aoe-online-SAUG. 17, 2010 • Ensemble Studios may be a memory, yet its best known creation is getting new life as Age of Empires online. The title will possess some free-to-play features, and is being developed by Robot Entertainment. The latter was formed by ex-Ensemble staff after the studio was shuttered. According to Microsoft Game Studios, 75% of the team working on Age of Empires Online are developers who have previous experience with the franchise.

Impact: Microsoft was an early pioneer in trying to build the PC as a game platform.  However, with the launch of the Xbox, Microsoft shifted most of its resources to the console and its many PC efforts floundered. This in turn had a significant negative impact on the overall PC game market. Now Microsoft is bringing back some of its core PC franchises, not only Age of Empires, but also Flight Simulator. Of course, changing times have meant a change in business models.  In our new report on client-based English language F2P games, DFC forecasts the market for these games on the PC will grow to $2 billion by 2015.  Much of this growth is likely to occur as many core PC brands adopt this model.