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Microsoft to sponsor World Cyber Games

International competition grabs backing from software giant; Windows, Xbox 360 now official platforms for annual event.

If the World Cyber Games is the Olympics of gaming, expect to hear Microsoft's anthem frequently through 2008.

The WCG announced on Thursday that the software giant has signed on to become the premier sponsor of the annual game competition for the next three years.

The deal gives Microsoft a firm grip on the games featured in the tournament. All PC games will be played on the Windows operating system, and all console games will be played on the Xbox 360. Although the deal sounds like a coup for Microsoft, little about the WCG will change; featured games in past years have all fallen under those guidelines.

The deal will also see Microsoft providing software and hardware for all the WCG events, including both the U.S. and World Championships, the latter of which will be held in Monza, Italy, in October.

Despite the software giant's brand dominance for the competition, only one game selected for this year's WCG--""--is a Microsoft product.

Although Microsoft will be a primary game sponsor, Samsung Electronics will remain the official worldwide sponsor of the WCG.

Tim Surette of GameSpot reported from San Francisco.