The company has moved to stifle speculation that it's planning a wider rollout of its Xbox and PC games to iOS and Android, though, after Japanese business daily Nikkei claimed Microsoft was working with mobile developer Klab on a series of ports.
"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," said Microsoft in a statement. Which, of course, leaves the way open for such announcements at a later time.
The surprising thing about the speculation was the suggestion that Microsoft first-party games (including Xbox titles) on iOS and Android would be a new or surprising thing.
Microsoft launched its Kinectimals game for iOS in December 2011, then ported it to Android in June 2012. Microsoft Studios subsidiary Twisted Pixel Games has also released its Ms. Splosion Man game for iOS.
Note, too, that the newly-announced game won't even be the first time Age of Empires has been released for mobile devices. Age of Empires II came out for Java phones in 2005 courtesy of a licensing deal with publisher In-Fusio, while Age of Empires III followed in 2008 through Glu Mobile – which also released it for Nokia's N-Gage in 2009.
Even Halo had a mobile licensing deal at one point. In-Fusio bagged the rights to make Halo mobile games in 2005, but they never came out. By the end of 2006, the publisher was suing Microsoft claiming the latter company had unreasonably "thwarted" In-Fusio's planned games.
Fast forward to 2013, and Microsoft is clearly still thinking about how mobile gaming fits in with its Xbox business. The company will release a new game, Halo: Spartan Assault, for Windows Phone smartphones and Windows 8 tablets as a "top-down twin stick arcade-style action shooter" this July.
Microsoft is looking beyond its own platforms, though, with the new Age of Empires game part of a wider cross-platform strategy.
Its Xbox SmartGlass app is available for iOS and Android as a "second screen" for the Xbox 360 console, used to control the device's entertainment features as well as working with games including Forza Horizon, Dance Central 3 and Ascend: Hand of Kul.
In short, it's already clear that Microsoft sees Xbox as a brand capable of extending to iOS and Android, rather than remaining siloed within its Windows ecosystem, even if exclusives like Halo: Spartan Assault are still aiming to juice interest in Windows Phone and Windows 8.
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image: © Lisamarie Babik