Microsoft has reached a deal with North Carolina-based studio Epic Games to acquire its Gears of War franchise. Microsoft Studios has published the Gears of War series since its first entry back in 2006, but will own all existing and future games in their entirety henceforth.
Black Tusk Studios, formerly Microsoft Vancouver, will take over development of the series. Black Tusk was founded in 2012 to specialize in blockbuster console games, but little is known about its projects thus far.
Accompanying this news is the announcement that Rod Fergusson, former Director of Production at Epic Games, will follow Gears of War to Microsoft. Fergusson has been highly involved with the franchise since its inception, and he previously worked for Microsoft from 1996 to 2006. Hanno Lemke, General Manager of Black Tusk, wrote the following:
The news that Rod Fergusson is joining Black Tusk should be really exciting for fans of the franchise. Rod has played a leadership role at Epic on all of the “Gears of Wars” games, he understands the franchise deeply but equally importantly he understands the fans of the franchise – what they love, where they want to see the franchise evolve.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Gears of War means that future titles in the series will be Xbox exclusives. Head of Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer writes:
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.
Microsoft says it hopes to share more news on the future of Gears of War later this year.