, as well as other Asian countries and territories, in December 2015 for iOS and Android.

KLab stated in its press release:

Players are challenged to advance an array of civilizations through new ages to forge their own custom empire. After creating buildings that produce resources required for the expansion of their fledgling army, players can utilize the newly-collected resources to build barracks for training new soldiers. For success in battle, new rulers are advised to strengthen their army by leveling up buildings and troops.

However, the free-to-play mobile game was not successful in its soft launch, and KLab quietly shut down the title in November 2016, less than a year after its initial release.

The good news is that the new Age of Empires Mobile game, with Microsoft and Worlds Edge working with the development team at Timi, looks a lot better than World Domination while staying true to the RTS gameplay of the PC and Xbox game series. Hopefully, this attempt at a smartphone AoE game will make us forget the shut-down mobile games.

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