age-online-logo-SFEB. 25, 2011 • Robot Ent. is handing development of Age of Empires Online over to Gas Powered Games. The latter studio was hired on in 2010 to provide support in creating content for the first MMO in the series. Pleased with what Gas Powered Games produced, Microsoft Corp. suggested the studio take over lead on development.

Impact: Its been a long hard slog for the former staffers of Ensemble Studios who make up Robot. One might expect that having Ensemble shuttered by Microsoft despite a history of hit PC games, and then having the online incarnation of Ensemble’s top franchise Age of Empires transferred to a different studio, might be cause for bitterness. What we see instead is a new drive at Robot –  as at other independent studios like Respawn and Bungie – to develop and control their own IP. That may have seemed like small potatoes a few years ago, yet as digital distribution and GAS models gain ground, small studios have a better chance at profiting from their labors than ever before if they can secure production financing.