Microsoft buys Gears of War franchise from Epic Games

27 Jan 2014

A scene from Gears of War Judgement

After three games in the hugely successful Xbox series Gears of War, Microsoft has decided to acquire the rights to the gaming franchise in a bid to continue as an Xbox-only title.

In a similar acquisition of rights to their purchase of the Halo series from developers Bungie in 2000, Microsoft will put its financial force behind the violent third-person shooter.

In an article posted on Microsoft’s Xbox website, Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Studios, emphasised the value in the series in terms of popularity from fans, but also the financial success the series has been to date: “It all comes back to our commitment to Xbox fans. The Gears of War franchise has a very strong, passionate and valued fan base on Xbox. Over 22m units have been sold across all Gears of War titles worldwide, grossing over $1bn (US).

“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 favourite games and entertainment experiences from the Gears of War universe. “

New developers

As part of the buyout, Black Tusk Studios in Vancouver, Canada, will take over development of the franchise, and Rod Fergusson, former director of production at Epic Games and lead on the Gears of War series will join Microsoft and play a key studio leadership role at Black Tusk on the development of the franchise for the foreseeable future.

The Canadian developers, previously known as Microsoft Vancouver, was launched in 2012 to undertake the creation its own franchise that could rival the success of Halo.

The company has yet to reveal any information on the next instalment of Gears of War, but has promised more information towards the end of this year, suggesting a 2015 release date. 

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic