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Microsoft calls in Sega studio to revive another franchise with Age of Empires IV

Next instalment to be handled by Dawn of War dev Relic Entertainment, AoE II and III remasters also in the works

The Age of Empires franchise is making something of a comeback with the announcement of a fourth instalment in the main series - the first not to be developed by creator Ensemble Studios.

Instead, development duties for Age of Empires IV have been handed to Relic Entertainment, the Sega-owned studios behind Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and Company of Heroes. The firm discussed the partnership on its official blog, alongside a teaser trailer that hints at the historical epochs the new game might cover.

There's no word on a release date or which platforms the strategy game will be heading to, but Relic promises more news "in the coming months."

Microsoft also announced last night that Age of Empires II and III will be remastered with Definitive Editions, complimenting news earlier this year that the original Age of Empire is being overhauled as well. A HD re-release of Age of Empires II was released on Steam back in 2013.

Age of Empires IV will be reassuring news for fans of the long-running strategy franchise. While Microsoft has previously attempted to revive the IP in recent years with Age of Empires Online and Clash of Clans-like mobile title Age of Empires: Castle Siege, neither seemed to make much of an impact.

The move to bring in Relic Entertainment marks the continuation of a strategy Microsoft has been building on for some time: calling in experienced third-party developers to handle its first-party franchises.

Earlier this year, the platform holder published Halo Wars 2, which was developed by another Sega studio: Total War team Creative Assembly. Interestingly, the original Halo Wars was the final title by Ensemble before the studio was closed down.

Similarly, Crackdown 3 has been handed to Sumo Digital and Reagent Games, and Killer Instinct was developed by Double Helix. The model is not exclusive to Microsoft, either - having reclaimed the rights to Spider-Man from Activision, Sony turned to Insomniac Games to develop the web-slinger's next outing.

Still, it's an interesting decision given the growing perception that Microsoft is running low on first-party IPs. With Crackdown 3 delayed into next year, the only notable first-party title due at the launch of Xbox One X is Forza Motorsport 7.

We discussed Microsoft's first-party plans, the line-up for Xbox One X and more in the latest episode of The GamesIndustry.biz Podcast, which you can listen to right here.