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Rise of Nations' mystery buyer was...Microsoft

When 38 Studios went bankrupt its rights to Rise of Nations were sold to an undisclosed party, and now the game is being rereleased on Steam by an unexpected publisher: Microsoft Studios.
After 38 Studios filed for bankruptcy in 2012 its rights to Rise of Nations were sold at auction to an undisclosed party, and now the game is being rereleased on Steam in June by that mysterious buyer: Microsoft. Rise of Nations: Extended Edition is advertised on Steam as an enhanced version of the original Rise of Nations, the critically-acclaimed RTS developed by the now-defunct Big Huge Games and published by Microsoft Studios back in 2003. 38 Studios acquired the rights to Rise of Nations and its sequel, Rise of Legends, when it acquired Big Huge Games in 2009. Now Microsoft has tapped Project Spark developer Skybox Labs to update the game and rerelease it with new features like Steamworks integration and Twitch streaming support. It's a familiar job for the British Columbian studio, which also worked on Age of Mythology: Extended Edition and Age of Empires II: HD Edition.

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