Age of Empires will be free-to-play once the summer update launches after 5-7 weeks. You don’t have to pay for civilizations, booster packs and vanity items at the store and can unlock them all by simply playing the game and earning Empire Points.
If you have any existing Empire Points it will be converted into coin. Any new points bought will be associated with the account. They have also mentioned that the game will not be pay-to-win.
“No. We have a separate PVP mode, called Champion mode, in which no gear or consumables are allowed. We will not change that. Players will only compete against each other with their skill, not their wallet or their spare time,” read the AoE Online page.
“We are not making changes to the game’s difficulty or pacing to make you spend cash on EPs. In fact, in the Spring Update we just made it faster for everyone to level. Now, there is nothing we can really demonstrate to prove this one way or the other. But please believe that we understand that making the game experience less fun until you pay is a terrible mistake.”