After dominating the scene in the Xbox 360 era, Epic Games and Microsoft’s third person shooter franchise Gears of War underwent a bit of a transition, which ultimately culminated in the series’ ownership transitioning from Epic to Xbox, and first party Microsoft studio The Coalition taking charge of the franchise.
During those years of transition, it wouldn’t surprise you to learn that Epic Games, who owned Gears at the time, “didn’t really know what to do with the franchise”. That’s as per Cliff Blezsinski, who was the lead designer of the original Gears of War trilogy, and said during a recent IGN interview that following the departure of some key franchise leads from Epic – himself included – the studio wasn’t exactly clear on how to take Gears of War forward.
“I honestly think once Lee Perry [Gameplay Designer, Gears of War 2], myself, and Rod Ferguson [Producer, Gears of War] left, I believe that Epic didn’t really know what to do with the franchise,” he said. “They hadn’t shipped a game in a while. The [Unreal] engine was doing rather well, but they were growing and they probably needed the income even though they really didn’t know what to do with the future of the franchise.”
Bleszinski went on to say that when the Gears of War IP was sold to Microsoft, Xbox boss Phil Spencer was the only person to call him to get his take on it.
“As much as I loved Tim and Mark [Rein, VP of Epic Games] and we’re still in touch, but when the IP was sold to Microsoft the only phone call I got was from Phil Spencer,” Bleszinski said.
Since taking charge of the series, though The Coalition and Microsoft’s record has been solid enough, it perhaps hasn’t touched the heights that Epic’s output did. The likes of Gears of War 4, Gears 5, and Gears Tactics have been received well and have performance well commercially though, so it’s fair to say that the series is in at least healthy shape right now.
As for what lies ahead for the series’ future, The Coalition is working on multiple projects, and while one of those is a new IP, job listings have suggested that work on Gears 6 is also underway. Meanwhile, reports have also claimed that a remastered Gears of War collection similar to Halo: The Master Chief Collection is also in the pipeline.