Since its launch in October 2005, Age of Empires III has been a success story for Microsoft Game Studios. Through March, the latest installment in the long-running real-time strategy series has sold nearly 875,000 copies in the US, according to the NPD Group. Its first expansion, Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs, also did fairly well, selling roughly 158,000 copies domestically since it hit retail last October.
Today, Microsoft announced that AOEIII, as fans call it, is expanding again. Due in the fall for XP and Vista PCs, Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties will take the series to the Orient, introducing three new civilizations. Though Microsoft isn't revealing exactly which Asian nations will be featured in the game, it did say that it will be set during the period from the late-15th to the late-19th centuries.
The Asian Dynasties will also introduce several new gameplay features, including new methods of winning the game and fostering commerce. It will also sport 15 new wonders based on Asian history, and "remixes" of several Asia-based maps from previous Age of Empires games.
With longtime AOE developer Ensemble Studios hard at work on the forthcoming Halo Wars, development of the expansion is being handled by Big Huge Games, maker of the award-winning Rise of Nations series. For more about the project, read GameSpot's exclusive interview with Big Huge Games CEO Brian Reynolds.