Age of Empires is a well known game series with the first game in the series released in 1997 and many have played at least one of them. The term “esports” was actually not even really used when players started competing against each other for prizes, with competitions dating back to 1998.
So the (currently) oldest event we have archived is Rise of Rome Rumble, an AoE1 event which was hosted in Seattle, USA with 2,000 USD prize for first place as well as a trip to Rome, Italy. Since then things have changed a lot, and for the better. Red Bull Wololo V is the most recent big concluded event with a total prize pool of 100,000 USD dollars, hosted in the Heidelberg Palace, Germany.
Currently the most popular game of the series is Age of Empires II, which has gotten two remakes since its original release in 1999, and it’s the most popular both in terms of concurrent players and stream viewers. Starting 2018 the series popularity started to grow again and in July that year Nili's Apartment Cup happened, reaching a peak of over 45,000 viewers on Twitch. Time goes by and a new record is set around October 2020 when around 65,000 viewers watched King of the Desert 3. Then only a few months after that the current record was set during Hidden Cup IV: around 71,000 viewers in March 2021. And finally, Red Bull Wololo V sets the newest record with almost 78,000 peak viewers in the grand finals with TheViper facing Liereyy. These are for sure not rookie numbers! With the three main titles (AoE I, AoE II, and AoE III) all getting recent remakes bringing them into the 4k era, we will soon see a new main title, AoE IV, which is scheduled to be released later this year.
Total Prize Money (USD) Awarded Per Year
Even during the global pandemic the yearly prize pool for Age of Empires has been climbing really fast.
Liquipedia and AoE
There were a few AoE community members who were really interested in having a wiki for the series and after talking with some of them we got it installed in June 2020. The way they expressed their interest gave us confidence in them being able to help get the project off the ground. Looking at some other factors like a community centered publisher who supported the grassroots of the scene, and the general interest and growth of the game’s popularity were also big contributing factors.
Of course initially we had a period of setting everything up, creating templates, catching up with historical content but growth is surely noticeable on our side too. For example, when we compare the daily average traffic numbers of the first six months (2020 period we had the wiki installed) with the daily average traffic in 2021 we see that the numbers are three times larger.
The big spike in March 2021 was caused by Hidden Cup IV
The wiki benefited a lot from porting in existing templates from StarCraft II since the series’ formats in general are so similar. This is one of the reasons why the transition from Alpha to Main status was so smooth. The other main reason was of course the contributions that were made adding in all the historical and current data. The progression didn’t cease with the Main status. Since then new features were added like our head to head statistics tool and the tournament filters on the main page.
We have some new features which are planned to happen soon, like a new setup for brackets and data storage, as well as individual pages per match to help store more data. We’ll be keeping our eyes on Age of Empires IV, and potential new features, to make sure we can fully support it. We can’t wait to try this new title!
We think the area that the wiki could really benefit from putting in some work on would be with player bios sections. Having a more narrative text about a person makes the pages both be more engaging for the not yet hardcore fans, and it also really helps with making sure google and other search engines keep recommending our pages. We are very open to making a community Twitter account for the wiki if there are enough people interested in helping out with it.
Contributor Interview: redy
And as usual in our Community Updates, here’s our contributor interview, this time with redy the current top contributor of Age of Empires wiki.
Liquipedia: Can you introduce yourself to Liquipedia users? Who is redy in few short sentences?
- redy: Hello folks! My name is Raphael - better known as "redy" in the aoe community -, I'm 27 years old and from Austria! I usually describe myself as an "advanced noob player" rated 1200-1300 elo in RM 1v1, however, most of you probably know me from Liquipedia, where I've been editing several page (including pages for older tournaments and other games like AoM or AoEO) for more than a year now!
LP: How long have you been into esports? What got you interested in competitive gaming?
- r: To be completely honest, I'm not interested in any kind of esports except AoE since it's actually the only game I'm playing myself at the moment. So it rather was a natural development to get into the field of esports by just following the AoE2 scene over the last couple of years.
LP: Did you have any prior experience editing wikis? Or did you just dive straight into Liquipedia?
- r: When I was younger, I was one of the most active editors on a German fan wiki for the Japanese manga "One Piece", so I already knew some basics. But I think, once you start editing Liquipedia, there's just such a steep learning curve, that pretty much everybody would be able to contribute very quickly in some way.
LP: You are the leading editor/contributor to the Age of Empires wiki. What drew you to the game? Was it the love for RTS games, the AOE franchise in particular, or something else?
- r: Well, in general I'm a competitive guy, and I'm also highly interested in history, especially the medieval time, so I think it's quite natural for me to enjoy a game like Age of Empires. It's just a game that offers a big amount of variety, while it also encourages the players to improve their skills, to develop and perfect new build orders and strategies, and to sharpen their mindsets. And I think that's also the secret why it's still successful in 2021 and still will be in the next few years or maybe even decades.
