In a move that is honestly a long time coming, Epic Games has announced that Microsoft Studios now owns the rights to the hit Xbox franchise Gears of War. In a statement from Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney, “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.” The company has spent the better part of a decade working alongside Microsoft on Gears of War and with the main trilogy mostly done, it seems it is as good of a time as any to begin focusing on their new properties.
Before Epic Games started turning out Gears of War titles, they were known mostly for their popular Unreal Tournament games. Besides the already announced Fortnight, we don’t have much background on what projects Epic is producing behind the scenes.
The team that is taking over the reigns of the franchise will be Black Tusk Studios. Black Tusk was originally Microsoft Vancouver that formed in 2010. Unfortunately after a few cancellations, of titles like Microsoft Flight and Project Columbia, the studio had to be downsized in 2012. In an attempt to start over, the studio was renamed to Black Tusk and was then given the opportunity to create something that would rival Halo. In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, studio manager Mike Crump wanted to make sure to point out, “we’re not working on an existing franchise, we’re looking to build the next Halo here in Vancouver, for example, which is really exciting. We are building something from the ground up.”
Obviously we know now they are working on Gears of War, but it seems Microsoft has a number of other projects for the studio in the future. Here was the studios debut trailer from the 2013 Microsoft E3 press event which showcases a stealth action sort of game.
With plenty of new projects from the studio, Microsoft seems to have a lot of faith in Black Tusk. Hopefully we’ll be able to find out more from Black Tusk on their projects later this year. For those concerned about Microsoft’s future with the franchise and Epic Games itself, Microsoft Studios head Hanno Lempke had this to say, “Epic remains great partners and good friends of Microsoft Studios. In fact we will collaborate closely with Epic to ensure the inclusion of the Unreal Engine technology into the “Gears of War” franchise going forward remains consistent with the high quality fans have come to expect from the franchise.” They are also bringing in Gears of War’s producer Rod Fergusson to ensure the same level of quality that Xbox fans expect.