It was a (subsequentially removed) support page post in regards to Age of Empires Online (PC) that stated that the entire Games for Windows LIVE service was shutting down in July 2014. This post was removed prompting some to believe this could be filed in the rumor cabinet, but Microsoft did not refute the news in any way so it appears the writing is on the wall. The announcement of this closure has sent many achievement hunters scrambling looking to complete the dozens of compatible titles leading up to the July closure date.
Another nail in the coffin has come with an update from an official Age of Empires Online blog post. In it, community leader AOEO Trojan confirms the July 1st, 2014 shutdown date (for Age of Empires Online at least) and details how the game will function from here on out. It’s stressed that community support will be there all the way to the end, though there are some changes happening right now. Here’s a few excerpts from the post:
Age of Empires Online will close on July 1, 2014. On that day, the service will cease to function, and no further games can be played. The servers will be taken offline, and no features of the game or the game service will work without the servers. Until that date, the game will continue to fully function just as it does now. You can quest, raid, chat and trade as much as you like until then.To break it down, the ability to buy Empire Points with actually currency is now gone forever, though you can still spend and earn EP through gameplay or your existing balance. Also, no new players can join the game effective as of now. If you’ve downloaded the game previously you now have until July 2014 to enjoy the game, along with a generous gift of 1000 EP for current and former players to spend as they please.
However, no one new can join the game. If you have ever downloaded the game, from Games for Windows Live, Steam or other digital sources, or if you bought a code at a retail store, you can still play the game in its entirety. New players cannot join.
Existing players will continue to receive full support until the sunset date. Our community team will still maintain and moderate the forums, still stream single and multiplayer play, still diligently answer your support requests. Our server team will keep things running. We’re still here, helping you, listening to you, and playing with you.
All purchases have been disabled. This means that you cannot buy more Empire Points, which is the way you pay for additional content, like new civilizations. You can still earn EP through regular gameplay, just like always, and the stores still function normally, to buy civilizations, vanity items, consumables and more. But you cannot spend real money on more EP.
[...]To help all the newest players, as well as give a gift of thanks to our grizzled veterans, on Tuesday, September 17, we will grant 1000 EP to all existing players. This is enough to purchase a full civilization, with a little left over for some fun. That should be a sufficient boost to let new players jump into the game fully and earn more EP over the next several months.
You can check out the rest of the blog post here. We’ll be sure to bring you more Games for Windows LIVE news in the coming months as the situation unfolds.
We've got the full list of Age of Empires Online (PC) achievements - check the list for guides to unlocking them.