Why Epic Games sold Gears of War to Microsoft

CEO Tim Sweeney says, "As much as we love the game, we're heading in a new direction."

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has explained why the studio sold the Gears of War franchise, what some believed was the company's crown jewel, to Microsoft. In a new interview, Sweeney simply stated that though the company adores the franchise, it has other plans in mind.

"We've gone through a long process of figuring out the games we're going to build at Epic worldwide in the future and we concluded that we weren't going to be building any more Gears of War," Sweeney told Polygon. "As much as we love the game, we're heading in a new direction."

"The core Gears values are really tied to being big event-based, single-player console games with awesome cover mechanics and other things that really didn't translate into the future approach we were taking with online games, and competitive and cooperative multiplayer," he added. "Because we weren't planning on building any more Gears games we were just going to let that sit on the shelf for a decade or more, in case it had any future value to us."

Sweeney went on to say that it's better for Gears of War to be in the hands of Microsoft than to be sitting unused on the shelf at Epic Games. "We weren't going to build it and we realized the world wanted more Gears of War," he said.

Terms of Microsoft's acquisition of the Gears of War franchise were not disclosed when the deal was announced in January. The Microsoft-owned Black Tusk Studios is currently working on a new entry in the series, presumably for Xbox One, with veteran Gears of War designer Rod Fergusson attached to the title as its producer. The Gears of War series has sold over 22 million copies to date, driving more than $1 billion in lifetime revenue.

As for the future of Epic Games now that Gears of War is in its past, the studio is currently working on PC-exclusive Fortnite (powered by Unreal Engine 4) as well as unannounced projects. Sweeney said more than 90 developers at Epic Games are working on Fortnite right now.

Finally, Sweeney said you should expect a change of focus for Epic Games that more closely resembles the way in which DOTA 2 developer Valve and League of Legends creator Riot Games approach gaming.

"We're looking at the future of gaming from kind of a Valve or Riot point of view," Sweeney said. "[Which is] making your games really accessible, being fair to customers and giving them a great value with a game that can be played for hundreds or thousands of hours."

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

147 comments
allgearedup
allgearedup

I've been a die hard Gears Of War fan since 2006. As much as I enjoyed gears 2, 3 and Judgment I felt it lacked what gears 1 had. Gears 1 was gritty, darker and had a sense of horror. If Microsoft can bring back that feeling of of horror and suspense in the next gears game I'll be one happy fan. :) I just hope they don't get insanely greedy

playmynutz
playmynutz

PS4 can handle Gears of War possibly better than the Xbox One

EfreemanX64
EfreemanX64

I think its a great move due to the love i have for epic, gears and microsoft.  I can not wait till we hear more about Gears for the xbox one and Unreal 4 engine

gannon27
gannon27

I have played and loved all the gears of wars games. I think it is a good move from Epic to sell out to Microsoft if they were not interested it making anymore gow games.If they hadn't we may not be seeing the new game on the xbox1. Microsoft wanted to make the game, Epic didn't, simple as that.

Rakou
Rakou

I loved the original Gears trilogy, and I've probably spent thousands of hours playing it. But after Gears Judgement came along, I lost respect for Gears of War. I moved on

kwns
kwns

Epic games is going to make free to play games and its looks like big budget AAA titles are not coming from them in the future.


Gears was done on 360. Gears on xb1 with unreal engine 4 and directx12 has me interested. I loved the game on 360.


Gears is a unique shooter you can't find anywhere else. The movement and cover system is awesome. The close up gnasher fights lot of fun.


I can't wait for it personally.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

I think they're right to have done it. If their heart's no longer in the series, then holding on to the franchise could've only gone two ways; either no Gears of War for the next decade or so, or they'd bow to fan pressure and produce a completely sub-par experience.

Selling it to Microsoft is probably the lesser of three evils.

xcollector
xcollector

In plain English gears is going down hill so they figured they would sell while they still could.

soheil_nassri
soheil_nassri

Breaking news. God of War goes multi platform

McGregor
McGregor

I'd sell it. It may be a recognized Epic franchise, but their game engine is really their bread and butter. Being able to focus on that makes more sense than having a team working on games.

