Figure 1 Could Age of Empires make the leap to established esport?

As we all know, Age of Empires is a classic real-time strategy (RTS) game series that has captivated gamers for over two decades. But it is finding itself at the crosswords of a new era – the world of esports. Since the pandemic lockdown especially, esports have become big business, with mainstream attention and even international online betting sites offering markets on events.

As competitive gaming continues to gain mainstream recognition and a dedicated fan base, the question arises – could Age of Empires make the transition from a beloved single-player experience to a thriving esports phenomenon?

Historical Significance

Age of Empires was first released in 1997 and holds a special place in the hearts of gamers who grew up with the franchise. Its historical settings, innovative gameplay mechanics, and engaging campaigns have made it a timeless classic. The game’s evolution through various iterations, with Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition being a recent highlight, showcases the franchise’s adaptability and enduring appeal.

The Esports Landscape

Esports has evolved into a billion-dollar industry, featuring competitive leagues, massive prize pools, and a global audience. Popular titles like League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive dominate the scene. However, the diversity of esports is expanding, with a growing interest in unconventional genres, including RTS games.

Challenges for Age of Empires

While Age of Empires boasts a rich history and a dedicated player base, several challenges stand in the way of its esports aspirations. The most significant hurdle is the pace of the game. RTS titles are notoriously complex and require a high level of skill, making them less accessible to casual viewers. The fast-paced nature of games like StarCraft can be intimidating for newcomers, potentially hindering Age of Empires’ appeal in the esports arena.

There is a separate question asking whether the fans of Age of Empires even want it to become an established esport. The answer probably depends on what is meant by “established”. We would all probably like the competitive side of the game to be pushed and make the title more popular. But if the attraction of the game in the first place is lost, or diluted, then most fans would probably be fine with Age of Empires remaining where it is and avoiding the esports attention.

Adapting to an Esports Ecosystem

For Age of Empires to become a successful esports title, it needs to adapt to the current esports ecosystem. This involves developing a spectator-friendly format, creating engaging content for live broadcasts, and establishing a competitive structure that attracts professional players and teams. The integration of modern streaming platforms and social media can also play a crucial role in building a vibrant community around the game.

Potential Strengths

Age of Empires does bring unique strengths to the table. Its historical context and strategic depth offer a refreshing alternative to the more fantastical settings of many esports titles. The franchise’s established fan base, comprising both veterans and new players, provides a solid foundation for building a competitive scene. Additionally, the Definitive Editions of the games have modernized graphics and improved features, making them more appealing to a contemporary audience.

Learning from Age of Empires II

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition has demonstrated the potential for the franchise in the esports realm. The game has enjoyed success in competitive scenes, with organized tournaments and a growing number of professional players. The resurgence of Age of Empires II in the esports community suggests that the franchise has the capacity to attract attention and support.

Community Engagement

A thriving esports scene relies heavily on community engagement. Age of Empires has the advantage of a passionate and diverse player community. The establishment of grassroots tournaments, online leagues, and community-driven events can foster a competitive environment and contribute to the growth of the esports ecosystem around Age of Empires.

There is no doubt that there is an excellent community surrounding the Age of Empires franchise. As you are reading this article, you would probably agree with that. But it remains to be seen whether that community would be as strong if the title became an established esports. Opening Age of Empires up to a wider audience may not have positive outcomes.

Figure 2 More investment for bigger events would be needed

Investment and Sponsorship

The financial backing and sponsorship support are vital elements for any game aspiring to make it big in the esports world. Age of Empires may need increased investment to facilitate larger prize pools, professional leagues, and global tournaments. Securing partnerships with major esports organizations and sponsors can elevate the franchise’s visibility and attract top-tier talent.

Some of the bigger esports now boast the biggest global competitions. These are possible because of the huge amounts of money pumped into the game. FIFA is a perfect example, where some of the biggest and most established soccer clubs in the world now bankroll their own esports teams. There would not be the same kind of infrastructure for Age of Empires – but that doesn’t mean that there is no chance of businesses investing in the game this way.


In conclusion, while Age of Empires faces challenges in transitioning to a successful esports title, its rich history, strategic depth, and dedicated community offer a solid foundation.

Learning from the success of Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, strategic adaptations, community engagement, and financial investments could propel the franchise into the competitive spotlight. Only time will tell if Age of Empires can carve out a niche for itself in the ever-expanding world of esports.