BioWare downplays Microsoft buyout rumors

The KOTOR developer responds to reports that it will join Bungie inside the Xbox-maker's stable of studios.

This morning, the Web was awash in rumors surrounding the future relationship between BioWare and Microsoft. According to reports attributed to the latest issue of Polygon magazine, the software behemoth recently bought the Canadian creator of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, the award-winning Xbox and PC role-playing game. According to the rumors, the still-secret deal was to be announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo next month.

Officially, it is BioWare's policy not to comment on rumors. But the online chatter had the developer willing to provide a tad more than the usual boilerplate response. "To us, it's really thin air," a BioWare staffer told GameSpot today, referring to the unsubstantiated Web posts. However, the representative would not straight-out deny the reports of its purchase, either, allowing some speculation about the alleged deal to linger.

The staffer did make it clear the relationship with Microsoft was a good one, adding, "We value Microsoft as a publishing partner."

For its part, Microsoft refused to comment on the matter. However, the company is no stranger to developer buyouts. Aided by its massive cash reserves--over $50 billion at last count--the company has purchased many premiere studios in the past, including Accolade, FASA, and Halo-maker Bungie. In 2002, it spent more than $300 million to buy Rare. The addition of BioWare to its stable of studios would make even more sense: Besides the all-but-announced sequel to KOTOR, the Edmonton-based developer is currently working on the anticipated Xbox-only kung-fu action role-playing game Jade Empire.

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