Well this is certainly interesting even if it’s simultaneously unsurprising: Microsoft has acquired the Gears of War intellectual property from Epic Games. This includes the rights to all the games and “entertainment experiences and merchandise”. This deal has been in the works for around a year and kicked off during our spring time 2013.
In addition to Microsoft securing the rights to Gears, they have also employed Rod Fergusson, who was Epic Games’ executive producer who worked on the first three Gears games. Once done working on those, Fergusson left Epic to work with Irrational Games on BioShock Infinite. He left Irrational to head a new 2K studio, but has now re-joined the Gears franchise in its new home.
Microsoft has revealed that they’ve put developer Black Tusk Studios in charge of the Gears of War franchise. Fergusson will be overseeing the franchise for Black Tusk.
“I’m extremely excited to be joining Black Tusk Studios to oversee development on the Gears of War franchise. 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,” Fergusson said in a statement.
The acquisition doesn’t come as a surprise considering how integral the Gears franchise was to the success of the Xbox 360. This move by Microsoft echoes an earlier one when they acquired the rights to Halo from Bungie. Black Tusk now finds themselves in a similar position to 343 Industries, which is the development team in charge of the Halo franchise and the people responsible for Halo 4.
As for what this means for Epic, founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said:
“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. Epic remains totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One and is licensing the Unreal Engine 4 technology to Microsoft in support of their future projects.”
Since this news broke, Epic has moved to reassure fans that they are still working on new games and have not abandoned development in favour of focusing fulltime on creating further iterations of the Unreal engine.
So now that Microsoft owns Gears of War, can we please get a Gears RTS a la Halo Wars?