Microsoft is gearing up for a new edition of Gears of War in more ways than one. Instead of teaming up with Epic Games, the franchise’s owner and developer, Microsoft has purchased the rights to develop the game internally.
Microsoft and Epic Games announced the acquisition this morning with a question and answer styled piece on the Xbox Wire news blog. While neither company disclosed the amount of money Microsoft paid for the franchise, the piece did confirm that Microsoft has plans to share plans for a new entry in the franchise “later this year.”
Managing those plans is Rod Fergusson, who will depart Epic Games to act as the person in charge of the development for Gears of War at Black Tusk Studios. Microsoft says that Black Tusk Studios will act as the home of the franchise going forward.
Black Tusk is actually the renamed Microsoft Vancouver game studio. Microsoft previously re-branded the Canada-based studio. At the time it also made it clear that Black Tusk’s mission was to create another blockbuster gaming franchise to rival Halo. Reportedly, Black Tusk already has another video game in development. Unfortunately, that title has yet to be announced.
All told, purchasing rights to Gears of War appears to have been a smart move. Previous titles in the Gears of War franchise were exclusive to Microsoft’s platforms. Despite that, moving the franchise and development in-house ensures that Microsoft can align the franchise’s development and features with its own goals. For example, Microsoft uses Halo as a carrot to lure gamers to all of its platforms, including Windows Phone and Windows. That’s something it hasn’t done with Gears of War even though the title actually rivals Halo in popularity. Gears of War titles have collectively made Microsoft and Epic Games $1 billion in revenue to date, according to Microsoft.
To be clear, Microsoft already had a heavy hand in Gears of War’s development. Epic Games and Microsoft worked together on the franchise for over ten years. Epic Games is only confirming that selling Gears of War enables it to concentrate “its efforts on new projects.” Whether those new projects are exclusive to Microsoft’s Xbox One and Xbox 360 isn’t yet known.
It is clear that Microsoft is finally making moves to bolster its line-up of internally developed games. While the Xbox platform continues to snag users looking for a great online experience, the quality of its exclusive games remains up for debate. Many gamers have more appreciation for the PS3 and PS4’s exclusive games than the Xbox’s.