The blockbuster Gears of War franchise has been acquired by Microsoft, removing it from the curation of creator Epic Games.
Rights to all existing and future games are now owned by Microsoft, meaning the franchise will remain an Xbox-exclusive for the foreseeable future. The company has tasked Black Tusk Studios, a Vancouver-based developer owned by Microsoft, with creating future titles in the franchise.
To aid in ushering in a new era for Gears of War will be Rod Fergusson, who oversaw the development of the first three games in the franchise for Epic. Microsoft says Fergusson will “play a key studio leadership role at Black Tusk on the development of the franchise going forward.” Fergusson has moved around a bit since 2012, when he left Epic to join Irrational Games. In September he moved to 2K Games to work on an unannounced project; now, he rejoins Microsoft (where he worked from 1996 to 2006) to resume curation of the franchise he helped establish.
Epic’s last at-bat for the franchise was 2011’s Gears of War 3, which concluded the story the developer began with the 2007 original. The most recent title in the franchise, the 2013 prequel Gears of War: Judgment, was developed primarily by People Can Fly.
The shape of the next game in the Gears of War franchise is naturally fodder for speculation, especially now – but this kind of move is not without precedent. Bungie walked away from the mega-hit Halo franchise – which is arguably the franchise that put the original Xbox on the map – after Halo: Reach, leaving future games in the hands of developer 343 industries. Their first full outing, Halo 4, was generally well-received by fans and critics alike.
It’s no surprise that the Gears of War franchise will continue on the Xbox One, though it’s still unknown what form future installments will take. Microsoft Studios VP Phil Spencer wasn’t prepared to discuss future plans for the franchise in today’s announcement, but confirmed the company will be making announcements later this year.
What do you think? Are you wary of a developer besides Epic taking on Gears of War? Are you excited for future games in the franchise? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.