On the Dawn of a New Age – A Message from Shannon Loftis

Dearest Age Community — 

Shannon Loftis here, head of World’s Edge studio, writing on the eve of the launch of Age of Empires IV. I literally can’t find the words to describe my emotions on this occasion. So many paths converged to bring us here to the most important moment (so far) in Age of Empires history.  

24 years ago, a group of passionate gamers in Texas wanted to create a real-time strategy game with the depth of Civilization and the smoothness of Warcraft, wrapped in the mantle of human history. Age of Empires was the result.  With the game launched, the team knew there was so much more they could achieve with what they had created. I remember a friend of mine from that team telling me how amazing it was working on version II — the team, the creative vision, and the fuel from a well-received game energized the Ensemble team to do their best work. You could say they — boomed — and created what many consider to be the seminal original game in the series, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. The Ensemble team extended the Age franchise with Age of Mythology, and completed Age of Empires production with Age of Empires III.  

And then … YOU took over. During the years when Microsoft wasn’t supporting or developing Age of Empires, fans and modders kept the games growing and improving with maps, modes, mods, and tournaments. You got better, more competitive, and more creative … And some of you even made a living out of Age of Empires work (this is how Forgotten Empires was born)!  Together, you, the community, kept the spirit of Age alive. 

But we never forgot you, and we never forgot Age of Empires. Making the DE versions of the game was a love letter to the community. A common back end based on Relic’s RelicLink technology allows us to scale the community and talk directly to gamers as they game. We wanted to go beyond the “graphics update” approach to creating these games — we wanted to modernize a nostalgic gameplay experience without sacrificing the feel and the magic that made the games special in the first place. And we’ll continue to deliver high-quality content, events, and fixes to the DE games, for as long as you keep playing.  

So here we are: Forgotten Empires, Relic Entertainment, World’s Edge, YOU, … and Age of Empires IV. Building a new entry in this beloved AAA franchise during a pandemic has been no joke. We’ve had to change the way we communicate, develop, decide and test. But we haven’t compromised on our vision and goal of making Age gamers happy. We’ve spent tens of thousands of hours creating and balancing our four campaigns with 35 missions. We’ve played multiplayer matches all hours of the day and night — all across the globe — to ensure that you’ll have a great experience when you’re ready for a game.  We’ve had years of iteration and improvement on Age III, and IIIAge IV’s journey is now in your hands, with your feedback, and you working with us to make it even better starts … NOW.  

When my husband achieved his black belt in Aikido, his sensei said to him: “Congratulations. You are now ready to learn.” That’s where we are, too. We launch Age of Empires IV tomorrow with joy and humility, a little tired but a lot energized. This ends no journey, but instead starts a more important one: the fourth age of Age of Empires. One with you at the table, your voices in our ears, your happiness our goal.  

Thank you for all you’ve done and will continue to do for Age of Empires, and thank you for the honor of reimagining the franchise for today. I can’t wait to see what we all do next.  

Thanks, and with much love on behalf of myself and the entire development community,  

Shannon