In what may be considered an indication of big things to come, Microsoft has today announced that they have acquired the rights to the Gears of War series from developer Epic Games. This includes the rights to all existing and future games, entertainment experiences and merchandise. Microsoft is now tasking Vancouver's Black Tusk studios with carrying Gears forward and have taken the bold step of bringing former Director of Production at Epic Games, Rod Fergusson, on board in a studio leadership role at Black Tusk.
Phil Spencer, Head of Microsoft Studios, said that this move will allow Microsoft to "continue to offer (gamers) more of their favorite games and entertainment experiences from the Gears of War universe."
Since their inception and announcement, Black Tusk Studios has been bathed in mystery and been attached to "new IP" rumors. While they did show off a teaser of sorts at E3 this past June, very little has been revealed about who they are and what they have been/are/will be working on. Today's announcement seems to put a bit of that to bed. Spencer went on to say the following about the team in Vancouver:
Black Tusk has assembled a world-class team with deep experience and passion for the shooter space, and specifically the Gears of War franchise. I am extremely confident that under the leadership of Hanno Lemke (General Manager of Black Tusk Studios), Rod Fergusson and our other leaders in the studio, Black Tusk is well equipped to take on the future development of the Gears of War franchise.Epic's move to sell one of their most-profitable and valuable IPs continues the trend of them shedding game development duties and personnel and focusing more on developing the newest Unreal Engine. The sale of Gears leaves Fortnite as one of the few, announced games in Epic's fold, although Wes Phillips, PR Manager at Epic Games, said on Twitter this morning that Epic has "multiple games in development".
Epic founder and CEO, Tim Sweeney, commented about the sale of the Gears IP with the following:
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.Lemke stated that Black Tusk will be sharing more news about Gears of War later this year.