Tencent Is Reportedly Working With Microsoft to Bring Age of Empires to Smartphones
Tencent-owned Timi Studios Group has confirmed that it is working with Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios and subsidiary World’s Edge to bring a new mobile Age of Empires game, according to Daniel Ahmad, senior analyst at Niko Partners. The upcoming title is being developed by TiMi Studios under the title, ‘Return to Empire’ and it is set to release in China. There is no official word on if the game will be releasing outside China as of now. In addition to expanding its reach with Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft also wants to leverage its intellectual properties (IPs) on mobile platforms.
Return to Empire may be a China-only title
According to Niko Partners Senior Analyst, Daniel 'ZhugeEX' Ahmed’s report, Xbox Game Studios views the PC and cloud gaming market separately from mobile. He stated Microsoft wants to expand to mobile games because “premium Console games can now be enjoyed on any device, but that doesn't take away from the success of core F2P mobile games.” Microsoft has been marketing its Xbox Game Pass subscription service aggressively since 2017 and it has amassed over 23 million subscribers.
Microsoft also released xCloud, a game streaming service that allows players to play console-quality games on nearly any device, including smartphones. However, it looks like Xbox Game Studios is also interested in capitalizing on mobile games in addition to the streaming service with the upcoming Return to Empire title being derived from Age of Empires, an IP Microsoft has owned since 1997.
Tencent entered a partnership with Microsoft in May 2021. At the time of the announcement, it was revealed that both companies would take advantage of the “strategic partnership” to jointly create games. It was expected by fans and analysts alike that Xbox would expand its presence to mobile devices and that seems to be the case going by the announcement of Return to Empire.
TiMi Studios has worked on several PC and console titles, bringing them to life on mobile devices. Call of Duty: Mobile, Arena of Valor, Honor of Kings, and Pokémon Unite are some of the titles that the studio has worked on. The studio may potentially work on other Microsoft-owned IPs and bring them to mobile.
There are games like 'Gears Pop!' published under Microsoft but they failed to match the popularity of other games like COD: Mobile or Fortnite. The mobile-only Gears of War game shut down in April 2021 after a failed launch. The partnership between Tencent and Microsoft has the potential to change that and fans will be excited to see what’s in store from them as a result of both companies working together.