Having recently passed the 16th year anniversary of Age of Mythology (and now feeling incredibly old), we can’t help but wonder: is it time to bring this Age of Empires spinoff back into the limelight? We don’t just mean for ourselves, either, as this could get an entirely new generation of gamers interested in the world of ancient mythology, just as AOM did for us, all those years ago.
Why the Hold-Up?
There was a time where RTS games were king. Series like EA’s Command and Conquer, Microsoft’s Age of Empires, and Blizzard’s Warcraft reigned supreme for years, but today this particular form of strategy games appear to have fallen by the wayside. The reason for this, as it turns out, largely came down to the domination of another strategy genre – the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA).
Originally developed as a mod for Warcraft 3, Defence of the Ancients, now known as simply DOTA, helped push the world of strategy games in a new and exciting direction. With less focus on massive micromanaging and greater emphasis on teamwork and player-character choice, this not only proved to be more popular than the base game but would go on to shape an entire generation of competitive gaming.
Today, MOBAs like the Valve-owned DOTA 2 and ever-popular Riot Creation League of Legends not only bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year off of a free-to-play business model, they also average hundreds of thousands of players at any given time. Game developers are businesses, after all, so it makes sense that they would choose to pursue this genre with all they have.
Is it Finally Time to Return?
What developers and publishers tend not to take into account, however, is market saturation and the dedication of long-time fans. There have been many attempts to push into the now flooded market, but going against established juggernauts has usually proven an exercise in futility.
Instead, what they should be looking at, at least in our opinion, is the success of other forms of mythology-based media. Thor has been one of the most successful recent film franchises in history, and in terms of video games we have the triumphant return of PlayStation’s God of War series for the PS4. Even online casinos are getting in on the action with developments like the Rise of Anubis slot on Buzz Bingo taking advantage of this cultural climate.
So we know the interest is there for the theme, but how about the genre as a whole? While gamers have been told many times over the years that specific types of games of genres have fallen by the wayside, in reality, this turns out to commonly be little more than corporate speak.
EA, for example, told reporters that players don’t really enjoy linear games as much today as they did in the past. Despite this, linear games like God of War and Spiderman have been some of the best-selling games in recent generations. The same can be said for the abandonment of the horror genre a few years ago, before the likes of Amnesia and Outlast showed just how wrong this claim was.
Yes, there is a market for the theme of mythology. Yes, fans do miss the classic RTS genre. In short, please, Microsoft, please, just give us another Age of Mythology game. We are ready, and we’re just waiting on you.