Age of Empires tops worldwice PC game best-seller lists

Success Among Strategy Gamers Validated by Industry Praise

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 5 -- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) today announced
that Age of Empires(TM) -- the company's award-winning, epic, real-time
strategy game -- has been the best-selling strategy game in the United
States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France since its release in October
1997. To date, customers have acquired more than 850,000 units of the
popular title in 55 countries, and Age of Empires is ranked the No.
1-selling PC strategy game in the United States by PC Data. These facts
establish Age of Empires as one of the hottest new PC games during a period
when sequels have dominated the best-seller lists.
 
"Age of Empires seems to have struck a chord among gamers around the
world," said Ed Fries, general manager of the games group at Microsoft.
"It's exciting to see Age of Empires come out on top, especially during a
holiday season when we had so many strong competitors with well-established
brands. Bruce Shelley designed this game with wide global appeal."

Age of Empires Receives Worldwide Praise

Reflecting the consumer response to Age of Empires, the game has received
worldwide industry praise for delivering great game play. Its awards and
reviews include the following:
 
* Game of the Year and Strategy Game of the Year awards from C-NET's
Gamecenter.com. In addition, more than 325,000 copies of the free Age of
Empires trial version have been downloaded from Gamecenter's sister site,
http://www.download.com/.
* The Computer Gaming World granted the game its Special Award in 1998 for
Outstanding Multiplay (March 1998).
* "Ensemble and Microsoft have delivered a masterpiece," Computer
Games/Strategy Plus said in its five-star review of Age of Empires
(December 1997).
* The success of Age of Empires in Europe was endorsed by Milia '98, the
games and multimedia trade show, by being short listed in two award
categories: Best Strategy Game of the Year and Best Online Game of the
Year. The results will be announced Feb. 10, 1998, at the show in Cannes,
France.
* Age of Empires won a number of awards from the top computer games
publications in Germany. "Bulls-eye! Real-time strategy now has a new
king!" hailed GameStar in its December 1997 issue, rewarding the game with
its coveted accolade for Outstanding GamePlay.
* PC Jeux in France awarded the game a 92 percent score and praised Age of
Empires as "Microsoft's greatest masterpiece" (November 1997).
* PC Zone in the United Kingdom awarded Age of Empires its coveted Classic
Award with a 94 percent score, calling Age of Empires "Utterly brilliant!"
(September 1997).
* "This is it, this is the big one. Finally, C&C's crown as king of the
real-time strategy genre will fall, after an uninterrupted reign of around
two years," said the October 1997 issue of PC Power Play in Australia.

More About Age of Empires

Age of Empires is an epic, real-time strategy game spanning 10,000 years in
which players are the guiding spirit in the evolution of small Stone Age
tribes. Starting with minimal resources, players are challenged to build
their tribes into great civilizations. Gamers can choose from several ways
to win, including conquering enemy civilizations, exploring the known world
and accumulating wealth.
 
Age of Empires is the creation of a business relationship between Microsoft
and Dallas-based Ensemble Studios, a startup game-development company led
by designer Bruce Shelley. Shelley previously has worked on hit titles such
as Civilization and Railroad Tycoon.

Pricing and Availability

Age of Empires is currently available at computer retailers across the
country with an estimated retail price of $54.95. A free trial version is
available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/games/empires/. It
includes both single-player and multiplayer functionality and a variety of
game-play scenarios. In addition, players can use the trial version to wage
battles against one another, for free (connect-time charges may apply),
over the Internet Gaming Zone at http://www.zone.com.
 
Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software for personal
computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for
business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it
easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of
personal computing every day.
 
Microsoft and Age of Empire are either registered trademarks or trademarks
of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. Other
product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective
owners.
 
 
a r b u t h n o t c o m m u n i c a t i o n s
300 brannan ste 501 san francisco 94107
phone 415 495 0100
fax 415 495 0888
http://www.arbuthnot.com

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