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Microsoft sells off sports game studio to Take Two

No more sports games for Microsoft Game Studios as Indie Built goes to Take Two.

The Salt Lake City based development studio behind titles including Top Spin, Amped and Links has been sold to Take Two Interactive, in a move which finalises Microsoft Game Studios' move out of the sports market.

The sale was confirmed last night by Take Two president Paul Eibeler, but no details have yet been announced regarding which of Take Two's labels will run the studio, or what games are in development at the company.

The studio, known as Indie Built, was responsible for creating the Amped and Amped 2 snowboarding titles, and Microsoft's Links series of golf games, as well as supervising the creation of critically acclaimed tennis title Top Spin.

It's believed that Indie Built are currently focusing their efforts on next-generation development, and following the Take Two acquisition, the studio will undoubtedly be looking to develop across multiple platforms rather than just on Xbox consoles.

The acquisition represents a further move into the sports game area for Take Two, which this year signed a deal giving it publishing rights for Sega's ESPN series of videogames - although after a successful few months for the franchise thanks to an aggressive price point, that bubble burst earlier this week when EA announced that it has signed exclusive rights for the NFL for five years.

It also signals the end of Microsoft's ambitions in the sports sector, which were launched with much fanfare at E3 in 2003 under the XSN Sports name. The company initially suggested that it was simply putting the XSN brand on hiatus for a year, but back in August it made the teams behind NFL Fever, Inside Drive and NHL Rivals redundant, and with the sale of Indie Built, has now effectively dropped all of its sports game development teams.

However, with Electronic Arts now committed to fully supporting the Xbox Live service with its hugely successful EA Sports range - and almost certainly prepared to launch EA Sports games early in the lifespan of the Xbox 2 - Microsoft undoubtedly feels that this particular sector is well-covered on Xbox.

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GamesIndustry International is the world's leading games industry website, incorporating GamesIndustry.biz and IndustryGamers.com.

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