Microsoft creative director on reviving Age of Empires and making PC-only games

More companies at the Electronic Entertainment Expo tradeshow are targeting a PC gaming audience. Alienware had a booth on the E3 show floor to reveal new prebuilt rigs with AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper CPU. Razer was showing its new Razer Blade Stealth with a smaller bezel and Intel’s Kaby Lake Core i7. And Creative was demoing its first new PCIe Sound BlasterX sound card in four years.

Even Microsoft, which debuted a new iteration of its Xbox One hardware with the Xbox One X, took time to specifically appeal to the PC gaming audience at E3. It did so by bringing its big first-party games like Sea of Thieves and Forza Motorsport 7 to The PC Gaming Show, but the company also delivered the highlight announcement of that presentation when Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Isgreen took the stage to reveal Age of Empires: Definitive Edition.

The publisher is rebuilding that 1997 strategy classic with updated visuals, improved mechanics, and a streamlined interface. It will support 4K resolutions, and Microsoft is inviting players to sign up for a beta test right now. Age of Empires: Definitive Edition is due out later this year, and the publisher is promising a big announcement related to the series when it shows up at the Gamescom fan even in Germany this August.

But instead of waiting a couple of months for more info, I caught up with Isgreen after The PC Gaming Show in L.A., and I asked him all about Age of Empires as well as Microsoft’s current feelings on Windows gaming.

Here the edited transcript of our interview:

GamesBeat: What was it like to finally get that game in front of people?

Adam Isgreen: Oh, my gosh. We’ve been trying to hold our tongues and not let this go. Age has such a wonderful history to it, this wonderful lineage. People love the series so much. We were racking our brains. What’s the best way to do this? This is really—Age has always been a PC series. It’s always been focused on PC gaming. We thought we should put it—should it be in the briefing? But really it all came down to, what’s the best place to show this? We’re here with a PC game for PC gamers. It’s here at the PC gaming show.

GamesBeat: Was Age of Empire: Definitive Edition going to happen no matter what — or is this something that came about due to Microsoft’s PC gaming focus?

Adam Isgreen: The response to Age of Empires we’ve seen, with the expansions we’ve done for Age II and everything like that — we’re coming up on the 20th anniversary. We thought, we’ve gotta do something great with Age. Like I said on stage, no one’s been able to play this thing outside of the CD-ROM for 20 years. A lot of people don’t know where the series started from. We thought, what a great time to put this together and bring it back. Age is this wonderful 20-year franchise. It’s still going. It’s great. It was a great opportunity, a merger—a perfect storm.

GamesBeat: Was it nice to reveal Definitive Edition at a PC gaming-focused E3 show?

Adam Isgreen: Personally, I think Age of Empires is strong enough to stand up…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

I have a crazy passion for #music, #celebrity #news & #fashion! I'm always out and about on Twitter.
Sasha Harriet

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