Microsoft, ever seeking to expand its empire, has officially purchased the ‘Gears of War’ franchise. That means that the big M will directly oversee the next version of the game, though I suppose it’s more accurate to say “versions.” It’s doubtful that Microsoft will only make one, considering how profitable the titles have been. Microsoft has entrusted a development studio named ‘Black Tusk’ with the next entry in the ‘Gears of War’ franchise.
If the studio name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t be surprised - ‘Black Tusk’ has never officially released anything. Actually, the studio was originally ‘Microsoft Vancouver,’ but Microsoft changed the name in 2012. Since then, they’ve been told to create another franchise as popular as ‘Halo’ -- without success. ‘Black Tusk’ was originally working on a shooting game on the Kinect, but the project was dropped (not unlikely due to the original Kinect lack of popularity).
Now they’ve got ‘Gears of War,’ which is probably the best third-person-shooter series out there. The first three games in the franchise were developed by Epic Games, and the fourth (‘Gears of War: Judgment’) was co-developed by Epic Games, the studio Microsoft bought the title from.
What can we expect from this move? It’s not the first time Microsoft has shifted control of a series from one studio to another; remember that the Halo series was originally a Bungie production, and Microsoft shifted that IP to 343 Industries. There were cries of betrayal from fans loyal to Bungie, but Halo 4, while a bit convoluted, quickly silenced the critics and skeptics. Myself included.
It’s worth noting again that ‘Black Tusk’ doesn’t technically have any games under their belt, at least not as as a complete ensemble. That’s probably why Microsoft enlisted Rod Fergusson to join ‘Black Tusk’ -- he was the director of production on the first three ‘Gears of War’ games.
Obviously, Microsoft hopes Black Tusk will mirror the success of 343 Industries. The franchise is inarguably one of Microsoft’s most profitable - it’s sold over 22 million copies so far. Like ‘Halo,’ future ‘Gears of War’ games will be instrumental to the success of the Xbox One.