Microsoft did something very intelligent today and purchased the rights to the Gears of War franchise from Epic Games. In addition, Rod Ferguson, Director of Production of the franchise, gave responsibilities to developer Black Tusk Studios.
Microsoft announced the news via Xbox Wire in the following statement:
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. 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. We had a chance to chat with Phil Spencer, Head of Microsoft Studios, Hanno Lemke, General Manager of Black Tusk Studios at Microsoft Studios, and Rod Fergusson about the big news.
For those not familiar with Black Tusk Studios, they don't have any games under their belt yet. What they do have is an experienced team comprised of individuals who, through combined credentials, have convinced Microsoft to hand over the torch to one of their most beloved franchises. Should fans be worried? Former helmer of GoW, Cliff Bleszinski doesn't think so.
In his blog, Clifford Unchained, Cliff wanted fans to have faith that his baby couldn't be "in better hands." He also spent the time to bold two major statements that cement his non-involvement in the project. "I'm not going to move to Vancouver and work on it," he said, "I'm not going to consult on it."
With Microsoft officially taking the franchise away from competitors, they have successfully cemented future Gears of War installments to only Microsoft platforms. Sorry Sony. in the words of Mr. Bleszinski, "this puts the nail in the coffin of the question 'Will Gears ever come to Playstation?" officially.
Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney seems excited to have their project in Microsoft's hands indefinitely based on his official statement saying, "...This agreement enables Microsoft to forge ahead with the ‘Gears’ universe on their industry-leading platforms as Epic concentrates its efforts on new projects," continuing, "Epic remains totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One and is licensing the Unreal Engine 4 technology to Microsoft in support of their future projects.”
So everybody seems to be on board and anxious to get to work. Whether or not this will turn into something fruitful is something we will have to wait a couple years to see.