A Collection for the Ages

With the release of Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition about 3 weeks away, it’s time to take a step back and look at the culmination of Ensemble Studios’ work on the Age of Empires series with the Age of Empires III Collectors Edition. The physical collectors edition included the game, demo CD, original orchestral soundtrack CD, a making of DVD, a player’s guide, a large poster and the Art of Empires art book. It wasn’t the first time Microsoft had released a collectors edition for the Age series, but it was the first time so much attention to detail was given in such a product.

The most treasured and perhaps the most infamous part of the collectors edition was the Art of Empires art book. It included in-game art, concept art and paintings by Craig Mullins from all games in the Age of Empires series. Coming in at 208 pages with personal thanks and greetings, the book was a love letter to fans of the franchise. At the end of the book is a page with the original Age of Empires through the speculated Age of Empires IV and Age of Empires V. For years later fans took the page as gospel and until the gameplay trailer was released at X019 fans still thought that Age of Empires IV would take place during the modern warfare age.

Even though the artbook was a great addition to the collectors edition, the packaging itself was special. The case of the collectors edition is firm and sturdy and all of the pieces fit perfectly inside. To top it off, at the bottom of the inside of the collectors edition box was Age of Empires III, Microsoft Game Studios and Ensemble Studios embossed on the bottom of the felt lining.

It is a collectors edition like this that makes celebrating the original release of the game nostalgic. It is my hope that the current community team at Microsoft is able to make a special physical collectors edition available for Age of Empires IV which rivals the Age of Empires III collectors edition. With years invested into the project so far and fans constantly waiting for new information on the game, it would be a great way to pull everything together and present it to passionate fans as a thank you.

What are some of your favorite memories from the original release of Age of Empires III? Please share in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “A Collection for the Ages

  1. By complete chance, I got myself the Art of Empires artbook just a few days back in a second-hand bookshop. Always have been a sucker for those, even though I probably won’t pick it up again any time soon after reading it. Still, I regret nothing – it’s absolutely gorgeous, the high-res in game graphics are an excellent eye-bleach (bonus points for few pages of AoE II, would love more of those). With DE coming, it’s gonna serve as a nice memento of how the game used to be.

    What hurts tho is that inlet with AoE IV & V teasers. Man, how I love the idea of going forth with the timeline of the series. Come to think, very few games show the progression from 19th to 20th century warfare. Most of them concentrate on a specific conflict like one of both World Wars. It would be interesting, especially in an RTS to see units and structures change from late cavalry riflemen to for example flamethrowers in Vietnam. Mind boogling and bold- probably why the developers went for AoE 2.5 as a “safe option”. Wish them a great success nonetheless of course and hope they amaze us once again.


    1. How much did it cost? I’d love to get one. I really wish someday they make an AoE game that includes both World Wars. That could be awesome if well implemented


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