Gears of War franchise rights now belong to Microsoft

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The Gears of War franchise rights – including all existing and future games in the series – now belong to Microsoft Studios, a new Xbox Wire post confirms. Oversight of the series shifts from creator Epic Games to Black Tusk Studios, Microsoft’s Vancouver-based team that’s working on a mysterious new franchise (first revealed at E3 2013). There’s no word on what will become of the still-untitled game now that Black Tusk is in driver’s seat on Gears of War.

In related news, it is also confirmed that Rod Fergusson, former Director of Production on the Gears of War series at Epic, will join Microsoft to take on “a key studio leadership role” at Black Tusk. Fergusson left Epic in August 2012 for a brief stint as Executive VP of Development at Irrational Games in the run-up to BioShock Infinite‘s release. His LinkedIn profile notes that he’s been working as a 2K studio head since September 2013, though exactly which studio and game(s) he might have been working on is a mystery.

“I’ve been privileged to work on a lot of great games with a lot of great teams, but ‘Gears’ has had the most impact on me professionally and personally, so this really feels like a homecoming,” Fergusson said in the Xbox Wire Q&A. “I can’t wait to share more with you all soon.”

There’s no word on what’s next for the Gears series with the change in leadership, though Black Tusk studio head Hanno Lemke notes that Epic’s involvement with the series isn’t over. “Epic remains great partners and good friends of Microsoft Studios,” he said. “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.”

The Xbox Wire post concludes with a brief statement from Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney, which you can read below. Follow the link up top for more from Fergusson, Lemke, and Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer on this transition.

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. Epic remains totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One and is licensing the Unreal Engine 4 technology to Microsoft in support of their future projects.

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