One of the biggest video game franchise that defined the Xbox 360, is now fully under Microsoft's wings. The company has announced today that it has acquired the rights for Gears of War from Epic Games. According to Microsoft, it has acquired the rights to the franchise along with all existing games and future games. This means gamers should expect a Gears of War title for the Xbox One in the coming years, if everything goes according to plan.
"Today we're excited to announce that Microsoft Studios has acquired the rights to the Gears Of War franchise from Epic Games, including rights to all existing and future games, entertainment experiences and merchandise," according to a statement from Microsoft.
The report states that future games in the franchise will not be developed by Epic Games, but Microsoft's own Black Tusk Studios in Vancouver, Canada. Furthermore, former Epic Games executive producer and director of production, Rod Fergusson, will be aiding Black Tusk on the next game. Rod Fergusson is the man who oversaw the development of the first three games of the Gears of War franchise, so it gives hope that the game might not turn out as badly when compared to the 4th game.
"In addition, we are excited to announce that Black Tusk Studios in Vancouver, BC will take over development of the Gears Of War franchise and that Rod Fergusson, former director of production at Epic Games on the Gears of War franchise, will join Microsoft and play a key studio leadership role at Black Tusk on the development of the franchise going forward," Microsoft said.
Back in 2012, Fergusson stepped away from Epic Games for a job at Irrational Games, where he helped to develop Bioshock Infinite. However, after the competition of the game, he left for a position at 2K Games to lead the development on an unannounced game. It is not certain if that game is now finished, but he's now back at Microsoft after leaving the company in 2006.
As for Black Tusk Studios, it was rebranded from the Microsoft Vancouver in late 2012. After the rebranding, Black Tusk manager Mike Crump said the studio will be working on Microsoft's next entertainment franchise, though he did not lay out the specifics as to what that is. However, the studio did tease a game back at E3 2013, though it is not certain if that was a tech demonstration, or if it was a real game in development. If it is, then it is likely this unannounced title will play second fiddle to Gears of War.
With Gears of War gone from Epic, the studio will now be able to focus solely on new projects. What those new projects are, is still up for debate, as the company did not give a clarification.
"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," said Epic Games in a statement.
Securing Gears of War as a future Xbox One exclusive was a bold move by Microsoft. The Gears franchise has sold over 22 million copies and has proven to be a system seller. Furthermore, when compared to Sony, Microsoft does not have a lot of iconic games, and these are the times the company could do well with games of that nature.