Microsoft Buys Gears of War Franchise From Epic Games
Sometimes the best way to remove the risk of third-party actions affecting you is to just buy them out. Microsoft didn’t outright buy Epic Games but they did buy their hottest intellectual property. Microsoft bought the Gears of War franchise from Epic and have handed it off to first-party developer Black Tusk Studios.
While the next Gears of War game hasn’t been announced, there may have been some concern on Microsoft’s part that Epic was considering taking the game multiplatform. When asked about the future exclusivity of GoW in an interview with Kotaku last November, head of Microsoft Game Studios, Phil Spencer, said, “It’s Epic’s franchise. You and I both know that. I can’t make any assurances about anybody else’s franchise.” In other words, Microsoft may have thought there was a risk of Epic dropping Xbox exclusivity.
If you’ve not heard of new GoW dev Black Tusk Studios, you’re not alone. They’re a Microsoft owned developer who haven’t actually released a game. They were last reported to be working on a new Xbox exclusive IP and are now getting Gears of War too. Microsoft insists that they have a solid team in place at Black Tusk (why wouldn’t they?) which is headed up by Hanno Lemke who, near as I can research, was formerly a producer with EA.
To help the Black Tusk team out, Microsoft has hired Rod Fergusson. He was with Epic Games until 2012 when he left to join Irrational Games in the late stages of BioShock Infinite’s development. He since moved to a different 2K studio to head up an unannounced project before rejoining the Gears franchise at Black Tusk.
For their part, Epic says they remain “totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One.” Whether this means that they’re developing a new exclusive for the console or are just planning to release games that hit the Xbox One remains to be seen. Currently, they’re still working on Fortnite and developing the Unreal 4 Engine.
I’m not a Gears of War fan so I have no idea whether the change in developer is a good thing for the franchise and its fans or not. However, when I hear about rookie developers taking over triple-A franchises, it does give me some pause. I’m not saying GoW4 will be bad. I’d wait for some reviews before buying it is all I’m saying.