When the announcement for Age of Empires: Definitive Edition was made in June 2017, I was very excited about the opportunity to play the game online without a 3rd party client or user patch. Continuous promotion surrounding the game and the 20th anniversary of the franchise was given in the months, weeks and days leading up to release. There were several interviews with the team, several giveaways of soundtrack disc copies, t-shirts and pre-order game codes including a giveaway of a custom Age of Empires: Definitive Edition desktop PC. There was also a release party for the game where guests received swag and participated in a local tournament. All of the promotion fueled my excitement for the title and made the release memorable.
During the following year, in the months leading up to the release of Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition there was much less promotion of the title than with Age of Empires: Definitive Edition. While it is true that the game was promoted at a few events and there were giveaways at those events, none of those giveaways were made available to fans at home. In fact the only giveaways for fans at home were for a few copies of the game around release. There were a couple interviews from the development team but nothing like there had been before for Age of Empires: Definitive Edition. While I was still looking forward to the release, I was confused why so little effort was put into promoting the game. For a remastered version of the most popular game in the franchise, I had expected more.
Fast forward to this year and the promotion of Age of Empires III: DE was even less than Age of Empires II: DE. There was very little known about the game for months leading up to the gameplay reveal at Gamescom 2020. The only giveaways for the title were a few pre-order copies of the game distributed on the official Discord before release and there was no merchandise, tournament or release stream. The approximate 3 week delay between when the game was released and when the soundtrack was made widely available was also strange because all other definitive edition soundtracks were widely available by the release date of the game. It is unknown what impact the pandemic had upon the release of the game this year, but to me it is clear that more time was needed to prepare for release.
Back in June 2017 my expectations were that the definitive edition releases would be interesting and exciting, released in a way that would show how much dedication and effort was put into each title. Unfortunately, instead of seeing the promotion being built up over these definitive edition releases, it appears to have waned for unknown reasons. This direction has me concerned about Age of Empires IV. My hope is that Age of Empires IV will receive the same or higher level of promotion as another Xbox Game Studios title, Sea of Thieves, with regular developer updates, content, contests, giveaways, tournaments and more in order to grab the attention of fans and grow their excitement for the game. I think about the excitement the Age of Empires community felt during Gamescom 2017 with the announcement of Age of Empires IV and want to see that same fire again.