LP: The AOE wiki had a meteoric rise from alpha to main wiki. What do you attribute this popularity to?
- r: As much as I would love to say that the "meteoric rise" of the AoE Liquipedia is a result of the whole AoE community, I think in terms of pages and information Liquipedia provides, we wouldn't be where we are right now without a hand full of "key editors" like Longinator, Fuhloh, SyntacticSugar or robo. These few guys have put so much energy in the project, have invested so many hours in adding missing information, keeping recent events updated, doing formatting work etc, that you actually can't measure the value of them for Liquipedia, the AoE community and of course the project Liquipedia. However, in order not to be misunderstood, the thousands of visitors as well as all the other users, who are doing little edits now and then, are OF COURSE also a part of the incredible success story of the AoE Liquipedia.
LP: How does it feel to be at the core of such a wiki?
- r: Honestly, it's an amazing experience! Everyone here is just so friendly and motivated to create the biggest and most complete AoE database on the internet, that you actually can't help but feel the same. It's not least this special atmosphere, which keeps me going - while knowing, I'm doing something positive for the community alongside others, who are at least as passionate about this particular game as myself.
LP: The AOE Wiki was even featured on major tournaments, like the recent RedBull Wololo. This was possible largely because of the great work you’ve put into it. What do you have to say about that? :)
- r: It's always nice to see Liquipedia being involved or mentioned in AoE tournaments, as it shows us that our effort is paying off and people are appreciating our work. And this doesn't only refer to S-Tier tournaments: Every little event that uses Liquipedia makes me put on a little smile, since it helps to establish Liquipedia as the main information source within the community. Especially Nili aka Mr "Check Liquipedia" is always highly active when it comes to promoting Liquipedia and attracting new users, which I'm really thankful for.
LP: What’s the most challenging aspect of covering AOE for Liquipedia? Likewise, what is the thing that brings you the most pleasure?
- r: It's always a bit unsatisfying, if I'm not able to find all the information for a tournament page that I need, because I'm a bit of a perfectionist, who wants to gather and state as much (relevant) details as possible. But of course that's not possible all the time, especially when I'm going back some years and try to learn more about an event that was held in 2006 for example. On the other hand, it's of course very pleasant if I'm able to find such missing information eventually!
LP: AOE seems to have a lot of the fundamentals of old-school esports: It’s largely grassroots-driven and even though it’s not “shiny” like some of the big esports, there’s a lot of charm, passion, and dedication to it. Do you prefer to cover such games over the established “tier 1”? Why/why not?
- r: As I described earlier, it's just the combination of strategic and versatile gameplay and historical setting, that makes AoE unique for me. Additionally, I simply might be a bit too 'old school' to enjoy more 'modern' games, as I've also always been the kind of guy who enjoyed playing old PlayStation 1 games like 'Oddworld' more than any brand new first person shooters.
LP: How do you feel about AOE 4? Do you think it can usher an RTS revival in esports?
- r: Regarding AoE4, I really have mixed feelings. I think it can give the AoE community a nice boost in terms of player numbers, but when it comes to esports, I'm a bit sceptical if it will be able to reach new heights and have a competitive community even bigger than AoE2 right now. I also don't think it will replace AoE2 completely, no matter how popular AoE4 will be. People just love AoE2 too much and have played it for too long, that they would just let it go and instead play AoE4. But only time will tell how successful AoE4 will be (long term) and if it has the potential to impact the RTS genre as a whole.
LP: What do you think the AOE wiki -- as well as the AOE scene -- are missing to get to the next level? Imagine you can wave a magic wand and make anything happen!
- r: I don't think there's something in particular that needs to happen. AoE(2) already is on a really great way to become a "proper" esport - with more and more viewers, higher prize pools, and an increasing number of full-time players/streamers, who are able to improve their gameplay and therefore make AoE2 tournaments even more unpredictable and exciting to watch. I still think AoE2 has a lot of potential, thinking of all the people who have played AoE2 a long time before the Definitive Edition was released and who still don't even know that there is a new/better game version with an active online player base. So, to conclude the interview, I just want to thank everyone in the Age community (AoE1, AoE2, AoE3, AoM, AoEO) who is playing, watching, editing, organizing, streaming, whatever - we don't need any magic wand to bring AoE to the "next level", we just need to continue the positive path we're already going, to make things become even better for this one game, we all love: Age of Empires!
A special thank you to redy and many other special people that contribute to our Age of Empires wiki such as robo_boro, Longinator, Adico, Fuhloh, RobChang and SyntacticSalt. Together we are building a really great wiki for the game series and this is for sure very special. Don’t forget Liquipedia is an open project and you’re more than welcome to join them to contribute and be part of our community.
- The Liquipedia Team