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Changing gears: Epic Games hands over ‘Gears of War’ franchise to Microsoft

Today Microsoft announced that they have acquired rights to Gears of War from Epic Games, and a new studio will be taking the developmental helm.

Gears of War

Epic changes Gears.

Remember when Microsoft’s Phil Spencer talked about how Gears of War needed some changes before it was fit to release on the Xbox One?

Now that Epic Games has handed over the Gears banner to Microsoft, Spencer will now be able to oversee those very changes. Microsoft now has ownership of everything Gears of War, “including rights to all existing and future games, entertainment experiences and merchandise.”

“It all comes back to our commitment to Xbox fans,” Spencer said in the official news announcement on Xbox Wire.

“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.”


Gearheads across the world can liken this scenario to Microsoft’s buying out of the Halo franchise from Bungie–and it seems that the Redmond-based tech giant wants to have even more control of high-profile Xbox exclusives.

To take the helm of development, Microsoft has tapped Black Tusk Studios (formerly Microsoft’s Vancouver dev studio). Black Tusk, a studio of 100+ employees, is known to have a mysterious project in the works to “rival the Halo franchise” along with an assumed Xbox One continuation of the Gears franchise.

Rod Fergusson
Rod Fergusson, who knows pretty much everything about Gears, has been tapped to help Black Tusk shape the upcoming GoW title.

To help guide the new untested studio Microsoft has enlisted Rod Fergusson (Epic’s former series producer) to the dev team. Fergusson had the following to say about the trade-off and joining Black Tusk for the project:

“I’m extremely excited to be joining Black Tusk Studios to oversee development on the “Gears of War” franchise,” Fergusson began.

“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.”

Phil Spencer
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer recently commented that the Gears franchise needs work before its ready for the Xbox One.

Taking a gander at Spencer’s earlier comments about how Gearsran its course on the Xbox 360“, we might be able to glean some info on the upcoming game. For example, Spencer was quoting saying that Gears on Xbox One would need to be “more gritty”, and the universe would need some Halo-esque expanding.

Last night Spencer kicked off the hype with a teasing Tweet of an impending game announcement on the morrow, setting all this in motion.

In any case, with Black Tusk and Fergusson at the helm, the series could very well be re-vitalized from the watered-down sequel-thon that petered out the franchise. Or Microsoft may be beating a dead horse–only time will tell.

At a closing point, Epic Games gave their farewell, as the team prepares to move on to an existence beyond the franchise that defined them:

“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.”

Be sure to read the full news report over at the Xbox Wire, and we’ll likely see more info on Gears of War for Xbox One in the months to come.

Via Xbox Wire

Derek Strickland
Derek is an avid fan of gaming and everything geeky, and is compelled to make his mark in the field of games journalism. When he's not gaming on a console (everything from SNES to X360) you can find him reading about ancient civilizations or enjoying a fantasy epic or two.

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