Microsoft brings the Xbox exclusive brand in-house and brings former series mainstay Rod Fergusson onboard along with it.
“Epic Games has reached an agreement to sell the ‘Gears of War’ intellectual property rights to Microsoft. 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.”
And with that, Gears of War is officially a Microsoft property. It might come as something of a shock to some that it wasn’t already, since GOW has been an Xbox exclusive franchise since the first game launched on the Xbox 360 back in 2006. Now formerly of Epic Games, Gears will see publication by Microsoft and development by Black Tusk Studios (which now has just the teensiest bit more Twitter followers).
This small development house is more than a little deceptive though since they’re actually made up of some names that you’ll more than likely know if you follow the ‘offstage’ goings on in the gaming industry. Headed up by Hanno Lemke (who was involved with a bunch of bigger franchises including Need for Speed) and former Epic employee Rod Fergusson (who is, for all intents and purposes, Mr. Gears of War), Black Tusk definitely has the pedigree to continue the Gears name spread out amongst their team members; if not the name recognition.
So why the acquisition and why now? Well according to Xbox big Phil Spencer, it’s all about the fans and the continuation of the franchise.
It all comes back to our commitment to Xbox fans. The “Gears of War” franchise has a very strong, passionate and valued fan base on Xbox. Over twenty-two million units have been sold across all “Gears of War” titles worldwide, grossing over $1B dollars (US). This franchise, and these fans, are part of the soul of Xbox. By acquiring this franchise, Microsoft Studios will continue to offer them more of their favorite games and entertainment experiences from the “Gears of War” universe.
While that’s true I’m sure, my feeling about it is even simpler- Gears is a hugely important franchise for Microsoft in the gaming space. If the chance arose (or was created) to buy it and own it in-house; why wouldn’t you pick it up? Microsoft already owns the Halo IP, and now with the Gears of War name part of the company going forward, they have the two biggest franchises firmly secured. It always seemed silly to me to let something like Gears dangle out there anyway; so, purely from a business standpoint, this was the right move.
As for when we might be hearing just what it is that Black Tusk has in store for the world of Sera and it’s humans and Locust, Lemke says we’ll be hearing more “later this year”. Rev those lancers; with E3 coming around in June, it’s a safe bet that there’ll be something Gears related popping up at the show like a Grub from its hole.