Marcus Phoenix better put his boots back on, because Microsoft has just acquired the rights to the Gears of War franchise. That's right, Epic Games has sold all rights to exsiting and future games, entertainment experiences and merchandise to the big green. In addition, Epic Games will be licensing out the Unreal Engine to Microsoft for the future projects, because a Gears of War that isn't in Unreal just wouldn't be Gears of War.
Taking over the development of the Gears of War franchise will be Black Tusk Studios, formerly Microsoft Vancouver. While Black Tusk doesn't have any games under their belt as of yet, they were formed with the goal of creating "the next Halo." Creating the next Gears of War may be just as admirable of a task. To help make the transition, Director of Production for the Gears of War franchise Rod Fergusson will be joining Black Tusk to create whatever is coming next.
Why's Microsoft drop the likely large wad of cash on a neatly tied up franchise? Microsoft's Phil Spencer elaborates:
"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 twenty-two million units have been sold across all “Gears of War” titles worldwide, grossing over $1B dollars (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 favorite games and entertainment experiences from the “Gears of War” universe."
I suppose if you want to summarize, Spencer means they couldn't make anything better.
Microsoft and Black Tusk Studios hope to have something to announce in regards to the future of Gears of War later this year. That seems a bit quick to me, but if Microsoft thinks they can manage it then by all means. I'm as excited as anyone to hear why I should care about a trilogy I was more than happy had ended some years ago. Then Judgement came out anyway.