Idea: Almost a free to play game

An idea occurred to me thinking about AoE 4.

The game could be an almost free to play.

How? As the devs did with AoE2HD expansions, they could let only one multiplayer civ, or randomly release one of them monthly or periodically and let people who didn’t buy the game participate in multiplayer games, with limitations of course, for example: not being able to create rooms, invite friends and have a generic nickname, something like that.

Just so they could try out the game somehow and maybe even think about purchasing the game in its full version.

Reason: A lot of people these days don’t even know what RTS is, it’s a niche game, not so popular among FPS players, battleroyales and others. This could attract new players and avoid an AoE4 flop.

Personal experience: I’ve always been a fan of AoE, Warcraft, Starcraft and games like that. I never liked/tried the Total War series, for its style and for not being localized in my native language. Until, last year, a store decided to offer TW Troy for a day, free of charge, and I decided to give it a try.

Result: I currently consider myself a fan of the franchise, I’ve already bought Rome 2, Attila, WH1 and WH2. All this for the marketing ploy of allowing free access to a single game.

What do you guys think about this?

(sorry for my english).


I mean they are letting people who have the Xbox game pass play the game for free on release. That is kind of similar to what you are suggesting. Although there maybe aren’t too many players who own the gamepass.


The developers could make a free version of the game with only two civs and possibly one campaign. I think the best choice would be civs - English and Franks / possibly Chinese.

That would be a demo version which no one makes now.

If they are gonna make anything free, it should be the base AoE II HD for those who bought AoE II: DE.


No, demo versions, usually, dont allow the players go into multiplayer games.

If I can say in one word then I would say: No.


I think it could work, but with restrictions, here is my idea

Only one campaign ( maybe 2 )

Only 3 civs available, English, French, and a civ of the player’s choice.

Only casual multiplayer, no ranked.

All of the tutorials are still available, those don’t count as campaigns, if the game has art of war tutorials like aoe2 that is.

So Essentially they get to put their toes in the water to decide if the game is something that they are interested in.


it would work, if there were more campaigns. giving 1/4 of single player content for free would be far too much :smiley:


So basically your argument is that AoE4 should be partially free to play to entice new players because RTS is a niche genre and needs to do more. To be honest, RTS doesn’t need to be as popular as FPS’ and MOBA’s nor does it need to invite players who play those genres, it’s fine as it is.

People tend to gravitate toward things that interest them and most of the time, games that require less skill and time investment tend to be “popular”. No matter what, RTS games thrives in complexity (due to the type of audience it attracts) and dumbing down for mass appeal will mostly result in a disaster because a “solved” RTS game has a dead multiplayer.

Now, for a free to play business model to work, it desperately needs a genre that attracts a huge pool of players that has the potential to be whales. I don’t think that’ll work for an RTS.

It’s not like there’s no free to play RTS games. Starcraft BW (original version) is free to play including the multiplayer and expansions but it is mostly an advertisement for the remaster. Starcraft 2’s first campaign, co-op, multiplayer, and custom maps are free to play. However, new content creation was discontinued because the resources needed vs the return is not as profitable compared to games from other genres. Also, these games require so much time learning their intricacies that players will mostly stick to one title instead of branching out to other titles within the genre, so your Total War analogy doesn’t apply (i.e. make the game free to play, entice players to buy more games from the genre). Those free to play players are unlikely to have the money and time to risk learning a new RTS, even MOBA players tend to stick to a single game even though most games are free to play.

AoE4 just needs to do its best in placating its core audience, introducing new mechanics, game balance, captivating campaign, QoL improvements for the new generation of players, and marketing. If it does well, word of mouth will ensure its success. Just look at Dark Souls, it doesn’t give a sh*t that it’s not casual friendly but it became popular because of what it’s good at. So, RTS is fine as it is.


Giving me flashbacks of Celts and Britons on that trial map which I downloaded yesterday

I came in expecting to argue against this point as I don’t like free to play games, but actually this is a good idea. It would help increase the playerbase which would help decrease queue times, increase matchmaking accuracy, and hopefully entice some extra sales too.

But I think that it would be best to wait till a bit after release to do this.

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It’s funny that you would say that.

The demo version of Age of Empires 2: The Conquerors allowed players to play only, but they were restricted to only play the “King of the Hill” mode, with a couple of extra restrictions. That was 21 years ago.

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however, I see a light version of the game as possible. You could for say 15€ instead of 60 get a random civ to play in mp each day. And maybe one campaign, or only the other sp stuff, no skirmish of course.

That way more money comes in and if interested, an upgrade is easily made. also beause you already comitted some money, its easier to commit more.
similar to how it works in age 2 HD, although there was much more content avaliable for the base game version, i think.

I think this is stupid. The developers are making AAA RTS with a strong future in esports and long-term support in mind. The game cannot be free, even partially, this is ridiculous. Condemnation doesn’t make sense.

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That would be worse like piracy for the game’s future. Getting good reviews without earning money not worth it(at least for devlopers). If you want the game then you must buy it.
I don’t think it’ll increase player base but it’ll increase freeloaders. For some people a free carrot tests better than banana.

People who don’t want to play Multiplayer game will choose demo or trial versions. They may even stick to it. They may even demand for Trial version of dlcs or expansion packs.

It can’t be called player base.

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I think gamepass will accomplish this exact thing there are tons of people with gamepass and will result in a huge influx of players most likely. And for those unsure they can give gamepass a try play aoe4 for a bit and get acces to other games they maybe had an eye on.


aoe4 will most likely flop
just like relic made DoW3 flop
this can only be saved with a free to play model to introduce people into RTS
as if people will bother paying 60 bucks for something they never cared about
it just scares them away

I’m thinking that aoe 4 might not do too well because
1- The graphics, I’m not super worried about the graphics but the units definitely need work
2- They put it in the middle ages AGAIN, they should have made it after aoe 3, starting around Napoleon and ending at world war 1, and if not that they should have gone back to the ancient world and made a good remake of that time period

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i would love a stone age rework
so much room for creativity

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