Microsoft Studios announced on Monday that it acquired the rights to Epic Games' "Gears of War" franchise. Rod Fergusson, former Director of Production at Epic Games on the "Gears of War" franchise, also joined Microsoft, and will oversee development of a new "Gears of War" game at Vancouver, BC-based Black Tusk Studios.
"I'm extremely excited to be joining Black Tusk Studios to oversee development on the "Gears of War" franchise,” Fergusson said in a brief Q&A. "I've been privileged to work on a lot of great games with a lot of great teams, but "Gears" has had the most impact on me professionally and personally, so this really feels like a homecoming. I can't wait to share more with you all soon."
Epic Games won't be left out of the picture, however. Hanno Lemke, General Manager of Black Tusk Studios, was asked why Epic Games sold the franchise to Microsoft. She merely confirmed that the new "Gears" team will continue to work closely with Epic going forward in terms of the Unreal Engine experience remaining consistent.
"We're very proud of the franchise we built in close partnership with Microsoft over the past decade and are happy that this agreement enables Microsoft to forge ahead with the "Gears" universe on their industry-leading platforms as Epic concentrates its efforts on new projects," said Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney. "Epic remains totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One and is licensing the Unreal Engine 4 technology to Microsoft in support of their future projects."
Ok, so why did Microsoft purchase the “Gears” franchise? Phil Spencer, Head of Microsoft Studios, pointed out that over 22 million units sold across all “Gears” titles worldwide, grossing over $1 billion dollars (US). That said, the franchise is part of the "soul" of the Xbox 360 (like Halo was for the original Xbox), and the company will continue the saga despite the trilogy's closure.
To read the full Q&A, head here. Is this good news or bad news? The team seems elated that Fergusson is spearheading the project, saying that "he understands the franchise deeply but equally importantly he understands the fans of the franchise."
Lemke said that the studio hopes to provide additional information about the new "Gears" game later this year.