ThePowerOfHAT
ThePowerOfHAT

I think Epic did just about all they can with Gears.  Granted, I think the gameplay style is still something they could play with, but the franchise itself seems like it's about done.  Unless they plan on moving it to a new planet with new enemies or something, I can't see much point in keeping it going.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

Today's Epic sucks big time... oh, and Gears is a shit franchise. 

chrisx2k3
chrisx2k3

Judgment was sooo bad that I bought the Season Pass, and NEVER played any of the maps. I don't even know what the maps are, and don't care. 


The bums leftover at Epic made the following HUGE mistakes with Judgment.


a) From 2 to 1 primary weapon

b) Grenades were no longer pickup weapons, and everyone had them by default.

c) Center cross-hair aiming, instead of aiming out of the tip of the barrel. Makes absolutely no sense.

d) NO LOCUSTS, which destroys the link between the campaign and the multi-player. It also made it difficult to identify friend from foe.

e) Horrible campaign, centered around Gears most shallow character. Move from one open battle area to the next, disrupted by the stupid star point tally.

f) The game was not released with Execution mode.

g) Maps were asymmetrical, with FREE FOR ALL being the focus of the map design. What a failure!

h) Too many power weapons that don't have to be fought for.

i) Horrible character skins that made Gears into a circus, instead of the gritty shooter that it is.

j) Lack of multiplayer maps and content. Split across game types that people either love/hate. Splitting the community.

k) Too many play lists

l) Horrible VIP segregation policy.

m) Game audio wasn't accurate. Difficult to pinpoint locations of target/enemy.

n) The game was hardly marketed. I think I know why now.

o) Support for the game was dropped very quickly by Epic. They didn't care about the community at all.


....There's more, but I don't care to talk about it. After 2 days, I realized how shit*y the game was and now it just sits there...I'll probably throw out the disc. All it does is remind me of my disappointment. I wouldn't care if Epic is never heard from again on the IP front. Their studio lost everyone of any value, and Judgment was the result.


Black Tusk will turn this around. I'll just pretend that Judgment never happened.

Gen007
Gen007

Epic doesn't really do games anymore unfortunately its all about unreal engine that's why they sold it. The fact that they let people can fly handle judgement speaks volumes to me. Who hands off a massive AAA franchise to unproven rookie devs with an iffy track record. I can understand it too because im sure the money they are making licensing UE is probably exponentially more than they could ever make in AAA game development but it is disappointing if you are a fan of their games but at least gears is in much better hands now. My hope would be for unreal tournament to get out too but see them holding onto it just for the namesake at least.

lateralus1
lateralus1

I enjoyed the Gears of War series quite a lot. I played 1, 2, and 3. I did not play Judgement. Gears of War 3 was my favorite one by far. Epic has made a lot of money with the Gears franchise, licensing Unreal Engine 3, and I can assure you that they made out like a bandit selling the Gears of War rights to Microsoft. They are also going to do quite well making money with their Unreal Engine 4 royalty model, trust me! The studio has made some very wise decisions business-wise. 


It makes perfect sense why they sold the rights to Microsoft. The franchise had really run its course and 3 very important employees at Epic left. I'm sure they left for 2 main reasons: 1 being that they were there for a long number of years and were just getting burned out, and 2 being unhappy that such a large share of Epic being sold to a Chinese firm. They now have 2 Chinese board members at Epic.

I can totally see why those 3 left. I don't blame them at all. Having said that, Epic isn't going anywhere. All the money they made from the Chinese deal, selling Gears the Gears franchise to Microsoft, and Unreal Engine 4 now out to everyone they will be quite fine making money and being around for a long time.

I had little faith in Microsoft making a new Gears game any good, but after learning that Rod Fergusson would be the lead, it could be good. We shall see.

chrisx2k3
chrisx2k3

Judgment was sooo bad that I bought the Season Pass, and NEVER played any of the maps. After 2 days, I realized how shit*y the game was and now it just sits there...I'll probably throw out the disc. All it does is remind me of my disappointment. I wouldn't care if Epic is never heard from again on the IP front. Their studio lost anyone of any value, and Judgment was the result.


