Gears of War was the first game on the Xbox 360 to really feel next-gen when it launched in 2006. Epic's intimate knowledge of Unreal Engine 3 combined with the power of the Xbox 360 helped to make the console look much better in comparison to the just launched PS3. Now after four games, Microsoft is finally making sure it can continue to use Gears of War as a benchmark franchise going forward.
Microsoft announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Epic Games to purchase the Gears of War IP from the developer. While Microsoft published the first four games in the franchise, it never actually owned the IP. Under those conditions, Epic Games could have easily made a new entry in the franchise for a competing platform. With Microsoft now owning the franchise, it can ensure that Gears of War stays an Xbox exclusive.
“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,” said Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney. “Epic remains totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One and is licensing the Unreal Engine 4 technology to Microsoft in support of their future projects.”
With Microsoft now owning the franchise, is Epic Games still going to develop the games going forward? The studio says it will continue to offer support on Unreal Engine 4 usage, but main development duties will now go to newly formed Black Tusk Studios in Vancouver. It may be a brand new studio, but Microsoft claims to have staffed it with all-star talent, including Rod Fergusson.
Now that Microsoft owns both Gears of War and Halo, we can probably expect to see the two franchises receive new entries on the Xbox One every other year. We already know Halo 5 is in development, so we'll probably see that first. As for the next Gears of War, we're told we'll hear something later this year.
Image via Xbox Wire