Age of Empires finally came out in October 1997. Microsoft’s sales projection was 430,000 lifetime copies, miles beyond the team’s own expectations through most of the game’s development.

“I remember saying to one of our employees, not too far before Age shipped, I think, ‘Well, if we ever sell a million of these things I’ll buy you a Ferrari,'” Tony laughed. “Because we were thinking if we could sell a hundred thousand we got ourselves a real business there.”

“The least-worst idea we had” – The creation of the Age of Empires empire

Really enjoyed this oral history of the Age of Empires franchise. It’s nice when good things happen to people with good intentions.

The sidebar about DirectX is an interesting footnote also; back around the turn of the century, it felt like there was a new version of DirectX every few months, necessary to install for each new game. We got our first home computer in the early 90s, but in 1997 the first ‘proper’ machine – running Windows 95 – turned up, with amazing titles like Age of Empires, Commandos, FIFA World Cup ’98 as part of the package. Simpler times.