Microsoft will port games onto iOS and Android devices by the end of the year, according to reports from Reuters via the Nikkei. The ports will be courtesy of mobile developer KLab, who have so far confirmed only that Age of Empires will be amongst the upcoming titles. It is unknown if other games are planned at this point.
The titles will be licensed to KLab, who will then develop them for iOS and Android devices. Although many gaming sites have already hoped for a clutch of Microsoft titles to be ported, The Verge has noted that KLab “isn’t exactly a top-tier mobile developer” and that other games it has worked on up till now do not “inspire much confidence in its ability to tackle a big project.”
A Microsoft spokesman has also spoken out to quieten any over-enthusiastic articles, stating that “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.”
This is not an unprecedented move from Microsoft, who first ported games onto the iOS system in December 2011 with Kinectimals.
The Age of Empires port is expected to be the 2011 title Age of Empires Online (rather than previous, more critically well-received iterations - see lead picture), and would be offered as a free-to-play game and supported by in-game purchases. It is will be released “globally” towards the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
Other recent moves by Microsoft into touch-based gaming have included the announcement of Halo: Spartan Assault, a “top-down action shooter” that developers 343 Industries promise will have a “unique fusion of touch and consolelike controls.”
Other recent revamps of this, one of Microsoft's most popular franchises, has been the re-release in April this year of Age of Empires II in HD on Steam with an enhanced visual engine and improved mulitplayer support.