Microsoft has acquired the franchise to the popular Gears of War series, quashing the dreams of gamers who had hoped the gory sci-fi shooter series might eventually make an appearance on a Nintendo or Sony console.
In a blog post, reps for Microsoft said that Black Tusk studios, formerly known as Microsoft Vancouver, will take over development of the Gears games. Meanwhile, Microsoft has hired Rod Fergusson, the one-time Director of Production at Epic Games, to oversee the efforts.
"Over twenty-two million units have been sold across all 'Gears of War' titles worldwide, grossing over $1 billion dollars," Microsoft's Phil Spencer wrote on the Xbox blog. "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."
The terms of the deal – including how much Microsoft forked over for the rights to Gears – have not been made public. Still, as Mr. Spencer hinted, the franchise is an extremely lucrative one, so we expect it didn't come cheap.
In addition to the core Gears of War trilogy, a fourth entry, called Gears of War: Judgment, also sold reasonably well (if not quite as well as the previous three games).
The question now is whether Microsoft and Black Tusk will stick with the original Gears formula, or whether they will try something new. One thing's for certain: Cliff Bleszinski, who served as head of design for the original Gears trilogy, isn't going to be involved.
"I’m not going to move to Vancouver and work on it," he wrote in a post on his personal blog (hat tip to The Escapist). "I’m not going to consult on it. My headspace is in the future now, not the past. I have come to realize that until you give people something new to focus on they will obsess about the past. Good problem to have!"