Thoughts on making AoE2 DE free to play

The top games in esports today are free to play. By removing the cost of the game, you make the game accessible to new people that might give it a try that outgrowth would not have. This could give the Age community a real chance to expand and also generate revenue for aoe, which in turn funds improvements and support.

My thoughts are you could offer both a free to play option with limited civs on rotation AND still have the full game as it is now availible to buy for full price. The free to play version could include the original AoK civs, or even just a rotation of 4-5 civs. Then you can pay a small price for a bundle of civs, or work your way through the game to earn in-game currency to unlock civs yourself. In addition, you can still have the full game as it is today at a certain price that anyone can pay outright just like they do now and unlock everything, again, just like the status quo. The bundle idea could also apply to many things: a group of campaigns, a pack of icons, aesthetic options for your home screen, etc.

If you think about other free to play games and how they keep their player base interested and continually consuming, it makes a lot of sense, of course, from a profit stand point, but also it helps the players try something for free, gives an incentive to play more in order to earn in-game currency, and anyone who doesn’t like micro transactions the ability to buy the game outright like now.

What do you think?


I don’t like it. Team Fortress 2 is ruined by bots due to this sort of thing. Microtransactions suck really bad.

The base game without DLC is fairly cheap already. This is a remaster of a classic game, without all the modern junk mostly tossed in.


This should be done for Aoe4 as that is targeting the e sports mainly.


Halo infinite is F2P with slow updates which is why it lost most of its players. I don’t think devs can deliver updates at the rates people would expect in a free to play title.

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Nah it would mean microtransactions, which would be awful, especially since cosmetic ones could be modded easily, meaning for them to actually work they would have to ban visual mods


I would rephrase the suggestion for the topic starter: have a demo so people are able to try out the game before they can buy the game. This way they will have the freedom to just check if they like the game.

This demo could be limited to only playing a single campaign for a limited amount of time. This way people can get a feel for the game before they buy the game.

The base game itself is already pretty cheap. I don’t think they really need to cut the game in smaller civ packages to buy. I don’t think the price of the base game is a limiting factor in the growth of the game.

I hate games with lots of micro transactions. I try to stay away from these games.


Free to play AoE2 DE = Smurf Heaven / Hell. I really hope it never comes to this, it’s bad enough already.

But personally i don’t care much for F2P games, i don’t like those gimmicks. I’d rather just pay full price and that’s it, than pay 5€ for a cool skin, 5€ for the weapon that everyone uses, 5€ for the most played map etc etc etc

though it would probably get a bit more player base but not necessary a good thing. some already addressed the issue, trolls, more smurf accounts etc.

for the cost of the game i’d say its fine to leave it as is. the issue probably isnt cost but the amoutn of effort just to get started on this game is simply too high. people nowadays want something quick rather than build up.

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If the free version existed. It only should be like a demo. You get the Celts Campaign (training missions), 2 missions from the Franks’ campaign and two from the Teutons’ campaign. That’s it. No multiplayer, or anything. Just a very basic setting. It gives you a taste of the game.

Just redo the classic demo with new graphics and balance.


Making AoE2 The conquerors (classic version) free to play and free to download through steam/store is a good idea though as it should serve to introduce new comers to the game, let them try the game mechanics before buying and transitioning to AoE2 DE.

However, it’s def a suicidal idea to make DE free to play at the current state. Developers will not have a way to make money out of the game (no ingame store to buy skins, goodies) so less attention/patches/updates. Bots, cheaters and hackers would interrupt multiplayer services in every way possible especially the vulnerability discovery.


They will still have DLCs to make money out of the game tbh

Maybe they could make a free version of 2DE that only includes the original 18 civs and doesnt have ranked?

It is a nice though, a free game for everyone to play, because you enjoy this game, and you want that more people enjoy it as well
The base game itself is pretty cheap (around 10 dollars) for what it offers
I guess the main problem is that you need a decent PC to play the game in MP (that could be expensive in most of the countries) and the second problem that I see is that the RTS games are a thing of the past, difficult to compete with the new top games right now

A sort of demo that just gives you 5 random civs and allows you to play custom lobbies only online, maybe ranked too ranked, the William Wallace tutorial campaign and arts of War and that’s it.

Would be nice to boost players and profits for plmicrosofr. People would want to buy, the full game if the like the test product.

Sc2 works exactly likes this by, the way. You jus pay for the campaign now

Yeah or they could even do quickplay and the tutorial campaign free to play with access to just 4-5 civs in quickplay. No other micro transactions or anything and essentially little to no maintenance needed.

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This would make the already bad smurfing problem intolerable

This would force the requirement of microtransactions or hastened, poor quality and expensive DLC, of which neither is good for this style of game and will burn every core player who spent money on the game in the first hand. Microtransactions have no place here, there’s literally nothing but maybe a few unit skins that would be viable unless you want them to take away all of the civilizations and make each one $1 to play, or to allow paid for cheating in ranked.

This isn’t the style of game that fits the F2P formula and it won’t really help it at all beyond an initial spike before it would degrade quickly. It’s an old style RTS game from 1999 with updated but still old style graphics. It’s niche by design.

The game is rather cheap as is and to be able to play ranked you need a decent connection and computer. If you can afford that, you can afford a few extra dollars for the game. If you can’t afford it, you can’t play the game ranked anyways and you might as well get your hands on the original copy or HD.

If you want to help the game, offer to teach your friends to play it and hype them up on a revival of a legendary game that helped spawn an entire generation of games and encourage them to purchase and play.

If you want to suggest a demo that lets you play the William Wallace campaign and art of war but not ranked or the real campaigns, then that may help a bit. Perchance the option to play with friends in custom lobbies, allow hosts to check a box that says purchased games allowed only.


Im going to be honest that if I were a new player to aoe, playing the classic version would not make me want to play DE. It’s incredibly dated looking and might turn more people off to wanting to play the more modern version.


In response to the microtransactions, how would they be required? And Im not talking skins at all. How does this alienate or burn existing players? They can continue on status quo. Let’s put 5 civs in a bundle and charge $3 or something to that effect. You’re playing the game for free and you have access to let’s say 5 civs in that state. They can do quickplay, lobbies, access to a couple campaigns. You want more civs? Pay a few more $. You want all the civs? Great! Buy the whole game just like now. Zero penalty to those that already own and play the game.

I understand age is a different animal, but I cannot discount that microtransactions have no place here, especially when the most successful competitve and modern games today are free to play. Yes, much of their sucess comes from cosemetic purchases. No, maybe that’s not exactly the path forward for age BUT we can take a look at a few of the things that could be a good fit.

I see demos mentioned several times here…eh. Demos feel outdated, and why restrict the multiplayer experience? And sure, toggle on and off free to play players in lobbies.


What about the flood of smurfs that would occur from this? We already have tons of people complaining about smurfs all the time, i think this would make the problem much worse. This would make real new players get owned so hard they’d never play the game again, that’s what i think.

we have a few people constantly complaining about smurfs. I am not denying they exist, but i think the majority of complaints are just people being sore losers. I still haven’t faced a smurf afaik