Microsoft Studios has acquired the rights to the Gears of War franchise, and has recruited series alum Rod Fergusson to help lead the internal development effort. Vancouver's Black Tusk Studios will be taking over development for the franchise, with a more concrete announcement for a future game planned for later this year.
Both Microsoft and Epic have confirmed, unsurprisingly, that future Gears games will continue to use the Unreal Engine. In an accompanying statement, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said that the company "remains totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One and is licensing the Unreal Engine 4 technology to Microsoft in support of their future projects." Epic also stressed on Twitter that it still has several games in the works, including Fortnite, so it's hardly getting out of the development business.
"I'm extremely excited to be joining Black Tusk Studios to oversee development on the 'Gears of War' franchise," Fergusson said in the announcement. "I've been privileged to work on a lot of great games with a lot of great teams, but 'Gears' has had the most impact on me professionally and personally, so this really feels like a homecoming. I can't wait to share more with you all soon."
Details on Black Tusk's project are scant, and Rod Fergusson played it close to the vest in a special podcast that came alongside the announcement. He did confirm that they're working on a new Gears game for Xbox One, but not much beyond that. When Microsoft opened Black Tusk, it stated that it wanted to build a new project "from the ground up" that would be as popular as Halo. Gears certainly isn't in its infancy like that would imply, but the studio is reportedly working on four franchises right now.