Microsoft licenses Xbox franchise 'Age of Empires' for iOS and Android

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is licensing its Age of Empires real-time strategy game franchise for release across mobile devices running Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android.

Business daily Nikkei reports Japanese mobile gaming firm KLab is currently adapting Age of Empires for smartphones and tablets, and it is expected to release a free-to-play iOS and Android version by the end of 2013. Microsoft confirmed the agreement to The Verge, but disputed Nikkei's assertion that other licensed KLab collaborations are forthcoming: "Some reports included incorrect information about additional Xbox Live-based games on iOS and Android, but there are no further announcements beyond Age of Empires at this time," a spokesperson said.

Age of Empires, originally developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Studios, first launched in 1997 and now includes seven titles and three spinoffs. The games explore historical events spanning from the Stone Age to Europe's colonization of the Americas, enabling gamers to build and nurture civilizations throughout multiple eras. The Age of Empires series has sold more than 20 million copies to date.

The decision to license Age of Empires for iOS and Android follows less than two weeks after Microsoft extended its signature Office productivity suite to Apple's iPhone. The free Office Mobile application enables Office 365 subscribers to access Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents stored in the SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint cloud services, as well as files recently viewed on the desktop and email attachments. Documents are optimized for the iPhone form factor, with all formatting and content remaining intact, complete with support for charts, animations, SmartArt graphics and shapes.

Earlier this month, Microsoft also announced plans to expand its wildly popular Halo Xbox franchise to its own Windows Phone mobile operating system. Halo: Spartan Assault, a single-player title priced at $6.99, will roll out exclusively to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 in July and is the first release in the first-person shooter franchise developed for touchscreen interactions.

For more:
- read this Reuters article
- read this Verge article

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