Microsoft to acquire Bioware - announcement at E3?

Internet reports suggest that Microsoft is set to acquire Canadian RPG development studio Bioware, with the company planning to announce this latest addition to its developer line-up at the E3 trade show next month.

According to the reports, a senior Microsoft Game Studios official broke the information under condition of anonymity; our own sources at the company remained tight-lipped on the subject today, but did confirm that the company is hoping to have a "massive" announcement at E3.

Bioware is one of the most successful developers of RPG titles outside Japan, and it most recently won success - both critical and commercial - for its Star Wars title, Knights of the Old Republic. Previous titles have included hugely popular PC RPGs Neverwinter Knights and Baldur's Gate.

The studio is currently working on another Xbox title for Microsoft Game Studios, Jade Empire. The close relationship being forged between Bioware and Microsoft would certainly point at an acquisition being highly likely - Microsoft is not a company which tends to allow key partners to remain independent for long.

The purchase would add Bioware to a roster of first party Xbox development studios which already includes Bungie and Rare, and an announcement at E3 would fit the company's previous behaviour regarding such key acquisitions. When Microsoft bought Rare in 2002, in a deal worth over a quarter of a billion dollars, it stayed silent through weeks of intense speculation before eventually announcing the acquisition at the X02 press event in Seville.

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