Microsoft has quietly lent its support to Nintendo's DS handheld, it has been alleged, with wholly owned British studio Rare apparently already working on two titles for the new console.
According to US website GCAdvanced, senior Microsoft Game Studios exec Ken Lobb - the former Nintendo exec who now manages Microsoft's relationship with the Rare studio - confirmed at E3 last week that the developer is working on software for the DS.
He told a reporter for the site that Rare has DS development kits, and that two software titles are in the works for new platform - although he didn't provide details of which titles those might be.
Rare has continued to work on the Game Boy Advance since it was bought by Microsoft in 2002, with GBA titles from the studio being published by THQ; this, however, is the first indication that it will be continuing its development efforts into the next generation of Nintendo handheld hardware.
The news that a Microsoft Game Studios subsidiary is to work on a new Nintendo platform is less surprising than it might seem at first. Microsoft has repeatedly asserted that it has no ambitions in the handheld console market - but the company is still likely to want to see Nintendo's system triumph over Sony's entry into the market.
As long as Nintendo continues to control the handheld market, that sector represents little threat to Microsoft - or so the conventional wisdom goes. On the other hand, should Sony grain a significant foothold in the market, it will give it a further advantage over Microsoft in the home console space, as the PSP is thought to be closely linked to the functionality of Sony's home systems.