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Report: Apple may enter games development

UPDATED: Chinese studio Handseeing confirms acquisition interest from iPhone maker

Apple may be on the verge of buying Chinese developer Handseeing Information Technology Co – which would mean the company could produce its own iPhone and iPad games for the first time.

Handseeing's deputy general manager Tian Bo revealed to Chinese state newspaper Xinhau that talks were in motion, but would not confirm rumours that Apple was poised to spend $150 million.

"The acquisition price is at the core of our current talks. No final price has been yet agreed." Bo expected a decision from Apple within the next two months.

While any acquisition would be a significant move for Apple, which notoriously favours internal development, its plans for Handseeing may not involve active game development.

Though Handseeing has produced a number of online games, it specialises in rich internet applications. Were the acquisition were to go ahead, Apple could assign Handseeing to any number of mobile projects.

For instance, currently in beta for developers is the Game Center multiplayer system for iOS devices, while the Mac company also holds a patent for a 3D virtual store.

The possible purchase may even simply constitute a greater move into the emerging Chinese market. Handseeing would be its first acquisition in that territory.

Apple has dabbled in games development in the past, having created the very infrequently updated Texas Hold 'em as an App Store launch title.

Update: Apple has declined to comment, but ThinkEquity analyst Atul Bagga has told Reuters that he is unconvinced this signals a move into game development.

"Apple is not in the content business, they're in the platform business. If they do that, they anger all the game developers. So I just can't see it," he said.

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Alec Meer: A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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