Black Tusk will turn this around. I'll just pretend that Judgment never happened.

coaltango
coaltango

I dont care, Just give us a Launch date for the New Gears of War for the XBone

chrisx2k3
chrisx2k3

They sold Gears because Epic Games Studios is in SHAMBLES...Everyone left after that Chinese company bought out like 48% of the shares. They don't have much talent left there, except for the developers of the Unreal Engine itself. Epic games severely f*cked up Gears Judgment under their new lead, Jim Brown. It was a slap in the face. The biggest disappointment I've ever had with a game, and I've been playing since 86'. 


THANK GOD EPIC IS NO LONGER IN CHARGE OF GEARS!! I trust that Rod Fergusson will bring Gears back to form. I hope EPIC Games folds...Damn them to hell for not listening to the Gears community, and making some casual BULLSH*T that scarred the Gears brand.

santinegrete
santinegrete

I can read this as "no more campaigns". Can't deny I'm worried about that.

dmdavenport
dmdavenport

Epic did the right thing to sell the franchise if they weren't going to do anything with it, but why they would abandon a billion dollar plus money-maker and turn their backs on console gamers is weird. They may look back on this decision and regret their hubris for trying to predict what the future of gaming will be.

nycprocess
nycprocess

Love Halo but could never get into Gears. I'm still disappointed that it seems whatever new IP Black Tusk was working on got shelved in favor of having them revisit Gears. Don't get me wrong, it's an important exclusive franchise for Microsoft, to sit alongside Halo, but it's never been my cup of tea.

b74kd3th
b74kd3th

Dunno what fortnights about but epic hasn't done anything meaningful in awhile

emptycow718
emptycow718

epic games is done when it comes to games   they want to be like Valve   lol yuck  valve is  poop 

AM-Gamer
AM-Gamer

So in other words epic sucks now.

itmustbepaul
itmustbepaul

I didn't need an article to figure out that Microsoft needed a AAA franchise for the future and they made an offer to Epic that they couldn't refuse.

Can we all but confirm a new Gears of War trailer at E3 now?

Kjranu
Kjranu

Glad they've moved on. Epic is a great studio and just recycling Gears for profit would have destroyed the studio. 

steelmouth
steelmouth

Who cares why, I have learnt a long time ago never to question good news, just accept them. Thank you

WingChopMasta
WingChopMasta

@chrisx2k3  Yes because Microsoft is known for taking a franchise to the next level.


The game was old news period after awhile. You can't take a game like that and make it an annual thing. It ruins the appeal. MS should sit on this for a WHILE before releasing a new one. Get people excited again and create a little desire for it.


MS has two of their biggest franchises, Halo and Gears. They better not fuck those up like they did their third..Fable.

chrisx2k3
chrisx2k3

@santinegrete  Wrong!...The project lead specifically stated that they're focusing heavily on campaign/story.

santinegrete
santinegrete

@dmdavenport I hope that gets to them. They're jumping to a popular genre right now and call is the future of gaming, while it's just the future of their focus: go popular and make money.

santinegrete
santinegrete

@nycprocess I'm a fan of Gears but I'm bothered that a new franchise development came to a halt. Microsoft, hell, this gen, needs new franchises.

lateralus1
lateralus1

@itmustbepaul It's possible, but would most likely be just a short teaser as I'm pretty sure it's still early on in the development phase.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Most likely.. Though I doubt it'll be real gameplay, just rendered "in-engine".

Gen007
Gen007

@Gallowhand @chrisx2k3 yes it was epic would have did a better job themselves but i get the felling they were too busy with UE4 to give a damn and dumped it on people can fly which explains why the game turned out the way it did.

chrisx2k3
chrisx2k3

@WingChopMasta @chrisx2k3  I loved Gears 1-3...It's my favorite series in 29 years of gaming. I don't give a sh*t what Gears haters have to say about it.